CHAPEL HILL — If it weren’t for the dark windows and storage pods in the parking lot, life at the Airport Gardens Apartments would have seemed normal last week.
Two women leaned against a wall in the afternoon sun, chatting as a group of young children played with a turtle they had found in the grass. A pair of boys rode their bikes along the sidewalk.
The rain that seriously damaged many low-lying Chapel Hill and Carrboro homes June 30 also flooded 18 apartments at the town-owned public housing complex on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
Airport Gardens’ 26 units sit on a hill overlooking Hillsborough Street and the Bolin Creek Greenway. The Chapel Hill Police Department is across the street. The complex had a new drainage system and retaining wall installed in the late 1990s, town Housing Director Tina Vaughn said.
“The water came so fast and so high, the drainage system couldn’t handle it,” she said.
In the days that followed, cleanup crews also found mold growing inside some of the walls, she said.
Residents did not want to be identified last week but said they are worried how long it will take for life to return to normal. A July 10 letter from the housing department said the town was working with a contractor to schedule the repairs. The letter also gave residents phone numbers to call if they needed temporary housing or other assistance.
One woman said residents have since contacted the housing department, the mayor and others trying to get answers.
Even those who took the town’s offer of a hotel room continue to cope without dependable transportation to work and to their apartments for necessities or to cook meals. Other residents are staying with relatives or have returned home to wait for the repairs.
Vaughn said one hotel does offer a continental breakfast, but other families may be eating with relatives or at local restaurants. If a serious mold problem is confirmed, the hotel stays will be extended, she said.