When Dexter was hit by a tornado on March 12, 2012, hundreds of homes and businesses were left damaged, and the town was scarred by the disaster but ultimately thankful for minimal injuries and no casualties.
A little more than a year later, much of the damage has been restored as many businesses and families have gotten back on their feet. One of the testimonies to this recovery is the reconstruction of the village car wash.
At the corner of Second Street and Central Street, the Village Car Wash and Laundry owns three separate buildings, including a car wash, laundromat and a small management building. Each of these buildings together have served as a landmark in the Dexter area since 1970, the year that the company was founded.
Its long history, however, was threatened when the winds from the EF-3 tornado struck. During the windstorm, the car wash served as a protective hiding place for several stranded travelers, but the structure itself did not fare as well as its inhabitants.
According to owner Pete Caffrey, “The tornado descended upon (the car wash) and blew certain portions of the roof off and one of the walls caved in. All three of the buildings were totaled.”
Despite this natural disaster, Pete and his wife Cheryl did not lose hope in their business. Wanting to rebuild from the ground up, the Caffreys sought insurance to recover their losses.
“We wish they had (covered everything), but we had to fight them tooth and nail for them to cover about two thirds of the costs,” Pete said.
Now, as the business has been completely rebuilt and refurbished with new equipment, the owners have a great outlook on the business. The owners hope that this will lead to better business and said that the reconstruction is a symbol of the town’s recovery from the tornado that hit a little more than a year ago.“We’re definitely excited, it’s all brand new, easier to keep up,” Pete said. “The car wash has much better lighting, the equipment has all been revamped and is better for the customers to use.”
They’ve been sixth in the state for two years running and the mens water polo team hopes to continue the tradition.
However, according to Assistant Coach Andrew Leonard, the loss of graduated players and the lack of a big senior class, the team’s position in the state will be more difficult to maintain.
Last year, co-captains Max Merriman and Michael Garcia brought the team to states with a win against the higher-ranked Skyline team.
This year, the varsity team consisted of seniors, juniors and sophomores; however, there are fewer seniors and only one junior. The rest of the team is made up of sophomores.
“Experience is the best teacher,” senior Max Korinek said. “That’s why we could struggle this year. It’s such a young team.”
There have been three tournaments so far this year, resulting in only three Dexter wins out of approximately 12 games. The team faced a state champ Rockford team, the state runners-up Huron and another top four-ranked team, Pioneer. All of these games resulted in losses.
The road to states will mean facing teams like Rockford, Huron and Pioneer again. While the the team had its first season win against Chelsea recently, they will have to play Saline and Ann Arbor Pioneer for district rankings.
After all the district games, if they place first or second, then they can advance to regionals against either Saline or Pioneer, which coach Leonard said could be difficult for the young team.
If this can be done, the water polo team will have to play state-ranked Ann Arbor Huron again, along with Ann Arbor Skyline and Okemos. But senior captain Andrew Watson said despite the rough schedule, the team will still enjoy the season.
He said, “It’ll be a tough season for us, but we’ll make the best of it and have a good time in and out of the water.”