Highland is Coming Back

HIGHLAND (KAIT) - On February fifth an EF-4 tornado swept through the business district of Highland. Since then some businesses have moved never to return, others are starting over.

Mayor Jerome Norwood, "The South side got a southern exposure they getting a little earlier start than the North side. Looks like most of our reconstruction is going on the South side."

I had noticed this driving in, on the north side some locations still had piles of rubble or semi cleared lots, or this building still looking damaged with no sign that anything has been done. Businesses's that are gone never to return.

Norwood, "We've got several that moved to Cherokee or Ash Flat or what have you several that are completely gone."

About a mile from city hall construction is going great guns as the Chinese restaurant rebuilds, a pawn shop is being reframed and Ann's Flowers is being rebuilt by the owner Gary Cobb.

Cobb, "We just need to get back in business so we can make a living. We've been here for 29 years, so it's what we do."

Up the street the Hardy Insurance Company was fixing damage and taking the time for a remodel.

Like many businesses's they never thought about leaving.

Amy Trivitt, Agent "No we were so thankful and so fortunate that our building was still here that we literally went to work reporting claims and things."

A slab and a flag is all that is left of the Highland Fire Department. For now they have moved all their equipment to a rental building in Cherokee village.

What used to be the site of an old strip mall here in Highland could be the site of the new fire station.the cities negotiating now to see if they can make a purchase.

Norwood, "In the process of trying to purchase the property, have an architect already working on drawings for the station and trying to get something that will come in and tie in with the amount of money FEMA and the state have come back with on tornado damage."

If the city acquires the property it wants, besides the fire station they hope to build a new city building as well, some time in the future.