Amory businesses look to reopen almost a month after storms

AMORY, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s been almost a month since a tornado ripped through Amory, hitting people where they live and where they work.

Several businesses were damaged or destroyed, putting a dent in the city’s economy.

But business owners, like homeowners, are determined to rebuild.

Bill’s Hamburgers has been a mainstay on the Amory restaurant scene since the 1920s, but that didn’t matter to Mother Nature last month.

Manager Bill Pate said the Vinegar Bend Landmark took a major hit from the tornado.

“Our roof in our dining room and here in the main old hallway had a lot of damage to it. A lot of wind damage. Took in a lot of leaks and blew out our front window of course,” said Pate.

Weeks later, the grill is cold and the doors are still closed.

Pate said his staff and customers are hungry for the cafe’s reopening.

“Every day that I come down here to either check on the building and see the process of the repairs I have 10-15 people stop and ask if we are open. So it’s not only us that are hurting but we have customers that eat with us every day and those people haven’t been able to eat with us since March 24,” said Pate.

Don Ferguson is an appraiser and glass installer. He has been working closely with many of the damaged businesses.

He said getting back to business as usual is going to take some time.

“The cleanup process is big around here because it is so much damage but once people start seeing things get back to normal it helps them feel better about the situation,” said Ferguson.

Down the street, Cosmetologist Carleen Bailey was left wondering what to do next.

All that was left of her hair salon were the memories.

“It completely destroyed my shop and they have moved it and now it’s waiting on me to restart,” said Bailey.

A day later Bailey got her first sign: a new opportunity and the chance to keep up her line of work.

“God sent, Pamela and Christopher came by my shop the day after the storm and Christopher introduced her to me and I said ‘Well I hope you’ve got me a place in your shop’ and she said I do. It went from there she got me set up. I moved in the next week and I’m back doing hair,” said Bailey.

As far as getting back to a place of her own, Bailey said it’s taking a lot of thought and soul-searching.

She never thought she’d be starting a business from the literal ground up.

“It’s a process. I’m still trying to process that I don’t have my own. I am grateful I am here at Revive. Going forward it’s going to take a lot. It’s going to take a lot and I’m just waiting for God to give me that sign for me to go forward,” said Bailey.

And good news for the lunch crowd, Bill’s Hamburgers is one of the businesses expecting to re-open by next week.

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