/Tornado strikes Wal-Mart; students bear the burden

Tornado strikes Wal-Mart; students bear the burden

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Scott McLendon
Staff Writer

Weeks of reconstruction loom in the wake of an EF-1 tornado that struck the Troy Wal-Mart and caused its roof to collapse.

The damage caused by the late-night tornado on Thursday, Aug. 6, extended through the parking lot, flipping over 18-wheelers and ripping open the Hibbett Sports store.

Six people were also injured, according to the mayor’s office.

Grant Nall, a senior exercise science major from Auburn, was in Wal-Mart shopping with his friends when the incident occurred.

“We started to begin to hear rattling everywhere,” he said. “There is just the sound of metal shaking, the emergency doors were about to bust open and then things just started to fall down. I just ran and took cover and dove somewhere over by other people.”

“I was just dazed,” said Mouna Keasara, a sophomore computer science major from Hyderabad, India, who was accompanying Nall. “I wanted to run, but things kept flying towards me in a high speed and I was like, if I run, they are just going to pierce into me. So I’m just gonna lie down on the ground.”

According to Nall, everything went pitch black at Wal-Mart and “the alarm started going off after everything happened.”

“We send out an alert to students via text when a warning is issued,” said Herbert Reeves, dean of student services. “No official tornado warning was given until after one had already hit the Wal-Mart.”

Having fewer stores to take advantage of the tax-free weekend was not the only shopping inconvenience locals experienced.

“Move-in week was definitely an adventure for new freshman who forgot the essentials like toilet paper and bed sheets,” said Madison McPhillips, a junior nursing major from Florence and a resident assistant in Cowart Hall. “The dollar stores in Troy can only help you so much.”

Reeves said that university buses will be taking students by local stores such as Fred’s and Dollar General.

“We’ll be busing students to these Troy stores to keep some money in the local economy,” he said. “The buses will resume taking students to Wal-Mart when it reopens.”

“Before any reopening can be scheduled, we have to assess the damage, take inventory and a whole list of other steps,” said Brian Nick, director of the national media relations for Wal-Mart. “We’ll have to assess water and structural damage.

“A reopening time-frame can’t be established until then. Employees of the Troy location will be offered working hours at surrounding locations such as Ozark, Enterprise and South Montgomery.”

Nick said they will have these opportunities until Troy’s location can be reopened.