Tuesday, April 13, 1999

Businesses not reopening as swiftly as hoped

Experts still toting up losses

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        SYMMES TOWNSHIP — As experts Monday estimated damage to businesses from the tornado of 1999, retailers along Montgomery Road were calculating how long it would take to get their stores reopened.

        At Thriftway Marketplace at 11390 Montgomery Road, some workers and managers were waiting at the front of the darkened grocery for an estimator's report. About 100 workers have been transferred to other Thriftway stores until repairs can be made. Four workers lost houses in the storm.

        “We were expecting to reopen Thursday, but now it looks like it will be ... maybe this weekend,” said Jim Wells, marketing director for Winn-Dixie, parent company of Thriftway. “Mostly it's water damage.”

        The store, like many others in the Harper's Point retail strip, sustained severe damage to heating and air-conditioning units.

        “It's going to be $500,000 to $1 million in damages,” said Michael R. Huseman, estimator with HGC Construction, hired by property owners Towne Properties Asset Management Co. to assess damage.

        Hamilton County authorities have condemned 11 of 25 stores in the Harper's Point retail center, which prevents people from entering buildings. But Bob Wahlke, president of Towne Properties Asset Management, thinks the designation was premature.

        “The buildings are structurally sound. They've made a mistake,” Mr. Wahlke said.

        Don Johnson, owner of Donato's Pizza in Harper's Station Plaza, said he was moving much of his salvageable inventory and equipment to his stores in Blue Ash and Milford, both of which survived unscathed.

        Don Pablo's restaurant was full of workers Monday, some driving nails into new wooden overhangs while others were stapling cushioning to bench seats inside. Ron Rexroad, senior construction manager for the restaurant chain, said the reopening might take longer because some equipment might not come in right away.

        Dennis M. Teall, director of property management for Jeffrey R. Anderson Real Estate Inc., owner of Harper's Station, estimated 400-500 people were out of work at the center.

        Many could be back on the job before the weekend because some of the damage was limited to broken windows.

        Beth Durban, owner of the nearby Adrian Durban Florist, said she can transfer business — and employees — to other stores in Clifton.


Treasures recovered in debris
Tristate tallies financial losses
Tornado renews debate about communications system
Some see '99 as a peak year for tornadoes
Weather radios not easy to find
Hundreds of insurance claims filed
- Businesses not reopening as swiftly as hoped
Long shopping list for family that lost house, clothes
Road & school closings; curfews
Two victims remembered; 2 buried today
Forest teaches lessons anew
Government tries to get back to normal
Synagogue lends hand to church
Mail delivery interrupted
Sycamore moves some games to opponents' fields
Tax deadline extended for victims
Warren County sets up hot line