Riverview West Apartments in Millville Gets Bed Bug Extermination

NJ.com
Wednesday, May 2, 2012

MILLVILLE - Residents of Riverview West apartments are speaking out against negative rumors that their building is infested with bedbugs and are spreading outside the facility.

The Millville Housing Authority-run housing had reports of bedbugs in the past, and though the bugs were not discovered in all of the apartments, the housing authority has mobilized its efforts to exterminated bedbugs in the entire building.

An extensive "room packaging" and extermination of each unit was led by housing authority staff and the Corbett Exterminating company weeks ago, and residents will be living out of a few bags until later this month.

But despite their rooms and belongings being literally sealed in plastic wrap, they're willing to live out of a few plastic bags in their room for a little while longer, instead of living among the nocturnal bugs.

"We basically had everything in our apartments bagged up - books, curtains, clothes - and have to live out of one or two bags for about 30 days," said Lois Lerner, a resident who has lived in a Riverview West apartment for six years. "I never had any bedbugs, but I'm glad we went through the extermination process."

Lerner, along with five other residents, gathered in the main activity room Tuesday for a roundtable discussion with The News to express their sentiments of support for the housing authority's detailed - albiet, invasive - method of exterminating bedbugs.

"Riverview West is a very nice place to live," said Dee Pierce, who has lived there for almost 11 years. "I've never had any problems with bedbugs on my floor, but there's always the fear that they could quickly spread to our area. It's not just here, but it's all across our county."

Pierce said she was relieved to have the thorough procedure followed throughout the entire facility.

The rumor the residents wished to dispel derived from an anonymous message posted in the BEN Column, The News' daily column that contains user-submitted material, that suggested a CATS bus driver's home was infested by bedbugs via residents transported on the bus.

"The driver picked them up from people there and found them on his bus," read the post on Sunday, April 28. "The driver now has them at his house and has to pay an exterminator."

Pierce and the other residents unanimously refuted the claims.

"Clearly the person has no experience with bedbugs," said Regina Green, a two-year resident. "They could come from anywhere. We resent what was posted."

Chuck Cerbini, vice president of Corbett Exterminating, which was given the task of eliminating the bedbugs, applauded the residents' cooperation.

"Exterminating a facility like this has to be well coordinating between the housing authority, us and the residents," Cerbini said. "We had many meetings with the staff and residents on how to execute our plan."

Cerbini also applauded the Millville Housing Authority (MHA) for teaming their staff together to wrap and pack all belongings in each room.

"The housing authority went to extremes to train their staff," Cerbini said. "When you do that, there's success."

He called the extermination "one of the most invasive processes in extermination."

"But the residents are now empowered to move forward with their lives and not have to worry about bedbugs," he said.

According to Ivy Evans, chief operating officer for the MHA and overseer of the pre-extermination operation, said one of the most difficult parts of the extermination was eliminating the stigma that a bedbug infestation carries.

"A lot of residents didn't know how they got them, where they came from or how prevalent they were in the rest of the world," Evans said. "We had to work past the rumors to get that stigma off their minds. Many of the cases weren't reported at first."

She, along with Dominique Sahms and Polly Swink, headed the team that went through each room and sealed all belongings.

"We're invested for the long haul," said Paul Dice, executive director of the MHA . "If it happens again, we'll hit it again. We value our residents' quality of life."

The Riverview East building on S. 2nd Street in Millville is currently being packaged for treatment, and will be treated this coming Friday.