Decontamination Shocks New Tenant

Imagine the shock of opening your front door and people in moon suits are standing on your steps. That happened to a LaVista woman after health experts suspected the previous renter operated a meth lab. She's asking now how warning signs may have been missed months before her family moved in.

When health experts came to Julie Welshinger's rented town home in June they left nothing to chance. Looking in the window Julie says;” It’s stripped down to nothing."

Her and two children lived in the townhome four months before health officials suspected that a previous tenant had been using meth making chemicals. Julie Welshinger says, " I’m shocked I was breathing in all that air. And I’m shocked nobody seemed to have known what was going on."

Mercy Housing which owns the low income townhome complex says indications of meth contamination came as a surprise. LaVista's police chief says Mercy Crest View management had been informed of drug arrests there in January. Five people were taken into custody including the tenant living there at the time.

In June health officials treated the townhome as the scene of a meth lab. About five months earlier when LaVista police served a search warrant at the townhome but they didn't find all the ingredients they felt necessary to report to the state that there might be a meth lab operating inside. That opinion came from a narcotics officer from another agency.

LaVista Police Chief Bob Lausten says:” The investigation at the scene revealed there were precursors on site, but there was no evidence there was a meth lab or anything had been cooked or manufactured there."

But several months later State Health Officials learned of the raid and sent a decontamination team to the townhome. They took most of Julie’s furniture and kids toys. Mercy Housing moved her family to another unit and offered three thousand dollars for new furnishings. Since fact finders got involved that's increased to ten thousand dollars. Julie Welshinger says, ” I don't think its unreasonable considering my family lived in there for 4 months."

A Mercy Housing spokesman says the organization paid for everything to be cleaned and what couldn't Julie will be "compensated fairly." the non- profit will spend one hundred thousand dollars to make the townhome safe. But Julie won't move back in because her memory of the ordeal can't be decontaminated.

Mercy housing has three thousand low income rental units in Nebraska and runs background checks. But in this case outsiders turned the townhome into a flop house. The nonprofit will work even closer with law enforcement to make sure this meth incident doesn't happen again.


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