Rat infestation investigation at Hurricane Maria supply building continues

By Vanessa Araiza - Reporter

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - The investigation into whether a rat infestation inside the Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration building in Kissimmee continues. 

On Wednesday, an accusation was made that the PRFAA building used to house supplies for Hurricane Maria victims was infested with rats.

Executive director of PRFAA, Carlos Mercader denied those accusations and said there wasn't an infestation, but he wouldn't allow reporters into the building. He said exterminators would visit the property on Thursday.

"After they go there, you know, and they tell me that it's safe and everything. We're going to be able to go there," Mercader said.

The pest control company hired to take case of the issue did show up. The owner didn't want to go on camera but said his staff showed up to the center Thursday morning and waited 30 minutes, but no one showed up to let them inside.

He said they have been servicing the building since January 2017 and have never had issues with rats in the building. 

Janette Martinez works across the street as a paralegal. Since 2014 she has volunteered her services to the center. She too said she has never seen an issue with rodents in the building. 

Martinez said the lack of communication and entry into the building was a concern,

"If I am 100 percent certain that there's no pest issues inside, I would open the door and let you in. I would definitely let you in. If there's nothing to hide, open the door," she said. "If the office is OK, it should be opened and operating."

While Mercader said there is no rat infestation he released a statement Wednesday. 

Part of it reads:

"The mice problem in the office is not new. On August 10, 2017, before the passage of the hurricanes, the office was closed to do pest control. It's important to note this problem was not because of the accumulation of supplies but because of a structural problem in the building that results in the entry of mice.
 
"Given the recurrence of this issue, we decided to move to the office to another building. In the coming days, we will conclude an agreement to move the offices to a new building that can better serve the citizenry and abides by the fiscal standards of the Government."

The landlord of the building said she was not aware of an issue until last month when she was told a rat was found inside the building. 

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