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Walmart store destroyed in the tornado is now open - KOAM TV 7

Walmart store destroyed in the tornado is now open

Updated:
JOPLIN, MISSOURI -

Updated November 9, 2011 at 6:00 PM CST:  The 15th Street Walmart in Joplin is now open.

The crowds poured in as they took their time through the 189,000 square foot shopping center.

It's the first Walmart store in Missouri to provide energy efficient LED lighting in the parking lot.  The inside of the building is also loaded with energy saving features.  The concrete flooring was even made with recycled materials.

Customers say they couldn't wait for the doors to open.

"This was a big part of the city so for it to be reopened again is really nice," says Ericka Freeborn.

"Being in here makes you feel like it was never gone," says Leah Forkner.  "It is good to be back."

Walmart has special events planned throughout the weekend.

Singer Bo Bice from American Idol was at the store this afternoon signing autographs.

Reported November 8, 2011 at 6:25 PM CST:  The 15th and Range Line Walmart store is scheduled to reopen Wednesday morning.  For some customers the new store serves as more than just a convenient place to shop.

"I have to tell you, it was incredible," says Walmart Store Manager Andy Martin.  "The day after the tornado we had about 430 associates displaced with nowhere to go.  The company went to work to put them to work in the stores in the neighboring areas and found them a home the next day.  To get them all back, it's just overwhelming."

The store will open it's doors to the public following ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday at 8 a.m.

Walmart's grand reopening has been the hot topic among the residents at Silver Creek Assisted Living facility.  Prior to the tornado many of the residents packed into buses to take their monthly outing to the 15th Street store.

"We try to keep our residents feeling as independent as they can, so a lot of times we'll schedule shopping trips and different things they want to do, and of course Walmart pretty much has everything they need," says Silver Creek Director Christina Milar.

"They meant what they said - they were building and coming back - I think it was great," says Margaret White, a Silver Creek resident.

"I'm very happy because I'm close to it and my daughter works over here at Southern and so we can just zip over there instead of going clear to 7th," says Marjorie New, a Silver Creek resident.

For Larry Hihet it's more of a social outlet.

"That made me really happy - 15th Street Walmart has always been my favorite Walmart and I'm glad they're opening up," says Hihet.  "You can't go there without running into an old neighbor, an old friend, an acquaintance from years back and for me that was a big plus because being in a facility like this, you get out and get around and visit as much as you used to."

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