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Published: Tuesday, 6/22/2010

Toledo area enterprises making headway on storm-damage recovery

BY JULIE M. McKINNON
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Marathon in Dundee has no gas pumps, but the convenience store and Jerky Outlet are open. A Marathon in Dundee has no gas pumps, but the convenience store and Jerky Outlet are open.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Marathon's convenience store and attached Jerky Outlet are back in business after a tornado struck, but it's hard to know when the Dundee, Mich., gas station will have pumps again.

Nearby, the tornado-damaged Splash Universe Water Park Resort at Holiday Inn Express - which brought a lot of customers to the gas station - has yet to reopen.

Little more than two weeks after tornadoes devastated parts of northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan, killing six people in Wood County's Lake Township, affected businesses are in various stages of putting the pieces together.

In Dundee, an estimated $300,000 in structural damage was done to the Marathon station's canopy and building, and its gas pumps have been removed and are being evaluated to see whether replacements are needed, said Steve Lyons, one of the managers.

The Dundee Holiday Inn lost parts of its roof and exterior walls. The Dundee Holiday Inn lost parts of its roof and exterior walls.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

Said manager Mohammad Kassem: "If we had the gas pumps, I'd think it would definitely bring in more people."

Managers for Splash Universe in Dundee and the adjoining Holiday Inn were not available Monday. The indoor water park lost large chunks of roof and exterior walls, as did parts of the hotel. Damage from the tornado is being assessed, according to its Web site.

In Lake Township, where the township administration building and Lake High School were destroyed along with dozens of houses, many businesses escaped major damage and were back to work. Spectra Group Ltd., one of the businesses south of State Rt. 795 and Lake High, and other neighboring Lake Township businesses were among those that were relatively unscathed.

"It's just amazing," said D.C. Neckers, chief executive of the 10-employee business that makes three-dimensional models for manufacturers. "The storm was horrific but selective, and it hit a lot of fields."

To the north of State Rt. 795, on Moline Martin Road between the Cummings Road administration building and the Lemoyne Road high school, Service Spring Corp. was one of the most heavily damaged Lake Township businesses and was still attracting gawkers Monday. Calls to the business, which makes springs for overhead doors and was back in production within days of the storm, were not returned.

Yet a neighboring business on Moline Martin Road, eight-employee EPI Global, lost only two days of manufacturing electrical equipment after its leased building sustained $60,000 to $70,000 in roof damage.

"I was very lucky is all I can say," said David Levison, EPI Global owner.

Meanwhile, some businesses south of State Rt. 795 and across from Lake High were damaged both by the storm and flying debris.

Best Aire employees Pam Walczak and Paul Price were at the Lake Township air and gas compressor business a couple of hours after the storm hit after fellow employee Dawn Cowell of nearby Millbury called about a hole in the roof. Ms. Walczak, purchasing manager, and Mr. Price, service coordinator and shop supervisor, were greeted with 2 inches to 4 inches of water in the building, primarily from a water main severed by a Lake High roof chunk that came through Best Aire's roof.

Water-damaged drywall on the bottom of virtually all interior offices walls has been removed, and three offices were extensively damaged along with some exterior walls that have been patched. The tornado's edge opened one end of the building's metal roof "like a can," and it was damaged in places and needs to be entirely replaced, Ms. Walczak said.

"If we wouldn't have had the water, it wouldn't have been so bad," said Ms. Walczak, adding damage estimates are not completed. "It's probably going to be the end of summer before we're permanently fixed again."

Still, all of Best Aire's 15 employees, many of whom helped with the cleanup, were back to work last week and will be there during renovations. Service technicians were working the week after the storm because phones were forwarded to branches in Michigan and Indiana, Ms. Walczak said.

Next door, the Delventhal Co. general contractors - which is doing work for Best Aire and others - was running within a couple of days. But it has a damaged roof, windows, and equipment that was parked outside. The firm is waiting for damage estimates and still finding problems, said Todd Delventhal, vice president.

But, like other affected businesses, Mr. Delventhal said those who lost relatives, residences, and entire properties are much worse off. "We just had stuff all over," the Lake High graduate said. "But, then again, I'd like to stress that we feel fortunate."

Contact Julie M. McKinnon at:

jmckinnon@theblade.com

or 419-724-6087.



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