Business reopens over a year after tornado hits


Tornadoes ripped through parts of Raleigh damaging several homes and businesses in April 2011..

It took Jim and Tana Malerba more than a year to bring their auto body shop back to life.

"It's a blessing," Jim Malerba said. "It's like God redecorated for us."

Coats Auto Body and Paint on South Saunders Street had been in the community for almost 40 years and it took a few seconds for it to be ripped it to shreds.

"The first thing that runs through your mind is, 'What are you going to do? We have 30 employees' 30 paychecks, what are you going to do,'" Tana Malerba said. "We were fortunate that we had the coverage ... kept everybody working."

The Malerbas were able to open a temporary location in Garner a month after the disaster, but had a tough time rebuilding their South Saunders Street shop.

"You know, you have to jump through a lot of hoops and I guess we weren't really good hoop jumpers at first," Jim Malerba said.

The couple finally celebrated their new building Friday with family, dignitaries and new friends like Steve Sebastian and Holly Turner, who became customers the day they parked at Coats to try and escape the tornado.

"We just hunkered down in the car together, held each other and prayed and in a matter of minutes, watch this building get torn to shreds and to see it rebuilt like this and ... it's amazing," Steve Sebastian said.

Even though the Raleigh location has now reopened, the Malerbas are still planning on keeping their second location in Garner.

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