Bats everywhere? I can relate

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 26, 2008

Walking through the Northampton County Courthouse on Tuesday brought back an unwelcome memory for me.

I was there on assignment gaining a better understanding of the issues plaguing the facility, which include moisture damage, mold and bats. Yes, all those lovely things.

I was nervous venturing into a building that reportedly had bats in it, but the reporter inside me wanted to get in there to see it all for myself…and possibly get a photo of one of those winged creatures for the story.

Dragging along our summer intern, Meagan Williford (who I kept on threatening to use as a human shield against the bats), we toured the facility with Clerk of Court Venus Michelle Spruill, who was able to point out some of the problem areas in the facility.

With the camera I was able to snap photos of black mold and moisture damage; however, the bats were elusive and decided to stay put in the courthouse’s attic.

The reporter inside me was disappointed, but deep down I was relieved.

When I was six or seven years old, a bat found its way into my grandmother’s house. My mom and I were living with her at the time, along with my cousin, Donna.

The bat was first discovered late at night by my sleeping mother who woke when she heard a slight knock on the door casing. Looking toward the foot of the bed, which was adjacent to the door, she didn’t see anything. Ignoring the odd experience, she turned over and went back to sleep.

A few moments later she felt a cool breeze go down the length of her body and once again, heard the knocking noise on the door casing.

This time my mom got up to inspect the room, turning on every light on the second floor. She found nothing that could have caused the strange occurrences, so she continued on down to the first floor of the house once again turning on all of the lights as she went, checking every corner.

When she reached the bathroom she was startled to find my grandmother washing her hands in the dark. My family was accustomed to roaming around our house at night since an outside street light shone brightly enough to light our way.

My mom conferred with my grandmother, who said she had a similar experience (a cool breeze on her face) on her way to the bathroom.

Since they were up, the two decided to make some coffee and made their way to the kitchen. As my mom approached the kitchen door, out of the darkness flew a bat.

She did what any woman in her right mind would do…she screamed, which only prompted my grandmother to join her in screaming.

While the bat flew aimlessly around the house, confused by the lights, my mom, in a moment of clarity, shut the door to the upstairs, isolating the creature to the first floor.

She and my grandmother then got a brilliant idea to turn on the ceiling fans, hoping to somehow make the bat into minced meat.

This, of course, only bamboozled the bat even more and it retreated to where it came from—the kitchen. The coffee plan was off from there on out and it was time to call in reinforcements as dawn approached.

My uncle got off work at seven o’clock in the morning, and, naturally, he was drafted into locating the bat and eradiating it.

The kitchen was torn apart, appliances and pans everywhere, by the time I came down to breakfast.

Once I was told there was a bat in the house, I made sure to keep a steady eye on the cupboards, where it was supposedly hiding. As I young child I couldn’t help but associate bats with vampires, Dracula and all those things that go bump in the night.

Try as he might, my uncle could not find the bat. The task would have to wait until night when the bat would hopefully re-emerge.

Of course, my mom didn’t like this.

She refused to stay in the house, and so she turned to one of the things she does best—shopping. All of us ended up spending the day at a local mall perusing stores.

When we returned that evening, my uncle was waiting with a friend. This time they had brought reinforcements—tennis rackets. Apparently, bats are easily caught with anything containing a mesh wire or cloth.

In the end the bat met an unfortunate fate, but the nightmare of having a bat in the house still persisted.

Afterward, my mom read several books on bats, gathering all the information she could on her newfound enemy. She also bought a sonar type machine to deter bats, which she kept near her bed.

I really feel for those who have to deal with the bats at the Northampton County Courthouse, but I believe (and hope) county officials will soon find a solution.

Amanda VanDerBroek is a Staff Writer for the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. For comments and column suggestions email: or call (252) 332-7209.