Renters have only a few weeks to grab what’s salvageable from their storage units after the sudden, unexplained closure of Armuchee Village Self Storage.

“I’m six months pregnant and my husband was away for military duty when I found out we only had until Sept. 1 to get our stuff out,” former Rome resident Rebecca Tolbert said Friday from her new home in Savannah. “I went into a panic and had to beg people on Facebook to help me move an entire house full of belongings. It was extremely stressful. I’m grateful my sister let me store everything in her basement until we could get everything to Savannah. But this forced us to move twice, which is expensive.”

Tolbert estimates she lost more than $2,500 in furniture from damage done by the rats infesting the 900-unit facility. She said she feels lucky, however, that her unit was far enough from the entrance to be spared from the flood waters that came in twice within a four-year period. Situated in a flood plain, the Armuchee Village Self Storage is under the Food Lion shopping center at 3361 Martha Berry Highway and is less than 100 yards from a Big Dry Creek tributary.

“I did cry a few times,” the first-time mother said. “It was very rough. We ran into one guy who said he’d lost his mother’s antiques. Some people were trying to get stuff out for their kids who were away at college. It was so sad.”

Tolbert and others renting storage units say they never received official notice of the closure and worry about other customers who might not find out about it until it’s too late.

Those who did find out in time to retrieve their belongings said they tried to contact the property manager or anyone else who might answer the two numbers listed for the facility, to no avail.

Attempts to contact Gene Meyer, whose LinkedIn account lists him as the “General Manager and Property Manager” of Armuchee Village LLC, also were unsuccessful. His job description goes on to explain that he reports directly to the non-resident owner in Santa Barbara, California.

Storage customer Kristina William was upset about the sudden closure.

“I was just shocked,” she said Friday. “I had to find out through the grapevine right before starting back to school as a special education teacher. I would hate to be out of town or overseas and not know about this and find out later their stuff is gone.”

William said she had stored a lot of school supplies in there and that some of them had melted when the Armuchee air conditioner failed one day.

“If it wasn’t one thing, it was another,” the new Chattanooga resident said. “It wasn’t the most well-kept place. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen rat droppings.”

Friday afternoon in 95-degree heat, former Rome resident Jerard McIntyre found a 24-foot U-Haul truck for retrieving his life’s possessions from his 10-by-30 unit with the help of a friend.

McIntyre, who was in the process of moving anyway into his new home in Rydal, said he had no idea the facility had closed until he arrived with the truck Friday. He said the last time he had contact with the company was when his Aug. 1 rent was withdrawn from his account.

He said he was not prepared for what he found inside.

“Four or five rats jumped out of hiding when we lifted the door and the smell was awful,” the 32-year-old said, pointing out the small black rat pellets covering the soiled concrete floor of his unit in the 700 block.

McIntyre said he’d had his storage unit for the past two years and now will have to throw out a mattress and other pieces of furniture that have been ruined by rats and mildew.

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