Watch CBS News

Montebello business closing doors due to severe damage suffered during rare tornado

Montebello business closing doors due to severe damage suffered during rare tornado
Montebello business closing doors due to severe damage suffered during rare tornado 02:37

A Montebello business has been forced to close its doors for good after suffering severe damage during March's rare tornado. 

Utilimaster is just one of several businesses struggling to pick up the pieces after an EF-1 level tornado ripped through their area on March 22, leading to 17 different buildings to suffer extensive damage — 11 of which were red-tagged by building inspection officials. 


"One business has indicated that they will be closing permanently, unfortunately," said Montebello city spokesperson Alex Gillman, referring to Utilimaster, which customizes commercial delivery trucks.

The trucking company's fleet was also decimated in the bizarre weather event, 

Management says that the company hasn't received any solid answers from their insurance company in the three weeks since the tornado struck, leaving them with no other options but to close permanently. 

"Unless you have coverage for extra tornadoes and earthquakes, they won't cover you," said Isabel Cruz, a manager at Utilimaster. "We weren't expecting to have a tornado here."

The building of their warehouse had a massive portion of its roof ripped off during the tornado, leading the building to be red-tagged. 

On top of it all, Cruz said that Los Angeles County officials stopped by the business on Monday to request an estimate for damage suffered, for which they're also asked to foot the bill. 

Related: Montebello Tornado Recovery: Rapid Response Resource Fair Tuesday

"It's costing right now, the owner-operators, most of them are doing out of pocket repairs," she said. "Getting everything back to normal is taking a while." 

The company is now forced to let all of its 60 employees go as well, according to a letter sent to the city of Montebello.

Gillman says that the city is ready to help those impacted most by the tornado, offering a job fair on May 3 "for employees specific to Utliimaster that were impacted by the March 22 tornado."

"What we're looking to do for that is connect those individuals who are currently unemployed with employers with that skillset to get them out of unemployment as soon as possible," he said. 

The city is also working to assist the 10 other red-tagged buildings recover as they wait and see if their request for federal assistance has been approved. 

Utilimaster has not yet responded to KCAL's request for comment. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.