Evans Arena dealership celebrates reopening after devastating tornado

Evans Arena dealership celebrates reopening after devastating tornado

HARRISON TWP. — There have been major milestones in recovery six months after powerful tornadoes devastated parts of the Miami Valley.

News Center 7’s Sean Cudahy shares how now, it’s hard to tell anything happened at the Evans Arena Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram dealership, at 924 Shiloh Springs Road in Harrison Twp.

The morning after the EF-4 tornado came through on Memorial Day, Evans Dealer Group owner Jim Evans got past the police barricades in front of his business.

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“Got to the property and was literally ... shocked,” he said.

The big sign was toppled and cars were damaged in unexpected ways.

Courtesy: Evans Arena Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Shiloh Springs Road
Courtesy: Evans Arena Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram on Shiloh Springs Road

“The tornado picked up cinder blocks and literally into cars, into the building, onto different roofs, everywhere,” he said.

Of the cars on his lot, 154 were totaled and many more damaged.

Fortunately, Evans’ insurance policy allowed him to keep paying his workers even though the business was closed. The employees in turn showed up to help doing work well outside their job descriptions.

“We had salesmen pulling parts out of the parts department that were all drenched and destroyed,” he said. “We had technicians who we paid for four months who didn’t turn a wrench.”

Evans has a story of grit like many others across the Miami Valley ever since Memorial Day night.

Hard work is what has led to rewarding moments in the area, such as the reopening of the Burkey family restaurant in Trotwood, or a man in Celina who finished rebuilding his own house after a long summer.

On Thursday night, it was Evans’ turn to celebrate his dealership’s grand reopening.

They still have some more work to do though.

“We literally got the public bathroom working yesterday,” he said.

But after a trying six months Evans said, “I’m very grateful and proud.”

Dealership leaders said what they went through has made their business stronger.

“When you do that kind of work and you do it as a team, it brings you closer and makes you understand each other,” Ed Bressler, Evans Arena general manager.

The dealership, which sells new and used vehicles, is open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and is closed Sunday. For more information, visit the Evans Arena website.