Charlie Bowman and his wife were surprised to see their camper was still in one piece. The camper directly next to the Bowmans’ storage unit was picked up and flipped upside down.
The Bowmans and others who had rented spaces at Donnie Braun and Sons Storage, 2900 Renns Lake Road, have been assessing damage and gathering possessions since early Thursday.
Around 11:45 p.m. Wednesday, an EF-3 tornado hit Jefferson City with winds around 160 mph. One of its targets was Braun and Sons Storage.
“We feel very fortunate compared to what everyone else out here has,” Bowman said.
The Brauns were on site Friday, moving wood and materials with construction equipment and climbing through their own damages. Donnie Braun said the facility has well over 200 units.
All over the Braun facility, vehicles, boats and boxes were mixed or covered in debris and wood. People drove their vehicles or brought U-Haul trailers as close as they could to the units. Some of the units looked as if they had no exterior damages.
In anticipation of rain later Friday, renters were focused on cleaning up what they could. Many had brought totes and boxes to gather belongings.
Chad Rizner, Jefferson City High School activities director, and his family cleaned out their unit of Christmas decorations and other novelties. The unit had been in their family for more than 25 years.
“There were some family pictures and stuff like that,” Rizner said. “Any of that stuff we can salvage, we’re trying to.”
Items that were on high shelves, he figures, were tossed with the wind. Anything that was heavily damaged or the family was on the fence about keeping went into a trash pile.
The family also lost its van, which was at the auto body shop on the same site. But Melissa Rizner said she was simply thankful their home was not hit.
“The owners have been really helpful,” Ladonna Petershagen said. “They are the ones who really have the most damage.”
Braun family members have said they hope to rebuild.