City, Health Department clean up cockroach infested house

County official says worst infestation he's seen

Source: The Shelbyville News | 14 August 2013 18:21


cockroach infested house
Workers in blue protective suits fill up a large dumpster with the contents from a house at 618 S. Pike St. City and county officials say they are working together to get the cockroach problem at the site taken care of. (Submitted photo)
It was a surreal sight Tuesday as workers in blue protective suits entered an abandoned residence at 618 S. Pike St. in Shelbyville.

The workers were hired and equipped by the Shelby County Health Department to clean out the cockroach-infested house of debris.

“We provided them with a kind of hazmat suit, masks, gloves,” said County Health Commissioner Robert Lewis. “We’re here to protect the environment and preserve the environment and help the neighbors in the situation to control this.”

The workers filled a giant dumpster worth of things such as mattresses, furniture, garbage and food.

Cleaning out the house is one step toward ridding the house, and giving neighbors relief, of a cockroach infestation.

During the height of the problem a month ago, the cockroaches appeared to be spreading from the house to other houses in the neighborhood.

The Addison Township Trustee office, next door, had cockroaches crawling through its kitchen and on its walls. Others complained of cockroaches walking across sidewalks and alleyways into their spaces.

Lewis said its the worst infestation he’s ever seen.

City and county officials said they’ve been working together to solve the cockroach problem at the residence, though some residents don’t buy it and wonder why it needed to take so long.

In June, per the process he said he has to go through, Lewis had to wait for certified letters to be delivered to the property, which was ineffective because the property had been abandoned at the end of May.

After complaints from neighbors that nothing appeared to have been resolved, city officials said they used its “emergency powers” on July 18 when it asked the homeowner for permission to spray inside the house and to clean up inside the house, which was granted.

The city also removed garbage that had accumulated outside the house. After the city stepped in, Lewis wrote them a letter thanking the officials there. This week, he praised the level of cooperation between the two entities.

But a couple residents are frustrated because of the time it is taking to get the cockroach problem resolved.

“The roach problem is really the health department’s problem,” said Dann Bird, director of the Shelbyville Building and Plan Commission. “The only reason we came is they needed something done right away.”

Neighbors said they’ve been complaining most of the summer, with results only after a barrage of phone calls to the city near July 18.

The inspector the residents dealt with was Tammy Cornelius, who was let go by the city days after July 18. Bird said it had nothing to do with 618 S. Pike St.

Still, residents say she was the one who jumped into action.

“Tammy was going to get the dumpster for us,” said neighbor Amanda Bear.

After she was let go, Bear said it appeared nothing was being done. The plan all along was to spray the inside, clean inside of debris and then spray again.

But, three weeks later, the roaches seemed to be coming back and the inside of the house was still full of debris.

“The city pretended to make an effort when they did the cleanout of the back yard and sprayed a couple times,” she said.

More complaints brought out Robert Lewis, who hired a contractor to clean up the inside of the house.

The cost was between $1,000 and $1,200 to clean out the house and $75 each spray.

“If it wasn’t for the board of health finally doing the mass cleanup, it’d still be a nuisance,” Bear said.

Lewis said the process just takes time and that they were doing the best they could.

“It’s unfortunate however long it took,” Bird said.