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Letter in”Newport Daily News” – Feb 19th, 2004

To the Editor,

Jan 27, marked the end of a two-year ordeal for my family. We weren’t victims of terrorism, fire or homicide, but of a more silent, yet equally devastating thing: black toxic mold, which blossomed like a terrible secret garden behind the sheet rock in the basement.

In the past few years, toxic mold (stachybotrus) has been brought to public consciousness with increasing frequency. Here on Aquidneck Island there have been several cases in both public buildings and private homes. Yet for all the publicity – and its frightening prevalence – few people know about I, or know how to protect themselves from it. Those who do know often ignore it, hoping that a little bleach and some time will make it magically disappear.

It won’t.

Our lives took a triple nose-dive into medical and financial disaster; homelessness and heartbreaking personal loss. We learned first-hand of the callousness of some in the legal profession, of insurance companies, and of many of those individuals and organizations we rely on to help us in emergencies. As long time community activists and volunteer workers, we also learned much about how community can disappear in times of personal crisis, as though trouble were an infectious disease.

But, thankfully, we also discovered how help and true friendship endure, and do much to ease sorrowing and fearful hearts. We wish to take this opportunity to thank all those people who stood by us during those two terrible years. You know who you are, and we love you and bless you forever.

In particular, we wish to publicly thank and honor our lawyer, Amy G. Rice of Portsmouth. Ms. Rice is that rare and precious thing: a lawyer who works with integrity and passion, above and beyond the call of duty, to fight for the rights of her clients. Her tireless efforts won us back our home and restitution of out losses. She is a great resource, knowledgable about toxic mold at a time when most mold lawyers live in major cities and have immensely long waiting lists. In addition she is a woman of humanity and heart, and we owe her more than words can express.

Thank you, Amy. And thanks, too, to all our friends who took us in, who loved and supported us through the long dark journey.

For those of you with toxic mold, we will, as much as we are able, try to be a resource for you. Our most important word of advice: seek legal advice from someone like Ms Rice before accepting what your insurance company tells you. Good Luck

Victoria Williams, Swami Shivananda, and Daphne Dirlam