Nearly 85% of businesses in Vilonia wiped out, left to pick up p - KATV - Breaking News, Weather and Razorback Sports

Nearly 85% of businesses in Vilonia wiped out, left to pick up pieces

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VILONIA (KATV) - Amongst the wreckage of hard-hit Vilonia are shells of former businesses.  The small strip mall near the intersection of Elizabeth & Main Streets was practically leveled, leaving business owners to try and pick up the pieces on Monday.

“I make donuts six days a week here except Monday mornings – and here I am,” lamented Fred Muawad, owner of Daylight Donuts store in Vilonia.

Muawad spent what should have been his day off boarding up the shop he’s owned and operated for the last 11 years.  According to Muawad, the shop sustained just minor damage when the 2011 tornado ripped through Vilonia. 

“All that I lost was my inventory and my street signs and that was it,” commented Muawad.

But when Sunday night’s tornado hit Muawad’s store – it was different.  There were donut boxes strewn everywhere, the inventory of his Baskin Robbins ice cream was all lost, but so was the rest of his store.

“This time I don’t think we can recoup,” said Muawad.  “I don’t know if they’re going to rebuild this shopping center here or not.”

Muawad’s business neighbors helped him in the boarding up process, despite the fact they too lost their storefronts as well.  But also complete strangers came to his aid, according to Muawad there were at least 20 complete strangers volunteering to try and clean up what they could inside his store.

“I can cry if I talk about it because it’s so touching,” said Muawad.  “We all pitch in to help each other, you know and I’ll do anything for anybody that’s in trouble or needs help.  That’s the name of the game.”

Boarding up the store wasn’t easy for Muawad, apparently stirred by the sounds of the power drills attaching the plywood to the face of his store which used to be all glass.  The older Israeli-born gentleman found some humor in the fact the front door was still locked despite the windows and glass door itself being completely shattered.

Now Muawad is left looking at what could be 11 years down the drain – unsure if he’ll have the money to start over again because just like last time a tornado hit his store, it wasn’t insured.

“I don’t have it this time either – couldn’t afford the premiums,” said Muawad.

He believes the premiums have gone up because of the extreme tornado activity the city of Vilonia has seen – getting hit by nearly five tornados since Arkansas started keeping records of such storms.