MARSHALL, Texas—For 26 years, George Ivey went to work at Marshall Tire's Victory Drive store in this east Texas town. In in the morning; out at night. It was a regular routine that had been lucrative enough to let the former tire changer and his wife buy the business in 1988.
It was no different the night of Nov. 6, when Mr. Ivey closed up his shop and went home for the evening—safe from the brewing thunderstorms that were to engulf most of Texas that night.
At 4:30 a.m., the dream-shattering winds of a tornado struck—blowing half of Mr. Ivey's outlet into the car dealership next door. More than 120 homes were damaged by the devastating twister.
But when he arrived at work the next day—just as he had done thousands of times before—Mr. Ivey opened the store for business.
``We haven't been closed one minute in this time,'' he said one week after the tornado.
That's not to say operating the single-location retail/commercial outlet hasn't been a chore. Three of the six service bays were destroyed, along with most of his equipment.
But employees and friends worked hard that Thursday morning to salvage what they could. They moved two working tire changers outside under a canopy and cleared debris.
The telephone and electric companies, whose fleets are serviced by Marshall Tire, restored power with temporary lines.
In the two days following the disaster, Marshall Tire pulled in $15,000 in sales—off about $5,000 from a typical two-day period, but ``not too bad,'' he said.
The storm front that brought the tornado to Marshall caused storms in Louisiana, Alabama and Kentucky. In some parts of Texas, baseball-sized hail and 60-mph wind gusts battered residents.
Ironically, Mr. Ivey said the tornado's devastation is making the dealership a ``bigger and better'' operation. In a couple of weeks, the rebuilding will be completed, including the addition of a seventh service bay.
``It's a shame that (tornadoes) happen, but I've got 30 years of old wheels and old hubcaps that had accumulated in the corners that aren't there anymore. I won't have to clean them up,'' he joked.
``We considered it a blessing that it happened at 4:30 (a.m.) instead of 7:30 (a.m.) because we would have had people here,'' said the co-owner of the family-run business. Along with his wife, Diane, Mr. Ivey's staff includes his daughter, Lori Ivey Howeth, office manager; son-in-law, Mike Howeth, manager; and son, Rusty, who handles the company's computer system.
Two area newspapers, the Marshall News Messenger and the Longview Morning Journal, put photographs of the tattered dealership on their front pages. A bittersweet honor, Mr. Ivey noted: ``I'd rather be on the front page with a new grand-baby or winning the lottery or something.''