Iowa City Car Dealerships Hit Hard

By Claire Kellett, Anchor/Reporter

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By Aaron Hepker

IOWA CITY - Traffic has been backed up all day on Riverside Drive. Everyone's trying to get a look at the damage. But this isn't the only hard hit area. It's the same scene on the southwest side of town.

A tornado toppled a business along Highway One. Mother Nature destroyed cars and ripped the front off Chezik-Bell Honda but she wasn't strong enough to close up shop at this car dealership. Many workers set aside their sales pitch to help clean, but it was business as usual in the service department.

About 10 employees took cover Thursday night when the tornado hit. Mike Bowman works at Chezik-Bell. “All of a sudden the ceiling tile started coming up next thing you know a piece of insulation flies by me, I run out of the shop and the roof is breathing."

But no one was hurt. The only pain they're feeling is monetary.

Other dealerships are singing the same sad tune. Kevin Hartwig with Hartwig Motors told KCRG-TV9 News, “My vehicle inventory I lost an upward of three million, that's not including any of my facilities." The same tornado drove through Hartwig Motors. “We have five to six acres of pretty much destruction."

And more than 200 cars that will never have an owner. Despite the damage most dealerships have pushed aside their pessimism. “We're in the car business we're awfully optimistic."

And that's the fuel they're using to navigate the road to recovery.

All of the business owners KCRG-TV9 talked to Friday said it's going to be a rocky road to recovery. Most of them estimate it will take at least a month to get things back to normal.

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