Investigations

Residents of Knoxville apartment complex deal with roach infestation

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - The owner of a Knoxville apartment complex is promising to eradicate an infestation of roaches and ants. They invaded the apartment of a disabled woman who can't exterminate the bugs by herself. The roaches were everywhere, including under and around her bed.

Cockroaches carry bacteria that can contaminate food and make you sick. They can cause food poisoning, diarrhea and staph infections.

Contrary to popular belief, you do not get cockroaches because of poor housekeeping. Donna Flynn's apartment was clean, except for the bugs.

Flynn is a paraplegic following a car wreck some 18 years ago. With little income, she moved into English Manor apartment complex in North Knoxville earlier this year. She says roaches and an army of ants recently invaded her tiny space. 

"They're ungodly at times. They're all over the walls, the ceiling. All over the food," said Flynn.

When cockroach numbers are left unchecked, the population grows rapidly. Cockroaches can carry pathogens that may cause disease. Ordinarily, a pest control company would be contacted before the populations reach these levels.

"The smell that we're smelling is moth balls. They don't kill roaches," said Flynn's friend Grover Broyles.

He said the maintenance man put down the moth balls.

Built nearly 40 years ago, English Manor is showing its age despite recent remodeling by its owner, Jason Hodges. Hodges says he is short of manpower and it's difficult to keep maintenance men, but Hodges assured WATE 6 On Your Side that he'll have Flynn's apartment fumigated.

WATE 6 On Your Side contacted Knoxville's codes department. An inspector discovered several violations. The city ordered the complex be fumigated.

Ten days ago, the roaches were still crawling around, but there's been some progress. There were lots of dead roaches. Under and around the bed was a different story, however. There were plenty of live bugs - ants and roaches.

Flynn said they came in apd sprayer three or four times, but the roaches still aren't gone.

"He's doing the best he can. But it's like right now, they sprayed but they're running all over the place," said Lucy Duggan.

Duggan's brother's lives at English Manor. Like Flynn's place, she said other apartments are infested as well. Since our first visit, Duggan said an effort is underway to eradicate the bugs.

"It was a nightmare. I'm glad he's doing what he can, but the bugs, the bugs need to be straightened out," said Duggan.

Just the other day, WATE returned and found no ants or roaches under Flynn's bed. Apartment owner Jason Hodges said he contracted with a local Pest Control Company to fumigate not only Flynn's apartment, but others in the complex too.   

Within the last week, handymen removed all of Flynn's belongings. They scrubbed down the apartment, vacuumed and sprayed. The maintenance team did a good job. They even installed roach traps under Flynn's bed and around the bed frame.

While there were still a few live bugs, Flynn is overall pleased with the results.

Hodges says operating and maintaining English Manor is a challenge. The owner said he's upgrading rooms constantly. Hodges said he made Flynn's apartment accessible for her needs. He also said nearly half of the apartments at English Manor are occupied by former homeless people who once lived under the bridge in downtown Knoxville.


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