“First and foremost, I would urge your readers to think about the last time they reviewed their insurance policies,” says Dave Closey, the owner of the Sunoco gas station that was pummeled by the tornado that ripped through the business district of Park Layne on May 24. The heavy damage the Sunoco station sustained during the tornado includes four destroyed gas pumps and a toppled metal canopy. The roof to heavily-damaged main building incurred some inexplicable damage as well.
“The entire roof was lifted up and set down as pretty as you please. It just unbricked the mortar...there wasn’t even a crack in the drywall,” says Closey.
Also known as “Doctor Dave,” Closey has owned the Sunoco Station on South Dayton-Lakeview Road since 1977. He first found out his station was hit by a rare tornado when a neighbor who had been at Fulmers stopped by and told him the station “had been hit bad.” Closey also received a call from the security company saying the station was hit shortly after the attendant closed-up shop for the night.
Closey says nearly as shocking as seeing the tornado damage to his and other local businesses, is dealing with the insurance companies in the fallout after the storm. The experience has left him encouraging everyone to revisit and re-evaluate their insurance coverage.
“You never think it will happen to you,” says Closey. He says after watching reports of tornadoes in Oklahoma and Kansas only two weeks prior to the local storm, he had told his wife, “Honey, when we’re retired, we are never moving there.”
“It’s the first time in my life I ever said that,” says Closey, “Then we got hit here...I mean, who plans for that? You can’t even imagine the scope of (that kind of damage) until you see it.”
Ironically, even though Closey only lives about a mile from his gas station, he says there was no damage at his home. “The alert went off...I walked out front (and saw) nothing, I went out the back door and saw nothing. The winds didn’t pick up at all, the dog didn’t even get riled up!”
The damage Closey found at his Sunoco station is particularly bad because the structure was caught in the eye of the EF1 tornado. He soon found out how costly that kind of damage can be, especially if you have inadequate insurance coverage.
“I’ve got good insurance for the station; but when I wrote the policy up, the canopy only cost $25,000...the new canopy costs $48,000. (Back then) I figured that maybe someone would drive down the street, get into an accident and hit one of the gas pumps, costing $20,000. Today, to have one pump installed, plumbed, wired, tax, title, and everything costs $23,500...and all four of the pumps are pretty much trashed, so there is well over $94,000 worth of damage right there.
People keep asking Closey when he will re-open the station. He says he does not know because he is just waiting for clarification from the insurance company. What he does know is that the re-build will be expensive despite having insurance; and he hopes his story will serve as a cautionary tale for others.
“I’ve got decent coverage,” says Closey, “There’s just some things I wish I would have reviewed. Would I have upped the policy? I honestly can’t say...maybe on the canopy, but the pumps? I wouldn’t have thought anything about that. All I know is that this is going to cost me a bundle of money out-of-pocket, there’s no doubt about that. The building is covered, and so is my signage. But I’m gonna end up putting in $40,000 to $50,000 out of pocket for sure for the canopy and pumps...So like I said, ‘When is the last time you reviewed your insurance policies?’”