It’s been four months since Hurricane Matthew made it’s way through Savannah, leaving many families in the Westlake Apartment Complex with nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Although the tenants have been given the green light to move back into their apartments—In a News 3 Special Report, Courtney Cole is showing us why one resident doesn’t think it’s a safe for that to happen.
It’s been three months since Theresa Goldwire has had a place to call home since Hurricane Matthew.
But in January, the mother of three found this letter on her Westlake apartment door.
“It says your unit is now livable and has passed an air quality test. if you have any questions, please contact the office.”
Goldwire says she was left with plenty of questions…and since she wasn’t getting any answers on her own, she reached out to News 3 for help.
“I lost furniture, my house saw 3 ½ to 4 feet of water…that’s what I was told…I lost, you know, pretty much my living room…anything three feet down got wet.”
She told us there were no signs that anyone began clean-up or repairs until January.
“I came back Monday the 2nd, they had painted. I came back on the 4th of January, the mold was visible again. I came back on the 6th of January, they were taking out the countertops.”
Goldwire says she was forced to move back into her apartment at the end of January, because the property management company was no longer paying for hotel accommodations for her family. She says she’s most concerned for her children, who are 8, 9, and 16-years-old.
“My daughter, my baby girl, she has asthma, she a steroid pump for lungs, she also had her anodes and her tonsils taken out. I’ve been in Westlake 7 years, my first apartment was apartment 70—the mold was there since then, but Hurricane Matthew just enhanced it and brought it light…”
Goldwire walked me through each room in her apartment….and pointed out other problems like dirty air vents, incomplete patch work and spots on the wall.
But since we couldn’t be sure of what we’re seeing, we brought in independent Disaster Restoration Expert Larry Atkins of AAA Quality Services, Incorporated, to take a look.
Atkins began his inspection by setting up an air quality test, and then he went through each room to check for any signs of mold or moisture. He did find few things that raise some red flags.
“We did find a little bit of mold on the back piece of the sheetrock in the bottom of the water heater closet,” Atkins told News 3.
The next step was to send his samples to Inspector Labs, an independent lab in Fort Lauderdale, Florida — for testing.
24 hours later..this is what they revealed.
“They sent results back showing there is a problem in the apartment…showing high concentration of Penicillium/Aspergillus mold, also Stachybotrys mold, which is commonly known as ‘black mold’ ,” said Atkins.
Stachybotrys was found at *15 times the normal amount, while there were more than 1800 spores of Penicillium/Aspergillus mold detected inside the unit…*500 is the normal level, according to Atkins.
“The residence should not be occupied when you have high levels, just because there is a health risk with elevated levels of mold.”
The property management company, Treetop/Aspen released a statement saying in part: they’re going to “arrange for their third-party inspector to re-test the unit” and figure out “if or where there is a potential issue.”
News 3 will continue to work with the management company, HUD, and U.S. Representative Buddy Carter to make sure this tenant, along with others, receive the help they need.