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Sanford Lowe's rebuilding after storm

Posted May 25, 2011

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— Less than six weeks after a tornado severely damaged the Lowe's store in Sanford, the home-improvement chain began rebuilding the store Wednesday.

"A store of this size represents an average investment in the community of more than $10 million and will return 160 jobs to the Sanford area," Lowe's announced in a news release.

The damage to the Sanford store was one of the more indelible images of the tornadoes that raked across North Carolina on April 16. Employees were hailed as heroes for moving all customers to safety as the storm smashed the front of the store.

Lowe's worker Mandy Vanderroest got on the store intercom that day to warn everyone of the approaching storm. She said Wednesday that knowing everyone survived has helped her cope with the loss of her workplace.

Sanford Lowe's rebuilding after storm Sanford Lowe's rebuilding after storm

"You get through it," Vanderroest said. "When you see the devastation in Missouri and all (from tornadoes this week), we are so blessed. Someone was looking out for us."

Crews removed the rubble of the Horner Boulevard building in recent weeks to clear the lot and pave the way for rebuilding.

Lowe's officials said the walls to the new store could be up by the end of next week and the store could be open for business again in August if everything goes according to schedule.

"Since we're gone, we know how much (the community) meant to us and we meant to them because everyday I get, 'When are you coming back? When are you going to rebuild?'" Sanford store manager Mike Hollowell said. "That feels real good when you hear those things because you never know how much you mean to a community or how much the community means to you until, I guess, it's honestly gone."

Lowe's transferred all 160 workers from the Sanford store to other stores across the region, providing transportation for them to Pittsboro, Cary, Fayetteville, Chapel Hill, Southern Pines, Smithfield, Clayton, Erwin, Apex, Mebane, Laurinburg and Durham.

"Everybody loves where they're working – the local stores – but they want to come back," Hollowell said. "I won't be ... whole again until I can walk in my own store with my own people."

Employee Derreck Simmons agreed, saying he and his co-workers are eager to return to Sanford.

"All the employees will get to be back in that family atmosphere," Simmons said. "It won't be that 13-year-old store. It will be nice. It's a new store."

The rebuilt store will have 103,000 square feet of retail space, with an adjacent 34,000-square-foot garden center.

Sanford residents also are excited about getting their Lowe's store back.

"I could come down here any time. Now, I have to go up to Pittsboro," Ethel Petty said. "I am excited. I could just jump up and say, 'Hallelujah.'"


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  • hunt36 May 26, 2011

    I am from Broadway and my favorite store was Lowe's in fact I needed to go that day but was waiting for it to clear up --glad I waited.But anyway HURRY UP AND BUILD IT ALREADY I WANT TO GO BACK TO MY STORE NOWWWWWWW!!

  • heatherreneejan41980 May 25, 2011

    I can wait o go back to work with my 608 Sanford Lowes family!!! It is great to still have a job with Lowes but I miss my 608 crew!!!

  • MudLife May 25, 2011

    That's awesome! My boyfriends uncle said the other day "we never needed anything from Lowe's but now that it's gone we need something from there just about every weekend". Said "yeah that's normally how it goes". Glad they're rebuilding quickly though.

  • RB aka Spirit Warrior Woman May 25, 2011

    Good to hear, and seeing the new walls go up will be a positive sign of a return to normal for those still struggling to find some kind of "normalcy" there.

    Praying for them all.

  • londonengland May 25, 2011

    Way to go Lowes!!!!!

  • eightbal1962 May 25, 2011

    I've missed my Lowe's. Can't wait.

  • A confused citizen May 25, 2011

    I applauded Lowes rebuilding the store. Perhaps this time they could set an example for the community and integrate a storm shelter / safe room in the design.

  • grnpnd7 May 25, 2011

    Lowes you have my business!

  • mfarmer1 May 25, 2011

    How Many Sq Feet Was It Before?

  • shortcake53 May 25, 2011

    A bright light after some dark days. So nice to see progress after a disaster like this. Move forward.........