GIANT 'VAMPIRE' RATS TERRORIZE
LOWER E. SIDE
By ROOSEVELT JOSEPH
July 5, 2000
A scurrying army of cat-sized
rats has invaded a housing project on the Lower East Side, creating what
terrified tenants call a "highly dangerous" health hazard.
The insidious infestation began
months ago, when construction workers started tearing up and replacing
sewage pipes directly outside the Baruch Houses at East Houston Street
and the FDR Drive.
"These rats are so big,
the cats are afraid of them," said resident Morris Spitzer. "This
is a dangerous situation."
Spitzer said there are plenty
of rats running around the buildings in broad daylight, but the problem
is even worse at night.
"They are like vampires
- they come out in droves at night," said Spitzer, a 40-year-old warehouse
Angela Laine, a 26-year-old
day-care teacher who grew up in the neighborhood, said the city's Department
of Housing Preservation and Development is not doing enough to fight the
"They need to take care
of the problem now before somebody get bit and dies from rabies,"
said Laine. "These people pay their rent every month. They should
not have to live like this."
Laine said they have complained
numerous times to Housing, but with no success.
Spitzer agreed, complaining
that "talking to Housing is like talking to a tree."
Baseball-size rat holes are
everywhere on the grounds of the project.
The tracks made by the rodents
are clearly visible on the grass, including a well-beaten path between
the piles of garbage and the base of one building.
A Post reporter even saw three
of the rodents in broad daylight during a visit to the houses.
Residents say they are forced
to stay indoors during the hot summer nights because the place is swarming
with bloated rats the size of footballs.
"We have more rats here
than tenants," griped Myrna Rodriguez, 31. "The people are afraid
of the rats. Nobody lets their kids play outside at night anymore."
Jose Alvarez, a 43-year-old
maintenance worker, said he gets the creeps every time he has to leave
or enter the building at night.
"You come up through here
at night and you could easily see 20 or 30 rats playing tag at the front
of the building," Alvarez said. "It's very scary. They are taking
over the damn neighborhood."
A Health Department spokeswoman
said it would look into the complaints, but no Housing spokesman could
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