TAMPA — Months after families began going public with complaints about mold-related health problems at their MacDill Air Force Base housing, they still worry about what the future may hold.
Some families who left their homes after finding mold are waiting on compensation for moving expenses and damaged belongings. They also worry about lingering illnesses and how to pay for them.
"We're still in limbo with nothing done or paid for from the insurance company or housing management," said Traci Lenz, a military spouse and mother of three whose family has been treated for health problems after moving out of their mold-infested base housing Jan. 15.
Lenz, 34, said her family is seeking $20,000 for moving expenses, damaged items and the cost of a hotel stay before they were able to move into a new rental property Jan. 30.
Lenz is also reluctant to sign a waiver precluding her from seeking health care cost reimbursement in the future.
"I ended up with pneumonia and it is questionable if there is fungus on my lungs," she said. "Our son will continue to have long-term health issues and my husband ended up on an inhaler with breathing problems."
Amie Norquist, 31, a military spouse and mother of four, is also waiting for about $40,000 in compensation for moving expenses and damaged household items. Like Lenz, she said her family also has lingering health issues. Her oldest daughter, she said, needs a medical airway vest to help her breathe and she does not know whether the Tricare military health-care system will pick up the cost.
Jenny Genrich, 37, said her husband Jason Genrich, 36, an Army chief warrant officer working at U.S. Special Operations Command, began experiencing a series of health problems they blame on mold in the base housing they first occupied in August. The housing management firm worked quickly to deal with their problems, Jenny Genrich said, but she still worries about children playing nearby who were exposed to moldy sub-flooring, removed from her home and left on her back porch.
Housing-related health problems have plagued military families nationwide, prompting Congressional hearings and visits to MacDill and other bases by senior military leaders.
The Pentagon is collecting data while looking for gaps in policies and procedures and considering a broader risk assessment for children in the military health care system.
Since 2007, MacDill's 572 homes have been run by Harbor Bay at MacDill, a partnership between Clarke Realty Builders and Michaels Management Services.
There may be some help on the way.
Mold Zero, a Clearwater remediation company, recently used its so-called dry fog mold removal technique to treat the Norquist's rental home in Riverview for free.
The company has other work lined up on base is looking into creating a non-profit to help base families treat mold problems, said owner Brandon Faust.
"These men and women protect us," Faust said. "We want to find a way to give back."
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