Craig Strauss and his team of four are all dressed in full-body suits and respirators as they wait patiently for dump trucks to arrive. They are waiting to begin clearing out the home of a recently deceased hoarder.
Marie Davis, who died from a heart disease at her home on the 5400 block of Foster Street, had so much debris inside the structure that firefighters had to cut a hole through the roof to remove her body.
The aftermath since the 79-year-old's death on July 19 is finally being "cleaned up." Family members have now hired Skokie-based American Hoarders, a private company that specializes in clearing out debris filled homes, to begin the cleanup.
Strauss, owner of American Hoarders, said it was going to take at least a week before his team could clear out the home.
"This is 30 years of collecting," Strauss said referring to Davis' home. "Most of the time there is a pathway or 'crawl-way,' but there's not even that."
The entrance of the door is filled with clothes, boxes and blankets from top to bottom. Strauss said his team was going to "have to dig our way through" to get the job done.
Yet Strauss has other concerns.
"If there are rats and animals inside, that would be bad," he said. "It would be worst if there are cats inside and supposedly, there are two cats. We haven't found any [cat] remains and we're going to have to dig our way through to find out."
Surprisingly, Strauss said it is common to find lots of cleaning supplies and other items that are still sealed and never opened.
"[Hoarding] is a nationwide and growing issue," he said. "Most of these people have intentions to clean, but never get around to cleaning."
Hoarding has even become a national interest. Shows like A&E's "Hoarders" have gained a lot of popularity in the mainstream media.
While Strauss couldn't disclose how much the job was going to cost the family, he said the cost of just getting dump trucks to remove the trash would be in the thousands.
Pat Tischler, who lives across the street from Davis' home, said she feels "good" that the house is finally getting cleaned out.
"Most of the residents have lived here for 30-plus years and nobody knew about this," Tischler said. "I just want to say that Davis wasn't a lunatic; she was a really nice person, but she had this problem."
According to officials, the village has been dealing with Davis since 1998. The village tried to do "check-ins" on Davis and make sure she was fine, but would often get resistance. In 2009, the village obtained a court order and removed trash and debris from the outside of the property.