Jimmie Johnson on hand for Lowe's store reopening

September 8, 2011 12:17:05 PM PDT
The Lowe's home improvement store in Sanford reopened Thursday for the first time since it was destroyed by a tornado April 16.

The event was like a giant street party for the community hit hard by the spring storms. There was free lunch, live music, and even a visit from NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson.

It was a far cry from that horrible day in April when a tornado ripped the roof off the building with customers and employees still inside.

"We ran to the back of the store and lay down on top of each other, and it was so very loud with the tornado hovering over us and with the alarm sounds, and then within a matter of seconds it was gone," recalled storm survivor Kim Thomas.

Carey Rosser and his daughter had just pulled into the parking lot when a chunk of the building landed on his truck.

"When it hit the front of the store, that particular corner of the building basically collapsed right on top of the truck that we were in, flattened it like a pancake," he said.

"I didn't think we were gonna make it through, but we did, and I'm very thankful for that, and I'm very thankful I was able to get out and get him help," said daughter Hannah.

The Rossers shared their story Thursday with NASCAR racer Jimmie Johnson. Driver of the Lowe's number 48 car and company spokesman, he visited the store Thursday to see the recovery.

"I'm just still amazed that everybody came out of this thing okay and that no one was injured here at the store," he said.

The Sanford community was not only celebrating survival Thursday. Many said they were grateful that Lowe's decided to rebuild - bringing back 160 jobs and needed revenue to the community.

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