Tornado-ravaged Lowe's reopens
Posted September 8, 2011
SANFORD, N.C. — A Lowe's Home Improvement store in Sanford reopened its doors Thursday morning, five months after it was destroyed by one of the springtime tornadoes that tore across North Carolina.
Bands played, people danced and hundreds of people, possibly as many as 1,000, came out to celebrate.
More than 100 employees and customers were in the store on April 16 when a tornado ripped in to the Lowe's, tearing the steel roof off the building. No one was seriously hurt, thanks to the quick action of manager Michael Hollowell and his staff who moved everyone to the back of the store, where there are no windows.
Customer Kathy Hendricks returned Thursday to celebrate and reflect on what happened to her that April day.
"My husband said, ‘We need to go up to the Lowe’s to get away from the weather. It’s going to be bad,'" she recalled. "And then our house was fine, and we were right in the middle of it (the tornado at Lowe's)."
Carey Rosser and his 13-year-old daughter Hannah were inside their truck in the parking lot when the tornado struck. One of Lowe's walls landed on their truck.
"I crouched over, and then I felt just a lot of pressure around me and on top of my head," Hannah Rosser said.
Carey and Hannah Rosser said Thursday they were amazed to see the store reopen.
"This is a special day for the community," Carey Rosser said.
While repairs were being made, 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.
The company says the roughly 100,000-square-foot new store represents an investment of more than $10 million.
NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson was also at the store's reopening Thursday to lend his support for the company, which is one of his sponsors.
"The fact that they were able to get the employees and the customers to a safe area in the store … I can’t even imagine that part," he said. "(There are) a lot of great stories here, and I’m just happy to be a part of it."