Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

December 5, 2013

State of shock

Businesses rebuilding in the wake of the tornadoes

(Continued)

“To get back to a permanent location on Hoffer Street, the estimates I have is that it would take about eight months. Or I could pay my loan off and buy somewhere else, and that could take until spring,” she said.

Her office on Hoffer, near Home Avenue, had high visibility. Now she’s renting a nice office space on East Boulevard, but she misses having a big sign on a main drag.

“If I could find a location on a main road, I’d move there in a heartbeat,” she said. “I could lose a lot of business in eight months.”

The flow of insurance money into Kokomo means a windfall for local contractors, but to the business owners, every day closed is money lost.

The Kokomo Town Center J.C. Penney store ended up with a 25-foot-by-40-foot hole in the roof, and all of the merchandise inside had to be disposed of, store manager Jerry Barth said.

The store, which is ready to celebrate 50 years in the same location, will probably be completely remodeled prior to reopening, Barth said.

“We’re disappointed we’ll be closed for the holidays, but we’ll be back better than ever,” Barth said. As at other businesses which were open that Sunday, the J.C. Penney employees huddled in fear for their lives as the tornado ripped through. They sheltered, per the company’s emergency plan, in the bathrooms as part of the roof disintegrated.

Then there’s the psychological trauma of losing a thriving business.

Linville, a Kokomo city firefighter, jumped into action when the storm hit. He was on his way to the city’s damaged fire station on East Boulevard when he first saw Louie’s.

There was nothing he could do about the business; he was needed elsewhere.

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