As floodwaters retreat, homeowners fight mold

Torrential rains have turned the picnic area at Oliver Mill Park in Middleboro into a water park. People came out to view the scene Thursday in the nice weather.

Six-year-old Michael Malcolm Jr. checks out a flooded Oliver Mill Park in Middleboro on Thursday with his father, Michael Malcolm, and mother, Kristy Bailey, all of Middleboro.

As they waited for floodwaters to subside Thursday, many homeowners started cleaning up amid warnings that mold could be their next problem.

On Vernon Street, Judy and David Thompson saw the Taunton River overflow into their backyard. Between that water and nearby Poquoy Brook, their sump pump has been running nonstop in their basement – but the water continues to seep in.

David Thompson said he lit a wood stove to help dry out their cellar and has already ripped up wall-to-wall carpeting and pulled out all the furniture. Thompson said his furnace, washer and dryer appear to be safe because he had them mounted on cement blocks.

“I haven’t seen it this bad since 1967,” said Thompson, adding he didn’t lose much other than the carpet. “We’re lucky.”

But now Thompson has an eye on potential mold, and said he’ll coat the floor and walls with a sealer to help prevent mold from taking hold.

Peter Judge, of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency, said that even though it’s spring, mold spores can take hold, lie dormant and then flourish in humid weather. Judge advised homeowners to take care of the potential mold problem once their basements are pumped out.

“Don’t think it’s not the season, take mold seriously,” Judge said. He said mold can develop in as little as 24 hours and continue to grow until it is eliminated.

When airborne mold spores are present in large quantities, they can cause allergic reactions, asthma episodes, infections and other respiratory problems.

Judge said disaster assessment teams would be in Brockton and other area towns today gathering data in preparation to request President Barak Obama send federal funds to help with damages and cleanup.

On East Main Street, Richard A. Otto’s home is almost entirely surrounded by the Nemasket River. Otto has had two pumps running to keep the water in check but even so about four to five inches accumulated in his basement.

“I’ll eventually take care of the mold, as soon as the water level goes down,” Otto said.

Tim Correira/The Enterprise

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