Hermann Lumber says it will come back stronger after Monday night's storm

May 9—Workers at one of the Joplin businesses hit hardest Monday night are keeping it open even as they dig out from the destruction wrought by the EF1 tornado.

"All of our lumber sheds and outdoor storage was destroyed along with some inventory," said Dave Enke, manager at the Hermann Lumber Co., 3102 E. 12th St. "We had glass breakage on our vehicles and roof damage on the main building. We're still operating. I have a great staff that is stepping up, really helping to keep us going. We're running off a generator and Wi-Fi hot spot for internet. We're just trying to get by."

Enke met with insurance adjusters Thursday to discuss replacing six outdoor lumber sheds and repairing parts of the roof of the main store.

"We were able to salvage some inventory, but there will be some inventory loss," he said. "Right now the priority is to get the water stopped from getting into the store, so we have contractors here working on that. We're in the early stages of a plan for what will be out in our lumberyard."

The area along Range Line around 12th and 13th streets was hit hard by the tornado that carved a 4.5-mile path across Joplin just before midnight.

Enke said he didn't know his lumberyard had been damaged until he was on his way to work the next morning.

"I got here about 6 o'clock Tuesday morning. I was alerted by someone else who said they saw early reporting and they thought it was our building that was blown away," Enke said. "It felt like 2011 again, but not quite to that scale."

The store also had been damaged in the EF5 tornado May 22, 2011, which destroyed about one-third of Joplin and crossed Range Line Road just a few blocks south.

Evidence of the rebuilding from this latest tornado surrounded Hermann Lumber as Enke and his staff worked on reconstruction plans.

A crew from Liberty was in his back lot repairing utility lines on a pole while two men from Lamar Outdoor Advertising were taking down a large steel billboard south of the lumberyard that had been bent to ground level by the winds. Workers on the north side of 12th Street worked to repair roof damage on nearby apartments.

Enke said his staff has worked hard and that he believes the business will come back stronger.

"They're being resourceful in solving problems," Enke said. "Everyone is probably tired and worn out because they have been working long and hard, but quite impressively we got the debris out in two days."

He said other businesses came together to help his workers through the ordeal.

"Republic Services dedicated a couple of drivers to us that were continually bringing us empty roll-off containers and taking away the full ones as we cleaned out the lumberyard," he said. "The local Starbucks store donated coffee and food to our workers as we were cleaning up. The Plaza Apartments staff and Express Employee Services sent us big coolers of water. The neighborhood really came together to help us out."