Nidia Rivera of Brockton stands in her son’s basement bedroom on Wednesday, April 6, 2011. Rivera’s basement flooded during last year’s storms and will be rebuilt by volunteers.
BROCKTON — Months after Nidia Rivera’s basement flooded, she began coughing and itching when she went there to do laundry.
When a company told Rivera it would cost up to $4,000 to rid her basement of mold, she knew she needed help.
“I said, ‘Whew, I don’t have that kind of money,’” said Rivera, 48, of Brockton,.
Rivera supports her 31-year-old son, Kenny Valez, who has brain damage and a seizure disorder, and cares for two foster daughters. Rivera’s daughter, Jocelyn Valez, 29, also lives in Rivera’s home in the northwest section of the city with her 2-year-old son, Avyel.
They are just one example of a local family still struggling to rebuild more than a year after record-breaking floods ravaged the region.
“This is the kind of damage we see day in and day out,” said Paula Farrales, a case manager for the local coalition Southeastern Massachusetts Long-Term Recovery Group.
The group has handled more than 300 cases resulting from floods that caused a federally-declared disaster in the region last year, she said.
Mold growing in still-damp houses is one of the problems.
“We’re still getting calls from people that still have mold from last year, believe it or not,” said Farrales.
So the coalition is planning a “Day of Caring” to help about 15 local families install fresh drywall, mostly in damaged basements, Farrales said.
Homes in Brockton, Stoughton, Randolph, Norton and other towns and cities will be visited by volunteers from Self Help Inc., Youth Build and area businesses on April 16.
Farrales said volunteers have already stripped mold from many of the homes. Now, they are performing the final step of rebuilding damaged walls.
But mold still lingers in Rivera’s basement, making Rivera fear for the health of her daughter, who is pregnant.
The project was too much for her to handle alone.
So she called Self Help Inc., and Avelina Teixeira, a remediation specialist for the agency’s Healthy Homes program, came to the house. She knew immediately Rivera had a problem.
“I could smell the musty smell,” she said.
On April 16, Rivera’s basement will be filled with volunteers and fresh supplies.
“It will be alright,” Farrales said during a recent visit, hugging Rivera. “You will be surprised how this room will be done.”
Walgreens, which has five stores in Brockton, is sponsoring the construction and health and wellness efforts at Rivera’s house.
“This one kind of grabbed us,” said store manager John Ribble, adding that the business is “always looking for a good cause in the community.”
On the day of the event, Stop & Shop and Able Restoration are also chipping in, and U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch is expected to make an appearance, Farrales said. Providence Canteen will provide breakfast and lunch to volunteers.
The Southeastern Massachusetts Long-Term Recovery Group is a coalition dedicated to flood relief, including Self Help Inc., faith-based groups, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency.
Massachusetts Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and students from Bridgewater State University and Massasoit Community College are also involved in the effort, Farrales said.
The group is still looking for supporters. To join, meet at 7 a.m. on April 16 at the Pentecost United Methodist Church, 380 West Chestnut St., Brockton.
“Hopefully, the community will come out and cheer the volunteers,” said Farrales.
Amy Littlefield may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.