UPDATE: WALKER COUNTY, GA (WRCB) New hope tonight for a North Georgia mobile home park, without running water. Lafayette city officials gave them 30 days to get out. A businessman came forward to fix up the property after our 3 On Your Side report, Monday.
"This park can be fixed and these people could have a home," said Don McCarthy, Longview Estates Owner.
Don McCarthy visited the Pear Pine Mobile Home Park in Lafayette, Tuesday. City officials shut off the water after the landlord skipped town on an $6,800. water bill. 7 families with no where else to go, have been surviving on rain water since mid-July.
"I'd be willing to get the water turned on, clean up and get rid of the junky homes," said Don McCarthy. "I'd be willing to fix up the better ones and get this place back on track."
The only problem is, the city cannot find the park's owner Fernando Gene Fernandez. McCarthy has experience with trailer park makeover. In 2014, he and a team cleaned up Longview Estates in Rossville, It too had been condemned.
"After we fixed it up, they turned out to be some of the best people," said McCarthy. "They're not bad people, they're appreciative and we've created a great community now."
If McCarthy can't buy and fix up the Pear Pines property, he's willing to re-locate all of the eligible tenants. He's unable to relocate the existing trailers because they belong to the missing owner.
"5 or 6 trailers I think would probably do it," Said McCarthy.
When Channel 3 first met Elaine Patton on Monday, she had no hope.
"Most of these people out here are elderly or living on fixed income," said resident Elaine Patton, former park manager. "What do you tell somebody? They come and see 30 day sign on the trailers...how do you tell somebody that there is no hope?"
After meeting Mr. McCarthy on Tuesday she told Channel 3, that she and others are optimistic.
"I was kind of shocked when I came outside he said, 'I know you...I've seen you on T.V. and I would like to speak to you.' He then started talking to me about the trailers and our situation," said Patton. "It makes me happy that actually somebody cares and I was able to speak for everybody out here to make them care. I wanted to give him a hug right when I met him."
Residents say they're finally taking steps forward. After seeing the story, some people even stopped by the park with cases of water.
"I can actually look at them and tell them that honestly I think there is light at the end of the tunnel now....before there was just darkness but I think we have light now," said Elaine Patton.
McCarthy will have 3 trailers available in the coming days. He says he has the space for several others. If you would like to help Mr McCarthy find placement for these people, you can contact him by email at: Rossvillemhp@hotmail.com or Phone: 423-464-4595
PREVIOUS STORY: People living at the Pear Pine Mobile Home Park have been told, it's time to go.
Channel 3 first reported about the LaFayette mobile home park in July, when those living there contacted 3 On Your Side about the water being shut off. It's still not back on, more than a month later and now the city has condemned the property. People living there have 30 days to find a new place to live.
Residents still living in the park have been with out water for more than a month. Many have set out tarps, buckets and trash cans to catch rainfall.
"We get some totes and we'll put them up under places and when it rains we will collect the water to flush the toilets and stuff," said resident Aaron Kelley.
Some people said they are using the rainwater to bathe and cook with after boiling.
"It's not easy, especially when I have people come up to me asking what can we do and you have no answer," said resident Elaine Patton, former property manager.
Elaine Patton tells Channel 3, there are about 20 people still living there without water and no other place to go.
"Most of these people out here are elderly or living on a fixed income, what do you tell somebody when they come and see a 30-day sign on the trailers? How do you tell somebody, that there is no hope," said Patton.
The park's landlord, Fernando Gene Fernandez is no where to be found, he owes more $6,800 dollars on the property's water bill. The water was turned off after several failed attempts to get in touch with Fernandez.
"Really nothing has improved.... if anything, it's gotten worse," said city manager David Hamilton.
Now the property is considered by code inspectors to be a public health hazard. Some trailers are falling apart, others are on their way and there are sewage leaks. Families who have stayed there say they're just trying to survive.
"We need help and nobody is listening, this is what they consider to be the ghetto and we're not bad people, these are humans we're not animals," said Patton.
"I do feel very sympathetic to the the residents there but we have a responsibility to help protect them and their health.... You reach a certain point where we have a responsibility to enforce the codes and make sure everybody's health is protected," said Hamilton
Residents say since the story first aired on Channel 3, they've had one person to stop by with a case of water. City officials say if the property is not brought up to code by the deadline, it will be condemned and then demolished.
If you know of any ways to help contact Lafayette City Hall at: 706-639-1500.
Wednesday, August 16 2017 11:10 AM EDT2017-08-16 15:10:08 GMT
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