Status of Businesses Destroyed by the April 27th Storm
On April 27th, 2011, 116 businesses were destroyed in the City of Tuscaloosa. Of the 116 commercial structures that were destroyed, 47 are closed, five were closed before the storm and 64 are open or have been permitted to rebuild.
Of the 64 commercial structures that are open or have been permitted to rebuild, 20 are not relocating and 44 are relocating.
Of the 44 businesses that are relocating, 32 are relocating in the City of Tuscaloosa, five are relocating to Northport, Alabama, six are relocating in City of Tuscaloosa’s police jurisdiction and one is relocating out of Tuscaloosa County.
Of the commercial structures affected by the April 27th, 2011 storm, the year of construction could be estimated on 313 commercial structures (see below).
DISCLAIMER (April 24, 2012): The City’s data regarding the number of damaged or destroyed commercial structures was obtained in April and May of 2011 by Tuscaloosa Fire Rescue Service inspectors who made external visual observations. This was a difficult assessment due to severity of the devastation and factors such as the commingling of debris from different structures.
But the current status of each business is and always will be subject to multiple factors not known to the City. Each business is literally an individual story. For example, after the initial external observations, buildings would have been subject to more detailed assessment by the building owner. An engineer retained by the owner or insurance company could have determined that a structure originally assessed as damaged was in fact structurally unsound and should be demolished; or the building may have no longer met the owners needs and a decision could have been made to demolish and rebuild a redesigned structure; or the owner may simply not yet have made a decision whether to repair, or demolish and rebuild.
The individualized narratives are made even are complex by the fact that the building affected by the tornado is only one factor in the business owner’s decision-making process. The owner may have temporarily relocated and re-opened and have precise plans not made known to the City as to whether the business would move back to the original location.
Alternatively, such business owners may not have made the decision yet whether to relocate back to the original location. This could be due to many different reasons: operating the new location utilizes all of the business’ resources; or the business rented its location and the building owner’s plans may conflict with the business owner’s plans; or the owner may be considering offers to purchase the affected property; or the owner may be making plans to use both the new and old locations, and these may be for the same or different uses than before the tornado; or a host of other reasons related specifically to the business itself, and unrelated to the City’s role in the recovery, make classification of the current status of the business difficult or impossible.