Hurricane Matthew: Brevard County damage one year later

News 6 speaks with current, former tenants of Bay Towers in Titusville

By James Sparvero - Reporter

TITUSVILLE, Fla. - Blown away by​ Hurricane Matthew, the roof of Bay Towers has been replaced and the building has been reopened.

New tenants are now calling these once-uninhabitable apartments home.

"Everything's going great," Bay Towers tenant Michael Harrison told News 6 reporter James Sparvero.

Like Harrison, an Iraq War veteran, Matthew Rain said he loves this building with its view of the Indian River and the Kennedy Space Center.

Last fall, people in the area were seeing hurricane damage. Over 100 tenants were kicked out when Hurricane Matthew blew off the roof and killed the power. The building, then deemed uninhabitable, displaced tenants who were scrambling to save what they could and get out.

"The smell alone is so horrific up there. We're having a hard time breathing," former tenant Sara Brooks said.

Another former tenant, Julia Bennett, told News 6 she had significant water damage that led mold to grow.

"Our apartment alone took three inches of water, if not more. Then the mold started to grow, and that was even better," Bennett said.

Bennett was one of those who was displaced. In November, we introduced you to her when one month after being evicted, Titusville police helped her get results by furnishing her new home.

"What would you do? Where would you be if it weren't for the police helping you?" Sparvero asked.

"I would be back at ground one," Bennett said.

Bennett tells News 6 she's since moved again, not back to Bay Towers, but old tenants could have moved back in after Jan. 11.

That's when the city said people could once again live there - the day Bay Towers regained its status as a habitable building.

"What they're doing is fixing all the stuff that got broken during the hurricane, and then once that's done, they're going to start fixing up the hallways better," Harrison said.

Harrison said that as far as he can tell, none of the other current tenants appear to be anyone who came back after being kicked out.

News 6 went to the manager's office to ask, but we were not welcomed.

"Can you tell me how many tenants have moved back in since the building reopened?" Sparvero asked.

"You guys have already done a report," property manager Tammy Pepper said.

"We've done multiple reports, but you've never spoken with us," Sparvero asked.

Pepper is the one person News 6 knows of who had been there before the storm and is there now.

She, however, would not answer questions about the building reopening, or let us see the repairs done inside.

"Would you do an interview with me about the building reopening?" Sparvero asked

"No, I won't do any interviews. We could do this all day in the same sentence. I don't know what you want to talk about," Pepper said.

"Talk about the challenges reopening the building, how many tenants have moved back in, if the building is any closer to paying its taxes and fines that it owes?" Sparvero asked.

Bay Towers owes $4 million in code enforcement fines. Much of that debt is related to the south tower of the apartment complex, which is still standing even though no one's lived there since a fire condemned the building nine years ago.

Whatever the upcoming hurricane season may bring, the new tenants told News 6 the building is in good hands with Pepper's management.

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