Officials hope to save Cleveland neighborhood after roach infestation prompts public health emergency

Source: WOIO
Source: WOIO

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A local neighborhood infested with millions of roaches.

It's a problem our Paul Orlousky has been trying to get answers on.

It started after an abandoned house was boarded up, but never cleaned out. The roaches are still there in droves, but the good news is that because the creepy crawlers are so bad, its gotten the attention of City Hall.

"Every inch of the walls in there, every inch from the top to the bottom is covered with layers of roaches and bedbugs," said 87-year-old Delores Pottinger.

She has lived in her Delrey house since 1958. She has never lived like she does now, in fear and horror.

"The roaches are just all day long, 24/7, to the point that I have not been able to use my kitchen for months," she said. "They're crawling all of the walls, all over the counters. I keep a set of silverware, my cereal bowl, one plate in the refrigerator.  That's the only safe thing that I have. If I put a bowl down, roaches, so I can't put anything down."

It gets worse. (Pottinger lives next door to the roach-infested house.)

"Last night I had to wash my hair and they were crawling all over my feet and I'm stomping to keep them from going all up my leg. I mean it is bad, really bad," she said.

So bad, that the Mayor visited the area Wednesday. When Cleveland 19 was there the city had an army of people there to address the roach dilemma -- the departments of Public Health, Building and Housing, Public Works, and Public Utilities.

Natoya Walker-Minor, the chief of Public Affairs for Cleveland says about 10 city staffers showed to get a first-hand look at the problem.

"Our Public Health director is going to declare this a public health nuisance, a public health emergency. What that's going to do is allow us to use our authority to come in and treat this community," she said.

It's not just Pottinger's house and the one next door, but houses up and down several streets because the roaches spread, well, like roaches. Barbara Reese doesn't have the roach problem yet, but she fears they're coming if something isn't done sooner rather than later. She was among the residents to confront staff from City Hall.

Before the city can tear the house down it's going to treat a four- or five-street area and then move in for the big kill. They're going to pass out letters to folks living nearby to let them know what's going to happen and when. They vow it will happen in a few days.

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