LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Many people who work along one of Little Rock’s busiest streets are working day after day this week to recover what they can and get back to work.
Several businesses on Cantrell between the Andover and Foxcroft intersections were hit hard by Friday’s tornado, leaving dozens of offices needing to be recovered before employees can return.
Mark Barazaneeh, general manager of Hadidi Oriental Rugs, was working at his store Wednesday despite the rain and severe weather warnings in Little Rock. He said his team has been working every single day, around the clock since the tornado to try and get back on their feet as fast as possible.
Barazaneeh said he was in the store when that tornado came through Friday afternoon. He recalled the experience with us, going step by step through those few minutes, adding that it was “unbelievable.”
“After I was watching the news, I came to check the weather,” he said. “I suddenly saw very dark cloud touching the ground, and suddenly I noticed there was some debris.”
Barazaneeh said he took action right away and made sure his employees did too.
“I said, ‘Guys, let’s get to the hallway,’ and we all rushed to this room,” he said, showing the small closet where he and four other employees took cover.
Barazaneeh said the strong winds and loud noises passed over in what felt like seconds, which left them unprepared for just how bad the damage would be when they came out of their safe room.
“We came out and then we were in shock at the damage,” Barazaneeh said. “There were so many ladies outside shaking.”
Dozens of cars outside the business, including Barazaneeh’s, were destroyed. Many had even been moved across the parking lot by the winds.
“It was like a warzone,” he said.
Barazaneeh said, as a result of the tornado, his store will likely be losing up to a few hundred rugs that were destroyed by debris and rain that came in once the roof collapsed. The roof and windows will need to be replaced, in addition to the mess across the floors that will take months to clean up. Glass from windows covered the floor across the store, in addition to the debris and rain that flooded in.
Barazaneeh said the focus, however, is not on what all they lost, because it is all replaceable. He said he is and his employees, along with those in neighboring businesses, are alive.
He also added that the kindness he has seen from the community coming together during this time of need outweighs the tragedy they have experienced. He asked us to thank all the volunteers who have brought food and water over the week and weekend.
“The community came together, unbelievably,” he said. “It was very emotional for us.”