Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Tornado-affected businesses face uncertain future

Tornado-affected businesses face uncertain future

When an EF4 tornado tore through Tuscaloosa last April, it left businesses, homes and lives destroyed in its wake. Now, six months later, much of the debris has been cleared, but the damage has yet to be repaired.

In place of Southern institutions like Hobby Lobby, Full Moon BBQ and Krispy Kreme, there remain bare foundations and scoured patches of earth.

Some businesses have gathered the pieces and started rebuilding, while the status of others remains less clear. New construction is somewhat scarce in tornado-affected areas of Tuscaloosa, and affected businesses seem unsure of their future.

CVS, which had its building damaged in the tornado, is one business that is slowly recovering. After moving employees to one of six other CVS locations in the Tuscaloosa area, the pharmacy began using a CVS-owned RV, which was last used during Hurricane Katrina, to serve as a temporary location.

Manager Emily Hadden said CVS is considering the possibility of rebuilding the location in January.

“CVS does have a standard building,” Hadden said. “Every time they rebuild one, it’s the current building.”

The rebuilt CVS, which would follow the business’s updated standard, would also expand from 1200 square feet to 1500 square feet.

Katherine Ennis, director of planning in Northport, Ala., said some businesses have moved out of the area.

“We had a lot of small businesses relocate to Northport almost immediately after the storm,” Ennis said. “There are a number of larger businesses that might be relocating here, but that has not come to pass yet.”

Full Moon BBQ, which was completely destroyed by the tornado, is another business that is slowly recovering. After reducing its staff from 50 down to the original 20, Full Moon relocated to a temporary location at 2231 Veteran Memorial Pkwy. in early August, said manager Paul Collins.

“We’re steadily getting back our clientele,” Collins said. “It’s a day-to-day process.

Things are getting a lot better.”

Collins said that Full Moon BBQ is looking to rebuild but at this point does not know where.

According to its corporate website, Hobby Lobby, another site destroyed on April 27, is temporarily closed, and their reopening will be announced at a later date. Steak-Out’s phone number goes directly to a generic answering machine, and their store has been taken off the list of locations on Steak-Out’s website.

Six months after the initial destruction, there has been little new construction. According to a map issued by the City of Tuscaloosa on, only a small fraction of permits issued for damaged parts of the city have been new construction, while the vast majority is “repair” and “demolition.”

The reluctance of businesses to begin rebuilding right away may have to do with the possibility of changes in zoning regulation.

At an open house Monday night at the Bryant Conference Center, Lee D. Einsweiler, a representative of Code Studio, the consulting firm hired by the City of Tuscaloosa, presented new zoning regulations that would amend the old code, which, according to John McConnell, director of Planning and Development Services, hasn’t been changed since 1972. The new zoning plan would create three “village center” locations at 10th Street and I-359, 15th Street and McFarland Boulevard and Alberta City, all of which were in the path of the tornado.

Tuscaloosa real estate developer and political force Stan Pate objected to the new zoning regulations, saying that Code Studio does not understand what Tuscaloosa needs.

When asked about the possibility of zoning regulations affecting rebuilding, Hadden said, “We haven’t really heard anything about zoning…I don’t know how that’s going to affect the way our building looks or where it’s going to be located.”

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