I know I haven’t posted in a while. It’s been a really, really long time. Honestly, I was starting to get tired writing about the same stuff over and over again. The elections, KS school funding formula, taxes – it was hard to come up with creative ways to say the same thing so I just stopped for a while. After 400+ pages of content, I thought I could take a little break, spend some time on twitter and get back to it when I was energized.
Just when I was starting to get jazzed to write again, disaster hit. And then hit again. To make matters worse, I can’t escape it. Disaster is literally in my air.
Two years ago, I purchased a condo for my family. I thought a condo would be a great investment for us. After a divorce and some time in an apartment, I was ready to buy my first place on my own. I found the perfect place at 103rd and Nall. It was a great size, had a lot of green space and was in walking distance to Nall Park. We are one of the middle units of a four-plex. The pool is right across the street. I don’t have to rake or mow a lawn. Amelia and I were happy and felt settled.
Thursday, July 27 – it rained all night. I think the final count was about six inches of rain. I woke up about 6 am to what I thought was the sound of a fan. It wasn’t a fan. It was water pouring into my basement. I ran downstairs. I found about a foot of water. Indian Creek was over the banks. Normally, you can’t see the creek from my unit. You can see by the images that morning how high the creek was. It was coming into my basement from my basement toilet, shower drain and floor drain.
Some of these picture are after the water starting going down.
I immediately started cleaning up. I realized that the unit next to mine, 10435 Ash was vacant and had been for months. I emailed and called my HOA management company telling them what happened. I told them that the unit next to mine was vacant. If I had water like this, then everyone in our four-plex had water. My neighbor on the outside unit confirmed.
Clean up took place immediately. All wet items were disposed of. Fans were running. A dehumidifier was going non-stop. I continued to send messages about the unit next to mine. Was it cleaned up? I didn’t notice anyone over there.
About a week later, I smelled mildew. The smell was in my garage, in my kitchen on the main floor and in the basement. I thought maybe the flood water had left that smell so I continued to mop and mop again with bleach water. I lit candles to cover the mildew smell. I continued to inquire about the unit next to us with the condo management company.
My daughter came down with an upper respiratory infection. Kids get sick. I didn’t think much of it. Then I got sick. Asthma attacks, sinus infection, ear infections. It wouldn’t go away. It lasted weeks. I continued to ask about the unit next door.
I finally received an email back from the management company. “We entered the unit”, the email said.
“What did you find?”
I showed up at our monthly board meeting a week later. My agenda item was at the end.
The management company spoke first.
“We weren’t sure who owned the unit and that’s why it took us so long to figure out what to do. We (the board) entered the unit last week and it’s not safe for you and your daughter to be there anymore. The unit was covered in mold.”
My head was spinning. Not know who owned the unit? Not sure how to handle it? You knew last week and I’m sitting here today just hearing about this?
“There are pictures, but they are so bad you probably don’t want to see them,” said a board member.
We got out that night. I alerted the neighbors in my four-plex of the findings.
Then the phone calls started. Within 2 calls, I knew who owned the unit. James B Nutter took possession of the property in June. I called them repeatedly explaining how bad the situation was. We had been sick and weren’t able to live there. What were they going to do to help us?
I called Johnson County – emergency management, the health department, the environmental department. There are no mold standards so nothing they can do to help.
Multiple calls and emails with Johnson County Wastewater. Why did their sewer system back up into our basements? Did we qualify for a back up prevention unit to help prevent this in the future? After assessments, it turns out we do not. It’s a four-plex unit and they told me that they can’t install a back up unit because units are on one sewer line. I have a sewer ejection pump that was installed in 2005 by JOCO Wastewater as an alternative. I wasn’t aware of this. I replaced it last year for $1500. It was fully functional. It could not keep up with the sewer water. According to JOCO Wastewater, that is my issue not theirs. My issue? I had the sewer line assessed. It’s clear to the county line. It’s still my issue according to Johnson County even though Indian Creek overflowed into their sewer system and backed up into our condo. The damage claim I submitted was denied.
Same issue, different month – August. Inches and inches of rain fell. Indian Creek overflows. All of our drains back up into our unit. Again, working ejection pump and sump pump and it couldn’t keep up with the water. Clean up begins immediately. This time it’s easier because I had gotten almost everything off the floor for fear this would happen another time. Again, I reach out to the management company and James B Nutter saying how concerned I was about the vacant unit. Again, nothing.
I test for mold in my unit. It’s positive for mold in the basement and kitchen.
Multiple insurance calls and assessments. The mold isn’t from my unit. It’s from the unit next door, therefore, insurance claim denied.
With no communication from Nutter, I decide I have to move forward on remediating my unit. I hire a company do clean up for mold. In come the air scrubbers. Out goes my basement kitchen and bathroom, most of the drywall, anything porous in the basement like my dresses, purses, Amelia’s art projects, my wedding album, my grandmother’s jewelry box. I refuse to throw away my prom and wedding dress. They are currently sealed up in a bag in my garage. I was advised not to open them.
Amelia and I were living with family for months. Our cats were living with friends. It’s exhausting and stressful not to be at home. Our condo started to appear abandoned. We traveled every other day to check on it -get the mail, water what’s left of the houseplants. I make jokes that we aren’t homeless, but instead “displaced” to try to make light of this horrible situation. I hire an attorney.
Nutter’s attorney said they will make it right. We almost never hear from them. My expenses are racking up. Mold tests $350 x 3, remediation $3600, lawyers fees, doctors bills, prescription medication costs, food bills from eating out so much, paying a mortgage for a place I can’t live in. We are tired and sick. My bank account is empty and our lives are in crisis.
We finally hear from Nutter in mid-October. They cleaned up. That is what is communicated to my attorney. Amelia and I can’t move fast enough to get our family back together in our home. The cats moved back in. We unpacked.
And then it starts. Amelia complains of severe headaches. She has a sore throat. Something is wrong. She goes to her dad’s. Her symptoms clear up. We decide she needs to stay there. I stay in the house thinking if I’m on the top-level with the windows open, I can stand it. Not long after, I come down with a double ear infection.
I have to get out again. The day I was moving out, there was a contractor at the vacant unit. I introduced myself and told him we were suffering from mold problems.
“I bet you are.”
“Can I come in and take a look around?”
He invited me down the basement.
“Did you ever receive an order to remediate for mold,” I asked.
“No. We were just told to pull up the carpet.”
The carpet was sitting in a pile in the corner.
On my way out, water is pouring from the ceiling on the 2nd floor onto the main floor. I can’t get out fast enough.
These are some of the pictures of what I found.
We move out again, but leave our cats. They adapted during the first move, but I couldn’t bring myself to move them again. It’s too upsetting. We go back and check on them almost daily. This goes on for November. We start noticing behavior changes. Gus doesn’t come to greet us like he normally does. I’m concerned they are depressed.
In the meantime, we hear that Nutter had contractors over the vacant unit to “clean up” after a story aired on WDAF Fox4. They said they didn’t realize how bad it was. There were pictures from the board in August. I called and pleaded with them multiple times when this began.
My attorney says they are ready to walk around the empty unit with me for inspection. I ask for a mold test of the unit. I am not a mold expert. Walking around will not confirm there isn’t mold.
No response from James B Nutter. No date of a scheduled inspection.
My cat’s behavior was so concerning that I risked it and move back in temporarily the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Both cats perk up. I had a minor sore throat before I moved back in and almost immediately had a diagnosis of bronchitis and asthma flare ups. Urgent care visit for a breathing treatment, more steroids and antibiotics. My second round in 3 months.
I could still tell something is wrong with the cats and I couldn’t stand to leave them again. Last Wednesday night, Gus, 2 years old, jumped off the couch and couldn’t stand on his left side. He wasn’t seeing out of his left eye. His left side was limp. He died 11/30/17.
I wasn’t going to share this whole story via blog, but telling my daughter about her cat has left my family heartbroken.
To date, we have moved the remaining cat out. We are back with family. We still have not heard from James B. Nutter.
James B Nutter – there are no words.
Young Management – I couldn’t have reached out any more with my concerns. Days went by when you discovered the mold and when I was alerted. If I wasn’t at the board meeting, what was the plan?
JOCO Wastewater – sewer water in residential homes IS an issue for our city, county and state. This is a serious health problem. It is not a homeowner issue. If your sewer system can’t accommodate a creek, work with the city and the county and FIX IT.
Indian Creek – I am calling on city leaders to DO SOMETHING about this creek.
State and Federal Officials – we need mold standards. People and animals are ill. Homes are unable to be lived in.
What now? You will have to ask James B. Nutter that question.