Friday, June 21

North Carolina School District Facing Serious Mold Issues Following Hurricanes

It’s been yet another busy Hurricane season across the southeast and communities are left focusing on damage control and cleanup. This year’s storms may not have been as physically devastating as many of the 2017’s hurricanes, but the flooding issues have been out of control.

According to JDN News, a North Carolina school district could have to shell out millions of dollars in order to address serious molding concerns. Pender County Schools are hoping North Carolina’s insurance policies will be able to assist with the majority of the mold cleanup for its school buildings, but the state is unlikely to cover it.

Farmers Insurance reports that over the past decade, there has been a 1,100 increase in mold-related insurance claims. Thanks to all the flooding caused by major storms, that number is projected to skyrocket across the country.

Darren LaFon, the district’s Chief Officer of Operations, stated that seven out of 18 schools are not ready to open and hold students and faculty members: Cape Fear Elementary, Cape Fear Middle, South Topsail Elementary, North Topsail Elementary, Topsail Middle, Topsail Elementary, and Rocky Point Elementary.

Estimates alone range from $1.08 million to $1.9 million at North Topsail Elementary and Topsail High School, respectively.

“I do not expect those numbers to be anywhere near that high,” LaFon said. “This is just mold abatement, this is not structural issues. There will be some more.”

Richard Schwartz, the board’s attorney, stated that the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s insurance policy for schools is specific to emergency damages and will not cover mold remediation and cleanup. Wind damage, for instance is covered, but flood damage and molding is not.

“The state’s insurance policy has so many exclusions and exceptions that it almost swallows the policy whole,” Schwartz added.

Homeowners, business owners, and school officials alike should all know how to prevent the spread of mold and mildew during the aftermath of storms like Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Michael. Flooring and insulation will likely have to be removed right away; professional mold removal companies should be consulted; and all mold-stricken items that cannot be thoroughly cleaned within 48 hours should be discarded.

The state General Assembly is expected to convene in Raleigh in late October to further discuss the school district molding issues.

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