Roubaix is a onetime factory town that was known for its textile manufacturing, but it now has a high number of unemployed people and ranks among France’s poorest communities.
The girl’s family, which has not been identified by name in news reports, has since been relocated to another house in Roubaix. However, their former neighbors say that the area is usually clean and that they have not seen rats around. Still, they say, there has been a recent problem with waste management.
“We’ve always had problems with the cans,” said Cédric Decool, a resident of the housing complex where the family had lived. “But rats? Never. This is such a bad and sad story.”
The girl’s father charged in a video published online by La Voix Du Nord, a local news outlet, that garbage had not been picked up for six weeks and that he had lodged complaints with the housing complex’s management.
City officials, the management company for the complex and residents gathered on Friday for an unusual meeting focused on the garbage issue, neighbors said.
The girl had an extraordinary number of bites, according to her father, who described finding her at 7 a.m. on Sept. 2 with blood coming out of her ears and fearing, initially, that there had been a robbery. He said she had not cried out because her medical condition meant that she probably had little sensation when bitten.
Her father said in the video that she had bled so badly that two ambulances were called to the scene.
The girl’s family lived in one of a group of houses surrounding a courtyard. Although the courtyard was surrounded by a metal fence, the gate was often open and some neighbors left their garbage there, neighbors said.
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