An elderly Tampa woman is living in deplorable conditions. Now her friend is fighting to get her help. But there's one huge hurdle they're facing.
"Just be careful where you're walking," said Marge Hewett.
70-year-old Marge Hewett can barely maneuver around her Tampa mobile home.
"And this is the disaster area," she said.
The retired nurse lives on Social Security and suffers from COPD and a neurological disease. Her neighbor and volunteer senior companion worries the condition of her home will just make her sicker..
"And it's just not fair," said Julie Witt, neighbor and volunteer senior companion.
The problems in Marge's home first started following heavy rains a couple years ago.
"I came home from the hospital and the whole living room was wet, and I didn't know I had a leak there," said Hewett.
A neighbor patched the roof but there's still a hole and black mold inside. And that was just the beginning of more troubles in Marge's home. Electric fuses are now blown, so she uses extension cords for power.
There's no heat or a/c, only small fans. And the bathroom...
"It's like an outhouse inside," said Hewett.
Plumbing leaks leave her with one tiny sink in the bathroom to wash dishes and a hose for sponge baths. The tub and toilet don't drain and are full of dark, stagnant water.
"When I asked her how she was relieving herself, it just horrified me...She uses the tub and plastic bags," said Witt.
Marge says she tried to fix the small issues as they came up but now the problems are so big..she doesn't have the physical ability or the funds to fix it all. Julie Witt is now determined to do something to help her neighbor.
"There's no help out there for her or people like her. You live in a mobile home, so what now you're a third world citizen?" said Witt.
It turns out most home repair programs in Tampa Bay don't offer assistance to those living in mobile homes like Marge. So now Witt is hoping the community will respond and help her put together a coalition of contractors willing to help in situations like this.
"If we've got one elderly person in her situation, you know we've got more," said Witt.
For now, Julie and Marge are holding out hope for a miracle to get the home repaired or move Marge into a safer place.
We contacted Hillsborough County, and now Aging Services is sending a case worker to talk with Marge and see what help might be available.