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Midtown Businesses Hit By August Tornado Now 90 Percent Re-Opened

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

Most of the businesses hit by a tornado that ripped through midtown Tulsa in August are back open.

Panera Bread on 41st and Yale is set to re-open its doors to the public Tuesday but had a special opening for a small group Monday.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum cut the ribbon during a charity lunch for the Tulsa Police Department Foundation.

“It is so much more than this one store,” Bynum said. “We had over 170 businesses, and 90 percent are up and running. That shows what a resilient community we are in Tulsa. This is an example of that,” he said.

Panera used the rebuilding as a chance to change the look a little.

“Obviously, the front wall of the building is now standing up, that’s a big change from where we were. And then we’ve got all new booths along that wall. We’ve got new artwork, new lighting. The color scheme has changed a little bit,” said Erin Barnhart, with Panera Bread.

The business said employees from that location have been working at other locations around the area during the rebuilding.

The first 100 guests at Tuesday’s grand re-opening will get a free baguette and a coupon to give a friend for a free loaf of bread.

TGI Fridays is another business expected to re-open.

The last four months have brought a lot of changes to the corridor – some businesses have re-opened while others may not be able to, and some buildings have been demolished while others saved.

One business that has been re-opened since October, Cartec Auto Services, said closing permanently was never an option for their owner.

“He’s been a part of Tulsa for so long and people trust him,” Linda Waddle said. “I don’t think the doors will ever shut on Cartec as long as Jerry has a breath in his body.”

Things are starting to get back to normal, but their customer base has taken a hit.

“We are seeing three to four cars now and we were seeing only two a day just a couple weeks ago,” Waddle said. “We knew the customers across the street - Woodcraft and AT&T, they were all part of our family…and to see them gone and away from the area is devastating.”

To give back to the community who supported them during one of their hardest times, Cartec is doing an angel tree this holiday season.

“We might not have the customers, and that’s true, but we feel blessed because we were fortunate none of our people got hurt,” Waddle said.

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