Residents of base housing at the Fort Belvoir Army Installation in Fairfax County, Virginia, say they’re experiencing asthma flareups, skin rashes, headaches and other health problems due to mold in their homes.
The residents said they don’t fault the U.S. Army but the company hired to build and manage base housing.
“Because the housing market was so insane when we got stationed here, we decided to live on post,” Breanna Bragg said.
She and her family, including two young children, moved to temporary quarters at Fort Belvoir 50 days ago, leaving behind almost everything in their base home after mold was discovered. Bragg said the trouble began with a big ceiling leak.
“It looked like a waterfall in my house,” she said. “There was water everywhere just coming down and flooding my entire downstairs area.”
Bragg and her family are part of a class action lawsuit against The Michaels Organization, which is contracted by the Army to provide construction and management services, known as Fort Belvoir Residential Communities and The Villages at Belvoir. The lawsuit filing is filled with images of mold and water damage found inside several homes there.
Plaintiffs’ attorney Joseph Langone said the Army’s own base inspectors have to sign off on the work and have sometimes determined it to be incomplete.
Northern Virginia news, events and updates
“These families are suffering, and they can’t concentrate on their mission,” he said. “We have these servicemembers; they give us everything. And the last thing you need to do is be distracted.”
The Michaels Organization issued a statement to News4 that says, in part, “Fort Belvoir Residential Communities and our local management team work diligently to promptly resolve any issues that arise with residents' individual homes.”
Christine Wayenberg has been trying to help along the process of decontaminating clothes and other necessities for her family, which includes three young sons. She said their respiratory and other symptoms began clearing when the family moved to temporary quarters on base while their home undergoes mold remediation.
“We’re military families; they’re military kids,” she said. “They’re highly resilient, and we’re grateful for that, but we’re definitely not going to go through this without a fight, and someone needs to hold The Michaels Organization and the post accountable.”
Many of the affected families have had to spend money out of their own pockets to replace necessities they and their children need while they wait for their homes to be cleaned.
Correction (Aug. 20, 2022 at 5:55 p.m. EST): This story has been updated to reflect that it was a ceiling leak, Breanna Bragg says, that caused damage that created mold in her home.
Get updates on what's happening in Washington, D.C., to your inbox. Sign up for our News Headlines newsletter.