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Survivor Story: Jackie Pfeiffer

By Carrie Coppernoll Modified: May 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm •  Published: May 1, 2009
MULHALL — The last thing sold at Jackie's Farmer's Store was a pack of AA batteries.

The customer told owner Jackie Pfeiffer, “I think we're going to need these before the night's over.” Then a tornado demolished the store and much of the tiny town in northern Logan County.

Pfeiffer opened her shop when she was only 21, and for 16 years the store was the hub of Mulhall.

Kids walked down the grassy hill from the elementary school in the afternoons and hung out in her shop, which doubled as a restaurant and grocery store. Old-timers met for coffee. New residents made friends. Pfeiffer employed four people — two adults and two high school kids. Her shop was the center of town.

After May 3, 1999, what was left was a pile of trash. Nearly everything was broken or torn. Individual bags of chips that looked fine from the outside were full of pebbles and debris. A hood vent landed on the elementary school, and a picnic table vanished. Her canceled business checks were found 50 miles away in Ponca City.

Pfeiffer and loved ones salvaged what they could, but the bulldozers came, scooping up her 16 years of work in 15 minutes.

“It was probably one of the saddest things I've ever seen,” she said.

Insurance came, and it wasn't enough. She hadn't updated the value of her shop with her insurance company since she built it more than a decade earlier, and Pfeiffer received $100,000. To rebuild, she needed $250,000.

She tried for nine months to find investors. Nothing. She decided to move on. Now she works at Meridian Technology Center in Stillwater.

“It was probably the hardest thing I've ever had to do — tell people I wasn't going to rebuild,” she said. “I do think that God has a plan for us.”