City condemns Hitchcock apartments for black mold

Inspector said it was the worst he'd ever seen

HITCHCOCK, Texas - The City of Hitchcock condemned 24 apartments after an inspector found walls covered in black mold.

Sharon Gee and dozens of residents at Mesquite Woods Apartments said they gave up hope that help would come. Gee said for two years, property management ignored her complaints about black mold in her apartment.

"It's hard," she said. "It's just something that it's their responsibility."

Albert Fifer said instead of getting rid of the mold, maintenance workers painted over it. But it came right back and caused health problems.

"I've been having lots of headaches and my grandson, who was staying over at the time, he complained about headaches and getting nauseous," Fifer said.

Now the residents are breathing easier because they are staying at a nearby inn after the City of Hitchcock condemned their apartments. Inspector Darrell Hunter said a tip from an insurance adjuster led him to inspect the complex. In some units, Hunter said he found sewage soaked floors and black mold from floor to ceiling.

"It's just totally covered," said Hunter. "I've never seen a mold situation like this in my life, even in abandoned buildings."

Hunter called in city code enforcer Tom Everett who condemned three buildings.

"We posted all the condemnation notices so people won't go back in there," said Everett.

He also told the owner, Marion Tompkins, to find the families healthier places to stay. Tompkins is also facing citations for violating city building codes. LOCAL 2 contacted property management and Tompkins, but no one responded.

Everett said residents will stay in temporary housing until permanent arrangements can be made by the owner. Everett said the owner is not allowed to rent the condemned units again until inspectors come back and agree the property is clean.

While residents are feeling better, their problems haven't ended. Gee said the owner is forcing them to keep paying rent on their condemned apartments.

"It's just like another knife stabbed in you again," said Gee.

Copyright 2012 by All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.