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Longtime Raleigh business reopens after destructive tornadoes

Posted July 13, 2012

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— A store that has been in the Raleigh community for nearly 40 years reopened Friday, more than a year after 25 tornadoes tore through North Carolina, killing dozens of people and destroying thousands of homes and businesses.

The owners of Coats Auto Body and Paint were determined to rebuild after their business at 1300 S. Saunders St. was badly damaged. The roof was ripped off and water gushed like a geyser from a broken pipe.

"I couldn’t believe it. It was just unbelievable. It was a total wreck," owner Jim Malerba said.

Wife and co-owner Tana Malerba said the scene "looked like a war zone." But she also remembers the support the couple received.

"Even the neighbors in the back, everyone was wonderful," she said. "Everybody pulled together and were helping each other out."

The couple relocated its business to Garner while working on the S. Saunders Street location, which was looted for scrap metal during the rebuild. Now, a year later, they plan to keep both stores running.

"It’s been a year filled with blessings and just chaos. We’ve met so many wonderful people that have helped us along the way. We’ve been very fortunate," Tana Malerba said. "Jim put things in perspective for me. He said, 'You know, we could have been going to funerals this week instead of doing what we’re doing.' So, we just did what we had to do to get back up and running again."

business reopens Ribbon cutting marks a joyous reopening

The April 16, 2011, tornadoes touched down 25 times in 33 counties. The twisters killed 24 people and destroyed or damaged more than 6,500 homes and 113 businesses. The most lives lost were in rural Bertie County, where 12 people died.


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  • ParadoxInLife Jul 13, 2012

    I had a car that was in the shop when it was destroyed in the tornado. Although frustrating to lose my car for another month, Coats and Erie Insurance were amazing considering the circumstances. From providing up to date info to the rental car, I'm glad they're back 'home'.

  • ImTarheel Jul 13, 2012

    hmmm.....Mwilson, I was at the ribbon cutting this morning and I think one mechanic from the durham shop decided not to come on board , so who are these laid off employees? Also, One of the first people they thanked was their insurance company and agent....

  • tonto Jul 13, 2012

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! So HAPPY for all of you! May you go forth and make a great living despite our rotten elected politicians on every level!!

  • mwilson0717 Jul 13, 2012

    It's all good and well on TV, but asked about the employees at the shop in durham that just got laid off. Yea thinks Coats.

  • Obamanation Jul 13, 2012

    This is some great free advertising for this business.

  • Hasbeen Jul 13, 2012

    I know the insurance agent on this one. Why not a mention and huge THANK YOU to their Insurance Agent and Company who footed the bill..correctly so, tornado 100 covered claim, but, this story makes it seem like they did it all themselves. Congrats Coats!!! But give some thanks to your insurer

  • couldbeanyone Jul 13, 2012

    I love Coats!!!! So glad they have rebuilt!

  • Conservative Jul 13, 2012

    Wish you all the best going forward!

  • melanie3 Jul 13, 2012

    "Even the neighbors in the back, everyone was wonderful," she said. "Everybody pulled together and were helping each other out" THIS is when we're at our best - when we come together. This is why we pay taxes is so that as a community we come together. This is why we want to educate our children because together we're better. Today too often all we here is that when someone needs help they're slackers or when someone wants to help they're socialists. The truth is.. together we're stronger and better and it's when it means more.

  • brettcbailey Jul 13, 2012

    Coats did some fantastic work on my 4-Runner a couple years ago. Great people, great service, great work! Glad to see them back!