SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. — Watching an episode of the TV show “Hoarders” is as close as most people want to get to a home that is so cluttered that it impairs basic living activities such as cooking, cleaning, showering, and sleeping. What sometimes gets forgotten is that hoarders don’t want to live in these conditions – compulsive hoarding is a disorder and those afflicted with it need outside assistance.
Jimmie Murphy, branch manager, Johnson Pest Control, Sevierville, Tenn., came to the aid of an elderly woman in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., who had been living in deplorable conditions. The woman, who is in her early-to-mid 80s, contacted Johnson Pest Control after receiving complaints about her house from neighbors. Murphy became aware of the situation after an inspector from Johnson Pest Control visited the home and priced the job.
“There was junk stacked from the ceiling to the floor with a small walkway from the door to the bathroom,” said Murphy. “There were rats and mice and droppings – you name it, you had it there.” Of particular concern was a junk-filled carport, which gave rodents shelter and an easy access to the house (and neighboring properties).”
Neighbors, aware that Johnson Pest Control had visited, also began calling the company wanting to know what was going on; the house had become an eyesore on an otherwise nice residential street. The final straw came when the Pigeon Forge Chief of Police called Murphy. The Chief said he was getting phone calls from neighbors concerned that there was a dead body inside. Murphy assured him that was not the case, but it was an unsafe environment for her (or anyone else) to be living in.
It was at this point that Murphy made the selfless decision to get personally involved. Having performed cleanout work in post-Hurricane Rita Lake Charles, La., he knew what was involved. The bigger challenge was convincing the elderly woman to agree to the cleanout. Murphy first spent about an hour on the phone with the elderly woman to gain her trust. “I told her that if she would allow me I would get a 30-yard Dumpster and help her clean it out. She hemmed and hawed, but finally agreed to it.”
Murphy, with the assistance of Johnson service professional Barry Harveston, began work on the house in late October (fortunately, the woman owned other properties, so she had a place to stay while the work was being performed). The pest control portion of the job involved extensive rodent control and rodent removal (85-100 rats), but the actual cleanout was more tedious. “It wasn’t a situation where you could go in and just throw out everything,” Murphy recalls. “There were credit card bills in stacks of junk and food, so you had to go throw and sort the junk and then determine what could be pitched.”
In addition to sorting threw junk, appliance such as stoves and refrigerators were in such deplorable conditions they had to be tossed. Just how much junk was trashed? Murphy said the 30-yard Dumpster had to be emptied and brought back a total of four times. Once he finally got down to the carpeting it had to be removed as well. The woman’s great-nephew drove down from Kentucky, and he sanded down and restored the hardwood floors beneath the carpet.
In total, it took three months for the home to be restored and Murphy estimated he spent 45 days working on it. It was all worth it, according to Murphy. “My nature is to help people and to me the satisfaction in this case was not money, but being able to help someone out.
Before and After Pictures
|A look at the cluttered living room prior to Murphy's cleanup efforts.||That same room cleaned up.|
|The cluttered kitchen before.||The same kitchen after it was cleaned.|
|Items previously were strewn about the house.||Items were neatly packed away in dressers.|