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Large tornado in Jefferson City has major impact on local businesses

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Many businesses in Jefferson City were either damaged or destroyed by the tornado. Some of those businesses have been owned by the same family for generations.

"There's really no words. I just sit here, find myself just staring at it," said Jay Schnieders, whose family has owned the car dealership now known as Riley Auto Group for 83 years.

The building is in shambles; torn apart by the powerful tornado. Buildings and vehicles destroyed; some cars literally tossed in the air.

"Definitely shed a few tears today, I really have," Schnieders said.

Donnie Braun and Sons Auto Repair Incorporated also took a direct hit. It was home to hundreds of storage units filled with everything including vintage vehicles. Now, much of it is in ruins.

Donnie Braun, 78, has owned the business since 1989.

"Your whole life's right here and it's all gone. So what the hell, you know, it's rough," he said.

Businesses all along the twister's path sustained enormous damage. The tornado destroyed in moments what took years for some families to build. The challenge now for many business owners will be trying to move forward.

"We'll rebuild. We'll be stronger, better, just going to take a little time," said Schnieders.

Police have announced a curfew in the affected areas from 9 p.m. Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday.

"We'll get it cleaned up," Braun said. "Gotta keep going."

The curfew could continue for subsequent nights if necessary.

There is no telling how long it might take for the businesses hardest hit to get back in business.

Whatever the case, everyone was just thankful no one was killed in Jefferson City.

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