Big smiles after cleanup at hoarder's flat
Residents of Toa Payoh block relieved that filthy flat is finally cleaned out
After two years, Madam Siti Hasan has found relief.
She was finally able to crack open the front windows of her three-room flat. The mother of two did that yesterday with a big smile.
Madam Siti, 32, has been living next to one of the filthiest flats around for the last eight years.
But the last two years were especially hard, she said, with cockroaches constantly streaming out of the neighbour's flat into her unit at Block 195, Kim Keat Avenue.
As a result, Madam Siti, her husband and their two children had to arm themselves with cans of insecticide and air fresheners, potpourri and even incense sticks.
The neighbour, who had lived there for about 20 years, had died and his decomposing body was found in his third-storey flat on Nov 18. Seven cats were later rescued from the flat.
Madam Siti's seven-year-old daughter grew up with the stink from next door. Even now, the little girl is rarely separated from her bottle of odour remover.
Madam Siti described her trauma: "Once, I felt so stressed that I left home and went to the nearby supermarket.
"I stood in front of the shelves of insecticides and pest control devices, and cried."
Relief finally arrived on Thursday for residents when cleaners turned up to clear out the trash from the flat.
The New Paper was at the scene yesterday at 11am and we saw cleaners and officials armed with face masks and cans of insecticide. As they inspected the flat, they fought cockroaches and a musky smell that clung onto clothes.
Another box of 20 face masks and four cans of insecticide were placed outside the unit.
The cleaners and officials went through the filth and fought to open the door to one of the bedrooms, which was jammed because there was so much rubbish.
Cleaners were even forced to use a shovel to remove the rubbish which had covered the entire floor of the kitchen.
Bulky items in the flat, such as a television set and a side table, were removed and temporarily left at the void deck.
By 5pm yesterday, two cleaners had already amassed 50 bags of trash after more than 10 hours of work.
Madam Siti, while sad because of her neighbour's death, said she was also relieved.
"I can't explain how I feel right now. I'm just so happy that I can finally open my windows and breathe in fresh air."
Another neighbour, Mr Yap, 66, said: "I'm glad that they are finally cleaning it up. It is unhealthy to live with the smell, especially when there are so many young children living on this floor."
He said he knew the hoarder and added that nobody had ever visited him. Neighbours had also never entered his flat.
"We never knew what was inside the flat," he added.
Madam Siti recalled that her mother once teased the hoarder and asked him about the contents of his home.
"He just smiled and said there's nothing. Once, there was some white sticky substance coming out of the flat and he said it was soap," she said.
A notice was placed on the man's flat, requesting for the next-of-kin of Kamaludin Nazir Ahmad to contact the HDB.
Madam Siti said: "I've never seen any family members and I heard that he didn't get a proper burial.
"I hope that someone from his family will come and claim the flat soon."
"I'm glad that they are finally cleaning it up. It is unhealthy to live with the smell, especially when there are so many young children living on this floor."
- Mr Yap, a neighbour
"Once, I felt so stressed that I left home and went to the nearby supermarket. I stood in front of the shelves of insecticides and pest control devices and cried."
- Madam Siti, a neighbour
HDB STILL SEEKING MAN'S NEXT-OF-KIN
A spokesman for HDB said it was informed last month that the flat owner had died in the flat.
"Early this month, we received feedback about (the) smell, pests and pet issues at the unit. Efforts to locate the (man's) next-of kin were, however, unsuccessful," said the spokesman.
In view of the condition of the flat, HDB put forth a final appeal for the next-of-kin to clean the flat by Dec 16 but by that deadline, no one had come forward.
On Thursday, HDB and Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council cleaned up the unit.
"We first combed through the flat and confirmed that there were no more cats in the unit, and then proceeded to clear the insects and rubbish, as well as wash the flat," said the spokesman.
The cleaning is still in progress and is expected to be completed by today.