COOKEVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Attic eaves dangling. Siding is missing from the outside walls. A stick is lodged into a wall.
All of this is visible at the Broadway Apartments. It’s something that constantly takes resident Paul Smith back to March 3.
“There was a car lot right up the road here,” Paul Smith said. “That night, I actually saw cars in the air above me from that car lot.”
The damage is not extensive at his home, but as parts of Cookeville rebuilds and repairs, Smith said the reminders of the tornado at Broadway Apartments remain the same.
“Not only are we dealing with the fact that our buildings are damaged due to the tornadoes from March 3, we have trouble with management trying to get them to do anything,” Paul Smith said.
The destruction at a house next door to the complex shows the massive devastation, only 900 feet away from the complex. Paul Smith and his neighbors said they were very lucky that night.
“If it had been 50 yards this way, I wouldn’t be talking to you because it would’ve destroyed the apartments,” Paul Smith said.
Paul Smith said it’s not just him. Other neighbors have complained about additional issues with the complex, such as leaky roofs, leaky mailboxes and mold inside of the apartments. Things they said occurred before the tornado ripped through the area.
Chris Smith is Paul Smith’s neighbor. He said that he has also had a hard time getting in touch with management for just basic needs.
“I spent myself, my personal time on my weekends, instead of spending time with my family, I was out here picking up the trash,” Chris Smith said.
Over the past two days, News4 reached out to Broadway Apartments and management about the concerns. They did call back in order to gather information but have not responded.
Paul Smith said many of the people who live in the complex are lower income, on Section 8, and are scared of speaking up. As the 6-month anniversary since the tornado swept through, with very little change around him, Paul Smith said he isn’t afraid anymore.
“There are a lot of older people here, disabled people. They’re scared to stand up for their rights because they’re afraid that they’re going to lose their assistance, and they’re going to be evicted at the same time,” said Paul Smith. Sorry. It don’t work that way for me. I’ll fight.”
Huff Management sent News 4 the following statement:
We appreciate the concerns that residents have about tornado-related repairs. The management company has faced a number of challenges, including delays with insurance claims and securing bids and contractors during COVID-19. Work is scheduled to begin in the middle of next week.
The management company has been actively recruiting for a full-time, on-site manager for the complex for the past month. As noted in the job description, the position includes housing. In the meantime, an off-site manager is available to residents of the complex.
It’s important to know that units are inspected regularly to confirm that they meet standards. While non-emergency repairs were on-hold during the early months of COVID-19, the management company has been handling routine work orders since mid-summer.