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Tornado impact on rebuilding progress for Arkansan business owners

We're taking a closer look at the challenges business owners in Central Arkansas are facing as they work to rebuild from the tornado.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — It's been nearly two months since an EF3 tornado made its way through Central Arkansas, and it has been an uneven recovery for businesses in the disaster zone. 

While some businesses are preparing to re-open their doors— some still have a way to go.

Business owner, Michael Bennett, explained that the last 8 weeks have been filled with cleaning up the damage left behind.

“We're doing a lot of inventory on things that were lost or destroyed,” said Bennett.

He owns a building along North Shackleford Road which is home to several of his businesses which include Bennett Davis Group and Sir Speedy Printing.

The building is also home to others who used the space but are now unable to.

“In about 30 seconds, we lost three different dance organizations,” said Bennett. “And we had a church that met here on Thursdays and Sundays. So, all of them were displaced that day.”

He said having patience has been the toughest part of the recovery process.

“Do we rebuild? Do we tear it all down? Do we have to tear it all down? When can we start having clients back in and getting back to life like we knew it prior to that moment?” Bennett asked.

He also explained how none of these questions can be answered without insurance money— which was hard to come by.

“We finally have an advanced check that showed up this week, which helps it helps us to at least breathe a little bit and figure out a few next steps, but we're still waiting,” said Bennett. “We're still waiting for estimates for rebuilding. We're still waiting to understand Arkansas law as it relates to policies.”

Waiting hasn't been the only challenge businesses are facing.

According to Little Rock police, looters and people picking through debris have been an issue. Despite that, businesses have continued navigating through these obstacles to re-open their doors.

“When I do see other businesses opening, it really is very encouraging. I'm glad,’ said Bennett.

While the future is uncertain he is doing what he can to find hope and excitement.

“If we're the last ones were the last ones, I don't think we will be. But if we are, that's okay,” said Bennett. “We just want everybody to get back to life as normal, and learn and grow from it. But there is a future. There's life after this. And that's the exciting part.”

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