Tornado damages Richmond Mall, other buildings


The National Weather Service has confirmed it was a tornado that left behind damage to multiple buildings, including the Richmond Mall, Saturday night.

According to Jon Duke, deputy director of the Wayne County Emergency Management Agency, a passenger in a car was hurt by glass blown out of a window, but no other injuries have been reported.

That passenger, a juvenile, was treated at a hospital and released, Duke said.

A total of eight businesses inside the mall are affected by the tornado as well as six to eight businesses near the mall, Duke said.

Six residential structures in the area have also been damaged or affected, he added.

Twisted metal and tree branches remained strewn across the area Sunday. Hours after the tornado hit, crews got to work clearing debris.

Roofs remain covered in tarp, and windows are boarded up during the wait for repairs.

“It was just raining really hard, and then one of my employees rang the doorbell to get in the building, and I tried to push open the door, and I realized that I couldn’t get it open,” said River Gingry, assistant general manager at the Rally’s on National Road East across from the mall.

She was eventually able to get that coworker inside as debris flew through the air, she said.

“One of the metal things off the side of the roof hit him in the head,” Gingry said. “My car got hit. Our stone tables were picked up and thrown in the air.”

Gingry said she believes only a tornado could have lifted the stone tables out of place.

“Our stone tables out front – it takes about five people to pick them up and move them, and they were actually picked up, and the stone on the bottom actually smashed off,” she said.

“Even last night, we had people out here picking up [debris],” said Tina Lopez, general manager at Rally’s. “We were picking up debris over at Michael’s Tires, and we had a couple actually stop and say, ‘Hey do you guys need any help?’ And this is at 11:30 at night.”

Despite the damage, Rally’s is able to remain open, Lopez said. But other businesses weren’t as lucky.

Large dumpsters have been brought in to the Richmond Mall, and crews could be seen beginning the cleanup process Sunday. Part of the roof on the building was torn off, and some windows were blown out.

A spokesperson for the mall’s parent company, Hull Property Group, sent 2 NEWS a statement which reads in part: “At this time we are still assessing the damage from last night’s storm and formulating a plan of action to fix the damages as soon as possible. The interior of the mall will remain closed at this time.”

There’s no timeline for reopening the interior section of the mall, according to the statement.

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