COVINGTON, Tenn. — Three of Covington, Tenneesse’s largest industries are shut down after a tornado hit the town a week and a half ago. While two manufacturers are planning to reopen, the future of the Delfield refrigerator plant is uncertain.

A man, who does not want to be identified, is a thirty-year employee of The Delfield Company in Covington, a longtime manufacturer of commercial food service equipment. He was on the job on March 31 when a tornado hit.

“About 6 o’clock, we took shelter back in the back office in the plant and you could hear the tornado coming across,” he recalled. “We made it out safely though. God was with us, pretty much. God was with us and I’m just thankful to be alive.”

Now, he and nearly 200 co-workers face another disaster. They will lose their jobs after Delfield filed a WARN notice with the State of Tennessee, stating the Delfield Drive facility “cannot continue operations at this time” due to extensive tornado damage.

Delfield sent WREG a statement saying their building is not structurally sound and needs to be rebuilt. They expect that process to take about a year.

It’s heartbreaking news that could not come at a worse time.

“We will be officially terminated, laid off, effective May the 5th. That’s the last day. The last day we’ll get anything from them,” the employee told us.

Two other Covington employers, Mueller Fittings and H.T. Hackney and Company, also suffered significant damage, but only The Delfield Company has filed a WARN notice.

“That means that the State will come in and they’ll start paying these people unemployment benefits and marshal a bunch of resources to come into the community to help those people find new employment,” said Mark Herbison, President of HTL Advantage.

For the Delfield employee we talked to, emotions are mixed.

“I feel kind of sad because I lost my job and now I got to start all over, but the good thing about it, I’m alive and well and God blessed us with that so,” he said.

Read Delfield’s full statement below:

“The Delfield manufacturing plant in Covington, Tenn., sustained major damages during the
storms that occurred on Friday, March 31st. At this time, we do not know the full extent of damage to the plant. A disaster recovery team has been onsite assessing the damage since the disaster occurred. At this time, we do know that there is extensive structural damage to the facility. The building is currently not structurally sound and a major rebuilding will be
required. The process for rebuilding will be established once the full cleanup and assessment has been completed. The estimate for a complete rebuild is currently between 8 and 12 months.

Locally, our Human Relations department will be reaching out and working extensively with Covington area companies that were not affected by the tornado. We hope to assist as many qualified workers as possible. At this time, it is too early to evaluate our required operational needs going forward. Our focus now is on completing the damage assessment so that a timely rebuilding process can begin.