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Oh, rats! Leftover winter garbage attracts vermin to East Williamsburg • Brooklyn Paper

Oh, rats! Leftover winter garbage attracts vermin to East Williamsburg

Benny Mendez, who lives on Siegel Street, says his neighborhood is overrun by rats because people leave their trash out. Here, he poses with some trash.
Community Newspaper Group / Aaron Short

The rat race has come to East Williamsburg.

Residents are blaming the Sanitation and Health departments for exacerbating the neighborhood’s blooming rat infestation by not picking up trash in a timely manner after the snowstorms.

Homeowners on Seigel and White streets have been complaining for weeks that trash was going uncollected — attracting scores of hungry rats who were not inclined to cook them a delicious French dinner.

“There are so many rats all over the place, but especially there where we put our garbage,” said Seigel Street resident Benny Mendez. “We use plastic bags but the rats broke the plastic bags. Sanitation said we should buy metal garbage cans.”

Mendez called Assemblyman Vito Lopez (D–Williamsburg), who declared war on the little beasts and secured commitments from Sanitation and Health officials to curb the vermin problem.

Since then, Sanitation workers have picked up garbage around McKibben Street, and a pest-control worker baited dozens of rat traps at Seigel Court, catching three varmints.

But residents remained vigilant — and afraid — of the furry feral pests.

Moore Street resident Paul D’Agostino witnessed a dead rat tied to a mouse hanging over a power line “like a pair of shoes” and packs of live rats roaming the windswept streetscapes.

He blames the snow piles where rats made nests several weeks ago.

“Instead of going where they normally do, they hang out on the street and torment people more readily,” said D’Agostino.

And artist Jeremiah Jones — known for his quirky cat and rabbit dolls made from socks — steers clear of garbage boxes inside and around the Morgan L-train station, which he says are especially filled with the critters

“Down on the Bogart Street side, there’s a box if you kick it, rats will come scurrying out at night,” said Jones. “I feel like they’re just the typical sort of epidemic. They’re just kind of out there.”

Other residents have asked the city for more public trash cans, which would give visitors a place to put their waste, instead of the fenced-in lots next to the subway or in bins near McKibben Street lofts.

But Brooklyn environmental advocate Kate Zidar says that residents should also consider composting their food waste.

“Proper solid waste composting is the first step toward reducing the city’s rat problem — and it’s a major component to handling food waste,” she said.

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