Huntington flood victims fighting to prevent mold spread

Huntington flood victims race to clean up
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 6:39 PM EDT
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Victims of last week’s flood are racing against the clock to prevent the spread of mold in their homes.

One of those residents is Joe Browning, who has been working 10 hours a day since last Friday to clean out his home.

“The first floor was totally destroyed and mud everywhere,” he described.

“I had sewer water all through my first floor.”

He described the process as exhausting.

“The last few days I’ve been knocking the bottom of the drywall loose and taken the baseboards up so the walls could dry,” he said. “The hardware floors in the house were completely destroyed.”

He said the flood cost him precious memories.

“My grandma’s china closet, it’s about 80 years old and handed down to me,” he said. “Looks like I’m going to lose my baby blanket we brought my youngest child from the hospital in.”

Browning said his family’s been able to stay in a camper as he cleans out the house for their safety.

“Things can be replaced, lives cannot,” he said.

“My oldest asked to come home yesterday. ‘Daddy, when are we going home?’ like, ‘Buddy we got a lot of cleaning to do before we can go home.’ ”

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department CEO and Health Officer Dr. Michael Kilkenny suggests masking up to prevent inhaling mold and other bacteria.

Flood victims can also use fans to circulate the air.

“If the mold is not removed, it’s going to release spores into the air, which is going to cause a health problem,” he said.

“When you have larger concentrations of mold you can have allergic, respiratory problems, especially if you’re immunocompromised you may get a serious mold infection as a result.”

Kilkenny said among the most at risk for mold infection are those who have had a long exposure to mold and those who are immunocompromised.

Browning said he’s motivated to keep cleaning to get his family back home to safety.

“It’s unfortunate for everyone. It’s a really, really bad situation, and you have to stay positive the best we can,” he said. “We have great neighbors, but we’ll get through it, for sure.”

Kilkenny reminds flood victims to not mix bleach with other cleaning supplies.

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