WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — It’s been more than a year since residents at Wilmington’s Market North Apartments were forced out of their home because of damage from Hurricane Florence. Just last week, the first few residents started to move back in.
Katherine Bowen and her grandchildren have gone from place to place just to have a roof over their heads.
Under the new ownership of Vitus Group, the first phase of apartments have re-opened just in time for the holiday season.
“It looked like a ghost town with all the blue on top of the walls,” Bowen said.
For more than a year, Bowen drove by her abandoned apartment wondering if she would ever be able to move back in.
“It was terrible for me,” she said. “Real terrible. Where was I going to go? I had nowhere to go.”
From staying at motels to friends’ homes, Bowen wasn’t throwing in the towel.
“I come through riding everyday to see what’s going on,” she said. “Nothing was going on, but I didn’t give up. I kept coming.”
With three grandchildren to raise, Bowen was determined to get back in her home.
“They kept saying, ‘Grandma, when are we going back to Market North? We want to move back into our place,'” she said.
Finally, Bowen got good news. She and her grandchildren were going to be moving back in.
“I got happy,” she said. “I got real happy.”
Her grandchildren were just as excited as she was.
“I kept praying,” Bowens’ grandson Kendrian said. “I believed in the faith. I kept having faith. She always told me it was going to get better and she was right, it did.”
Vitus bought the apartment complex in July and started renovating every unit. A Vitus spokesperson says they have renovated six buildings so far.
Bowen says it’s most definitely new and improved.
“The first place I went was the kitchen, and I loved the way it looked,” she said.
Her grandchildren could not wait to get back into their new home.
“It just feels good to walk in our own house again,” Kendrian said. “That’s just the amazing part.”
Vitus Director of Development Scott Langan says it means so much to be able to welcome residents back to a place they can be proud to call home.
Bowen is certainly proud to call it home.
“All I’ve got to do is put my key in my door and walk in and say, ‘I’m home,'” she said.
Vitus says they are doing the renovations in phases and hope to be done by April. They say the re-opening of Market North will put more than 200 affordable housing units back on the market for the Wilmington community.