Clarks Grove couple awaits store’s reopening

Published 8:34 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2019

CLARKS GROVE — A frantic wife calls her husband at their business and tells him to lock up.  She can see a storm in her rearview mirror and is filled with dread.

Her only thought is to pick up her husband so they can head home to take cover. She stops just long enough for her husband to jump in.

The ride is only minutes long before they rush inside. The husband protectively pushes his wife downstairs to safety, fearing a tornado is about to hit.

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The storm rattles their home. A sound that can only be described as the roar of a freight train encompasses them. The storm passes. They are safe and their home is spared.

What may sound like a movie synopsis to some was reality for Sue Mickelson and her husband, Jon, on March 6, 2017, when a tornado struck Clarks Grove.

And the tornado was not the end of their nightmare; it was just the beginning of a new one.

Sue Mickelson received a phone call from the fire department while they were inspecting their home for damage. The couple’s Hardware Hank store had been hit, and hit hard.

When she saw the damage for herself, she began to cry. All the windows were broken out, the whole roof was taken off, the ceiling was coming down and the brick walls of the building were tilted inward.

“Everything was everywhere,” she said. “It was just a mess.”

The couple had only owned the store for a little over a year, but Mickelson’s history with the store started years before.

“I grew up with this store,” she said. “I lived across the street growing up. This was part of my life. We used to come over here to wait on the bus and we’d raid all their candy.”

The store was also where she would go to buy her mother Christmas presents when she was a child, though she doubts she was ever charged full price for the trinkets.

The decision to reopen was hers alone — her husband never argued with her about it.

The battle would be with the insurance company. Checks came slowly and in smaller increments, which delayed the process of making repairs, Mickelson said.

“It was such a catastrophe,” she said. “Just thinking about it makes me tired.”

Two years later, the store looks completely different.

Permanent beams were put in place to stabilize and straighten the walls. Many of the rafters were replaced before a new roof was installed.

The Mickelsons also added 11 heated storage units to the store to help supplement the slower winter sales period. Mickelson said those are already available for renters.

The reopening date of the rest of the store will hopefully be sometime this spring, Mickelson said, as she and her husband have been working to restock the store, which will feature an expanded inventory of products.

She’s ready for that time to come sooner than later.

“It’s been a long journey.”