Hazards from storm-damaged vacant homes on Staten Island? - FOX 35 News Orlando

Superstorm Sandy

Hazards from storm-damaged vacant homes on Staten Island?

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NEW YORK (MYFOXNY) -

What if you repaired your home after Superstorm Sandy but your neighbors didn't? That is happening to many Staten Island homeowners, including Stacy Scalafani. Her home is attached to a property left vacant after the storm.

"The first concern is going to be mold because we have a common wall," Scalafani said. "Then the fact that it is abandoned. There could be squatters in there or vermin that will be in there and then come into my house from there."

Some locals worry mold growth will travel from derelict homes and contaminate the entire neighborhood.

"They said after 9/11 the air was clear and then people had cancer like my brother who had 9 cancers," Scott McGrath said. "I don't want 10 years later people dying from mold."

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., on Monday gathered frustrated residents and asked the city to help. Grimm said there are dozens of these properties. Some are owned by banks, some by absentee landlords, and some by homeowners waiting for a buyout.

"The way you can put pressure on bank that owns a home is to have the city's Health Department declare it a hazard," Grimm said. "Now once it's a hazard you have more legal standing to say you know whoever owns this house whether the bank or absentee landlord-- you either do what you have to do to remove the hazard or you have to pay for it."

So eight months after Sandy, Staten Island is asking what's growing in these abandoned houses and asking the city to help clean it up.

In a statement, the Health Department said "Mold in an abandoned home does not generally pose a health risk to neighbors."

Grimm is urging anyone who lives near a flooded and abandoned home to call 311 and let the city know about it.

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