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Oklahoma tornadoes leave businesses considering their options

BY STEVE LACKMEYER Modified: February 12, 2009 at 12:07 am •  Published: February 12, 2009
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photo - Tornado damage near the intersection of Rockwell and Northwest Expressway, Wednesday , February 11, 2009.  Nieka  Harms looks through her damaged Fantastic Sam's hair salon . By David McDaniel
Tornado damage near the intersection of Rockwell and Northwest Expressway, Wednesday , February 11, 2009. Nieka Harms looks through her damaged Fantastic Sam's hair salon . By David McDaniel
The owners (of the shopping center) say we're going to be relocated to another space and they're going to demolish the building.”

Harms, who has owned the shop for 20 years, credited hairstylist Kathy Schneck for saving the lives of her co-workers and customers.

“She saw the funnel coming from behind Target as she got inside and she told everyone to get out,” Harms said. “Three of them went to Cricket Wireless and to their bathroom and three stayed in the shop. We had a lady in a wheelchair who couldn't get out of the shop. The employees took her to our bathroom.”

Harms said she was celebrating the survival story and was confident her shop could reopen within the next couple months.

Hard times had already hit Mike Jones, owner of a cabinet making shop on Waterloo Road near Broadway.

“The tornado that tore through his stretch of metal buildings and the screech of wrenching metal made him fear for his life.

”The metal building that Jones rents lost a wall but the businesses next door were destroyed beyond recognition, with steel beams twisted around automobiles, sheet rock and office supplies. Everyone but Jones got out of the buildings before the storm and no-one was injured.

For Jones, the tornado was the final blow for a business already struggling to survive tough economic times. With his wife Kathy at his side wearing a sweatshirt declaring “I believe in angels,” Jones said he recently laid off his employees, and was reorganizing his business after deciding to file bankruptcy.

“This is the straw that breaks the camel's back,” Kathy Jones said. “But he's alive and I just thank the Lord for that.”

CONTRIBUTING: Business Writer Jennifer Palmer, Staff Writer Susan Simpson


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