Saturday, January 11, 2003

A family's ordeal

Spirit survives toxic mold


Barbie Buck should be furious.

First she and her family get sick. Then the walls of their new home begin to crumble, exposing the culprit: furry sheets of toxic black mold.

The Bucks tried to kill it. They finally had to flee, abandoning furniture, clothes, whatever they couldn't soak in bleach.

Their insurance wouldn't pay for complete decontamination of the Erlanger residence. While renting another place, the Bucks fell behind on the mortgage.

Now the bank is set to foreclose on 3346 Fir Tree Lane, and the family's credit will be destroyed.

In a lawsuit, they blame Daugherty Realtors Inc. of Walton and Lori and Michael Connor, the home's previous owners.

They knew about the mold but failed to disclose it, the Bucks claim. The defendants deny any such knowledge and pass responsibility back to the Bucks.

Mrs. Buck should be bitter. Instead, she has achieved the impossible: a measure of serenity.

School jumps in

The good people of Lloyd Memorial High School are responsible for this. They restored Mrs. Buck's faith. The memory of their kindness still brings tears to her eyes.

She and her husband live with two teen-agers and a preschooler. Mrs. Buck's daughter, Tina Habig, is a top student at Lloyd. Last year, Tina was out several weeks due to illness.

Her English teacher, Jennifer Combs Henson, was sick with anger when she heard about the mold.

This school year, she stopped Tina in the hall for an update. Bad news, Tina said: That weekend, the Bucks had to move out of their rental home because of the family cat. They weren't sure where they would go next.

Impulsively, Ms. Henson offered her place, which had been up for sale. She took it off the market, and the Bucks moved in.

They planned to sleep on the floor. Ms. Henson would have none of that. With the family's permission, she spread the word to the Lloyd staff.

"Within minutes of sending out that e-mail, people were bringing me lists of things," she says.

`Nicest people'

Becky Norman took supplies to the family. Melissa Jennings got clothing donations from friends.

Through a connection at her church, Katie Barton obtained furniture.

Diane Vaillancourt got the Kindervelt charity involved.

Even an 18-year-old Lloyd alumna, Martina Shaffer, responded to the family's plight. She had called Mrs. Buck to pitch a fire-safety class offered by her employer.

When she heard the saga, she was so moved that she arranged for her boyfriend, Michael Bowlin, to drop off new coats.

"They were probably the nicest people I've ever met in my life," says Mr. Bowlin, 18.

Funny, that's just what Mrs. Buck says about him - and all the other angels who helped her family.

"Thank you" hardly seems enough.

In a Dec. 7 column, I should have said pet sitter Kyle Maushardt had mourned the death of her partner, Robin Bohnert.

E-mail or call 859-578-5584.

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