Montebello Tornado: Business owners survey extensive damage to buildings as clean-up efforts continue

MONTEBELLO, Calif. (KABC)– The day after a tornado tore through an area of ​​Montebello, business owners surveyed the severe damage Thursday as clean-up efforts continued.

Bobby Qui showed ABC7 the inside of his now defunct seafood distribution business. The tornado left a laceration on his neck and lacerations on his body.

“I just heard a big ring and then tried to close my gate and then it banged,” he said. “It was too strong.”

Qui has been running the Koi Koi Trading business for 20 years, 10 of them in Montebello.

Now he is facing $3-4 million in damage with up to 20% of the roof destroyed, extensive water damage and lost product.

“I just want it to go back to normal, open business,” he said, adding that he couldn’t wait 7-8 months. “Customers can’t wait for you.”

The tornado ripped off roofs from several industrial buildings, leaving 17 buildings damaged.

National Weather Service officials said the tornado was classified as an EF1 with winds of 110 mph. It was the strongest tornado recorded in the area since an F2 twister in March 1983. The last time an EF1 tornado struck the area was in January 1998 in Long Beach.

Opposite Koi Koi Trading, at Niki’s Sports, the owner is also facing millions of dollars in losses and damages.

Nicolas Orellana has been in the football equipment sales business for 37 years. As he went to bed Wednesday night, the tornado experience kept running through his mind.

“I couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I closed my eyes and started hearing the same sound. This thing blew me away.”

Orellana is from El Salvador and has survived violent attacks on his home in the past. The traumatic experience of the tornado has now overshadowed his past, he said.

Thursday’s twister was the first tornado recorded in the Los Angeles area since a December 2014 F0 tornado in Inglewood, according to the National Weather Service.

F0 is the weakest level on the tornado rating scale. EF1 is the second weakest rating, although the Montebello twister almost reached the EF2 or “strong” level with winds of 110 mph. An EF2 tornado has wind speeds between 111 and 136 mph.

Forecasters said Wednesday’s twister was 0.42 miles long and 50 meters wide.

Officials with the National Weather Service found 17 buildings were damaged, including one where the roof almost completely collapsed. Several cars were also damaged by flying debris and at least one utility pole was knocked down.

The City News Service contributed to this report. Montebello Tornado: Business owners survey extensive damage to buildings as clean-up efforts continue

Laura Coffey

Laura Coffey is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Laura Coffey joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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