City’s lead remediation spikes fear in Hyde Park neighborhood

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- A contractor put up a sign at a Hyde Park home on Britton Street this week, indicating the company was completing lead removal work.

But, no one in the area knew where the lead was found or how long the work would take.

“They came out here to inspect the backyard said they found lead in the backyard,” said Virgie Forbes, who said she's lived at the house for 16 years.

City officials said Forbes’ home is part of a city-wide lead paint remediation program. They said they didn’t find lead in the paint in her home, but found a presence of it in the backyard where they replaced a strip of grass. Forbes said she was living there the whole time.

“They said it was safe,” she said.

But neighbors worried for her safety.

“Very sad in my heart she had to be living in that condition,” Johnnie Hatten said.

Hatten said she's also worried about other homes and not just about lead in the ground, but also potentially in the water.

She organized a community meeting to teach people how to test for themselves.

“I’m very excited about opportunity to bring awareness to this community about lead poison because I don’t want what happened in Flint to happen in Hyde Park,” she said.

The meeting takes place next Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Hollywood Community Center.

City officials said they're also doing work on "several" other homes in the Hyde Park community of North Memphis. They said the remediation is voluntary and homeowners can apply with the city.