Flying cockroaches, spiders and a horde of other creepy-crawlies scuttled from their hiding places when the workers decluttered the junk yesterday morning.
The volunteers and professional cleaners were there to help the Jurong West family who had been hoarding rubbish.
On Thursday, The New Paper (TNP) reported on how the family of Mr Lim Lye Soon, 83, lived amid clutter in two adjoining flats in Block 919.
The family would scavenge junk and refuse to throw anything away.
The patriarch lives with his daughter, Ms Lim Siew Tin, 52, and his son, Mr Lim Tian Wah, 49, in one junk-filled flat.
Two other sons, Mr Lim Thien Seng, 53, and Mr Lim Tuan Huat, 56, who is bedridden, live in the other flat. All the children are believed to be Institute of Mental Health patients.
When a reporter visited the flats last week, she saw about 50 cockroaches in one plastic bag and another 15 in a metal cup at the elder Mr Lim's flat.
Another six were spotted crawling around an open pot of cooked rice on a counter top.
After hearing about the situation from an ex-colleague, managing director of interior design consultancy HomeSavv, Miss Geraldine Yoong, 37, volunteered to organise the cleanup that is happening through this weekend.
Cleaning company Genie Cleaning Center volunteered its services.
Miss Yoong said yesterday: "I'm sure I saw a few different species of cockroaches, not to mention the different generations that lived together in that home."
Yesterday, the family looked on sullenly as the workers tried to remove the piles of sodden cardboard, bottles and plastic bags.
Every now and then, a family member would try to retrieve an item.
Miss Yoong said: "It really takes a lot of effort and patience. As we throw stuff out, they keep taking it out of the temporary bins that we have in the house.
"Then I have to convince them that they don't need the junk before they really just let go of it."
Miss Yoong said she hopes to at least scrub one flat before the arrival tomorrow of fumigators and pest controllers, for which she paid about $780 out of her own pocket.
Despite their best efforts, the volunteers and cleaners managed to declutter only one flat by the end of yesterday. They hope to accomplish more today.
When Miss Yoong and her colleagues were asked how they felt as they left at 10pm last night, Miss Yoong said: "Tired is an understatement. We are completely spent and that was only the rubbish-throwing part of the process.
"As tired as we are, we will be back tomorrow to start with the scrubbing part of the cleaning. Quite frankly, I am game to spend another weekend here clearing out the other home."
This article was first published on August 2, 2015.
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