FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - Tahtah Edwards and her three sons have a house to call home nine months after Hurricane Florence destroyed their home.
Edwards and her sons lived in a 325 square foot hotel room for four months before moving into a home Sunday in Fayetteville.
“When you’re a parent, that’s what your main job is, to have a house or somewhere they could go and feel safe somewhere, that’s permanent and consistent," Edwards said. “When you’re in a hotel, that’s not consistent. You can’t cook like you want to and stuff like that.”
Edwards and her kids lived in Sandy Ridge Apartments in Whiteville, government housing that was flooded in the storm. Construction crews gutted the apartments but she and her family lived there with no water or walls. The site manager said Edwards’ apartment and five others were destroyed and no longer livable.
Edwards and her boys were forced to move, making the Holiday Motel home at $30 per night.
“It was a struggle. We lost everything,” she said.
After her story aired on WECT in April, strangers helped pay for the hotel, and she said she’s grateful for that. Edwards was approved for the state-funded Back @ Home program that helps families find short term housing and pay for rent.
She said the lack of available housing in Whiteville, along with the lack of job opportunities, caused her to look for a home in Fayetteville.
“This is a new beginning, a fresh start," Edwards said. “I am happy to begin life all over again because I’m actually starting fresh because it’s actually like a rebirth. I feel like a phoenix that rose from the ashes.”
According to Edwards, Back @ Home will pay rent at her new home for six months. When she walked through the door of the new place Sunday, Edwards said she couldn’t contain her emotions.
“I wanted to cry because I was just so happy," Edwards said. "It was just a long time. I struggled for so long, and I lost everything just to get to this point.
“I said, ‘Lord, thank you.’ I was just so happy. My kids, they were so happy. They were running around and laughing and jumping and I was so happy that they were happy.”
She wants to remind people that just because the storm is over, it doesn’t mean everyone has recovered.
“A lot of people thought, OK, Florence is gone. Everybody is good, but no, there are people who are still struggling," Edwards said. “I think people need to know that because I think a lot of people think the hurricane was so many months ago and everybody is good.”
Edwards plans to furnish her home and asks if anyone has clothes or bedding they are getting rid of to donate if possible.