Abandoned home in St. Martin brings health fears

Homeowners living in a St. Martin subdivision are upset because an abandoned home has been deteriorating year-after-year. They say Jackson County officials haven't done anything to fix the problem.

Hurricane Katrina damaged the home, and in the six years and eight months since, the damage has gotten worse. The front and backyards now resemble a jungle.

Floyd Thibodeaux and his neighbors would like to see something done to clean up the property.

"We used to take care of it after Katrina for two or three years and noticed in the backyard there was black mold in the yard. I stopped cutting it," Thibodeaux said.

Jackson County officials told me since the home is secure, there's not much the county can do.  However, a neighbor pointed out that the garage door is off its hinges.

"We've had to chase children out of there that were in there playing around," Dick Roesner said. "It's just a health hazard, a menace to the whole neighborhood."

Other neighbors say mice and cats have come in, as well as snakes.

Once inside the home, you find complete devastation. You can almost relive Katrina. The roof is collapsed, the ceilings have fallen down, walls are missing. Debris and mold are scattered throughout.

Angelo Apeitose has concerns for his small children.

"Mold, as we know from Hurricane Katrina, travels through air," Apeitose said. "In the summertime when we have most of the rain, most of the south winds, all it does is blow mold directly into our homes."

I met with Jackson County Planning Director Michele Coats. She said inspectors surveyed the home in June of 2009 and again in January of 2011.

"At the time we looked at them, basically the home appeared to be secure and the yard was taken care of," Coats said.

When I told her about the present condition of the house, she promised to send inspectors the next day.

"However, if it has changed, we will go back out and look at it. We also have information that it has been bought at a tax sale and we can pursue the new property owner as well," Coats said.

The home is being purchased in a tax sale. That deal is expected to close on Friday. The purchaser told me he would send his maintenance man to cut the lawn and board up the doors on Saturday. He also said he's in the process of selling the home to a contractor who hopes to begin rebuilding the home sometime in June.

I will make a return visit to the subdivision next week to see how much cleanup was done.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.