A storm that took no more than a few minutes to blow through Jefferson City wiped out 40 years' worth of work for Jefferson City contractor Doug Schrimpf.
But Schrimpf, who had kept the tools he used for his business, Doug Schrimpf Construction, in storage units at Braun Storage on U.S. 54 and on Jackson Street — both hit hard by the May 22 tornado — left them scattered among the debris for days.
"I've been doing it for 40 years, so I've got 10 of everything — so whatever I lost, I still had plenty to get going," he said. "Even the first two days, we didn't even clean my three sheds out. We just left it lay."
Instead, he went to Community Christian Church on Ellis Boulevard to secure the building, also heavily damaged.
"That took two days, and then we went out and started doing my stuff," he said. "It bothers you some because I lost a lot of stuff I had since I started, stuff you can't replace. But you just do away with it."
Already with a busy schedule, Schrimpf was just getting started on tornado cleanup.
"We had a lot of jobs we were supposed to be at the next month or so," he said.
Some clients were willing to wait, and some weren't.
He remembers two clients specifically — Warren Witt and John Wegman — who waited.
"I said, 'I'm supposed to be at your job next week.' They both said, 'Take a month or two to go help tornado people out,'" Schrimpf said. "They waited six weeks for me."
Others weren't as patient.
"I called, like, four other people, and they said, 'No, I expect you to be here next week,'" he continued. " Two or three of them, I just lost those jobs, which I didn't care."
During that six weeks after the tornado, Schrimpf was working to put up a building at the Braun property so the family could reopen Donnie Braun & Sons Auto Repair.
"Doug helped us down here — he was one of the first builders — and we were able to get our shop running within 10 weeks, which is unheard of," Alan Braun said. "He put people off so he could work on our place and get us back up, which the family's extremely grateful for because now our guys can go back to work — our livelihood is going again."
Schrimpf also did work for homeowners on Aurora Street and is moving on to Capitol Avenue and Union Street.
He doesn't expect to be done cleaning up after the tornado anytime soon.
"We'll be doing them for the next six, nine months, year," he said.
In a letter nominating Schrimpf to be recognized for his work after the storm, a community member said: simply "Doug is an unsung hero always, working tirelessly to help others."
Other "Heroes of the Storm"
There were nearly 20 individuals and organizations who received plaques Saturday, Aug. 27, 2019, at a ceremony recognizing them as "Heroes of the Storm" for their actions during the May 22 tornado. Read their stories: