AP NEWS

Kurlancheek’s Eyes Fresh Start After Tornado

June 22, 2018

WILKES-BARRE — When a tornado struck Wilkes-Barre Twp. last week, Ronne Kurlancheek said it destroyed almost everything in her furniture store except the office and bathroom.

Kurlancheek, owner of Kurlancheek Home Furnishings at 235 Mundy St., was one of the business owners affected by the recent tornado who came to an informational meeting Thursday at Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency.

At the meeting, she and other business representatives learned about services available to aid businesses in the recovery process and displaced employees. The tornado left hundreds of employees out of work and Kurlancheek said the meeting was helpful.

“It was a lot to take in at one time but we’re moving on,” she said.

All the merchandise in Kurlancheek’s warehouse was destroyed. It was one of 10 businesses in Wilkes-Barre Twp. condemned. At least 25 businesses sustained major damage as a result of the tornado.

She said she will soon open a temporary location in the former Gateway Cinema in Edwardsville.

“Our primary objective when this happened was to take care of our open orders for our customers,” she said. “The first thing we want to do, no matter what, is any customer who has an order, we want to fulfill it. We want to make sure they know personally that we are going to continue for them because they’re just sort of left hanging.”

Kurlancheek’s building at 235 Mundy St. will be demolished at noon today but she said she plans to rebuild.

Richard Parry, regional representative for Rapid Response Coordination Services, and Christine Jensen, Pennsylvania CareerLink administrator in Wilkes-Barre, informed business representatives of three upcoming meetings to assist displaced employees.

“You could imagine how those workers feel right now. They don’t know what to do next. They don’t know if they have jobs. They don’t know if they have health care,” Parry said.

Social services also are available for displaced workers through the United Way of Wyoming Valley in the worst- case scenario, said Kathy Bozinski, director of marketing and communications.

“The longer a worker is displaced, the greater the pressures,” Bozinski said. “Those pressures have effects not just on individuals displaced from their jobs, but everyone in their families.”

Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency Eastern Area Director Anthony Camillocci told business representatives that the Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program may be available to them.

The program is available when at least five small businesses in a disaster area sustained substantial economic losses. It provides up to $2 million to repair or replace damaged business assets and for working capital to meet operating expenses.

The interest rates do not exceed 4 percent for businesses that do not have credit available elsewhere and 8 percent if they do.

Camillocci encouraged business representatives to fill out forms to qualify, saying, “The more detail you can get in, especially the impact, the better case we could make.”

Andy Reilly, director of Luzerne County’s Office of Community Development, and Kristine Augustine, vice president of business and community development for the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce, told business representatives about low-interest loans that may be available.

Joe Boylan and Lindsay Bezick of the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce said the chamber can be a conduit for various programs to help businesses. Chamber officials are available to help them understand and apply for help, they said.

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