Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County.More >>
Two elementary schools were directly impacted by a massive tornado in the Oklahoma City area on Monday. It brings to mind a storm from a 1996 tornado which destroyed the Allardt Elementary School in Fentress County. More >>
KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Family members and Knoxville city officials say there's only so much they can do to clean up a woman's home.
The woman's family reached out to 6 News out of concern for her health and safety. Her sons say Tina Sanders is a hoarder and the problem has spiraled out of control.
"It started out with a couple of couches and clothes from Goodwill, and it's just built and built and built," explained Stephen Farmer. His mother lives on Washington Pike, and he says her hoarding has been a problem for years.
"I'm just worried this is going to end up killing her," he said.
The city is familiar with the property. They have dealt with Sanders regularly over the last decade. The property was condemned in 2010 when the city found it "unfit for human habitation."
"We've been out here several times over the last 10 years. We've had 37 complaints at this property," said Public Works Director David Brace.
Many of those visits included assistance in clearing out Sanders' yard. "We came out here in September 2011 and hauled off three dump truck loads," Brace said.
But that's about all they can do. "It's owner occupied so the owner can choose to live in those conditions," he explained.
Sanders declined to speak on camera, but said she hasn't received notice from the city to clean up.
"A lot of people tell us they don't get it. That's not an uncommon thing," Brace said.
Sanders also says her sons just want her evicted so they can sell the house. But Farmer says that's not the case. "It's not about the money," Farmer said. "It's about our concern for my mother."
It's a concern the city shares, but officials' hands are tied. "There's not a whole lot we can do besides clean up and motivate behavior," Brace said.
He says in an extreme case, they can force an eviction if the owner is a serious threat to others or herself.
But her family says that's already the case, and they don't know what else to do.
"They say the house is condemned. It's unsafe to live in, but they continue to let her live there," said Farmer. "The system's messed up. It's broken."
According to the city's order, the house does not meet Knoxville city codes because the building is damaged, decayed and unsanitary. It also lacks illumination and ventilation.