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Blind, Disabled Woman Living in Apartment Crawling with Bugs
A blind, disabled woman is living in an apartment full of roaches, and she doesn't even know it.
A viewer tipped us off to this story and KEYE-TV went looking for answers to find out how this woman could be living in such conditions.
Walking into Terri Reyes' apartment on the third floor of the North Loop Apartment complex in North Austin, the problem is immediately obvious.
"My skin is crawling," Terri's sister Sandra Williams said with a shake. "I feel like I'm not clean."
Crawling on kitchen counters, in the cabinets and under the coffee table are roaches - everywhere.
"I saw some crawling over there," said Williams pointing to the bed, "and I was like, I'm done, I'm out of here, I can't do this anymore."
Reyes' sister Sandra Williams lives in Houston and made the trip up to visit her sister. She was appalled by the conditions she found her in, and could barely stand to be in the apartment.
"Ugh, I want to take a shower," said Williams.
But Reyes herself was living in the apartment practically unaware of the problem because she's blind.
"I don't want to believe it. I'm a trustworthy kind of person," said Terri Reyes.
Reyes does have a caretaker. Girlings Health Care, an Austin company, is paid by Medicaid to help Reyes with basic household chores, like cleaning, cooking and running errands.
"For 3.5 hours a day she's here," said Reyes. "Cleaning and keeping up with my laundry and cooking, but the main thing would be cleaning."
Girlings says the caretaker reported the roach problem, so we asked property management why it hadn't been taken care of, yet. Veronica Macon, a spokesperson with the Austin Housing Authority looked into the complaint and then sat down with us to explain the problem.
"The property manager actually personally met with her [Reyes] and her caregiver and told her what needed to be done," said Macon. "Really specific information, about cleaning the stove, behind the stove, in the refrigerator and the cabinets as much as possible."
Macon explained the exterminator needed the kitchen to be cleaned before it could be sprayed, something that, despite repeated explanations to Reyes and her caretaker, was never done.
"At each re-treatment they were never prepared," said Macon.
In a statement to KEYE-TV, Girlings Health Care disputes the property management, and says the apartment was prepared as instructed.
But Girlings says the two employees who were helping with Reyes' care have been suspended pending an internal investigation. Girlings also agreed to bring in a cleaning service to be sure that the entire apartment is thoroughly cleaned to allow the exterminator to do his job.
Until that happens, and the roaches are all gone, Reyes will be staying with her sister in Houston.
The family says they've filed a formal complaint with Medicaid.