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Two years later: Community care kept businesses going after Magna earthquake

Posted at 9:43 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-19 00:13:23-04

MAGNA, Utah — Many businesses on Main Street in Magna have gone under since the 5.7 magnitude earthquake two years ago.

Magna was near the epicenter of the earthquake, but it was also the center of generosity and community.

Colosimo’s is a small shop on Magna’s Main Street — a business that’s been around for almost 100 years.

“It gives you a great deal of pride carrying it on like that,” said Danny Colosimo, who owns the shop with his brother Charlie.

Friday marked the second anniversary since the two brothers had to shut their front door temporarily.

The Colosimos were still thinking about how they would make it through the pandemic when the earthquake happened.

“There was a little bit of side to side, but to me, it felt like it sunk. The whole town felt like it sunk,” said Danny.

The most damage done was to an exterior wall.

It took months to repair, and even though customers couldn’t come in, the Colosimos kept their business going.

“We were able to come in, work, and help customers out the side door and the back as best as we could,” Danny said.

What made all the difference for the Colosimos was their community reaching out.

“I had customers calling us and offering us money to repair,” Danny said.

It’s not the first time the family had experienced an earthquake or their community coming to their rescue.

Danny showed FOX 13 News his Kodacolor Prints from December 1962 — pictures of an earthquake that left their store shelves on the floor.

The people captured in the pictures were workers and helpers from the community.

“If there’s something positive to take out of the experience, that’s it. How good people are and how nice they can be,” said Danny.

The Colosimos made it through such tough times, but many businesses along Magna’s Main Street did not.

Another establishment still going strong is The Empress Theatre, just down the street. Those with the theater said the earthquake was a turning point for them.

Two years later, the theater room is a construction site as volunteers work to transport their audience from Magna to "Austria."

Ty Whiting, the artistic director at The Empress Theatre, said they have two weeks to create the set for their next production: The Sound of Music.

Worrying about their next production wasn’t even in their books two years ago.

“We were pretty close to shutting,” said Whiting. “The day before the earthquake, we had decided to close for COVID. The next day there’s an earthquake, and there were conversations about, 'Is it time to just be done?'"

The Empress Theatre has been around for 106 years. They opened their doors back in 1916.

The earthquake caused about 60,000 to 70,000 dollars in damages, which the owners then couldn’t afford.

Whiting said a group of community members came together to create the Knight of the Empress LLC. This group funded the repair and renovations.

“It’s nice to know that people care,” said Whiting.

The repair work took about 10 months, but COVID precautions kept the theater closed for a total of 14 months.

IN-DEPTH INTERVIEW: State officials advise Utahns how to prepare for earthquakes

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