Storm damage to force relocation of hundreds from Memphis apartments

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Damage from last week's tornado and storms will force the relocation of more than 700 people from a Parkway Village apartment complex, the city's public works director said Tuesday.

Inspectors initially determined that 16 of the 46 buildings in the Cottonwood Apartments were uninhabitable because of damage.

But since then, other issues that weren't immediately apparent, such as leaks, have pushed the number of uninhabitable buildings to 32.

That means more than 700 residents will have to be relocated by Friday. The apartments' occupancy before the storm was close to 1,100.

The majority of the complex is no longer a safe place for people to live. Some damages, covered by tarps on the roofs, are apparent, but last weekend’s rain revealed hidden issues like leaks and mold.

For health and safety reasons, residents have to leave as soon as possible.

“We want people to know there’s no power," City of Memphis Public Works Director Robert Knecht said. "It’s going to be cold."

City officials say they're working with Latino Memphis and the Red Cross to find affordable housing for those residents.

“Trust is a big issue," Knecht said. "We have police going around with us, and that automatically brings a red flag. So we’re trying to be as soft about this and gentle in explaining as much as we can.”

The National Weather Service says an EF-1 tornado with winds up to 105 mph tore a 7.4-mile path through southeast Memphis on the morning of Oct. 21. The Cottonwood Apartments were among the areas hit hardest.

A shelter is still open at the Marion Hale Community Center, 4791 Willow Road. If you need assistance call 1-800-RED-CROSS or go to redcross.org/shelters.

“For the individuals who are affected, it doesn’t matter what their background is or where they come from, we’re there to provide that safe place of refuge," Red Cross volunteer Tom Campbell said.

The Red Cross is offering disaster assistance from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday at Park Village Christian Church, 4568 Knight Arnold Road. The center will be staffed by the Red Cross and other local agencies that may be able to provide help.

Knowing that’s only a temporary solution, the main goal now is working to find affordable housing until the apartments can be repaired.

The apartment complex refunded everyone displaced their October rent and security deposit.

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