Dallas Businesses at Preston Royal Face Challenges After EF-3 Tornado

Many in the Preston Hollow of Dallas area are struggling to get around. Major streets are only open to emergency crews, several days after Sunday's tornado outbreak caused widespread power outages. The popular shopping area at Preston and Royal is currently a disaster zone and it's having a devastating impact on local businesses.

Like the leaning Preston Royal sign, the current spirit at the center is bent, but not broken.

"The emotions... they've been on a little bit of a roller coaster," said business owner Candace Williams.

From the obvious damage, to the stuff a little harder to see, like the unexpected toll on inventory at her shop, The Toy Maven.

"We had water pouring through so even though it might look like it's okay we were finding you can't move this," Williams said, pointing to water-soaked books.

Inside, Williams is dealing with water damage, caving insulation and holes in her roof all from other A/C units that landed on it.

Her newly stocked inventory is now in jeopardy ahead of upcoming fundraiser Partner's Card, benefiting domestic violence victims, as well as the holidays.

"Facing the fact that our season may or may not be a total loss," she said.

NBC 5 caught up with Williams as she visited with Jon Alexis, owner of TJ's Seafood, several doors down.

"My roof failed, my roof collapsed," she tells him.

"Our staff and several guests hid in the walk-in refrigerator. We were fine. That was not the same story as the people who hid in the walk-in refrigerator at Central Market and Fish City Grill who had to climb out of rubble," Alexis said, talking about the businesses just south of Royal.

For him, Sunday's EF-3 tornado hit extra close to home.

"It's surreal. I mean I live walking distance from here and the tornado came within a block of both my house and one of my businesses. My wife and kids were hiding in a closet," he said. "We're talking less than a football field from loved ones and my business and my house, it was pretty crazy."

Shutdown and without power, right now he's focused on employees.

"The business owner, we'll probably make it. How does the prep guy and the dishwasher.. how do they pay the rent? How do they pay their bills this week? It's a ripple effect for everybody," Alexis said.

It's a concern also faced at EatZi's, where a small fraction of the usual staff is back Wednesday helping with clean-up. They spent the morning moving the pounds and pounds of food waste to the front of the store and tossing it in a sanitation truck's bin for trash collection.

"It's still heartbreaking losing all of our food and then not being able, my employees are just home, trying to find hours with all of our other locations," said Ivette Longoria, general manager of the EatZi's store at Preston Royal.

For now, the major Dallas shopping center is at a standstill, with workers ready to get back to business.

"We feel for our community, but we will come back for sure," Williams said.

Many of the businesses now have roof damage, so many of the owners are now worried about the next wave of storms about to move in.

It's expected to take at least a few more days before power can be restored.

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