7 On Your Side: New Jersey storage customers fighting to get items from Ida-flooded units

Nina Pineda Image
Thursday, October 21, 2021
NJ storage customers fighting to get items from Ida-flooded units
It's been a storage saga in Scotch Plains. Dozens of customers of Public Storage are angry that they still can't access their items.

SCOTCH PLAINS, New Jersey (WABC) -- It's been a storage saga in Scotch Plains. Dozens of customers of Public Storage are angry that their belongings, which were submerged by Ida's floodwaters, were going to be tossed out by the storage giant.

"Enough is enough, these people need their stuff!" said Nina Pineda, 7 On Your Side. "I'm out there reporting that people can get their stuff and they're told they can't get it now."

Customers showed up after being relieved last week when told they could finally access locked storage units, only to find out only customers who obtain court orders and hire remediation crews in full hazmat gear are allowed inside.

"They say one thing and do another," Pineda said to the manager.

"We didn't find out for two weeks that our units were even flooded. Now, they're saying there are bacteria and mold, only hazmat can go in of course because it's been weeks! Had we been notified, maybe we can salvage this stuff," said Bridget McGowan, Public Storage customer.

"They gave us opportunities and by the time I made an appointment they said, 'Whoops, we are changing it,' I never got an appointment," said Dee Dee Cotler, Public Storage customer.

7 On Your Side got involved to stop the trashing of belongings after Public Storage informed renters it was disposing of contents ruined by Ida's floodwaters.

It stopped only after one customer filed a court order.

"I'm so anxious, nervous, excited," said Mary Jean and Wayne Murphy, Public Storage customers.

Because of that injunction, the Murphys were allowed through the gates with a remediation team they hired to pull out the contents of their units.

"I'm just praying that there's something to remediate and save," Mary Jean Murphy said.

Her wood antiques never came out, thrown out she says, and things that could have been saved her daughter's NCAA trophies and memorabilia were ruined.

"If they had just done what said they said they would do, we wouldn't be dealing with this," Mary Jean Murphy said.

"I really hope we reach an agreement," said Jacob Davidson, an attorney. "Just like Mary Jean, to get access in the next 30 days or so, you got to remember this stuff is deteriorating!"

Twenty other renters hired the same attorney to help including former New York Giant Carl Banks has his football legacy inside, and Garry Pastore, an actor who said this a playing out like a screenplay he doesn't want any part of.

"They said they were going to do a remote viewing. They reneged, now I'm forced to hire an attorney, which I did," Pastore said.

In a statement, Public Storage said, "Keeping customers safe from the damage...is their top priority."

"We will continue to remain in direct contact with customers to ensure that they are informed of the proper next steps."

The expenses are adding up. They had to hire an attorney, and now they have to hire a remediation expert and a clean-up crew.

The Division of Consumer Affairs has received complaints about the Public Storage facility in Scotch Plains, and those complaints are open and under review. Consumers who have complaints against this business should file them with the Division by visiting its website or call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

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