Prattville Businesses Cleaning Up After Storm

Wendy Dorbeth shows WSFA 12 News Anchor Mark Bullock her damaged hair salon.
Wendy Dorbeth shows WSFA 12 News Anchor Mark Bullock her damaged hair salon.
A security guard watches over damaged businesses.
A security guard watches over damaged businesses.

As homeowners in Prattville work to clean up and rebuild following Sunday's tornado, area businesses are also plotting their next move. More than fifty businesses were affected by the storm along Cobbs Ford Road -- one of the city's major commercial districts.

Two days ago, Cuts By Us was bustling with customers. But Monday, Manager Wendy Dorbeth and her family were busy sweeping up broken glass and debris.

"We just made us a pathway through the destruction," Dorbeth said. "We looked for our stylist licenses and stuff like that."

This is the second time Dorbeth has been affected by a natural disaster. She is evacuated from New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.

"This is just like a nightmare, reliving everything all over again from Katrina," she said.

The manager of a nearby clothing store was also busy cleaning up Monday.

"It was very, very scary," recalled Anna Lisa Hall, who was inside her store when the tornado hit. She and her employees huddled in the back stockroom.

"When I started seeing the Wal-Mart carts flying around the parking lot, we knew it was time to take cover," she said.

Hall says her business is losing $3,000 every day it remains closed. Dorbeth's hair salon is losing as much as $6,000 per week. And you can imagine how much money the larger stores like Wal-Mart make in a day.

But business owners are not only concerned about the loss in sales, but a loss of merchandise. Because many of the stores cannot be locked up, there is a fear of looting.

State troopers, local law enforcement officers and private security firms are standing guard. And Mayor Jim Byard says so far, so good.

"I want to thank the governor and the local law enforcement agencies," Byard said. "We will be using them again tonight."

Most of the chain stores are offering employees the opportunity to work at other nearby locations. And damaged pharmacies have transferred prescriptions to other stores.

A spokesman for Wal-Mart says its store should reopen by the end of the week, but it will likely be months before all the affected businesses return to business as usual.