A restaurant and neighboring hardware store are now cleaning things up.
Closed for now. Health inspectors shut down a hardware store and the restaurant next door after they said dozens of dead and live rats were found infesting the walls.
When asked if she has seen anything like this before, Waterboro Health Officer Lisa Bennett said "No. Not in the time that I've been here. Not a rat infestation. No."
Waterboro Health Officials said they stopped by "Asian Taste Restaurant" and "Plumber's Hardware" for a complaint. A bad smell.
Bennett stated "We asked if they had any rodent problems, mice, rats, ect. They said no but that they had an odor for the last 2 weeks."
After finding nothing, inspectors said the restaurant owners opened up the wall which connects them to the hardware store next-door, evealing the source of the stink.
Bennett added "They found some mice, but when they opened up the wall further they found rats that had died." Officials said they believe the dead and decomposing rats had been there for sometime.
"That's just the beginning, they were going through the walls. The whole perimeter from what they found thus far." continued Bennett.
Health inspectors think the rats retreated from the hardware store after they were poisoned. Bennett said "What was happening was the rats were eating the bait and then going back to their hiding places and dying in the wall."
Hazmat crews are now cleaning both stores
Neither owner could be reached for comment today
But customers greeted by "closed" signs said they're surprised. One customer Ann said "It's very clean in there, I mean we're coming back for more so it's a real nice place and they treat you well."
Officials said for now both stores are considered a health hazard.
"I think once it's all cleaned up, I'm hoping that they both will be ready and open for business." added Bennett.
The town said they don't have a time-line right now on when they'll allow the Ace Hardware and the Asian Taste Restaurant to re-open but they say it may be in the next couple weeks.