Rubble rousers

Deidre Ebrey, Moore’s economic development and marketing director, estimates 1,100 homes and 40 businesses were completely destroyed within the city’s 22 square miles. The Moore Medical Center and Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools were heavily damaged in the storm that left 25 dead (one woman died of her injuries three months later) and 377 injured.

Ebrey says the determination of the citizens of Moore is fueling a clean-up and rebuilding effort that continues at a steady pace.

“It has been truly incredible, the amount of build-back that we have seen, both commercially and residentially,” Ebrey says. “I can’t say enough about the strengths of the citizens here. They have used their insurance money and acquired building permits. We have 415 new building permits that have been approved, and some folks are already living in these houses.”

More
than one-third of the residents in impacted neighborhoods are
rebuilding their homes, she says. She predicts more construction will
start as spring arrives and people are able to continue cleaning up
their lots.

“It is
amazing. New growth is happening not just in our storm-affected areas,”
she says. “We had 265 houses newly built in 2013. That’s higher than the
amount we had in 2012, and I believe we’ll see a nice number of new
(single) family and multifamily homes built.” The Moore Medical Center’s
temporary new emergency department, complete with labs and imaging
capability, opened in November and will be used until a new facility is
built. The City of Moore helped displaced doctors and their employees
find and secure new office space.

Moore’s
popular eatery, Van’s Pig Stand, was also destroyed, but its website
says a new restaurant is planned for the corner of 19th Street and Tower
Drive. It will be the anchor of a new shopping center.

“Van’s
Pig Stand had remarkably already purchased new property before the
storm, and they’re going to build a big, beautiful facility,” Ebrey
says. “They’ll be back up and running in no time.”

While
city revenues fell in June 2013, Moore experienced a two-digit increase
in sales tax revenue the next month, and the trend has continued
upward. Many new restaurants have recently opened up in Moore, including
Oliveto Italian Bistro, Dairy Queen Grill & Chill, Del Taco,
Firehouse Subs and Smashburger.

“It’s
remarkable, but that’s how effective people were in shopping locally
and helping our city rebound,” Ebrey says. “Businesses had signs stating
that they were open and saying, ‘Moore Strong.’ They had them
everywhere.”

Ebrey
praises OG&E, the State of Oklahoma, the United Way, the Red Cross,
the Salvation Army, local churches, the Department of Homeland Security,
universities, Serve Moore (a collaborative effort of multiple churches
and organizations working together to serve the people of Moore), the
Public Relations Society of America—Oklahoma City Chapter and thousands
of volunteers and other organizations that have helped area businesses
and residents recover.

One
company, Computer RX, originally had a facility in Moore, but it was
destroyed by the 1999 tornado that hit there. The company relocated but
has now committed to building its new corporate headquarters in Moore.
Ebrey says she believes construction has also already started on a Sam’s
Club in Moore, and a new Walgreens opened recently.

“The people and businesses of Moore amaze me during good times and bad,” she says. “The proof is in the pudding. When the people of Moore have
disposable income, they’re going to buy here. We’re a young bedroom
community overflowing with citizens, and we’re a great place to raise a
family. Newly built homes are popping up every day in Moore where entire
subdivisions were once wiped out. It is truly incredible the amount of
build-back we’ve seen.”


LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION 

One
of Moore’s most visible businesses, located just off of Interstate 35,
is the Moore Warren Theatres. Warren Theatres’ vice president of
operations, Dan Gray, says the theater suffered $5.5 million worth of
damage when debris punctured the roof on May 20.

Several
of the theater’s employees lost their homes, and one employee’s little
sister died at one of the destroyed schools, he says.

“We
had about 250 employees and patrons in our building, but everyone was
safe and nobody was hurt,” Gray says. “We opened back up for business
the Wednesday after Memorial Day, and our repairs were finished in
December 2013. It was pretty important to the City of Moore for us to
open back up as soon as possible because people wanted to return to a
normal way of life and it allowed them to take a break from the chaos.”

As a gift to Moore residents, Wichita, Kan.-based Warren partnered with Universal Studios and gave a free screening of Despicable Me 2 on several screens for Moore schoolchildren in kindergarten through eighth grade and their families.

The
theater features 14 regular auditoriums and an IMAX theater, two
directors’ suites, a diner on the main floor and Oscar’s Lounge
upstairs. Gray says Moore Warren had its best holiday season since
opening in April 2008.

“Everything is going well, and everybody is back,” he says.


CUT, COPY

PostNet franchisees Lindsey and Tony Gervacio signed a lease at Camden Village, 1003 SW 19 St., on May 10, 2013.

They
planned to open a new PostNet, a neighborhood business center that
caters to small business owners, virtual employees and others by
offering print, graphic design, professional packaging and shipping
services in one location. The twister that hit Camden Village on May 20
had other plans.

“There was nothing left,” Lindsey Gervacio says. “They had to tear everything down and rebuild.”

The
Gervacios opened their new PostNet location in mid-November at 9101 S.
Western Ave. in the Summit Pointe Plaza shopping center.

“Our
kids go to school in Moore, and we shop in Moore,” Lindsey Gervacio
says. “Everyone has been very supportive, and it is great to watch
everyone come together as a community that’s really strong. Business has
been good, and everyone is excited we’re here.”

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