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Riley Auto Group recovering after tornado

Riley Auto Group owners speak about their experience following destruction from an EF3 tornado

Riley Auto Group took a hard hit the night of the May 22 tornado.

The entire dealership ended up with tens of millions of dollars in damage that night.

Owner Kevin Riley said talking about the storm is still hard, even six months later.

“Um, a lot of fear, uh, a lot of unknown,” Riley said about his feelings after the tornado devastated his family’s dealership. “It was really tough. It's really tough talking about it now.”

“The first couple of days I think we were all kind of in a cloud,” Riley said. “It was pretty foggy as to what to do and insurance concerns, and people concerns and what are we going to do with this mess.   By the following Tuesday we got together with all the staff members of both dealerships in one place over at Helias and probably set forth a plan."

That plan involved using the building off Highway 50 that used to house their Kia dealership until the repairs were finished.

Carey Riley, another owner of Riley Auto, said the Toyota store didn't get hit as hard, but definitely needed a total makeover before opening this week.

"We are still running full aboard there, but they are running out of a trailer," Carey said.

His son Kyle is the new car manager at Toyota.  “We will be elated to be back in our home,” Kyle said.

Kyle said after the storm, the only remaining original part of the Toyota store is the floor.

“The trees, everything blew through here,” he said. “Not to mention all of vehicles that were on the showroom floor ... Their windows were all blown out.

Like Kevin, Kyle said he still feels the emotional impact of the destruction of that storm.

“I don't think that will ever go away... When you experience something like that or see something like that."

General manager Jay Schnieders recalled walking around the Riley Toyota building just hours after the storm.

"It was crazy, it was crazy,” Schneiders said. “Yeah, I mean I've never seen anything like it … It reminded me of like my kid’s play box or something. Just toys thrown around.”

The employees rallied to make the recovery happen, the Rileys said. Meanwhile, customers have continued to support the dealership.

Article Topic Follows: News
jefferson city tornado
may 22 tornado
riley auto group

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Ashley Strohmier

Jefferson City resident Ashley Strohmier co-anchors ABC 17 News evening broadcasts.


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