Dean Wells was a Home Depot employee who lost his life trying to save others in the Joplin tornado. Now the Home Depot is trying to help his family and hundreds of others recover. Those who survived say he saved up to 40 others.
The Home Depot store was a total loss in Joplin. Many were killed when the store was hit by the EF-5 tornado on May 22nd. Kelly Caffarelli with the Home Depot Foundation says it’s committed a million dollars to begin rebuilding homes and lives in Joplin.
Providing day care, blue tarps for damaged homes, tools to help in the clean-up process … Caffarelli says they’re being very need-specific about how that money is spent, and this is just the start. A Home Depot team just finished rebuilding a home for one family, which she says is more than a structure. She says seeing a complete home amid the chaos and destruction offers hope.
The Home Depot sent 300 volunteers to help last week — Delta airlines chipped in and flew more in this week free of charge. Caffarelli says through the unfortunate example of Hurricane Katrina, they know that to build takes a long time … to rebuild takes even longer.
She says rebuilding a community is much like the grieving process. First there’s shock, then the immediate trauma care and basic needs like food and shelter, and then the reality sets in about insurance, joblessness and the huge journey ahead.
Of the million, she says they haven’t spent all of it yet, but are looking at the long term. “To build takes a long time. But to rebuild, takes even longer.”