**FEMA trailer residents worry about mold **
Thursday, December 27, 2007 By CHERIE WARD
**The Mississippi Press **
GAUTIER – Although the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that trailers will be tested for formaldehyde, some Jackson County FEMA trailer occupants are shopping for extra cleaning supplies to fight what they say said is black mold.
Government scientist will begin Friday measuring formaldehyde emissions in hundreds of FEMA trailers across the Gulf Coast, but Sonya Bartholomew said FEMA should be testing for black mold, too.
Bartholomew and her family have lived in the Jefferson Street FEMA park for nearly a year. She said black mold began appearing almost immediately and that FEMA representatives have made several trips to her trailer to inspect the problem.
“And they just spray bleach on it,” Bartholomew said. “It doesn’t matter if you scrub and scrub – it just comes right back.”
“We haven’t had a problem with formaldehyde that I know of,” Bartholomew said. “Just mold everywhere.”
Cheryl Bozeman, a FEMA spokeswoman, said Wednesday that trailer occupants should call the agency’s maintenance support center at 866-877-6075 to report any mold.
Bozeman said FEMA responds to complaints by sending someone to inspect the trailer and, if mold is found, a contractor is brought in to remove it.
FEMA on Wednesday did not immediately have available numbers on how many mold complaints the agency has received or responded to.
Bobby Cochran, who lives across from Bartholomew, said he’s experienced breathing problems for nearly two years – the entire time he’s lived in the park.
“I lived here a year with black mold,” Cochran said. “I’ve got lawyers involved and everything. I cough and gag all the time and spit up black stuff 24-7. It won’t heal up. I don’t know if it’s formaldehyde or mold or both.”
Cochran said he can spend a couple of nights in a hotel and his condition will improve.
“But, then I come back and it starts over again,” Cochran said. “They need to test for formaldehyde, but they need to do something about the black mold, too.”
Ashley Countryman, who lives in the Ingalls Avenue FEMA park said her trailer has black mold as well.
“It’s in the sink, beside the tub, everywhere – put it that way,” Countryman said. “I don’t know about formaldehyde – I just know about the mold.”
She said when she calls FEMA to report the mold – which Countryman said was there when she moved in two years ago – she’s told to clean it herself.
“They tell me the mold problem is mine to handle,” Countryman said. “I’m fighting a never-winning battle.”
More than a year has passed since FEMA started fielding complaints from people who suspected their trailers were emitting hazardous levels of formaldehyde, which is sometimes found in household building materials and can cause respiratory problems.
FEMA has temporarily suspended sale of its trailers and says it won’t be using them as temporary shelters for disaster victims until safety concerns are addressed.
A final report about formaldehyde emissions is expected in May.
Reporter Amber Craig and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Reporter Cherie Ward can be reached at email@example.com or 228-934-1442.