PAYING ATTENTION EXTRA
By: Tom Duggan – February, 2014
I’ve known Mike Demers since we were in high school together at the Greater Lawrence Vocational School.And though we haven’t seen each other much in the last 30 years, when Mikey called me last month asking for help from our Valley Patriot readers, I was ashamed of myself for not reaching out to him to offer our help.
So, I want to rectify that now.
Without going through the entire seven year long history of Mikey’s struggle to save his mom’s home in Salem, NH (we will do that next month), let me give you an overview of the hell he and his mom have been through and what you can do to pitch in and help.
In 2007, Haffners made a delivery of 200 gallons of oil to the Demers property on 21 Martin Ave in Salem.
According to Demers, a Haffners employee wasn’t paying attention and left the house to make a phone call in his truck while the oil tank was being filled. Because he wasn’t paying attention, the tank overfilled and blew up, broke the vent, and spilled oil all over their basement floor, walls, and ceiling as well as contaminating the ground around the foundation, and oil seeped into everything in their basement.
That was in 2007. Since then, Mike, his mom Suzanne, and his stepfather Gerald (Skip) Troisi were forced to live in a hotel, then in a trailer on their property in the hopes that the home would be cleaned and fixed so they could move back in.
For seven years the Demers family fought Haffners, their insurance company Acadia, and the two companies hired to clean up the spill; Enpro Services and Ambrose Environmental Management, Inc.
“They kept telling us it was cleaned up, it was all set, we could move back in and there were no more vapors, no more smell. But they only dug holes and tested near the tank, they treated this like it was a small spill and they tried to get away with only cleaning up part of the spill.”
Demers said he had to go to state and local officials, file a lawsuit and battle with cleanup companies, regulations, and at the end of the day, they had all the high priced lawyers that we couldn’t afford, so we ended up losing our case in court,” Demers said.
“There was false testing and sampling and it seemed like this was never going to end. When it was all over we were left with a mountain of debt and a house that is still contaminated.”
“We can still smell the vapors, it’s made me sick, it’s made my mom and my stepfather sick, and even though a portion of the problem has been cleaned up, we still have a long way to go before this house is completely safe from the fumes of all that oil in the ground, in the walls, in the foundation.”
Demers says despite the fact that he and his family have been dealing with the problem for so long, he is determined to get his mom’s home fixed up and restore it to the condition it was in before Haffners blew his tank.
“I’ve decided to do a home makeover and reach out to the community to see if we can get construction supplies and equipment that we need to finish the job that wasn’t done,” Demers said. We’ve spent so much money and we have so much debt that we just can’t do it ourselves.”
Demers is looking for building materials like cement to replace the foundation, studs, dry wall, whatever can be donated so that his family can live in a house that is clean, safe, and no longer a health hazard to live in.
“We still have to replace the foundation and put up new walls, it’s a big project despite the work that’s already been done. I feel like my mom deserves this. It’s my mom, you know. She shouldn’t have to suffer because of someone else’s mistakes.”
“We want to put in a vapor barrier below the home, scoop out all the contaminants as is recommended by the State of NH, and repair the damage that was done in 2007.”
Demers says that they have had help from some local contractors, independent tradesmen and volunteers in the community.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
I know how generous our Valley Patriot readers are, and I also know that there are so many of you who do amazing things to help the community every day without asking for or receiving any recognition for your efforts.
That’s why The Valley Patriot is offering free publicity in the Valley Patriot to any company or individual who reaches out to the Demers family to help them get the construction supplies, workers, and/or professional expertise that is needed to restore the Demers home to the condition it was in before the oil spill took place.
You can visit Mikey’s website at helpmomgethome.com or call Mike Demers at 603-247-3867.