The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

January 10, 2012

Home Depot preparing for reopening of store

JOPLIN, Mo. — Nearly eight months after the May 22 tornado destroyed it, the Home Depot store is reopening at its same location, 3110 E. 20th St.

Store manager Steve Cope said he’s excited about being back in business and that the new store will boost morale. The store was the scene of several storm fatalities, including an employee and customers.

“We’re going to be able to help the city of Joplin rebuild,” Cope said. “Our building being built back I hope will show that we’re here for the long haul. It’s a good feeling to know that we’re going to be back, and it will give the community options of where they want to purchase their equipment.”

After the tornado, a temporary tent store was opened in the parking lot in June and was up until the end of December. The new store is the most recent prototype for Home Depot stores across the country, Cope said.

The store will dedicate a memorial to the employee and customers who died in the storm at the old store. A fountain next to the entrance will have several benches around it and a plaque that reads: “In remembrance of the lives lost and to a future of rebuilding in their memory.” Another memorial is in the employee break room.

Cope, who was not at the store when the tornado hit, was there within 20 minutes.

“I just was not prepared for what I saw,” he said. “The No. 1 thing, though, was: Are all of my associates all right?”

Rescuers found one person alive in the store’s wreckage on May 23. They also had recovered seven bodies under the concrete, and serious injuries were reported at the location, which was one of Joplin’s ground zero locations after the storm.

M. “Dean” Wells was the head of Home Depot’s electrical department and died in the storm. Wells ushered people to the safest parts of the store until one of the walls collapsed on him one day before his 42nd anniversary with his wife, Sue.

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