CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — For months, businesses along Speeks Drive and Hasty Lane in Chesterfield have been recovering from the tornado in September.
On September 17, 2018, an EF-2 tornado hit Old Dominion Floor and several other buildings in that area, killing one Old Dominion employee and leaving a trail of destruction. The roof was torn off Old Dominion and sent flying onto another building.
Old Dominion Floor will soon have a new warehouse thanks to its neighbor Stoker Construction. Jeff Stoker and his team at Stoker Construction never expected another Monday at the office would end up destroying their building.
“It was horrendous frankly,” said Stoker Construction General Manager Jeff Stoker. “It was very surreal. We saw it in the distance. Just seconds to think, anything you ever thought you were going to do is out the window. It’s all instinct, so it was a bad day.”
Seconds felt like hours for Stoker and his employees waiting for the tornado to pass through the area.
“Roof structure and most of that wall was spread out from the building all the way across here laying joist, laying in and on our building,” said Stoker. “And this whole top corner had been ripped off, and of course there were cars flipped sideways.”
As soon as Stoker checked on his team, he headed outside to help his neighbor, Old Dominion Floor. One of Old Dominion Floor’s employees, Ronnie Bishop, died from the tornado.
“We ran next door, of course, to see what we could do to help looking for Ronnie,” said Stoker. “I was one of the folks that actually found and helped get some steel off of Ronnie. And that was a horrifying moment.”
As the cleanup process began, Old Dominion Floor asked Stoker to rebuild its warehouse.
“The original building was not designed to handle the kind of storm that hit us,” said Stoker. “Masonry concrete and steel. Very little wood. Today, of course, every little thing is anchored, designed to code, to today’s code. Twice as solid, maybe more. So it’s certainly not going anywhere.”
Stocker expects the new warehouse to open in mid-June.
“Completed the steel roof structure and we’re currently putting the insulation on the roof,” said Stoker. “And followed by the standing seams..stand seam roof. It will be much nicer, bigger and better.”
As Stocker watches the construction progress, he’s thankful for the opportunity to help a neighbor start over.
“Wonderful,” said Stoker. “Makes me feel wonderful. Certainly for my neighbor. Every day is a day closer for them to be…to get some closure.”