I don’t know why I’m telling this story. Maybe it’s so I can start the process of forgiving myself, knowing that what I did was beyond my control. Or maybe that’s a lie. Maybe I wanted to do it all along. I honestly don’t know.
When my buddy Raul and I heard that the Puerto Rican government was paying people to help clear the abandoned and unlivable properties that got wrecked by Hurricane Maria, we jumped at the idea. After the hurricane, neither of us were able to go back to work. Things were looking pretty bleak until that opportunity presented itself.
We went to the coordination center and got a map telling us the areas we’d be responsible for and what to do with the stuff we dragged out of the ruined houses. It was pretty straightforward – pull all the furniture and carpets and appliances out of the houses and put them on the side of the road. Trucks would pick up the junk, and, eventually, the homes would be properly demolished.
I did my best to not grimace when we were told how to tag and handle any bodies that had been missed by the initial sweeps right after the storm.
There were red X’s on the map showing where other crews were working. One spot on the far end of the grid was unmarked. It was ours.
“You’ll want to bring these,” the coordinator said, and handed us a pair of gas masks. “The mold might be toxic.” Continue reading “Far Too Much Mold”