By CBSNewYork Team

SCOTCH PLAINS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Hundreds of people in Union County have been locked out of their storage units since Hurricane Ida, fighting for access to their belongings, so what should you know before you store your stuff?

“What we’re doing is we’re going to fight this, and we’re going to get our stuff out of this storage unit,” Linden resident Robert Giglio told CBS2’s Meg Baker.

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Giglio held up a sign off Route 22 in Scotch Plains reading, “Public Storage is holding hostage our family history.”

“My mom passed and we moved all our family photos in there. Eight full booklets of family photos — grandparents, weddings, my childhood,” he said.

He and hundreds of others have been locked out of their units since Hurricane Ida flooded the building.

With the help of a lawyer, some may gain access. Mary Jean Murphy will be allowed to bring in her own remediation team to try to salvage her 35 years of memories.

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Other customers have no idea what condition items will be in after weeks of allowing mold and mildew to grow, but there is some hope.

“It appears that Public Storage is contemplating a broader pause, publicly stating that they’re going to pause,” attorney Jacob Davidson said.

Customers say the communication with Public Storage has been pathetic. Some do not even know if their belongings still exist.

“I’ve been paying them for 14 years to keep all this stuff in there,” Fanwood resident Jennifer Sirmans said.

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She says her husband has been getting calls from the storage company.

“He got a call yesterday asking if he’s causing a stir, and he said, ‘That’s irrelevant. What you’re doing is wrong,’ and the girl just said, ‘OK, great’ and hung up on him,” Sirmans said.

She pays more than $250 dollars a month. If this makes you think twice about storing your stuff somewhere, business management expert Carl Gould offered some advice on what to look for.

“You should be able to understand every aspect of the agreement. If you don’t understand it, then you should not sign it until you understand everything that you are reading. Because remember, you are handing over your belongings to somebody else,” he said.

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“What would you say to people? What should they know?” Baker asked Mary Jean Murphy.

“That you’re not protected. There’s a contract that everyone signs and it really is not in our favor,” she said.

The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is investigating complaints about Public Storage and urges customers to pay attention to provisions regarding the disposal of goods and insurance coverage.

Another tip — stick your items on pallets in case of a small flood, seal items up and take pictures.

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CBS2’s Meg Baker contributed to this report.

CBSNewYork Team