ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – You’ve seen the television shows of people living in houses where they can only walk through paths of stuff stacked to the ceiling.
KMOX News found a company right here in the St. Louis area that helps these hoarders dig out.
“We’ve had jobs from $1,000 to $30,000,” Josh Jung, owner of Midwest Crisis Cleaning, says. A fireman and paramedic by trade, at least once a month he’s responding to a different kind of crisis.
“Some of the people are the most brilliant people you’ll ever meet in your life, they just have a problem. And they don’t know how many cats they have in the house, so you’ll find… dead ones.”
Jung says the conditions people are living in can be unbelievable. For some it’s simply decades of clutter; others, piled high with rotten food, trash — even animal waste. “Imagine your carpet being cut out in a one foot by four foot strip and I can pick it up and it’s like a board.”
He adds he and his staff are mindful of the fact that they are in someone’s home and try to be sensitive to their clients’ feelings.
But while they’re helping hoarders get their homes back, they have to take some precautions as well.
Jung pulls a box from the top shelf of the company supply trailer in Imperial. “In extreme cases we wear a full-face respirator with canisters,” explains Jung as he pulls a filtered mask out, then reaches to another nearby box, “and if its really filthy or its a bio hazard we wear these Tyvek-type suits.”
HEPA vacuums, cases of garbage bags, paper towels and plastic gloves stock the shelves of Midwest Crisis Cleaning.
Jung says he fields calls on a weekly basis often from family members with an aging relative practically buried under decades of papers and possessions.
“And it never ceases to amaze us in a 500 square foot apartment how we get three or four large dumpsters out of it.”
Jung says it takes sensitivity to explain to homeowners why some things can’t be saved.
“We throw away tons of stuff that we hate to throw away, but the filth would never come out of it.”
He says once they’re done, many clients seem relieved — like they have their lives back. “We hear all the time, ‘my grandkids can’t even come over.'”
Although the company does other types of crisis cleaning, Jung says hoarding is by far the biggest portion of their business.
Copyright KMOX Radio