Monday, February 18, 2008
Help Me Howard: Smelly Street
They say your home is your castle, but what if you step outside and it smells like a moat. One woman says her street stinks, literally. With nobody stopping the stench, she turned to Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- If you like to eat and like to read the morning paper, Dinkinish O'Connor's unique name might ring a bell.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "And I actually have a bi-weekly column in the Miami Herald called 'The Promiscuous Palate.'"
Now that this freelance writer has whetted your appetite, let's let her go ahead and kill it.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "It's the smell of rotting meat, fecal matter and urine."
The smelly mess is not in some third world country. It resides, sits, seeps out from behind a shopping center on 146th Street in North Miami-Dade, pouring out from an embankment labeled "grease trap" behind two restaurants.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "Get up 7 in the morning and have to smell this and see the kids skipping along to school in their beautiful uniforms in it."
Since there are no sidewalks, the kids sometimes have to walk through this stuff, and it's been going on for years.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "The first time I noticed this was after Hurricane Katrina."
Unbearable, and, if you look closely, over the past two years, this stuff has come alive. It's filled with larvae. Dinkinish has complained to various county agencies, got nowhere, and she thinks she knows why.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "I think it's because this is not an affluent neighborhood. This is not Country Club Drive at Aventura. This is not Pembroke Pines Boulevard, so who gives a damn about the people who are working the hardest."
And Dinkinish is concerned that not only is this thing irritating, it could be dangerous to the kids that walk by.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "For me it is a health concern, what we are being exposed to. What are our children being exposed to?"
She worries, the neighbors worry, even the mailman worries about this pool of problems.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "My mailman was like, 'I don't want to deliver mail here anymore, 'I'm talking to my supervisor about it.' He's the one that suggested I call Help Me Howard actually."
And so she did.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "I'm appalled, I'm upset, I'm infuriated, all of that."
Howard Finkelstein: "This happens in many places in America but probably not in your neighborhood. I think Dinkinish said it, it's not a wealthy neighborhood, and if the government won't do what they are paid to do, that's one of the reasons we created Help Me Howard."
When we contacted Team Metro, they referred us to DERM (Miami-Dade's Department of Environmental Resources Management) that day. DERM sent an inspector out and determined it was a sanitary nuisance. The inspector concluded the grease traps were leaking. He posted this notice giving the landlord 24 hours to cease and desist the leaking and to sanitize the surrounding area. Two days later, the landlord told us the grease lines had been cleaned and there was no longer any overflow.
We went back to check and found it was still seeping and still stinking. We called DERM, they told us they were sending another inspector out the next day, and if it was still in violation, they would soon begin fining the property owner $500 a day.
Howard says it shouldn't take this much to correct a sanitary mess.
Howard Finkelstein: "And we have said it so many times, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Contact every elected official through phone calls, emails, letters. If that fails, contact Help Me Howard. Keep talking to everyone until you get exactly what you deserve."
Dinkinish is glad it's being cleared up, although it's tough to get excited when you had to wait for over two years.
Dinkinish O'Connor: "Once you guys got involved, I knew there was going to be action taken."
Patrick Fraser: "But that's sad."
Dinkinish O'Connor: "But that's how it is, isn't it?"
Patrick Fraser: "Now, the landlord sent us this letter saying he thought he had corrected the problem. After DERM contacted him this weekend, he saw it was still leaking, and he vowed to get it fixed this time. I checked, and it is now much better and doesn't stink at all. After we got involved, DERM got out there quickly. It's their responsibility, but no one had contacted DERM. Their spokesman says if you live in Dade County and have a problem and aren't sure who to contact, just dial 311, describe the problem, and they will direct you to the right place. If you live anywhere else, just call the city manager or mayor's office and make some noise."
Got a situation that stinks to high heaven? Need someone to clear the air? Contact us, stinking messes are not our specialty, but, then again, we aren't really sure what our specialty is.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Help Me Howard Contact
helpmehoward@wsvn (please include your contact number when emailing)