A local contractor who is a restoration specialist who was hired by August Moon apartments quit over the weekend because he says managers wanted him to cut corners and cover up moldy walls. The contractor told WLOX News that he refused to do the job if it wasn't done to specifications and he says he fears there could be health implications for the adults and children who live in those apartments
"And it got really bad right here cause it's swollen and it got into this closet and all over the whole carpet," August Moon tenant Stephanie McNair said.
McNair, her boyfriend, and two children can't afford to move right now and so they're living in an apartment with mold growing on the walls. When Allison blew through more than two weeks ago, it covered the living room with about a foot of water. That flood soaked carpet still hasn't been pulled up and in portions, it is still damp to the touch.
"I don't think anybody should live in nothing like this, but I don't have a choice right now, so we're just bearing with it," McNair said.
Derrick Luvene has also been waiting for managers to do something about the soaked carpet in his apartment. He also has mold on his walls--problems he says the apartment manager is aware of.
"Telling me I just got to put up with it 'til they can do something, 'til we can come in and pull the carpet out," Luvene said. "I been ready to go. I been ready to get out of here."
After the local contractor left the job, managers decided apartment maintenance crews would complete the work. Currently, five of the 68 flooded apartments are being worked on, but even apartment workers have concerns about the way managers want the work done.
The maintenance workers told us off camera that in order to keep costs down, they've been instructed by managers not to pull out all of the dry wall, even if it is covered with mold.
Workers and tenants both say they wonder about the health implications. Stephanie McNair wants to know how long she'll have to live with the mold.
"I asked them, but it will be awhile, a few weeks, a couple weeks, but they've been removing carpet from other apartments, but they haven't pulled this up yet and I got two kids--one of them is sick," McNair said.
Larry Fernandez, a supervisor with the Texas management company for August Moon, says the contractor we talked to was fired from the job for padding the bill and he is just disgruntled.
Fernandez says the complex has hired additional maintenance staff to work on the apartments and they're working as quickly as possible and will pull out all of the damaged carpet and drywall.
He also told WLOX News that he wasn't aware that all of the wet carpet hadn't been pulled out and he said that would be taken care of Wednesday.
The mold, he says, is something that will be taken care of in the next couple months and tenants will have to be patient.
The state health department says this is really not their jurisdiction and said it's up to the city of Gulfport building inspectors. Ron Jones, a Gulfport Building Official, told me Wednesday afternoon that the city hasn't received any complaints about August Moon, so they haven't acted at this time. He did say that moldy walls and soaked carpet did concern him, but he said inspectors are very busy right now with flood damage all over the city and he couldn't guarantee that anyone could get out to August Moon.