NEW DORP BEACH — As Hurricane Sandy's floodwaters recede, politicians are focusing on a new threat: mold.
Congressman Michael Grimm and other Staten Island officials warned Tuesday that residents whose homes were damaged must allow all waterlogged wood to dry before making repairs.
"Any wood surface that was submerged in storm water must be fully dried out," Grimm said at a press conference. "You want to prevent mold and other bacteria from growing. You could end up with a mold problem that could cause major health problems."
Grimm said he wanted to warn residents eager to rebuild not to rush the job and then get stuck making further repairs down the line, without the help of insurance and FEMA.
City Councilman Vincent Ignizio said residents of Tottenville, which sustained major flooding damage in the storm, were not aware of how to fully dry their wood to prevent mold.
"Don't be in a rush," Ignizio said. "You want to get your house back. Mold will grow very fast. Don't be in a rush to put the sheetrock back on."
Residents can remove siding and tiles from their homes to let the wood dry underneath, Grimm said. He suggested allowing wood to dry for at least a week and added that a dehumidifier would speed up the process.
The politicians said they have not yet seen any evidence of a mold problem but want to guard against one.
"We don't want to create tomorrow's headache trying to address today's problems," City Councilman James Oddo said.
Grimm told residents to read up on the Environmental Protection Agency's website to prevent mold and said he and staff members would start going door to door to distribute information.