ORLANDO, Fla. (FNS) -- Supermarket companies in the central Florida region are helping residents rebuild their lives after suffering through the worst tornadoes in state history.
A handful of tornadoes touched down in four counties last week, causing at least 38 deaths and some $56 million in property damage.
Most supermarkets were spared from major damage, but some stores in the affected area experienced power losses and minor damage.
Supermarkets came through with donations of food, materials, vehicles and money to communities in need.
A Winn-Dixie Stores unit in Buenaventura Lakes was closed for several days after a tornado damaged its roof and shattered its windows. Although shoppers were in the 24-hour store when the storm hit, no one was injured. Without power, the store operated on a generator early last week.
At the La Placita Latina supermarket across the street, several glass windows were shattered and the roof caved in. Fortunately, the store manager said, the 9,000-square-foot unit was scheduled to open in March and was empty. Working out of a separate office building, Manual Baez, the manager, told SN he did not know how long repairs would take or when the store would open.
A Food Lion store in Winter Garden, one of the hardest-hit communities, lost power for about three hours after the storm, but did not lose food. Customers streamed into the 24-hour store steadily from 2 a.m. to 6:30 a.m. the day of the storm, buying batteries, water and other emergency supplies, said a store-level source.
Later that day, Food Lion deli workers prepared meals for volunteers searching for missing people amid the rubble just one block away. The store also donated paper plates, water and other supplies.
Winn-Dixie Stores donated trailers for collecting supplies for the storm victims and set up collection boxes in all its stores. It also donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross. Several other retailers have come forward with supplies and funds. Kmart Corp., Troy, Mich., donated $25,000 to the American Red Cross and will distribute funds to its associates hit by the storms.