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Post-Irma debris attracting rats, snakes in Polk County

Posted at 3:24 PM, Nov 15, 2017

Davenport residents say post-Irma debris has been sitting so long it’s attracting wildlife.

Rats, snakes and a nasty smell are just a few concerns those living in Florida Pines have.

Brown, rotting leaves litter the lawns of the neighborhood, so many leaves it could be mistaken as a sign of fall, if only we all live up North.

“The grass is dying right here,” Rick Langston, a Davenport resident said.

The brush piles have been out and sitting on the lawns across Polk County since Hurricane Irma hit on September 11.

“Nobody is picking it up, this ain’t the only neighborhood like this either,” Joseph Velez, a lawn care worker told ABC Action News.

While Velez doesn’t pick up debris, he’s noticed hundred of yard filled with brush and in turn rats and snakes.

Rick Langston said the brush was causing such an issue for him and his wife selling a home, they had to go pick up the brush themselves.

“So we just so we just decided to get a U-Haul truck and get it ourselves,” Langston said as he raised the U-Haul truck’s door and showed us it was filled from front to back with debris.

Langston says he didn’t see any rats or snakes in the pile he picked up but he said it makes sense that they would be there.

“It’s what a rat like,” he said.

Neighbors tell ABC Action News, when they take their dogs for a walk, they’ve seen the piles shake, a sure sign of animals inside the nest-like piles.

Many people living in Florida pines certain that the debris is to blame for attracting the rats.

“It has to be because we’ve never had rats around here we get other wildlife from some of the trees in the back but no one has ever seen a rat,” Cindy Staber, a homeowner in Florida Pines said.

That is, until now. Neighbors didn’t have pictures of the rodents but did say they are beginning to invade homes.

“My neighbor had one in her garage and I’m not sure if they trapped it yet,” Staber said.

ABC Action News reached out to the Polk County Government, they say crews have picked up 1.8 million cubic yards of debris.

It’s estimated Hurricane Irma left behind more than 2 million cubic yards of brush, trees and leaves in her path.

“The county hasn’t gotten here and if you go on their website it says that the trucks go when they can out to this area because it’s not in the city,” Staber said.

Polk County went on to say, “We empathize with residents who still have debris in their yards…their concerns regarding rodents and snakes…dying or dead sod…difficulties navigating narrow street around debris; however, haulers are working dawn to dusk to get everything picked up. In some areas, crews have to cute the “leaners and hangers” across right-of-ways before they can haul away too.”

A map shows thousands of loads have been picked up across Polk County, but that Davenport may be the last of their concerns, as it shows little pick up across the area.

According to Polk County, more than 42,000 loads of have been moved from neighborhoods.