Anyone whose home was flooded during the last month's two major storms, Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, probably know what it is like to live in a house that reeks of mold and mildew. One would think that the cleanup process would take a few days, maybe a week or two, as damaged furniture and goods are removed and compromised parts of houses are ripped out. However, a very common enemy, overlooked until now, has emerged as an unexpected plague on the New Jersey residents already reeling from the storms: mosquitoes.
An investigative story
done by the Newark Star Ledger allowed Billie Vargas, a Lincoln Park resident, to tell her story. She lost everything in the flooding caused by Hurricane Irene. A couple of days after the water receded, she began to remove the flood-compromised items from her house, only to have to stop again after Tropical Storm Lee caused her house to flood yet again. According to the Star Ledger Staff, "for more than a week Billie's home remained flooded, a moldy, mildew, fetid swamp."
As if the smell wasn't bad enough, the mosquitoes, which had taken up residence in the Vargas household, turning it into a breeding ground, made living there almost unbearable. "Mosquitoes are everywhere," Vargas said. "They are atrocious."
According to the Ledger Staff, this problem will continue to plague much of the state. Late summer rains and flooding almost always cause a significant increase in mosquito activity. However, while areas and communities near the oft-flooded Passaic River are used to the increase, "this year's flooding was so extensive that pools of stagnant water were in places not usually accustomed to dealing with the bloodsuckers," the Ledger noted.
So what is the state doing about it? Well, there really is not much they can do, as most of New Jersey received more than 17 inches of rain in the past month which has led to fertile breeding grounds for the insects all over the state. However, county officials are out spraying in an attempt to minimize the problem and provide some measure of relief to exasperated residents. According to the Ledger, "in Morris, truck-mounted and all-terrain vehicle-mounted spraying was conducted in several communities including Denville, Lincoln Park, Florham Park, and Parsippany" among others.
Deepak Matadha, chief entomologist for the Middlesex County Mosquito Extermination Commission, attempted to put the problem into perspective: "tremendous numbers. It's really a challenge."
Matadha also added that it is reasonable to expect the bugs to be bad again in the spring, as mosquitoes often start looking for winter shelter this time of year, and the late summer boom in breeding means many eggs may survive through the winter, hatching in the spring.