• Memphis residents concerned about health issues surrounding massive tire pile

    By: Leah Jordan


    SOUTH MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Some South Memphis residents said the thousands of tires still sitting on a lot off Florida Street are an eyesore. 

    The concerns come months after the City of Memphis and Shelby County collected tires through a tire redemption program.

    RELATED: Thousands of tires collected by local officials still on South Memphis lot months later

    On Wednesday, neighbors reached out to FOX13 Investigates with questions about health and safety concerns regarding the tire pile. 

    “You already know there’s going to be mosquitos. Wherever there’s standing water, there’s going to be mosquitos,” said Memphis resident Eric Taylor. 

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    Taylor is one of many Memphians who have expressed concern about the issue. 

    “Oh, yeah. Mosquitos and snakes,” said Andrew Palmer. 

    There is currently standing water in the tires, but according to FOX13 Meteorologist Patrick Pete, more rain is on the way. 

    FOX13 Meteorologist Elisabeth D’Amore said average March rainfall in Memphis totals out to 5.34 inches. April looks nearly identical, averaging out at 5.21 inches. 

    RELATED: Memphis Tire Redemption program collects more than 50,000 tires during two-day event

    Memphis City councilmember Martavious Jones represents Super District 8 and said the standing water poses several potential hazards.  

    “It can present a very serious health hazard because West Nile has been reported in this area over the past few years,” Jones said. “You never want to run that risk, but that’s the risk we’re currently running when we have those tires just sitting out in the open like that,” he said. 

    FOX13 confirmed the threat with the director of Shelby County’s Health Department. Alisa Haushalter said while mosquito season has not yet begun in the area, the standing water in the tires could pose a risk for mosquito breeding in the weeks and months to come.

    Neighbors told FOX13 they’re also concerned about children who live in nearby apartment complexes and homes playing on the tires.

    “The main issue with all these tires is the kids may come play hide and seek, hide in the tires, and if the tires come falling down then they’re going to be buried in them,” Taylor said. 

    A spokesperson for the City of Memphis offered the following statement:

    “In a continued effort to combat blight and illegal dumping, city residents took the initiative and removed over 50,000 tires that littered vacant lots, ditches and sidewalks in their community. The recent Tire Redemption Program successfully helped to galvanize the community around this issue, and we are pleased with the results. We are grateful to Refurban for stepping up to assist after Liberty Tire was unable to accommodate the enormous community response. Currently, the tires are stored in a safe area and not on our city streets. The private property owners are working through legal matters that do not involve the City of Memphis.” 

    As of Wednesday, there is still no official word from city or county officials on when or how the tires will be removed from the property.

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