NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Black mold forced a south Nashville couple to bulldoze their home after the flood in early May and now they can't afford to rebuild and there isn't any financial help available.
Charles and Sandra Ortolano's home on Wimpole Drive had been in their family for more than 40 years.
In early May, the couple lost everything.
“It came like a tidal wave,” Charles Ortolano said of the raging floodwaters. “[It was] unreal, [we] didn't have time to get anything out.”
The floodwaters nearly covered their house and when they receded, black mold was everywhere.
Charles Ortolano said, “[It was] full of black mold from floor to ceiling, the more you brought back, the more you saw black mold.”
A contractor told the couple it would cost more money to renovate than to start from scratch, not to mention the health risks associated with black mold, so the couple decided to bulldoze their home.
The demolition alone cost them around $14,000 and now, they can't afford to rebuild and can't get any financial help.
“If I would have known what it would lead to, we would have just walked away,” Sandra Laws Ortolano told News 2.
In the days after the flood, the couple looked to FEMA but because they had flood insurance, they were only granted $2,000.
The money they received from their insurance company will only cover their belongings, what was inside the house, and will not fund a total rebuild.
Other programs they have looked into, like the mayor's We Are Home flood recovery program, will only provide assistance to repair flood-damaged homes, not build brand new ones.
“It was only for people who were remodeling, if you don't have a home, you need a home,” Sandra Laws Ortolano explained.
In addition to a grant or low interest loan to help them rebuild, the couple also needs help paying rent at their temporary apartment as assistance they previously received has run out.
The Ortolanos have now reached out to the grassroots volunteer group North Nashville Flood Relief to see if they can offer any kind of assistance.