The tornado that passed through Missouri’s capital city devastated Riley Chevrolet and Toyota, with the dealership’s Chevy building getting levelled by the funnel cloud and hundreds of cars suffering major damage.
Kevin Riley, whose family has owned and operated the store for more than 83 years, vowed to stay in business despite the devastation and has been evaluating the damage over the past week. He told local outlet News Tribune that it has been a “whirlwind” answering phone calls, talking with employees and trying to work out exactly what needs to be fixed.
“Our collision center was slightly damaged and we believe we could reopen it in the next 10 days,” Riley said. “We had 100 total vehicles between the two lots when the tornado hit and probably 80 percent were totaled. There was so much glass that was broken out of them. It’s not just the windows and windshields, but the glass in the computer displays as well.”
The dealership wasn’t the first thing on Riley’s mind when he first arrived on the scene the day after the storm.
“On Wednesday night, as I drove up from the south, power lines were down and I had to drive under them to get through on Christy,” Riley said. “As I came up the hill, I first thought about the people who live in a house just before you get to our property. That was my first priority to go see about them and unbelievably they had come out of the house and said they were OK.”
It’s not clear when exactly Riley Chevrolet and Toyota will be able to reopen, although the dealer is hoping to have its collision center back up and running by as early as next week. As for the damaged cars, some may be salvageable, but anything beyond repair will be going to the scrapyard.
“We know we have customers that will be willing to buy (the vehicles) and fix them up,” Riley said. “There’s also companies that could take some of these. What will be sold will have to be safe to be driven. We’ll get an area of the lots cleaned off, bring in some double-wide trailers and start selling.”
Some of the vehicles on the lot appear to have very minimal damage, with the tornado only knocking out the windows. It was later discovered many of these cars would be quite costly to repair, however, as the broken windows allowed rain to enter the cabin and damage the interior electronics. The dealer estimates it had around 800 cars on the lot and will likely be forced to sell or scrap 80% of them.