LUMBERTON, NC (WBTW) – Mold is a major concern in Robeson County after dozens of homes flooded during Hurricane Florence. On Tuesday, a handful of residents learned how to identify, treat and prevent mold from growing in their homes and businesses. 

The Mold Clean-up and Treatment Workshop was held inside the sanctuary at McCormick Chapel A.M.E Church. 

The two-hour “mold-buster” training was led by the Specialized Emergency Response Team (SERT) and certified mold removers. After the training, they hosed down mold in the ceiling and in the cabinets of the church’s fellowship hall, which has mold due to roof leaks during Hurricane Florence. They also taught attendees how to identify mold, how to find “hidden mold” and which products to use to get rid of it. 

“On a hard surface, you can treat mold with Clorox or a special vinegar but Clorox or vinegar will not work on porous materials such as wood,” said Reverend Mac Legerton. “You have to use a special treatment chemical that’s available for dilution with water. This particular product is very non-toxic. You can actually treat mold when it’s wet to stop it or Slow it down and then come back and treat it once more when it’s dry.”

SERT team members also showed attendees how to use a moisture meter. Moisture meters are used to measure how much water exists inside a piece of material. Mold begins to form and accumulate on surfaces that contain about 20% moisture. A moisture meter beeps when it detects 14% moisture. Legerton says moisture meters are essential for finding “hidden mold.”

“Mold hides on the other side of the sheet rock or inside the plaster and you won’t see it until you remove it. That’s why it’s critical to use a moisture meter and check the moisture level Because if that moisture level is high, above 14 or 15, then there’s really good chance mold will grow there and eventually show itself,” he explained. “In the future, a moisture meter will be part of almost every toolkit in the family.”

Legerton says it’s important for homeowners and business owners to learn how to treat mold themselves so that they wont have to wait for assistance, and can save money and their belongings. 

“What we want to do is transfer the knowledge and skill of mold treatment and clean-up in our communities, in our non-profit organizations, in churches and in businesses to educate people on how they can themselves manage and treat and clean up mold and actually save some of their property that would normally just be thrown out on the street,” he said. “Wood furniture can be saved, particularly your antiques and special furniture that means something to you, if you have the right equipment and the treatment.”

Each participant received an informational booklet that goes over ventilation techniques, visual mold and moisture assessment, proper work sequence, and protective gear. When dealing with mold, you should always wear a protective suit, goggles, waterproof gloves, work boots, and a face mask.