CORALVILLE (KWWL) –
Raccoons falling from their roof is how one homeowner described the nightmare of living next door to an abandoned property.
Phil Ganoe and his wife had just had their first child when they bought their first home over 15 years ago. The next year, their neighbor up and left the connecting townhome, leaving it abandoned.
“It was our first home and we were excited and things started out real well. We didn’t ever think we would end up where we are now,” Ganoe said.
The situation turned into a nightmare when a few years later a storm severely damaged the roof on the abandoned side, leaving a large hole in the ceiling.
It only got worse.
“Every time it rained or snowed, God, we worried,” Ganoe said.
The open hole meant the home was filling up with mold. He worried about the health effects it could be having for his family but, again, it only got worse.
“Then the raccoons came. So, the raccoons got in through the hole in the ceiling and then, before you know, we have raccoons in our ceiling,” he said. “There were dead baby raccoons on our first steps. They had nested in the roof and the weight of them had busted through and fallen out onto our front steps.”
Over the years, Ganoe had tried to get in contact with the old neighbor, but without much luck.
He said they tried to sell their home, but the eyesore that was next door didn’t bring in a single interested buyer. It took several calls to the city. Eventually, the city of Coralville took possession of the property, he said.
That’s when Habitat for Humanity was able to step in and help.
After 15 years, Ganoe said he was in disbelief something was going to be done. He also feared the damage would be so bad that their home wouldn’t be able to be saved, but that wasn’t the case. The first order of business was to replace the entire roof.
“After hearing Phil’s story and his families’ issues that they had due to this property, we kind of thought it made sense to help out as much as we could,” Heath Brewer, Habitat Executive Director, said. He said, when Habitat took on the property, they had no idea how much the neighbors had been impacted by it.
With a new roof over their head and a raccoon-free home, Ganoe spends extra time helping Habitat with the renovation of the home. After 15 years, he will soon have neighbors again.
“They were nice enough to put a roof on our house. They didn’t have to do that and we’re very grateful for that and, being a neighbor, I kind of feel like that’s the neighborly thing to do,” he said.
To show his gratitude, Ganoe is raising money for Habitat to cover the costs of repairing his side of the home. More about that fundraiser can be found here.
Brewer said the renovations should be completed in April and it will be available for affordable housing. He said the renovations not only help the Ganoe family with their headaches, but it will add value to the neighborhood.
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