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Auto Body Shops Busy After Tornado

Many of the cars that come in are deemed “totaled.”
PEORIA - On top of leveled homes many tornado victims are also having to deal with damaged cars; keeping auto-repair shops very busy.

"Unfortunately most of the work we do is because of somebody else's misfortune whether it's an accident or storm damage," said Jim Bunting, who owns Jim’s Autobody & Refinishing Inc.

Snow and ice usually bring him fender bender clients, but this time his shop is full of cars telling the stories of tornadoes. Many have broken windows, dents and holes that can only be caused by high winds.

"Just peppered with, like somebody took a shotgun and with buckshot and just, the whole side is just peppered," Bunting said.

Some vehicles don’t look too bad, but the cost to repair them is more than buying a new car, especially in a lot of older models. Bunting said many of the cars that come in are deemed “totaled.” Luckily that wasn’t the case for employee Christie Clark.

"I didn't know what happened. Saw some damage on the deck and then I saw my car," she said.

For Clark, the wrecked cars she sees every day are suddenly personal. The East Peoria resident had two beat up by the storm.”

"Well this car here there's quite a bit of damage on it,” she said pointing at her barely recognizable car in the shop. “I'm not sure what hit it, but pretty much the whole side of it got taken out."

A feeling of empathy, she said, with each new car that's rolled in.

"Can relate a little bit better and make them feel a little bit better that we can get things taken care of for them."

The shop says people are still pulling cars out of some of the rubble. Bunting anticipates a steady stream of business for a few weeks to come.
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