Saturday Feb 04, 2023

Dealing with devastation from tornadoes in Kentucky – Rental Management Magazine


David Crawford, manager and vice president, E-Z Rent It, Bowling Green, Ky., remembers hearing storm warnings for his area on the evening of Friday, Dec. 10, 2021, but when he went to bed there was just some light rain and the winds were calm.

“I kept thinking that nothing would happen to us here,” Crawford remembers. At 4 a.m. the next day, Saturday, Dec. 11, the doorbell at his home rang. “Neighbors of ours own a business about four doors from our rental store. Their alarm system had sounded that the business’s doors were open. They drove in through the debris. As they went by the store, they saw the destruction and came back and woke us up and told us about it,” says Crawford, who immediately called the owner, Thomas Loving, and his co-manager and vice president, Ed Torrence.

Photos courtesy of Jordan Clarke

What Crawford did not realize at that time was that a series of tornadoes, including a Category EF-3 tornado, had ripped through other states and entered western Kentucky, destroying the town of Mayfield and then moving on to Bowling Green, leaving a path of death and destruction.

At daylight, Crawford, Torrence and Loving decided to try to make their way to the store and assess the damage. Getting there was treacherous in itself. “The roads were all closed off where the tornado hit. The main street was cordoned off. We had to take the back streets and drive around the debris and under utility lines that were hanging from broken utility poles. We kind of zig-zagged our way. Normally it would take about 15 or 20 minutes to get to the store. That morning it took us about 40 minutes to get there,” he says.

They couldn’t believe what they saw upon finally reaching the store.

“We were surveying the damage, walking around and saying, ‘What in the world happened here?’ It was indescribable. I had never seen anything like that before. Buildings had collapsed and debris was everywhere — up and down the street. It was like a war zone. Our main store was destroyed, including our shop area. The storage building also was heavily damaged. The fences on our lots — the lot that the main building sits on and two adjacent — were blown down. Flying debris had put scratches and dents on our heavier equipment. The smaller machines where debris landed on top were damaged to the point of needing replacement. We lost about 75 percent of our equipment. In addition, all our computers and electronics in the store were destroyed. Luckily, our IT person had backed up all our information to the cloud, so we didn’t lose our data,” Crawford says.

The tornadoes started on the western side of the city, on the residential side. That is where the 15 deaths occurred.

“Then they followed a line, just missing Western Kentucky University. Then they came up one of the main streets, which we are on, and destroyed many businesses. The business next to ours was rubble. The homes and streets behind us were rubble, too,” he says.

The saving grace was that none of their employees were adversely affected. “We were blessed in that respect,” Crawford says.

Another plus was that ARA Insurance Preferred Agent Jordan Clarke, CSRM, CWCA, vice president, Charles M. Moore Insurance Agency in Bowling …….


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