Crab Orchard store deals with storm damage

June 03, 2004|EMILY BURTON

CRAB ORCHARD - Memorial Day has taken on new significance for Lonnie Pruitt. Monday was the day the ice chest flew at Lonnie's Redi-Mart.

Pruitt is working this week to clean up after strong winds slung his ice chest around the parking lot, ripped gas pumps from the ground and removed part of his roof during the holiday weekend. He is joined by the rest of the county, clearing the remaining debris and fallen trees after a sweeping line of violent storms racked the area.

"It's pretty well shut us down. It's going to take some major work," said Pruitt.

The roof was blown away at approximately 1 a.m. Monday when the store was empty. The edge of what has been described as a funnel cloud snapped the gas pumps off their base and felled the canopy as well. Thankfully, the pumps' automatic shut-off valves worked as designed, said Pruitt. "I don't think we spilled a quart of gas the entire time," said Pruitt.


The storm sucked the roof straight up, said Pruitt, so there was minimal damage to merchandise in the store. Items had to be moved off of rain-soaked shelves, but many vendors had given the store credit for the items and were now coming to remove their products or had told Pruitt to keep them. Cases of Pepsi and Mountain Dew were hauled away on Wednesday afternoon as boxes of cereal and cornmeal were taken with much of the merchandise to local food pantries.

"As far as (merchandise) damage-wise, we're in pretty good shape," said Pruitt.

Even as the structure of the building was examined for faults, Pruitt kept a positive outlook on the situation.

"We were looking at making changes anyway," he said.

Road crews just starting to haul off brush

In one of the worst-hit areas, Waynesburg and Highland, road crews are just beginning to chip and haul off brush that had once covered the road and was now lining ditches.

"They've got most of the roads back to where people can travel again," said Magistrate Earlin "Dude" Cress. After the storm last week and subsequent flooding Sunday night, debris was moved to the sides of roads to open them for traffic as quickly as possible. Today the chore of removing wayward branches and felled trees continues.

"We've not cleaned up most of the brush," said Cress. "...There's still a lot of work out there. It did a lot of damage."

"They're still working on roads as hard as they can go," said Bo Gander of the Lincoln County Road Department.

If the spring storms have taught the community anything, it's teamwork, said Pruitt. Friends from other food stores have been coming to the Redi-Mart, offering their help.

"I had other friends from H&H Food Mart come down and help me put some things in a cooler so they wouldn't ruin," said Pruitt. After 29 years in business, Pruitt said its still all about helping people.

"People have been real supportive," he said.

Outside, his wife Carol watched a curtain of rain and a black cloud cross the knobs toward them, as the wind began to rattle the caution tape encircling the parking lot.

"Let her come," said Lonnie Pruitt.

Marinas take high water in stride

High water after the recent big rains are keeping marinas along Herrington Lake hopping, but they report little damage.

At Sunset Marina on the lake, damage was confined mostly to wind-blown patio furniture, said Darwin Holloway.

The biggest chore, he said, was constantly monitoring the water level and adjusting the lines anchoring the docks.

"When the water's fluctuating like it is now, they'll adjust them three or four times a day," Holloway said, adding that gas and telephone lines have to be monitored as well.

Herrington Marina so far has gone with the flow, reporting little damage. "It's not too bad, 'course the water's up," said Henry Hensley. "I'm surprised it wasn't too bad at all."

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