Mobile Home Owner Ignores Lawsuit While Residents Live with Raw Sewage in Yards 2/28/13
CBS 7 News Reporter
February 28, 2013
Odessa - People in an Odessa mobile home park wade through raw sewage everyday simply to get to their front doors and they've been doing it for years.
They describe the smell as unbearable and it hangs in the air outside and even in their homes. The county has stepped in and tried to get the problem fixed, but they are coming up empty handed.
We first heard about this problem when a viewer called our CBS 7 newsroom, so we went to investigate. What we saw when we stepped out of the car was shocking.
Walk around the mobile home park on north Golder and you'll smell the problem before you see it. Take a closer look and you'll find raw sewage nearly ankle deep in this woman's yard.
"Oh it's unbearable. I think third world countries have it better than I do," resident Davonia Davidson said.
Davidson has stopped paying rent for her unit and has no plans to begin paying until her children can play safely in the yard.
"My family can't play in their yard. My kids can't play and we can't have bbq's. I can't invite people over because I'm too embarrassed. It shouldn't be that way," she said.
CBS 7 obtained a copy of the lawsuit between Ector County and the owner Ronald Thor Hermansen who lives in California. It states that he was first notified over a year ago of the complaint. It goes on to state that Hermansen said he would fix the problem by December of last year. Three months have passed since that deadline and the problem remains stagnant.
According to an attorney working with the case, the county won't pursue criminal charges against the park because it would require closing down the park, putting dozens of people out on the street. In this economy, Davidson says there's nowhere to go.
"I'm kind of stuck. I don't want to be stuck. I don't like feeling trapped," she said.
Davidson has already scouted moving options and received a shock in the process; during her search she found the mobile home park she calls home is now for sale.
But will this get the owner out of hot water? Legal experts say no and it won't help residents either.
We went to the manager's home and called him to see what he had to say. No one has responded.
As for Hermansen, each day his property remains in violation, it could cost him up to $25,000 per day.
Many of the residents expressed concerns today about the health implications of living around raw sewage.
We did some research and apparently there are bacteria and parasites that can make people ill, including e-coli and salmonella.
The symptoms can be severe ranging from diarrhea to fever, cramps and vomiting.
Many believe a number of other viruses can plague anyone who comes into contact with raw sewage. The CDC has yet to confirm those cases.