JOPLIN, Mo. -- Home Depot employees in orange vests were busy helping customers Tuesday in the parking lot of the Joplin store flattened just nine days ago by a tornado.
There wasn't a lot to choose from just yet, but the store's reopening and quick sales of roofing material, lumber and other necessities showed city residents' determination to begin rebuilding quickly after the May 22 tornado that cut a 6-mile swath through the heart of this community of nearly 50,000 residents. Home Depot itself already has a 30,000-square-foot temporary building framed and expected to open within a couple of weeks. Until then, it's selling a smaller selection of urgently needed products piled on the ground and stacked on uncovered tables in the parking lot.
"We're trying to let people know we're not just a retail store to take their money. We're here," store manager Steve Cope said.
It will be a long time before Joplin completely rebuilds from the tornado packing winds of up to 200 mph. An estimated 8,000 homes and apartments were damaged or destroyed, along with hundreds of commercial buildings, schools, the largest hospital, power transformers and other infrastructure.