Krystal Peterson returned to her Tabby Walk condo last Thursday to see the mess Hurricane Matthew left behind.
"The carpets were a nightmare. They were soaking wet,” Peterson said.
Now Peterson, her boyfriend and Peterson’s two kids will have to leave again while crews repair the damage. Peterson says she wants stay in the area to help neighbors clean up but is short on housing options.
"I don’t have the financial funds to stay with anybody else so we’re hanging out around here in the mean time," she said.
Flooding and fallen trees created a mess at the Tabby Walk Villas on Hilton Head Island. Between 30 to 40 apartments will need significant repairs that will require residents to move out again, said Don Brashears, president of the homeowner’s association. The repairs could last two or three weeks.
We can’t get in to fix the units until these people get out and that means shelter for everybody.
Don Brashears, homeowner’s association president
"The stumbling block is getting them out so we can start the work. Because we can’t start the work until they’re out,” Brashears said. “We have to shut the electric off and the water has to be off because they have to pull all the cabinets, the toilets and cut away all the walls.”
"We can’t get in to fix the units until these people get out and that means shelter for everybody," he said.
A lagoon next to the apartment complex quickly swelled during the hurricane.
“One guy said the alligators were out walking in the parking lot during the storm,” Brashears said.
Crews have already taken out the bottom 2 to 3 feet of dry wall in some apartment units, including Peterson’s.
“You can see straight through to the other unit,” said Taiwan Scott, with High Tide Associates, in a separate unit.
I don’t have the financial funds to stay with anybody else.
Krystal Peterson, Tabby Walk resident
Trees fell on five different buildings in the 112-unit apartment complex. Crews have placed tarps over some of those roofs to protect them from further damage.
"It crushed that thing like a matchbox," Brashears said, motioning to one roof that caved in from a fallen tree. "We’ve got to get this one tarped up."
One tree is still standing but is dangerously close to falling on another building.
"The folks inside are sleeping in the living room because they’re afraid of trees coming down on the bedroom," Brashears said.
A massive pine also crushed the apartment complex’s mailboxes.
"We’re not going to be getting mail deliveries anytime soon," Brashears said, walking by the flattened structure.
Cissy Facenda, who manages the property, called the damage “just devastating.”
"It’s so sad," Facenda said. "But this place looks great now compared to the first day (she returned after Hurricane Matthew). It was just pixie sticks everywhere.”
It was just pixie sticks everywhere.
Cissy Facenda, Tabby Walk property manager
Liz Hamer was helping the rest of her family move mattresses and belongings outside their unit Monday morning. She said it’s been difficult with her work schedule at Bi-Lo.
She said they’re moving quickly so the crews can start their work as soon as possible.
“That’s why we’re trying to get out as fast as we can,” she said.
Brashears is talking with churches and nonprofits to help people find a place to stay if they don’t have immediate friends and family with extra space, he said.
"These are the working people of the island,” Brashears said. “They work locally. They’re running out of money. They’ve spent four or five days in a hotel.”
Daniel Salazar: firstname.lastname@example.org