Byline: Brian Lee
BRIMFIELD – The tornado-devastated One Stop Car Care began
light-duty tow jobs this week, said owner David Bell.
More than 200 cars at the automotive repair and service shop were
smashed and totaled in the June 1 storm, and 10 tow trucks incurred the
same fate. Only two trucks were covered by insurance, a frustrated Mr.
Bell said this week.
“We put our own trucks together because the insurance company
hasn’t paid me yet,” said the 52-year-old, who services AAA
and police. He’s owned the business 26 years.
Mr. Bell said he didn’t have insurance “that covers
anything worth a damn,” and he hasn’t “got one dime
Adding insult to injury, two men who offered to help with damage
took off with two of the company’s chain saws. Mr. Bell said he
told the masquerading volunteers on Monday to move lumber for him and
went back to his business. Five hours later, the volunteers and chain
saws were gone.
“Right during the day,” he said.
But there’s been plenty of good, said Mr. Bell, a drummer who
had kept a band room on the premises.
Band mates and other musicians have lent support, including
planning an Aug. 6 fundraiser at the Wales Irish Club to help get back
some of the lost instruments.
High school friends have come back to help. Customers have returned
in droves because they want to see the business back, Mr. Bell said.
Volunteers from the First Congregational Church have been
”phenomenal,” he added.
But Mr. Bell was critical of the American Red Cross, NationalGuard, the governor and president for not doing more during suchdevastation.
“It’s all churches, volunteers and local people just
coming out to help, because that’s what we do in a bad time.
They’ve been great, but you can’t count on the people you pay
Mr. Bell scoffed at the president’s disaster declaration,
which makes tornado victims in Hampden and Worcester counties eligible
for federal assistance.
“So you can get a loan if you want a loan – big deal.”
He said the declaration was a public relations move so the general
public, which doesn’t see the devastation firsthand, can say the
state and federal governments are taking action.
“I would have voted for Ross Perot or Donald Trump,” Mr.
Bell quipped. “Get a businessman who knows how to run
Not one car at the business made it through the storm, said Mr.
Bell, who doesn’t have anything left to drive for himself. He said
he is driving a customer’s Jeep that he had taken for a test drive
and was set to deliver.
“Luckily it was at my house when it hit,” he said.
”She said, `Keep it as long as you want.'”
The business was so hard hit the upper section of a three-story
office trailer at the business was found in a backyard in Southbridge.
The resident of the home saw the phone number on the cement wall and
called Mr. Bell, who said he doesn’t know who the Southbridge
resident is and doesn’t want the wall back.
Half of Mr. Bell’s checkbook blew to Falmouth. A woman from
the Cape Cod town returned it to a post office box that Mr. Bell set up
after the storm. Mail was also returned from Boston, Dedham, Newton and
Wellesley, Mr. Bell said.
In addition to the damaged office trailer, a two-apartment trailer
and a 40-foot-by-50-foot hut were destroyed.
Forty used cars kept out front wound up across the street in the
“The night that the storm hit, we had to drag them back over
here,” Mr. Bell said. “They’re all wasted junk. I’m
waiting for the insurance company to come back on that, as there’s
a $500 deductible on each car. They only paid me what I paid for the
car, not what they were worth or for what they were selling. There are
all these little loopholes.”
He also had personal cars on the property that were classics, as
did his worker, Scott Murray.
“Thirty-thousand-dollar, forty-thousand-dollar cars totallywasted, and of course, you had them since you were kids, so it’sheart-wrenching,” Mr. Bell said.
Mr. Murray, who has worked at the yard off and on for 20 years, was
in two YouTube videos that his co-worker Chris Mendreck made after the
two pulled themselves from the wreckage.
On the day of the storm, Mr. Murray said, he was aware of the
tornado warning, but did not think it was coming their way. He said Mr.
Mendreck saw a pine tree at the top of the hill go up in the air and
“He said, `Where are we going to go?’ I said, `Let’s
go under the stairs (of the office building),’ the smallest area
that’s enclosed with block.”
Mr. Mendreck got in first.
“I wasn’t under there very well,” Mr. Murray said.
”I tried to get the junkyard cat to come in. She said no.
“You could hear trees snapping and cars coming down the
hill,” he said. “Then it got pitch black. I heard the roof rip
off. Then it got light out.”
That’s when filming began.
And it’s been nonstop work ever since.
“We go from day ’til dark, 15 days straight,” Mr.
CUTLINE: David Bell, owner of One Stop Car Care, 86 Holland Road,
Brimfield, stands in front of his business, which was ravaged by the
PHOTOG: JOHN FERRARONE