Walnut Ridge businesses still recovering from storm one month later

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 6:09 PM CDT
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WALNUT RIDGE, Ark. (KAIT) - Businesses are still cleaning up, over a month after high winds damaged Walnut Ridge.

Highway 67 in Walnut Ridge was one of the hardest-hit areas by the storm. Residents and businesses say the work they have to do could be months long.

J.R. Rogers — even on his 69th birthday Thursday — has been working hard to clean the damage left behind by the storm.

Working from when the sun comes up until the late hours of the night trying to fix the many buildings he owns, he says the timing of the storm couldn’t have been worse.

“Due to the pandemic, I was cutting back where I could,” Rogers said. “I cut back on insurance and so I had no insurance so we’re doing our best.”

Rogers, the owner of All-Star Music, said business has been tough over the past year, but he’s making the most of it.

“We’ve been here every day,” Rogers said. “Night before last, I pulled my van out here, parked it, and somebody stole the catalytic converter off of it so it’s been one day at a time.”

He added that getting La Casita Grill, one of the restaurants in the plaza, back open was one of the highest priorities, but that alone cost him a bit of money.

“I think it’s been about $15,000 total what all work we’ve had to do to get it back up,” Rogers said.

Rogers expects to spend over $100,000 on repairs when it’s all said and done.

Across the street, Barton’s is preparing to tear down and rebuild one of their buildings.

“It’s been a struggle,” Store Manager Spencer Ponder said. “We’ve had a lot of rain. The cleanup has been a definite struggle for us.”

Ponder said there is more planning to do as they plan to rebuild the store after the storm knocked the tin off the roof all the way across the street on the lot of Rogers’ plaza.

It wasn’t just tin. Some two-by-fours did damage to trailers and vehicles on the lot.

“That’s been a project getting that all out of the way,” Rogers said. “I’m hoping they’ll come to get it moved before long.”

Ponder said ‘no comment’ when Region 8 News asked if they plan on picking up the debris, adding it’s a complicated issue.

Regardless, Ponder hopes to have everything on Barton’s site cleared up and finished soon.

“I hope in six months,” Ponder said. “But the way materials are to get right now and backlog and transportation, I foresee that taking longer than that.”

In the meantime, Barton’s leased a building behind Lawrence Memorial Hospital to use for storage. He says it was a community effort to get the area cleaned, and it will continue to be a community effort to rebuild.

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