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.

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, President of the Home Depot Foundation, says it’s committed a to begin rebuilding homes and lives there.

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.

A Home Depot team just finished rebuilding a home for one family, the Laceys, which she says is more than a structure. She says it’s a symbol of hope among the wreckage.

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.

As for the loss of an employee at the demolished store in Joplin, Caffarelli says that’s never happened before and says the company is still reeling from that loss.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:20 min.]