When Luejean Gibson investigated what was agitating her dog Monday evening she felt like she had wandered into a scene out of a B movie.
Crawling out of the manhole directly in front of her house was a swarm of cockroaches. She didn’t know why there were coming out in large numbers but she didn’t want them coming into her 911 Joe Louis Ave. residence.
“It’s like something out of a horror movie,” she said, talking on her cell phone to a reporter as she stomped and sprayed the crawling bugs. “This is an invasion. It’s a mess down here. This is bad. Roaches are everywhere.”
Gibson, some of her relatives and neighbors spent an hour killing cockroaches before the number coming out of the manhole slowed. Her dog first alerted her to the situation at about 6:20 p.m.
“We was sitting on the porch and all of a sudden we heard the dog messing with something, and they were everywhere,” said Gibson, who has lived in the house since 1974. “You’d have to see it to believe it. You’d kill one and three or four would come out behind it.”
When an Observer reporter arrived about an hour and a half later there were what looked like a couple of hundred dead roaches on and immediately around the cover. Roaches still continued to come out of around the manhole, usually one but sometimes two or three in quick succession.
Eventually Gibson plugged the hole through which the roaches were escaping onto the street. She said efforts to get city officials to take care of the swarming roaches were unsuccessful.
Roger King, Moultrie utilities director, said Tuesday that he has never heard of such an incident and is not sure what could have driven the insects to swarm out of the sewer.
“It’s a mystery,” he said.
When utility workers met with Gibson on Tuesday and opened the manhole cover there was no excess number of roaches at the location, King said.
“Clearly there was a problem last night,” he said. “When we got there today there was no problem. It’s cleared up right now.”
King said that the first idea that came to mind to deal with that particular scenario would have been tossing some bug bombs inside the manhole. Since there were no roaches exiting the manhole on Tuesday no remedial action was necessary.
“It’s not unusual to have roaches in manholes,” he said. “As amazing as it sounds, that’s a good thing for us. That means there’s not enough methane gas in there to kill them. It’s not unusual to see a number of cockroaches when you open a manhole cover. But I’ve never had that kind of experience with them before.”
King speculated that the presence of methane or rising water could have caused the roaches to rush out onto the street.
“I don’t know, I really don’t,” he said.
Utility customers who encounter after-hours problems can contact a 24-hour service line at (229) 890-5435.