Holloween came early for the family residing in Bagley, Iowa after discovering that their basement was flooded by 5 inches of blood. Fortunately, the blood came from a neighboring slaughterhouse.
Nick Lestina, the homeowner, was the one who went down to his basement and made the discovery. However, upon further inspection, it was determined that the blood in their basement was not something to be horrified about but rather be disgusted.
“Nobody wants to see that… smell that. I wouldn’t want that for anybody to have that in their house,” Lestina said in an interview.
Along with the animal blood that flooded Lestina’s basement, came remnants of animal fat and bones, which made him quick to hypothesize that the horrific scene was caused by the poor choice of house location as they are sitting beside the Dahl’s Custom Meat Locker, who often butchers and cleans poultry next door.
Now, the Iowa Department of Public Health told the family that it’s not safe to live in their home for the meantime due to the safety risks posed by the biohazards.
“It smelled like a meat processing facility when I entered the house,” said Iowa Department of Natural Resources senior environment specialist Keith Wilken, who was called in to investigate the source of the biowaste, which he traced to the meat locker.
According to a report, Lestina first noticed the problem two weeks prior, on October 3, when he last went down to their basement to pick up a power drill and noticed his sump pump spewing red liquid. He did not expect, however, that the problem would escalate.
The father of five has said that he and his family had lived next door to the meat locker for 10 years but has never faced an issue vaguely similar to what transpired on October 17.
Officials believe that a clog between the shared pipeline of Lestina’s household and that of the meat locker was the cause of the problem. It was also initially believed that the meat locker had been illegally dispensing blood and fat into the drain, which also contributed to the problem.
Kaitlin and Jared Dahl, owners of the meat locker, however, said that they only purchased the meat locker in April. “We didn’t change a thing from the previous owner,” Kaitlin Dahl said. “Everything was signed off on and was up to regulations so we didn’t think there were any issues.”
The wife even added that they use a catch drain to capture most of the blood during the butchering process. That blood is then emptied into an offal barrel and taken away by a rendering truck.
“When you split a bone in half, there will be some excess blood that will drip on that floor,” she said. “That was allowed by the county to go down the back drain.”
The meat locker is inspected through the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship, where communications director Keely Coppess said the agency’s inspections do not cover waste disposal.
“We go in and check that the animals are healthy and make sure the meat is in good condition,” Coppess said.
The owners of the meat locker have offered to help with cleanup costs and always intended to do so, the Des Moines local newspaper reported.
“We don’t want to harm anybody. We’re not bad people. We’re trying to make a living, not enemies,” Kaitlin Dahl told the newspaper.