NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York City Public Advocate Bill de Blasio on Saturday announced a plan to fight the proliferation of mold in homes and businesses that sustained flooding during Superstorm Sandy.

As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, for Debra Befumo of Howard Beach, water and bleach just aren’t cutting it. She said her basement and first floor were flooded, and now, mold is moving onto the second floor.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

“The items that I had saved now smell of mold,” she said. “I don’t want to jeopardize my health.”

De Blasio said mold has generated a major public health crisis in post-Sandy New York, even creating a malady that now has its own special name – the “Rockaway cough.”

But the Federal Emergency Management Administration does not reimburse homeowners for mold abatement, and homeowners cannot receive extensive treatment for mold through the city’s Rapid Repair program, de Blasio said.

The city will be reimbursed by the federal government if Mayor Michael Bloomberg specifically requests aid, de Blasio said.

“If we put our head in the sand, thousands of families are going to have a very bad holiday season, and a very bad beginning to 2013,” de Blasio said.

De Blasio has developed a four-point plan to fight the post-Sandy mold epidemic:

• Secure FEMA reimbursement for mold cleanup;

• Create a hotline specifically for mold-related inquiries, as currently, 311 callers are only referred a Health Department fact sheet;

• Expand mold inspections, and send a licensed mold specialists to assess the problem in specific homes;

• Establish a health monitoring network like the city did after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, where those who have suffered respiratory issues since Sandy can sign up for long-term health monitoring.

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