Help for Southampton County businesses damaged from tornado

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Posted at 8:59 PM, Aug 11, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-11 22:33:46-04

COURTLAND, Va. - Southampton County businesses are working to bounce back one week after an EF-2 tornado left widespread damage all throughout the area.

One business in Courtland, EZ Ride Auto Sales, suffered lots of damage after last week’s storm.

“It's depressing,” Owner Richard Byrum told News 3. “I keep telling myself it is what it is, and just got to move on.”

Since 2013, three generations of Byrum’s family have worked at the car dealership.

“It's just something I love,” Byrum said. “We have put a lot of time and hard effort into getting where we're at.”

But now, he’s trying to figure out what’s next. Byrum told News 3 the storm left damage to many of his cars and destroyed his main office.

“We're still taking in payments, we're still talking to people, to our customers, but we're not able to sell any cars right now,” he said. “I’m just working day to day trying to get what needs to be done.”

Officials with Franklin Southampton Economic Development told News 3 they're actively helping businesses impacted from the storm.

“It is heartbreaking,” Franklin Southampton Economic Development President & CEO Jay Brenchick said. “Now that they've helped us, it's our time to help them.”

Byrum said the group helped his company with getting a permit to get a mobile office at his dealership.

“We essentially work as resource brokers,” Brenchick said. “They tell us what their challenge is, and we connect them with the people who can help them.”

In the meantime, Byrum and his family are staying positive about the future ahead. He hopes other businesses will do the same.

Related: Dozens of volunteers helping Bertie County residents after tornado

“Keep fighting,” Byrum said. “Don't let it get you down, because it will get you down if you let it.”

A GoFundMe has been set up to help EZ Ride Auto Sales with their rebuilding process.

Brenchick told News 3 any business in the area impacted by the storm looking for help can contact the Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce, or Franklin Southampton Economic Development at (757) 562-1958.

Click here for more local hurricane resources and information.