December 22, 2014

Elyria
Intermittent clouds
37°F
test

Bed bugs infest Riverview Plaza in Elyria

Betsy Vazur, a tenant at Riverview Plaza on East Avenue in Elyria, shows where bed bugs hide in her sofa in her apartment Friday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim)

Betsy Vazur, a tenant at Riverview Plaza on East Avenue in Elyria, shows where bed bugs hide in her sofa in her apartment Friday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim)

ELYRIA — Betsy Vazur will never forget the first time she saw a bed bug. The small, disgusting creature was sitting on her shoulder.

“I was wearing a white shirt at the time,” Vazur said. “I looked down and realized there was a bed bug on me, I immediately started screaming.”

Vazur had only been living in the Lorain Metropolitan Housing Authority’s Riverview Plaza on East Avenue in Elyria for a month before she spotted the creature, whose existence she was made aware of from signs posted throughout the building showing their appearance and warning residents about them.

Vazur’s encounter is not uncommon for the Lorain Metropolitan’s three apartment buildings. Director Homer Virden said the battle with bed bugs began roughly 24 months ago and has been ongoing ever since.

“Two years ago, we saw a huge breakout of bed bugs all throughout Ohio,” Virden said. “The worst part about the whole problem is that they are extremely hard to get rid of.”

Bed bugs are reddish brown, oval and flat. They are about the size of an apple seed. The bugs typically do not come out until the evening. They hide in everything from crevices of beds to picture frames on walls.

Virden estimated that an exterminator is brought to the system’s three apartment buildings 30 to 50 times a week to deal with apartments that are infested. The extermination process is quite lengthy and a hassle for all of those involved.

Residents must bag all of their belongings and place them in a closet. And at least initially, the exterminators were in her apartment three to five times a week for the first few weeks.

“It’s really difficult to live like this,” Vazur said. “All of my clothes and shoes are in garbage bags.”

Vazur also said that having her place infested with bed begs is embarrassing.

“I can’t even have my friends or family over because everyone is afraid that a bug will end up biting them,” Vazur said.

David Oakes, Elyria environmental health director, said that he has been aware of this ongoing problem.

“We’ve had numerous meetings with the directors at the Lorain Metropolitan Housing System,” Oakes said. “There are policies in place to help residents stay bug-free.”

Oakes said that besides weekly visits from an extermination company, residents are provided with special mattress covers for their beds to keep the bugs at bay.

“The bed bugs have been a continual problem,” Oakes said. “The best way to get rid of them completely is for residents to be aware of the problem and be proactive in terminating them.”

Contact Christina Graw at 329-7144 or cgraw@chroniclet.com.