The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Tornado: Columns

August 20, 2011

Wally Kennedy: Walgreen’s to reopen both stores Monday

JOPLIN, Mo. — Monday will be a big day for two of the three stores that Walgreen’s operates in Joplin.

The Walgreen’s at 20th and Main streets sustained significant damage on May 22. It was at the north edge of the tornado’s damage zone. It has had a major makeover.

The Walgreen’s at 20th Street and South Range Line Road was destroyed by the tornado. The most remarkable thing about the rebuilding of that store is that it took just nine days to get the walls up and a roof on the building.

Louis Niewald, the manager of that store, said, “The people who built this store felt the community’s energy. It helped that more people than normal were working on it. Also, we had steel en route for another store and they rerouted it to us. It all fell into place for us.’’

Both stores open at 8 a.m. Monday.

Special activities are planned at both stores from 4 to 8 p.m. Free food and drinks, crafts for kids by Lowe’s and Home Depot, facepainting, music and door prizes are planned.

 Free blood-pressure, blood-sugar and bone-density checks also will be available. Free diabetic test meters by Abbott will be given away. Doctors also will be available to answer questions about diabetes.

At the 20th and Range Line store, the Run Around will host a half-mile run for kids. The St. John’s mammogram bus will be on site.

Niewald gave some details about the night of May 22 and the days after.

All of Walgreen’s employees were accounted for by 7 p.m. that night. All employees stayed employed with no hourly reductions. The store at Seventh Street and Maiden Lane was turned into a 24-hour location to accommodate the increase in customer demand.

The company had a full-service pharmacy available at 20th and Main streets by the following Sunday and another one set up at 20th and Range Line four days after that.

The store at 20th and Main donated thousands of tetanus shots for Heart to Heart to administer for free. As many as 700 shots were given in one day. That store also served as a hub for triaging patients with minor injuries for several weeks after the tornado.

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