Bedbugs in Florida home

9:51 AM, Sep 1, 2010   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida - Henry Caywood hasn't had a good night's sleep in weeks.

As a matter of fact, most nights he gets a few hours of rest, then wakes up to do the unthinkable.

He looks for bedbugs in his children's rooms.

The infestation of the blood-filled bugs is so bad that his five children are covered in scabs and bites, and everyone is constantly itching.

Photos: A bedbug nightmare

"I'm up all night long," Henry told us at his home on North 18th Street in Tampa. "I'll sleep two hours, and then I'll go in my girl's room and I'll start looking for bugs."

He is thoroughly disgusted by what his family is going through on a daily basis.

"I can't live like that. I've got to take care of my children," Henry admits.

Henry and his family were victims of the economy after he lost his job in construction in 2008 and had to make ends meet before finally going to a shelter.

"I had to swallow my pride," he says. "I had to ask for help."

Henry and his wife, Debbie, took their five children to Metropolitan Ministries and stayed there for more than a year before getting back on their feet back in May of this year.

They received money for Section 8 Housing and moved into a rental home in Tampa.

They were thrilled to have a home to call their own.

"We are so thankful for everything they did. They gave us furniture," Henry said.

It was the furniture, he says, that started the nightmare.

All of a sudden, the children began waking up with angry, red bites covering their arms and legs.  His wife began scratching so hard she'd use a hairbrush.

Henry would find the bedbugs on the walls, the carpet, the sheets and the floor.

"They're disgusting, just how they suck all the blood out of you. They leave nasty marks, they're tearing my kids up," Henry said, holding his youngest daughter on his lap.

Henry says they've done everything they can to get the bugs out of the house - scrubbed the walls, bleached the linens, they've even exterminated - but nothing seems to help.

They finally had to start throwing out toys, sheets and clothing in thick garbage bags on the porch.

Henry took his children to the pediatrician.  He was told there was nothing he could do except keep cortisone cream on the kids' bites and use Calamine lotion.

Henry felt helpless.

He tried reading on the Internet and educating himself to rid his home of the critters, but nothing worked.

The father of five called Metropolitan Ministries for help, explaining to them what happened.

He says he was told since the family didn't live in the shelter anymore, nothing could be done.

"I didn't know what to do, where to go, so I called Channel 10 to see if I could get some help," Henry said.

10 News was able to get results for the Caywood family.

We contacted Metropolitan Ministries and explained to them what happened.  They were apologetic and horrified by what they heard.

Immediately, they wanted to figure out how to help the Caywoods.

Senior Program Manager Christine Long met with us and said, "We'll look at all avenues and see what we can do to get some appropriate furniture for the family and make sure they have a safe living environment. That's what the children need."

Metropolitan Ministries says they are working on the situation and are hoping to get coupons for the Caywoods for new furniture.

The family would like to leave their home, but would lose their funding from Section 8.  "Our landlord has been great. He's made calls and helped us," Henry says.

The family is hoping to throw out the old furniture and finally get a good night's rest. 

Join a discussion about the bedbugs on

Melanie Brooks, 10 News

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