West Springfield, Mass. Business Owner Who Lost Everything Remains Upbeat | NECN

West Springfield, Mass. Business Owner Who Lost Everything Remains Upbeat



    Skip Demerski, 68, switched insurance carrier's just days before the June 1, 2011 twister; his new policy didn't cover structural damage, forcing him to pay for most repairs out of pocket (Published Thursday, Jan. 16, 2014)

    (NECN: Eileen Curran, West Springfield, Mass.) - Last June's tornado ripped off Skip Demerski's Brimfield, Mass. business' roof, and destroyed most of the expensive equipment inside.

    At the time, Demerski was at his home in Springfield, which was also in the twister's path.

    "It just shook everything, sounded like a jet," said Demerski.

    Demerski had insurance on his business - in fact, he had just switched carriers days before the tornado - but for some unknown reason, the new insurance didn't cover structural damage, as his previous one had, so now he's paying out of pocket for most of the repairs.

    "This, by the way, was supposed to be part of my retirement," said Demerski. "We had just paid the building off and we were going to rent it out eventually and use the income to play a few rounds of golf, but now we have a few more chores to take care of."

    One might wonder why a 68-year-old man wouldn't be more upset about having to rebuild his business, but Demerski has been here before more than once.

    Three years ago, a fire destroyed another building he owned, and months later, a construction accident nearly killed him.

    "A tool went and severed my femoral artery and I came within two minutes of bleeding out," he said.

    And while he may carry the physical scars, he refuses to carry the emotional ones.

    Being a tornado survivor, he does listen more closely to the weather reports when there's a storm brewing.

    "You pay a little more attention to it and take precautions because it's much better to have a false alarm than not heeding the alarm at all," said Demerski. "Seeing is believing."

    But Demerski has learned not to let the rough times get him down.

    "There's really nothing that upsets me because every day is a free day for me, just another challenge," he said.