One year after Superstorm Sandy, the smell hasn't gone away. Hundreds—possibly thousands of structures—are stuck in limbo, musty with the stench of mold growing behind padlocked doors.
"People are still in limbo," said Tom Peter, the owner of Insurance Restoration Specialists in New Jersey. "There are a lot of houses that haven't been touched."
In New York City alone, 433 buildings remain red-tagged as unsafe to enter a year after Sandy blew ashore on Oct. 29, 2012, while 1,013 others are yellow-tagged with some restrictions, according to the Buildings Department.
Jeffrey Gross, vice president of operations at Maxons Restorations in New York, said the numbers may be even higher since some people continue to live in their homes if the mold is growing out of sight, such as in basements or behind walls.
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He estimated there are a couple hundred New York City apartment buildings in need of cleanup, and 2,000 to 3,000 single-family homes with mold and other hurricane contamination problems. "Staten Island and Rockaway are probably some of the areas that are furthest behind on the road to recovery," Gross said.
Probably hundreds of homeowners are in the same situation in New Jersey, Peter estimated, based on the work he's seen in the field. "They're waiting for permits. They're waiting for money. They're waiting for decisions—from agencies, or family members," he said.