Renters outraged storage unit disposing their belongings after Ida flooding in New Jersey

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Wednesday, October 13, 2021
Renters outraged storage unit disposing belongings after Ida flooding
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Nina Pineda has more on the outraged renters fighting to gain access to their belongings.

SCOTCH PLAINS, New Jersey (WABC) -- Renters of units at a big Public Storage facility in Union County were told that their belongings are being thrown out because of flooding caused by the remnants of Ida six weeks ago.

The renters of the storage unit along Route 22 say they weren't given any notice. They said they were informed last week that the contents of a dozen storage spaces were unsalvageable, hazardous and everything on the lower level was a total loss.

The company said it would therefore dispose of all contents.

The renters are outraged and about a dozen gathered Wednesday afternoon trying to get inside. The police had to be called to keep people off the property.

One man said he stored music and sports memorabilia that he invested in for his nest egg, others had business records and irreplaceable sentimental items that they just want to see.

Some people are in transition and moving to new houses or storing business equipment and records there and said what's inside is nothing short of their entire lives and livelihoods.

Gary Pastor said he easily had $40,000 worth of stuff in his storage unit and he hopes it wasn't all thrown out.

"I hope not, and if they did, you see these young guys clearing it out, they said it's hazmat and meanwhile they're walking around without masks, these folks are sitting in the building without how dangerous is it," Pastor sai.

"We didn't find out for two weeks that our units were even flooded and now they're saying that there's bacteria and mold and things on them," Bridget McGowan said.

"I am appalled, I am so heartbroken, these are my things that you so callously bagged up and threw out without our regard," Mary Jean Murphy said.

Murphy was able to hire a lawyer and she has succeeded in getting an injunction so Public Storage is not permitted from entering or disposing of anything in her unit until a hearing November 5.

But she said that doesn't help the hundreds of other people impacted. Those that gathered on Wednesday said they might file a class-action lawsuit and just want the opportunity to get in and salvage what they can on their own.

A spokespereon for Public Storage released the following statement:

"Hurricane Ida was New Jersey's second most devastating storm on record, and we deeply sympathize with our customers who lost belongings as a result of the damage it caused. We made every attempt to allow customers into the facility, but as we previously communicated to all affected customers, our certified environmental health and safety consultants at Hillmann Consulting have determined that there is no safe way to access the affected area and the items stored there due to raw sewage, toxins, and hazardous mold caused by the storm. We had no choice but to declare items stored in the affected area a total loss and unsalvageable and to have certified personnel dispose of those items appropriately for the safety of our employees, customers, and the community.

"We understand this situation is disappointing and challenging for our customers. For affected customers, we have refunded September's rent and are not charging for October. We are committed to providing our customers with photos and other documentation needed for insurance. We will continue to work with customers to help address their needs and guide them through the insurance claims process."

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