JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Springfield woman said she's got some unwelcome neighbors living in a condemned house next door -- and she's not sure how to get rid of them.
She said the home, which has been vacant for close to a decade, has been overrun by masked vandals: raccoons.
Helen Conyers has lived in her house on North Liberty Street in Springfield for more than 30 years. She said a few dozen raccoons are having the time of their lives after taking over the house next door.
"They won't come in here now, because I have mothballs all around, which I can't stand to smell … but I'd rather smell mothballs than to see the raccoon with her and her family and all her constituents around," Conyers said. "And they just come right out and they just run and they have themselves a ball."
Conyers said she's not an animal person, especially this kind of animal.
"So it's making me really uncomfortable," Conyers said. "I'm trying to raise children here, and we are all afraid of raccoons."
Conyers said the house next door to hers has been vacant for about nine years. She thinks the family that used to live there sold it, but no one else ever moved in. And she said at night the raccoons -- 35 to 40 of them she estimates -- take over, affecting not just her, but most of the neighborhood, including several children.
"And the people across the street because what they do is they walk the line, and come in, they go in the attic over there and then they come out these parts," Conyers said. "See that floor? All of that is broken down and eaten out. All of it."
She said she's pretty sure they can't get inside her house, but she's not sure what she would do if they did.
"I did have a young man, a contractor, come look at my house under there to see if they could get in," Conyers said. "He said no, but they are having a ball in my backyard. If I come up, I pull my car up, and they're here."
Conyers said she has spoken to code enforcement several times, including last Tuesday.
She said they told her the house has been condemned, and they've been fining the property owner $250 a day since 2010.
She's said she's hoping she can convince the city to do more to help.
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