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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- More than 11 months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast, the Waveland community in south Mississippi will celebrate the return of its Wal-Mart Supercenter today, marking the occasion with a community celebration in front of the store.
Free activities, live music, and food will turn the store's parking lot into a festival, with appearances from community and state representatives, the retailer said.
Wal-Mart claims to be the first large national retailer to return to this community, which is still recovering from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The store is back to its original pre-Katrina size as a Supercenter, offering groceries and specialty items and quantities specifically needed by Waveland residents still rebuilding.
After its building was damaged by Katrina Aug. 29, 2005, Wal-Mart had erected a 16,000-square foot tent on the lot to ensure its shoppers could still buy food and basic items. While power across the county remained down for weeks, residents were able to replace lost items; buy food and cleaning supplies, refill prescriptions, process film, and get cellular telephones connected.
In November, the store became a Wal-Mart Express, a prototype 57,000-square-foot "store within a store," with temporary walls defining the shopping area.
As a part of the re-opening celebration, Wal-Mart will provide a total of $108,000 in community grants.