PARRISH, Fla. (WFLA) — It’s been more than three months since Hurricane Ian battered Florida’s Gulf Coast, destroying and damaging buildings throughout Manatee County.
Although the community has taken big steps to get back on its feet, there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“Everything was just destroyed, our communities, everything you build was completely gone,” said Lowe’s manager Brittany Wagner.
Wagner experienced the damage first-hand. She lived without running water for 22 days, all while trying to open up a new Lowe’s in Parrish.
“[Our community] didn’t know how to pick up the pieces of it, but Lowe’s stepped in and supported us,” she said.
“When I got here back in July, it was dirt,” Wagner added. “The walls weren’t up, the roof wasn’t on.”
The store has hired over 180 employees, and after months of construction and supply chain issues, Wagner made sure it was ready for its grand opening on Dec. 30—rain or shine.
“Hurricane Ian hit on a Wednesday and you were back to work on Friday,” said News Channel 8’s Nicole Rogers. “Why was it so important to you to stay on track with this store opening?”
“I saw the need in the community up here, that they would need a Lowe’s store,” Wagner said. “We had to get the store open.”
The new 98,000-square-foot store is the first Lowe’s with a tool rental department, so customers won’t have to buy equipment for future disasters. They can rent what they need at a lower cost.
Everything has come together for the grand opening—a moment Wagner says she won’t forget.
“To get to be a part of that process and to watch everything go up with [the associates] is the most exciting part,” Wagner said.
The store is located at 8740 U.S. Highway 301 in Parrish. The grand opening is at 9 a.m. Friday.
Lowe’s is also donating $1,000 to the North River Firefighter’s Organization, the community outreach division of the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office, and the Manatee Board of Education.