Thursday, August 22, 2013

Mike Holmes: Tear Down Mold-Ridden Homes and Start Over

Mike Holmes was in the flood-devastated town of High River yesterday, once again using his clout as a celebrity home renovator to try to influence government representatives to do the right thing. Many of the homes affected by the June 20 flood are damaged beyond repair according to Mike, and he's hoping that officials such as Rick Fraser, Associate Minister of Regional Recovery and Reconstruction will agree with him. From the article, I gleaned that Mike is in High River filming one of his shows.

From the National Post:

Mike Holmes calls for mold-ridden homes to be torn down after devastating High River flood


Jen Gerson/National PostTV personality and home renovator Mike Holmes talks to the media in Calgary, Tuesday, August 20, 2013. There’s a lot of damage in High River, Holmes said after meeting with Hampton Hills residents and the minister for rebuilding the area, Rick Fraser.
His home had been sitting in several feet of water for four weeks before John Badduke was able to return. He had 15 minutes to pack a pick-up truck with his family’s belongings — most of which were so mold-ridden they had to be trashed.
When he looked in his backyard, he found TV personality Mike Holmes.
"If it’s not diamonds, leave it and walk away"
“He just happened to be walking in my backyard and I thought I’d ask him some questions and get some knowledge,” Mr. Badduke said. Mr. Holmes was filming his home renovation and repair show nearby and had come around to the flood-ravaged community of Hampton Hills to assess the damage caused by June’s floods.
“His thing was this: the house is so full of mold and structurally unsound. Don’t go in, he said: if it’s not diamonds, leave it and walk away. It’s not good.”

Lorraine Hjalte / Postmedia News fileThe view into Hampton Hills in High River on June 29, 2013. how much water still needs to be cleaned up. Evacuees were lining up to try to get back to their homes in High River on June 29, 2013.

Mr. Badduke knew right then that his home was lost. Like almost all of the structures in this community located on the fringe of the town of High River, the damage is so extensive, he won’t walk inside. This suburb was built so far from the river that it was never marked as a potential risk on the flood maps. Now, peach, black and white mold have plastered everything in his garage; mold is growing on the floor joists. It’s under the laminate and behind the siding. His floor is sagging. And Mr. Holmes has made himself an uncommon ally for residents here, mediating a talk between devastated homeowners and the provincial government during a meeting between the two this week.

“[Mike Homes] said as soon as you have water on your main floor, you’re done,” Mr. Badduke said. He had three feet of water on his main floor: seven feet filled his garage. Mold now covers the line of trophy deer antlers that decorate the roof beams of the carport.
Yet Hampton Hills is far from idle: government contractors hired in a rapid no-bid contract are donning respirators and head-to-toe white suits to clean the homes out — an action that remains baffling to residents. Why spend the time and money to clean houses that will almost certainly have to be demolished?

Jen Gerson / National Post
Jen Gerson / National PostA worker walks outside a flood-stricken home in Hampton Hills, a suburb of High River on Aug. 20. Residents of the neighbourhood are fighting to have their homes torn down as, they say, the residences are too mold-ridden to remediate.

Residents were told on Tuesday that that’s just part of the process: the buildings have to be cleared before they can be assessed by another private company — Landlink — which manages the province’s disaster relief fund. Landlink is expected to begin assessments on the homes in the coming days.
"PLEASE don’t make me sleep in the basement Daddy"
Meanwhile, two months after the flood, residents are growing more frustrated and desperate, many stretched thin financially as they pay rent on their temporary housing along with the remaining mortgages on their now-worthless homes. Many of the residents just want the government to demolish their homes, pay them out and be done with it. One resident purchased a large white sign and hung it on the second storey of his home to emphasize the potential dangers of moving back in: “PLEASE don’t make me sleep in the basement Daddy…I’m too young to die.”
There’s a lot of damage in High River, Mr. Holmes said after meeting with Hampton Hills residents and the minister for rebuilding the area, Rick Fraser.

Lorraine Hjalte / Postmedia News file Rick Fraser, Associate Minister of Regional Recovery and Reconstruction was on hand on August 8, 2013 as about 60 families started to move into the temporary neighbourhood of Saddlebrook.

“I also noticed that … there was worry: are they going to fix my house? Is my house going to come down? I know some of the houses I saw have to come down, but just because I say it doesn’t mean anything. It needs to be verified, it needs to be documented,” Mr. Holmes said.
The celebrity was filming one of his home improvement shows nearby and gave his opinion about the situation while being filmed by TV crews and news cameras alike.

The Holmes Group file TV personality and home renovator Mike Holmes

“There’s only one solution to all of this and that’s patience. And it’s a real shame and I feel for the people because how would you like to be kicked out of your house, lose everything you have and still have a mortgage to pay and now you’ve gotta pay rent if you don’t have a place to go and you have kids. I get that. You don’t even have a pillow for them. You gotta buy a pillow,” he said.
Mr. Holmes said the government was moving in the right direction, but everyone needed to improve their communication; it’s appropriate to clean out the worst-hit homes to get a better sense of the damage before deciding whether they’ll be condemned.
But that still leaves Hampton Hills residents in limbo.
“If the home is uninhabitable because of its mold damage, the mold damage is too high or there are structural deficiencies, those homes will be demolished and rebuilt under the [Disaster Recovery Program]. But each home has to undergo an assessment and we have a group that will be starting tomorrow,” Mr. Fraser said, adding the government has asked the company to move faster and hire more people. However, “we don’t have a timeline.”
In the meantime, Hampton Hills residents walked away from Tuesday’s meeting placated. Now they know someone is coming to tell them the fate of their homes. They’re just not yet sure quite when.

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