Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Moses Lake, WA, USA
| | Toxic Mould Exposure, My Family & Municipal Gov. Negligence
First off I want to thank you for taking time to read this. I know it is lengthy but I feel I must share as much information as I can.
In March of 1992 my husband and I decided we were ready to buy our first home. We bought our first home in Surrey, BC Canada.
The home was built sometime in the 1960's but we felt we could take this place and slowly renovate. It was not until the fall of 1992 that we had our first encounter of what had been going on with this house and property since the home was built. We woke one day to find the front part and sides of our house surrounded by 4 ft. of water which had filled the crawl space entirely. I was not only concerned for this but for the safety of my babies who I had to watch to make sure, did not open the front door and end up in water over their head. This situation was not a one time occurance but we found out later was the usual. We were appalled, shocked and quite upset. I placed calls to the city and all they would do "during the flood" is send someone from city works to come out, flash their lights on the water, put a barracade over the road where flooding started and then leave us. Finally I took this to a lawyer in Cloverdale to be told there was no law at the time stating the previous owners had to disclose this. Secondly, we could try going against the city but it would cost us thousands in legal bills we couldn't afford. The lawyer then told us, we would not stand a chance of winning because the city had the high price lawyers working for them and that basically it was a losing battle. We couldn't afford, being locked in to a new mortgage to turn around and sell, and re-buy adding on more real estate and legal fees. We felt no choice but to stay put hoping the city would eventually hear us with all our calls and eventually several visits from local television to assess the flooding and to air it on tv. We found that the most help because the media would show the problem and then would also go back to the city interviewing them about what they were going to do for us. There were many promises of improvements, etc but they never fullfilled any of them. I finally started trying to do my own paper trail by contacting the receptionist of city hall who had a kind spot and sent me a letter from the previous owners dating back to 1968 asking the city to deal with the flooding that was emcompassing their house, washing away personal items in their carport and leaving them to have to wade through water up to their hips to get out and salvage their things in the middle of the night. They talked about how firemen had to get boats in to get the neighbors next door off the roof of their home. I was shocked to discover this letter was written in 1968 and living in a city in a non-flood plain area, that the city could get away with this year after year. They never had a problem charging us high property taxes and leaving the occupants in this home at risk as well as the destruction of their personal property, home and contents.
Unbeknownst to us we had a mould problem in our home. I still was unaware that it was not only dangerous but can be so toxic it be fatal. When we moved in we did smell a musty smell and I worked diligently to scrub every inch of the place down with cleaners and eventually I just either was desensitized to the smell or cleaned enough with products to hide it. One month after moving into our home I became quite ill and was so weak I couldn't function at the high level of perfectionism I had before. Unable to get off the couch I was so weak. I had many tears and believe the start of my depression going from a mom who was so physically active to not being able to even hold my head up. My doctor ran test after test to try to find out what was wrong and eventually diagnosed me with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue, both of which are symptoms of mould exposure. I was unaware as that I was breathing in toxins that would cause this, let alone not knowing my baby's too were at risk. This was the outcome.
My oldest daughter who was 2 1/2 when we moved in ended up diagnosed with asthma which has since turned into more of a problem with sinus infections than asthma. She has heightened sensitivity to any smells and gets sick. She had her tonsils removed by the time she was 10 and has had an ongoing battle with all of these symptoms.
My second oldest who was 8 months old when we moved in there was a very, very sick baby. She was not thriving and the pediatrition, doctor and myself were baffled as to why. She was 14 pounds at that time and would drop a pound in a week or less and was nearly hospitalized to have a battery of test ran to find out what the problem was. She was 8 months old and refused to eat solids so we were told by the pediatrition she had to be force fed. She had chronic ear problems leading to several surgeries to put tubes in. This also affected her ability to walk so she didn't start walking till the day after her tubes were put in at nearly 2 years old. She has struggled a lot with her health from the time she was a baby to the present. Last year after two years of trying to find out what was wrong she was diagnosed with endometreosis after her last of 3 surgeries. This is usually genetic and does not run on either my side or my husbands side of the family. I believe that the mould exposure is the culprit since studies have shown it can do damage to all organs of the body and cause infertility.
My twin boys......they had the unfortunate birthdate of being born in November of 1993-when the flooding and dampness is the worst-the fall and winter months. They were born healthy, weighing 6, 12 and 7, 9. They had no respiratory issues whatsoever until my doctor sent us home 5 days later. They came down with bronchilitis right away, then leading to rsv and now permanent medical problems with asthma. Their bouts have been so bad that I have had uncountable trips to emergency so the doctor finally prescribed a nebulizer machine for use at home. My one son has been in the hospital a couple times with asthma when in severe respiratory distress. My doctor has told me if it wasn't for my wisdom and ability in dealing with their asthma they would have been hospitalized numerous times. They now have compromised lungs due to the asthma attacks and scarring.
My youngest daughter was born in Sept. 1996 and she too has had several health problems. She had sleep apnea which I was unaware of. Due to her always being stuffed up with fluid in her ears, nose and throat, she not only suffered from this but also with swollen tonsils. Several antibiotics later I still didn't realize the problem. It was not till she hit preschool that her teacher told me she wasn't hearing properly. The doctor then sent me to an ear specialist out of Childrens Hospital who said she not only needed tubes put in, but also her adenoids and tonsils removed because they were so large they were constricting her breathing giving her very severe sleep apnea. When I look back I still see her at only 5 laying there after surgery in great pain and distress realizing none of this would have occured if she had not been exposed to the mould.
I was not aware until seeing an interview with a family on the news who had been through toxic mould exposure what the mould was doing to us. From that time on I became even more pro-active in how to deal with this problem, but we were financially in a bad straight as a one income family raising 5 children and me with my own health issues.
I battled the city through the media and then I decided since they didn't care I had to go about this differently. I talked to others about what we could do to get rid of the mould destroying our health and our home. I was put in contact with someone that puts in ultraviolet lights as an air purifier which turns mould into ash. We had that put in and had to pay the 1200.00 for this. We hoped and crossed our fingers that would be enough. It wasn't. This is why:
The air purifier had to run through the furnace and more times than I can remember our crawl space became so full of water it would fill the heating ducts. The first few times my husband convinced me it would be fine to turn the heat on when the water was gone. Little did I know that the stagnant water was still trapped in the ducts and using the furnace would fill the house full of more toxins and mould. A year later when having Sears in to do a thorough cleaning of our ducts and opening them up we discovered with shock and disgust that there was still water in there from the year before. I was able to go back to that previous year and connected the dots the day after that flood, my youngest came down with bronchial problems and then rsv which put her in the hospital. A year later, toxic, mouldy, stagnant water going through our whole house and who knows what else as to our health!!
A summary on my health and that of my husbands and the affect it has had. (All this is documented through doctors reports). My health continued to take a down hill spiral from there. The doctor said I was suffering from depression and encouraged medication but I kept going thinking the depression would pass. With each baby they said I had severe post-partum depression. It landed me in the hospital when my youngest was 5 months old. From there I have had a real struggle with such severe depression that I have been hospitalized more times than I can remember. There were many suicide attempts too. My children and husband went through hell because of this. It's only now, that I feel I am finally starting to function at a higher emotional level than I have in years-wonder why?? I'm not faced with taking in toxin mould day in and day out that left me unable to even get out of bed most of the time!! I have been unable to care for my home with being so ill with the chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia and depression that my husband, children and myself lost far too much quality time together. The domino affect left me feeling hopeless. I was unable to keep my home up, take the kids out to do family outings like days at the park. Most of my days were spent sleeping sometimes 75-90% of the time. I moved in this home a healthy, vibrant young mother with many goals and aspirations and now I have several health issues as well as obesitiy due to the fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, depression, medications and lack of physical exercise.
My husband went down hill. He suffered from depression and fatigue finding it hard to do anything. This caused great strain on our marriage and years of fighting and unhappiness. He had times when he would try to do reno's like pulling walls off to add on to our addition and then end up on medical leave for a month due to coming down with pneumonia.
For the past year-On Decmeber 5, 2006 we were having a new furnace put in so I had the heating ducts cleaned thoroughly once again. On December 12, 2006, the furnace was then installed. Then you can guess what happened from there-Flooding on January 3 which once again filled the heating ducts meaning we had no heat. I didn't have another 500.00 to put out on a job already done and a created problem due to city negligence. I contacted the city and put in a damage report. They just sent a letter weeks later saying they were looking into the damage report but they didn't. They didn't even bother replying or answering my calls. We had no heat for 3 months even after several calls telling them we had no heat and 5 children living in that condition. I told them we were in the coldest winter months and had no time for them to make a long drawn out decision. It was then that I was told-3 months to the day when I called to complain that I was told, "we have talked about it and we have decided to do nothing for you." Therefore all this time not only did we have no heat but no way to run the air purifier and combat any of the mould.
During this time my children became more ill with severe asthma bouts at which times it would leave me fearful I would find my twin boys dead in the morning. I had never, ever seen them so distressed with this condition. They would choke and gasp for breath in their sleep and wake up panicked from not getting air in their lungs. I had them on the nebulizer religiously and ended up having them on steriods which also did nothing to help. Doctors as well as physicians out of Children's Hospital told me I had to get them out of this house right away.
It was March 22 of this year - 2007, we were again hit with the worst flood ever, penetrating into our house and walls, not just in our floor joist and crawl space. And after the city saying they were doing nothing, I gave up and had to once again take it over their head. I sent out a letter to every politician and the mayor of Surrey, Dianne Watts as to what had been occuring for over 40 years. Within two days I had a call from the city groveling at what they could do. They even sent a restoration company in that stated in writing our floors and walls had moisture throughout and the crawl space was loaded in mould spores.
By this time with no air purifier to combat the mould and so much water damage there was lots of visible mould growing on the walls. Not that we hadn't had lots anyway to deal with and clean up. I was constantly having to put bleach on all the growing mould to try to kill it but then was later told that even non-viable mould is toxic so either way.....damned if we do, damned if we don't.
During this time my oldest daughter as well as my sons were severely asthmatic and ill. I fought all I could to get them out of the house. That was no small feat with there being no organizations out there geared to help with this kind of situation. I even tried the homeless shelter organization and found there is more to help the homeless than children who are at risk of dying due to this. Does that make me angry?? Yes, hard-working, middle class families who get dinged with taxes from the government and when they are in need or in distress, there is no help.
We lived in two motels and then the city came back with the answer they refused to fix the house due to a beginning estimate of 15,000.00 minimum to restore the situation. They stated they didn't plan to take action to deal with the flooding problem right away. Therefore, they said they were looking at buying our house and property. They promised fair market value and lied to no surprise. By this time were aware of how they play games. I turned down the first offer they made and they came back with a counter offer only 25,000.00 higher which was still 25,000.00 below market value. The man I was dealing with was exasperated with me saying he thought I wanted out of this house and tried to manipulate the situation. I told him I did want out but I also did not want to lose everything because they were being unfair in what they were offering.
I had a realtor come in who told me that there was no need to try to fix anything up or do anything because our house was un-sellable, given the mould problem and the stigma of that being as bad or worse as grow-op homes. We were completely backed in a corner and under enormous stress. We were barely even making the minimum monthly payments by this time. The realtor told us we would be unable to put it on the market untill it was fully restored and certified as being mould free. We were stuck living by this time in a rental home we could not afford as well as a mortgage on a home we could not live in, nor sell. She then told me that what the city was offering was far too low a price for what we had in property and our new shed just built worth over 6,000.00.
Being backed in a corner we had no choice but to accept the offer. This meant that by the time all debt was paid off we couldn't start over again in our home city with house prices so high. I decided as an American that I had seen enough and was bitter enough at how people could be treated worse than garbage that not only did I want out of Canada but I knew it was the only way to find a home we could afford. The past 6 months my children have been tossed here and there through 2 motel stays, a temporary move for a week back to the home, then a rental and now another move yet again this past August. My lungs too are now compromised from having to move our things out of the house I was very ashtmatic and on heavy steriods that were not working and was told I would stop breathing in my sleep. I now have been set up to have pulmonary function tests on my lungs in October. I discovered when moving our belongings out that my bedroom furniture and many wood things have got water damage and are black from the moisture that went into the wood. We have now had to move 5 hours away-Moses Lake, WA to start over where house prices are lower. My children have been through enough with their health, the loss of stability of living in the home they were born in, the loss of their school and friends and so much more not to mention their health. My 2nd oldest feels she needs to finish school where she has gone all her life and my oldest just started university there so we now have the seperation of our family who were very close as well as having to struggle to rent there for them and a mortgage here. I now have to find a full time job and I don't feel as far as my health I have the stamina for a full time job yet. My 3 youngest are seperated from their father who has to stay in Canada till he can get papers approving him to live and work down here. It has taken it's toll on my one son who is very depressed about this especially.
And as for the city and their cover up in this...........as for buying our home....they wanted this settled and expedited quickly to get the house. They acted as if it was for us telling me they knew we could not afford the mortgage and rent which we couldn't but more because they wanted to get rid of any evidence as quickly as they could. They even told me they were only given us a few days after this was settled to completely be off the property and have our belongings removed. We all know how fast the municipal government moves...they don't and yet, within a month or less of buying our home they had it fanced off right away and then demolished.
The environmentalist I had in told me that once exposed to the degree we have been the most our health will ever improve after this is 5-10%. He said "right now your boys may only be walking around with a puffer and on a nebular machine, but what about when they are 50 and they have to walk around with an oxygen tank."
There is nothing more the city can rob me of than what they already have and I will not rest till I see that they have to stand up and face what they have destoyed. I know we will never have our health fully restored but for me to put closure to what has been done, I need to knoe they will not be so easily able to do this to others.
I wish I could go back in time and start over with more knowledge. Knowledge of dishonest people, realtors, the municipal government and those responsible for this. I wish I had the wisdom then I do now so we didn't have to be where we are today. I don't want to see these corrupt people get away with this over and over. They may own the highest priced lawyers with power and the law on their side knowing they can't be touched, but we people have the right to stand up and speak out about injustice.
What I am doing I owe to my children who will have to deal with all this has cost them both in the past and in their future. We have lost so much including the passing of our family cat from the mould exposure. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule and day to read this. I welcome any correspondence and help you can offer~ you will have a very grateful family.
Last edited by moderator2; 12-06-2007 at 11:34 AM.
Reason: posted real name contact info