Huntsville apartment complex condemned due to storm damage

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Because of Tuesday night's storms, an apartment complex in west Huntsville is now being condemned by the city.

A large tree fell on a complex at Garden Place Apartments off Hood Road SW. Now, one woman who's pregnant had to pack up and leave.

"The only thing that the manager kept telling me was that it's just unfortunate." That's how the woman, who wants to remain anonymous, described her interaction with her complex manager.

"It was scary. Very, very scary," Garden Place apartments tenant Tee Welch said.

Tuesday afternoon's storm literally came crashing down on Garden Place apartments.

"I was in my living room and it sounded like a big boom," Garden Place tenant Jerica Collier said.

"Very rough, coming in and seeing that and knowing it was on a pregnant woman's apartment," Welch said.

The longleaf pine snapped, caving in the roof on one of the second-floor apartments.

As police, city inspectors and a tree service team arrived, neighbors were asking their landlady what to do.

"Next thing you know, I come back home and there's a yellow sticker on my door telling me to get out," Collier said.

With an exposed roof they deemed a safety hazard, city workers cut power, and people in all 22 units were told to go somewhere else.

Fortunately, Red Cross workers encouraged garden place tenants to stop by.

"The Red Cross primary, my category, is to help out with room and board for a couple of days," American Red Cross Disaster Action Team leader Stephen Duncheskie said.

Residents say they reached out to the Red Cross, which buys them about three or four days. After that, it seems they're on their own. Because even though they just paid rent, they say they're landlord has been unwilling to put them up anywhere else.

"Especially being a college student and working. This is a lot," Collier said.

A lot of stress for several people who say they don't have any close friends or family to ask for help.

The woman whose apartment was hit says her ceiling was caved in.

"We haven't had time to think about anything. Right now we're just trying to figure out how to get all of our stuff out, get the debris out of the way, the clutter, so that we can move some things."

She says she's thankful she's not alone.

"My support system is great. I have an amazing family. It's just very hard because like I said, I'm pregnant and I just have hormones and emotions everywhere."

The property manager asked WHNT News 19 to leave the property shortly after arriving.

Huntsville's city building inspector says Garden Place's ownership has 30 days to get a permit from the city and 60 days to fix it up.
It's unclear how long it'll take for the apartment to receive its certificate of occupancy.
Some neighbors tell WHNT News 19 they don't know where they'll go once the Red Cross assistance runs out.

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