But probably few dealerships were more devastated than Mountain Home Chevrolet. Ferguson, 56, has been general manager for five years. He says the mountains behind the dealership usually divert tornadoes. This time, they didnt.
In the late afternoon of Feb. 5, Ferguson heeded storm warnings and left the dealership early. The tornado struck shortly after 6 p.m. Two hours later, he says, a salesman at the dealership called him to report that the Chevy place is gone.
The tornado stacked cars, Ferguson says. It moved cars from the east side of the lot to the west side. It crushed the metal building on top of customers cars.
Some vehicles even landed in a hospital across the street, he says. A man near the Arkansas-Missouri state line, about 100 miles north, found a big piece of metal in his yard attached to a service contract from the dealership. Ferguson says the metal had been part of the service building.
Mountain View Chevrolet lost its entire inventory of 53 new cars and trucks and 23 used vehicles, which Ferguson valued at about $1.9 million. The dealership managed to salvage only its safe and some customer files, he says.
Jeff Hagans, general managing partner, says the family-owned dealership suffered $3 million in overall damage. He declined to provide sales figures for the dealership.
Hagans says he is leaning toward rebuilding the dealership. That would cost $600,000 to $1 million, he estimates.
We like the town of Mountain View, Hagans says. We very much like the people, and it is a great place to do business.
Meanwhile, the dealership struggles. Ferguson says he sold a 2008 Chevrolet Cobalt from his kitchen table to a customer whose Chevrolet S10 Blazer was destroyed by the storm. Ferguson bought the car from a Chevrolet dealership in a neighboring town.
Ferguson also visits the site of the destroyed dealership daily. He says: I dont want anyone to forget that were there.