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Mecklenburg Health Chief: Rat Eradication Underway At Former Encampment Site

tent city 3.JPG
Nick de la Canal
/
WFAE

Workers are in the process of eradicating rats from the former site of an encampment known as "Tent City" near uptown Charlotte, Mecklenburg County Public Health Director Gibbie Harris said Thursday.

Harris said her agency had received and approved rodent eradication plans from the owners of the property and that the work “has started and is in progress in and around all of the sites.”

Last week, the county health department ordered residents of the encampment, which was located on six parcels of privately owned property along and near 12th Street, to move out within 72 hours, citing a rodent infestation that it said posed an “immediate health risk.”

Mecklenburg County moved at least 214 people into hotel rooms, County Manager Dena Diorio said at a news conference Friday. Residents were permitted to bring two bags of belongings and are allowed to stay at the hotel for 90 days. The county said they would be offered three box meals per day, laundry services and optional job and mental health counseling.

Shortly after issuing the order, technically known as an abatement of imminent hazard order, Harris spoke to a meeting of the Mecklenburg County Commissioners. She showed photographs of rat droppings and burrow holes near the tents and explained that rats can carry diseases like hantavirus, typhus and trichinosis.

“This is not a situation that anybody should be living in. It’s not safe,” Harris told commissioners.

She said the only way the county could combat the rodent problem was to have the residents leave. Residents received food deliveries at the site and often stored food in their tents, Harris said, and the regular food source would continue to attract rats.

On Thursday, Harris said that the county health department will visit the site twice a week for the next month as the rat eradication process continues, to “make sure they don’t see any additional evidence of rodent activity.” If they do see evidence, she said county staff will work with the property owners to make sure that the pest control companies are “doing what they need to do to eradicate that immediately.”

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