First tornado damaged business reopens in Washington

By WEEK Producer

May 1, 2014 Updated May 1, 2014 at 8:24 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- A tornado ravaged community celebrates as residents slowly and steadily rebuild.

Almost six months ago tornadoes rocked central Illinois.

In the town of Washington, more than 1,000 homes were destroyed and several businesses were flattened.

Mayor Gary Manier says the estimated value of the property lost on November 17, 2013 is nearly a $144 million.

Five businesses in Washington were destroyed by the tornado and the first of those five reopened its doors for the first time on Thursday.

All of the employees of Advanced Auto Parts came back to work including one of the three employees that were huddled in the bathroom as the tornado hit.

John Walker saw the tornado coming and made sure he got everyone to safety.

He says it was over in less than a minute and when he got outside he watched the tornado continue in its path of destruction.

But Walker says he never questioned coming back to work.

“I was very nervous the first day coming back. Of course now they're gone but the first storm that blows through is probably going to bring back all those emotions and nerves again,” Walker said.

The store will hold its grand re-opening at noon on Friday.

And after only one day of being open, residents of Washington are already filling the store and happy to have another sign that Washington is remaining strong.

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