Blessings in a whirlwind…

By Staff
RECOVERING Steve Jellenc, Stephannie Jellenc and Gavin Fisher salvage what they can from Jellenc Construction Inc.'s warehouse in Russell. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star
By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
Dec. 31, 2000
RUSSELL  People search for blessings high and low, but local contractor Steve Jellenc found his in a whirlwind.
On Dec. 16, he found himself staring out the window of his office, watching a tornado cross a field, headed for his home only a few hundred yards away on Marion-Russell Road.
But what Jellenc found once he emerged from his makeshift shelter was disaster, utter destruction and a helping hand from other local businessmen and friends.
The twister destroyed almost everything, a business loss of several hundred thousand dollars.
Many of the Jellenc's 12 tractor-trailer trucks were heavily damaged, as was his home.
Jellenc Construction had been the primary contractor for a re-paving project on 10th Avenue. This he counts as one blessing, since most of his other equipment was on the job site and out of harm's way when the tornado touched down in Russell.
He discovered more blessings in the people around him, business leaders and friends who arrived on the scene almost immediately when they realized he was in trouble.
Southern Chevrolet donated two pick-up trucks since his two were incapacitated by the storm. Workers from other companies began showing up with chain saws to help clear debris.
Jellenc said employees of A&B Electric, H.E. Mosley Inc. and Waters International all came to see if they could help. In addition, some of his own 40 employees turned out to immediately begin the task of salvaging what they could. Burns and Burns Oil Company, Greer Financial Group, Taylor Rental, Barber and Sons Plumbing, Stribling Equipment, McElroy Plumbing and Sanders Gas Company also lent helping hands, Jellenc said.
Members of Jellenc's church, State Boulevard Baptist Church, showed up with meals to feed the workers helping to clear his home and business.
Jellenc said the outpouring of help was touching. With a renewed spirit, Jellenc says he will rebuild his business using insurance money and perhaps newly approved U.S. Small Business Administration loans although he claims the warehouse's destruction wouldn't have stopped his business anyway because it was used just as a staging area for preparing materials for on-site work.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at