Bellaire Police Chief and Code Enforcer Dick Flanagan says people just walk away from their houses and never look back.
Like the lost colony of Atlantis, their belongings sit there intact.
“Furniture, refrigerator, stove, groceries,” Flanagan noted. “They just walk away from it and they have nothing to do with it.”
He says when water gets in through the roof, it’s the beginning of the end.
Walking through a house that’s set to be torn down next week, he points to one wall that’s covered with mold, and another that has rotted away completely.
“The only thing you can see is the vinyl siding,” he says. “There’s no lumber in that wall at all.”
Flanagan says animals always invade empty structures–bats, rats, possums and raccoons.
But neighbors are even more concerned about the two-legged variety they’re seeing.
“Living next to the house, you have to deal with people going in and out of it all the time,” said Tiffany Anderson, neighbor.
“I’ve seen people sneaking in and out of the basement, in and out, all the time, night and day,” agreed Ben McCormick, another neighbor.
Flanagan is proud that 17 dilapidated houses were torn down last year, and he’s already looking at another 16.
People in the neighborhood are usually happy about it.
But he says there’s always one that sighs sadly and says, “It could have been saved.”
One of those is Sam Haddaway, also a neighbor, who walked his dog past the house, looked up at it and said, “Um, it could have been fixed up.”
So Flanagan has an answer to those would-be fixer-uppers.
“Hey, come out and ride with me,” he says. “Come out and ride with me and I’ll take you in there. I’ll make sure you’re safe and you’ll see it with a new perspective. And then you’ll walk away and say, ‘Wow. That’s bad.’ “