MAKING PROGRESS AFTER TORNADO
Two months after twister, damage remains in Wilkes-Barre Twp. but stores may reopen by holidays.
WILKES-BARRE TWP. — As tornado recovery continues along Mundy Street, developer Robert Tamburro sees progress when parts of fencing are shifted and the construction zone shrinks.
That means another business has reopened. Each time, he proudly orders “Now Open” signs to stake in the ground of the Arena Hub Plaza. The latest was for Carter’s OshKosh.
“Soon we’ll be shrinking that fence to the point it’s gone,” Tamburro said.
Today marks two months since an EF2 tornado — with wind speeds of 130 mph — tore through the busy shopping district along Mundy Street, forever changing the commercial landscape.
Tamburro believes crews are on pace to have all the stores reopened for the holiday shopping season.
Stores that are still closed include Barnes & Noble, Dick’s Sporting Goods, T.J. Maxx, Staples, Eddie Bauer Outlet and Pet Smart.
“We are local landlords. We developed the property. It’s something we care about deeply. We want to make sure the progress is moving along as quickly as possible,” Tamburro said.
While all of Tamburro’s tenants chose to rebuild, some other property owners found out their properties were too battered to survive.
Kurlancheek Home Furnishings and U Haul’s offices were the first to be knocked down.
The strip mall anchored by Panera Bread remains boarded up, awaiting a date with demolition. One tenant, Tovon and Co., announced it was moving the store to Dallas.
The building containing Ashley Furniture Homestore and other businesses was razed. The furniture store owner said he’s moving to one of the Wyoming Valley Mall’s secondary buildings where hhgregg used to be located. Polish Pottery, one of the tenants, is moving across the street to the mall.
Station’s Grill, another tenant of the Ashley Furniture building, announced in early July it was having a “Tornado Sale” and selling off its equipment.
“Unfortunately, we received word that the whole building will be demolished. We want to thank all of our patrons and friends who have supported our small family business over the years. It was an honor and a privilege to serve our community and we thank you for everything,” the business posted on its Facebook page.
Another business had a wildly popular “Tornado Sale,” bragging in advertisements that cars were “flying off the lot.”
Cars literally did fly off the lot at Pollock Nissan during June’s tornado.
Of the 440 vehicles on display, 140 were totaled and much of the others sustained damage, said Gary Peters, the dealership’s general manager.
Peters said the time immediately after the tornado was the busiest in his career because people were trying to take advantage of discounts the dealership offered on damaged cars.
“I’ve been doing this for 25 years. This was the first time in my life we were giving numbers out and people were standing in line. It was like a deli counter,” Peters said. “I would have never expected the turnout. But the discount they got on the cars was worth their time.”
Cleanup continues in and around the businesses that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado two months ago in Wilkes-Barre Twp.
“Open” signs for businesses in Wilkes-Barre Twp. shopping plazas alert drivers along Tambur Boulevard. While many tornado-damaged stores remain closed, those spared are ready for customers.