April 27, 2011

Express Oil Change Reopens in Tuscaloosa After Devastating Tornado

The Express Oil Change & Service Center at 604 15th St. E., Tuscaloosa, is scheduled to re-open this morning at 7:30 a.m.

The franchise oil-change center was destroyed in the April 27, 2011, tornado. Its owner, John Carney, said the 15 months since the storm were a major challenge to the rebuilding of his business.

“I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” Carney said. “Not only was the loss of my business devastating, but the challenges I faced in rebuilding were far worse than I could have imagined. After more than a year of putting the pieces back together, my team and I couldn’t be happier to open our doors once again and put this behind us.”

Twelve people, including seven employees, were at the center when the tornado hit. All escaped without injuries, but the building where the business operated for more than 25 years was destroyed.

Carney said he wanted to rebuild quickly, but he learned in August 2011 that the city’s Tuscaloosa Forward master plan for the tornado-hit areas would not allow an oil-change business.

Carney said he made many compromises with City Hall before getting the permits to rebuild.

“I gave away my entrance, signage, much of my footprint, building materials and some services, but I was allowed to rebuild and that’s what matters,” he said.

Carney said he had business loss income insurance, which paid his eight employees 75 to 80 percent of their salaries during the first 12 months after the tornado. He said he paid their salaries himself after the insurance ran out this spring. That kept his team together, he said.

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