Florida residents fear Hurricane Irma debris causing rat problem

Resident traps 6 rats in 1 week

By Erik Sandoval - Reporter

OCKLAWAHA, Fla. - Residents in a Marion County community are blaming large piles of debris from Hurricane Irma for a rat infestation.

Joe LeJeune told News 6 he has lived in his home for 14 years and he has never had any rats. Last week, he said he trapped six of them inside his home.

The first time there was a rat in the house, he woke up late at night to sounds coming from his kitchen, LeJeune said.

"I heard pots and pans clanging, and I thought it was my son getting up to cook some ramen noodles or something," he said. "He’s in bed sleeping, and I knew, really, right away."

Over the next few days, LeJeune said, he found more rats.

"I caught another one, and then another one, and before I knew it, I had six of them. I knew right away they’re in the brush," LeJeune said, referring to a large piles of debris left over from Hurricane Irma that still line the streets of his neighborhood.

After his neighbors complained of similar problems, they came to the conclusion that the piles are now housing the rats.

"It’s like a little hotel for them," LeJeune said.

News 6 contacted Marion County engineers about the debris. They referred us to their website, which has a map that shows their debris pickup schedule.

It shows much of the county shaded in yellow, which means crews are still working on their first round of debris pickup.

County officials said Marion County is roughly the size of Rhode Island, and their crews are working seven days a week to get all of the storm debris picked up, but it's proving to be a large task.

LeJeune said he's getting results. He said he was informed that crews will be at his home on Wednesday morning to get rid of the piles -- and hopefully the rats.

"If I see them, and the piles are being removed, then I'm going to be happy," he said.

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