In the spring of 2013, Jenny and Chris Nugent were excited to buy their very first home. They spent their life savings on a beautiful ranch fixer-upper in Mooresville, and dumped in some extra money to fix holes in the wall replace the flooring, and upgrade the bathroom. They never expected to have to deal with meth in their dream home.

Until everyone started getting sick.

Around August, the Nugent kids – then 10, 8, and 1 – started getting sick. The signs were subtle, like a flu that just wouldn’t go away. At first, Jenny thought it was just a virus they were passing around, as families do.

But their 10-year-old daughter was getting “the flu” every couple of weeks. She’d get sick, get well enough to go to school, and then be sick again within a few days. And the baby grew lethargic and irritable, woke up every two hours at night, and had diarrhea for six weeks straight. To top it off, the family’s beloved dog died not long after they moved into the new house.

Finding the Answers

Jenny searched for answers, but it wasn’t until May that a neighbor mentioned the home’s previous owner had cooked meth. “I was in contact as soon as I started suspecting,” says Jenny, “I called the homeowners’ insurance company and filed a claim, and then contacted the inspector who did our property inspection. Both of them called me back and told me about Crisis Cleaning.”

Jenny ordered one generic meth test kit online. It came back positive. Just to be sure, she used Crisis Cleaning’s certified test next. It, too, was positive.

The next day, the family moved into a hotel, leaving most of their belongings behind. They had no idea what would or would not still be contaminated.

Jenny immediately contacted Crisis Cleaning, but there was no way the Nugents could afford to pay for their services. Their homeowner’s insurance policy didn’t cover meth cleanup, and their savings was gone. Not to mention they’d have to pay rent and a mortgage payment while straightening out the mess.

Getting it Cleaned Up

Luckily for the Nugent’s, Crisis Cleaning takes on about one pro bono case per year. After hearing the family’s heartbreaking story, they offered the Nugent’s their services free of charge.

First, Crisis Cleaning tested the property. It was many times the legal limit for meth residue – especially in the downstairs in the kitchen and near the baby’s room. “No wonder he wouldn’t sleep for more than two hours at night,” Jenny says in retrospect. The poor baby probably had headaches from all the meth exposure.

Crisis Cleaning’s crew soon came to remove all the contaminated belongings from the home. Jenny says this was the biggest relief. Without an expert there to take care of it, they would have been clueless as to which belongings to trash, and where to take them.

From there, things stalled a bit. The Nugent’s were – and still are – in the midst of a lawsuit against the Realtor who sold them the home. The Realtor happened to be the previous homeowner’s mother, and the Nugent’s think she may have known about the meth exposure.

Unfortunately, the previous owner’s attorney’s stalled. But, eventually, Crisis Cleaning was allowed in to decontaminate the property, which took about three days.

Where They Are Now

Today, the Nugent family owns a certified meth-free home in Mooresville, but they’re still living in an apartment. “It just feels like a huge death happened

[in that home] for us,” says Jenny, “It’s just a dark place for us now. We’re just wanting to break even and move on somewhere else.”

The Nugent’s last year hasn’t gone as planned, but they’re much better off than they could have been.

Without Crisis Cleaning, says Jenny, “we would have ended up foreclosing just because we didn’t have the funds. . . To me, it’s like they were angels for us because otherwise we would have lost everything. It’s that simple. I mean, they saved us.”

As the Nugent’s rebuild their lives, they’re putting the finishing touches on the Mooresville home. Soon, they’ll install new carpet so that it can go back on the market. Hopefully they’ll sell the home soon, so they can buy a new one; but this time before they buy, they’ll test for meth.

By Abby Hayes