W.Va. community rebounding from September twister

November 25, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

DARKESVILLE, W.VA. - William "Sam" Price says he does not reflect a lot on the tornado that wreaked havoc on the small community of Darkesville in September.

Price, who lost his upholstery shop to the tornado, said his priority was to "clean up and get back to work."

But if Price had to think back for a moment and react to the destruction, he would come away with a new outlook on tornadoes.


"After it took my building, I got a lot of respect for them," Price said.

Price is one of a group of Darkesville residents who have started the process of rebuilding and repairing homes and other property damaged on Sept. 17 when a tornado whipped through town.

The tornado hit during the night, smashing some homes, ripping roofs off others and snapping utility lines. One couple was swept from their feet as they tried to get to a relative's mobile home.

Price's shop - Price's Auto Upholstery - is a well-known business. In addition to auto upholstery, Price and his wife, Cathy, do upholstery work for restaurants and other local businesses such as hospitals and clinics.

The Price's have been in business for 14 years and had been in Darkesville for about two years after relocating from Rock Cliff Drive.

Then Mother Nature came knocking.

Business takes hit

The tornado lifted the shop from its foundation and dropped it in the parking lot, Kathy Price said. It spun Price's pickup truck around and hurled a stove pipe from the shop through a window of the vehicle.

Cathy Price said she and her husband had saved money, which helped them get through the process, and their insurance paid for the construction of a new shop.

A contractor recently finished work on the shell of the building and siding was finished this week, Cathy Price said.

Sam Price showed a reporter around the interior of the building Wednesday.

Price pointed out a feature near the roof line: hurricane straps.

The devices, which connect the roof to the walls, are designed to protect the building from high winds.

"They say lightning doesn't hit the same place twice. I'm hoping," Price said.

In the meantime, Cathy Price has been lining up orders and the couple hopes to have the shop open by February.

A short distance down U.S. 11 from Price's shop, Paul Luther Flick is getting ready for a new home.

Flick was walking up a hallway in his house when the tornado hit. Flick was knocked to the floor and crawled into a bedroom.

The tornado ripped a roof from a room where Flick typically watched television.

This week, Flick said he has removed the remains of his house and plans to build a new house he picked out through 84 Lumber Co. He is financing the home through insurance he received for the damage.

When asked when he plans to have his new house completed, Flick referred to a higher authority.

"That's up to Mother Nature," Flick said.

Walking through the community today, signs of the tornado are still evident.

The ground around some homes is still torn up and debris such as tires and broken lumber can be seen.

While the tornado heavily damaged some buildings, others made it through with lighter damage.

A section of metal roofing was torn from Aaron Bennett's home.

Bennett said his house was condemned because of the damage, which forced him to live with relatives in another house for three weeks.

But Bennett said he was able to move back in after having the roofing replaced.

Darkesville received a disaster designation, which allowed residents to apply for federal funding to help them with cleanup and other work, said Sharon Fouch, spokeswoman for the Red Cross in Martinsburg.

The Red Cross assisted 19 families with emergency shelter, food and clothing, she said.

"We're still working with a couple of these families. So it will be an ongoing process," Fouch said.

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