Shortly after the tornado struck Dexter, local businesses stepped up as the community tried to recover from the devastation
By Truman Stovall
In the aftermath of the tornado five years ago, businesses in Dexter and surrounding cities assisted in the relief effort. When affected families were in need, they took it upon themselves to generate money, food, and shelter.
A minute’s walk away from the path of destruction through the Huron Farms subdivision stands the local Busch’s Fresh Food Market. The Dexter branch of the southeast Michigan chain set up tables of food with artificially low prices to make basic necessities more affordable. The grocery store also asked regular customers to round up their purchases to the nearest dollar so that the remainder could be donated.
Equally close to where the tornado hit, the Dexter LaFontaine automotive dealership became a big player in the recovery.
Despite having nearly all of its cars sustain hail damage, Tony Duncan of LaFontaine insisted that the dealership got “very lucky. When [the two initial tornadoes] combined, that’s when it hit hard. We were up on a higher plane; it followed the valley.”
LaFontaine, like other businesses in the community and across the country, believed it had an obligation to use its relative fortune to assist however it could.
“We were doing relief work for a good two-week period. Our biggest thing was helping people who didn’t have a place to go or to eat,” Duncan said.
LaFontaine also helped a family that lost both of its cars find short-term replacements before coming to a permanent agreement later, and the dealership gave discounts on automobile purchases to customers who donated to relief funds.
The Ace Hardware in downtown Dexter, a place where many supplies were bought to rebuild damaged buildings, offered a variety of discounts and gave away many supplies for free.
Wings n’ Things, Chelsea State Bank, the radio station 102.9 W4 Country, and countless others all found ways to help make Dexter’s quick recovery a reality. Despite the tragedy of the tornado, it was a great demonstration of the selflessness of the Dexter community.