Crews begin tenting St. Petersburg home infested with rats.
Posted: Jan 28, 2015 9:14 AM EST Updated: Jan 28, 2015 1:14 PM EST
By: FOX 13 Tampa Bay Staff
FOX 13 News
ST. PETERSBURG (FOX 13) –
Clean-up efforts are underway at a local home that was once infested with hundreds of rats.
The house, located on 10th Avenue South in St. Pete, had an estimated 700 rats living inside for the last three years.
Florine Brown, who lived in the house, adopted pet rats back in 2012. Those rats multiplied. She considered each of them to be pets, and before she knew it, she had an unmanageable problem on her hands.
The rodents and their waste began to smell so badly that late last year neighbors complained and the city got involved. Plans for the cleanup process have been in the works ever since.
Brown is now living with her twin sister as those plans get underway. She returned to watch the crews tent her home Wednesday morning.
“I have very mixed emotions. I know there are still some rats that are in the home,” Brown said.” I’m just going to have to think positive. I want to come home. I have not been able to come back yet.”
Two Citrus County pest control companies have teamed up to provide fumigation services for free. Tony Winebrenner reached out after seeing the FOX 13 news coverage.
“I feel like if you’re able to help somebody, you should,” said Winebrenner of Citrus Pest Management.
Winebrenner coordinated with Ed Williams of Accurate Pest Management to help. The two competing businesses work together at least three times a year, donating fumigation services to those who cannot afford it.
Cliff Smith works for the City of St. Petersburg. The city estimated fumigation costs at $1,850 dollars for a home this size.
“We have been working with the family for three to four weeks to get rid of the rats. We had our rodent control division in trapping the rats, but there are some still there,” said Smith. “The final phase is to have it fumigated. The family could not afford to do that, so this is huge. Without Citrus and Accurate…we would still have the rats in the home. It’s a big deal to us and to the family.”
Brown told FOX 13 she adopted her first pet rats after a relative’s death in 2012. The rodents served as a coping mechanism for her grief.
“They kept me going. They loved me. They brought me joy, even when I was down. I looked forward to coming home despite how the home and the condition was,” said Brown. “I tried. I tried to get help. Everyone is afraid of rats. I was just on my own. I just felt strong as a person.”
Another business, Spaulding DeCon, has donated cleaning services. They plan to begin cleaning next week, after the fumigation process is completed.