Tornado-ravaged Oklahoma businesses hope to reopen

Loves Travel Stops hopes to rebuild a store along Interstate 40 that was destroyed by a tornado on Monday and is finding new positions for about two dozen displaced workers.

BY SUSAN SIMPSON Modified: May 12, 2010 at 1:15 am •  Published: May 12, 2010

/> State Sen. Harry Coates said several businesses owned by his family were damaged or destroyed.

Coates Roofing and Coates Metal Works were in metal buildings near the Seminole Airport. The metal works company, which manufactures sheet metal, was destroyed. The roofing company also lost several buildings.

An erosion control company across the road at the former Miller Plant Farm also had damage.

Coates said the family will rebuild and reopen the business, but estimates losses at about $1 million. The companies employ about 125 people and some workers were on site Tuesday cleaning up debris.

In addition, Coates said two brothers and his mother lost roofs from their homes. Three aircraft owned by the family at the airport were not damaged.

"I’m just thankful that no one was seriously injured,” he said.

The roofing company has many commercial projects, including the contract for roofing the Devon Tower building in downtown Oklahoma City.

Aero-Tec Industries is near the airport and suffered major building damage, said company president Charles Harbert. The maker of aircraft supplies is closed until electricity is restored at the site, he said.

"It beat the living tar out of it and broke some windows out of the front,” he said.

The company has five workers but no one was there when the storm hit.

"We consider ourselves lucky the building is still standing considering the total devastation around us,” Coates said.

CONTRIBUTING: Staff Writer Michael Baker

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Help may be available

Rep. Mary Fallin, R-Oklahoma City, urged business owners to contact the Small Business Administration if they need help recovering from tornado damage.

During a news conference in front of the damaged Love’s Travel Stop, Fallin said she had heard of several business that won’t be collecting revenue for a while and that many people may be without jobs.

The Small Business Administration can help with business interruption services, Fallin said.

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