Cairo business owners continue picking up after storm

Published: Mar. 5, 2019 at 5:48 PM EST
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By: Lanetra Bennett | WCTV Eyewitness News

March 5, 2019

CAIRO, Ga. (WCTV) -- Downtown Cairo is still reeling after Sunday night's storm blew through, including an EF-2 tornado that has shut down business for many local shop owners.

The devastation is causing more than an inconvenience, with many people still re-building or having just finished repair work in the aftermath of Hurricane Michael.

Several businesses were hit hard and it makes a difference, especially in a town like Cairo where locally-owned businesses help not only individual families survive, but the community as a whole.

Places like Powe Automotive on Second Avenue continued picking up the pieces Tuesday. The owner says the storm blew out the entire back wall of the auto shop, along with three of the five garage doors, most of the sky lights and even damaged half of the cars on the lot that were there for repairs.

The business is closed for an unknown period of time. Dan Pow says it's a hit to his family.

"Devastating. It's our livelihood. A major part of income at our house is shut down until further notice," he said. "We're trying our best to get the business back up and going."

Powe says he was told he'll have power back on at the auto shop on Wednesday. He says he hopes to get contractors in by then to start working, hopefully allowing him to also do some work.

As for his employees, Powe says he'll still be paying them.

Everyone around town has been talking about the local IGA in Cairo. The tornado caused quite a mess and scare. The store is closed, but there's plenty of work to do.

Employees have been cleaning debris all day, even without electricity earlier on Tuesday.

The tornado caused the roof and ceiling to cave in over the produce section, while a side exterior wall of the building is completely destroyed, covered with a black tarp.

When the closing manager got the tornado warning Sunday night, he urged employees to move their cars and tried to gather customers to find a safe place in the store.

Sherrie Godwin, an IGA employee, says she ran into the office.

"We started praying. We had customers in the store," Godwin said. "Gab led us toward the back. The whole side of this store is shook. The bricks, it was just shaking. It was devastating."

One of the managers says employees who aren't helping with the aftermath will get sent to other store locations so they can still get paid for working.

IGA has been donating food to Brasington Place and Blue Bistro, where the owner is cooking free meals for community members.