MOBERLY, Mo.-While many in the U.S. were watching fireworks displays in celebration of Independence Day, two tire dealers and numerous other business owners and residents in Moberly were assessing the devastation wrought by an evening tornado. The tornado leveled Mike's Tire store and wiped out the showroom of Ron's Tire & Automotive Inc. Yet the destruction and loss of some equipment and inventory didn't dissuade the two independent dealerships from opening for business within a week of the July 4 storm, which damaged about 30 businesses and about 460 homes in this town of 13,000 people.
Mike Wamsley, owner of Mike's Tire, drove into town shortly after the tornado to find his building flattened. No damage estimate has been determined and the operation was not insured, he said.
The dealership, which conducted minor service work in addition to selling Cooper, El-dorado and other brands of new and used tires, salvaged lumber and set up a temporary lean-to. Employees parked trailers on the lot for storage and began servicing customers within six days. Mr. Wamsley, who has been in business for 2 1/2 years, said he will try to buy the rented property and build a new store.
Meanwhile, Ron's Tire Store Manager Joe Welch was on his way downtown from his home and real-ized the store had been hit after hearing on the radio that the city hall next door was heavily damaged.
The front showroom of Ron's Tire was completely destroyed and the rest of the building-which was leased from and insured by Goodyear-suffered structural damage, Mr. Welch said. Some service equipment was ruined and about 50 new tires from the showroom still are unaccounted for. There was no damage estimate, he said.
The next morning, Mr. Welch made arrangements to set up shop in a nearby vacant John Deere dealership. ``I knew buildings would be scarce,'' he said.
Whether Ron's Tire's new location becomes permanent will depend on whether Goodyear decides to rebuild its store, he said. The store previously served as a Goodyear dealership before Ron's Tire moved in seven years ago as an independent dealership.