SANFORD, N.C. -- When a tornado tore a Lowe's Home Improvement store apart in Sanford, it also damaged cars belonging to 70 customers and workers.
Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports, the NASCAR team and driver sponsored by Lowe's, will together donate a $1,000 credit toward a down payment on a new or used car to each of the customers and workers whose cars were in the Lowe's parking lot and suffered damage from the storm.
"Really this was an easy decision," Johnson said in a statement given to NewsChannel 36 Friday. "After seeing the pictures and hearing what had happened, I don't know how you couldn't or wouldn't want to help.
"We took some time to find out what the most pressing need was for everyone who was at the store. When we heard that these people had lost their cars and for some it was their only means of transportation, it was just a matter of figuring out how to make this work. Fortunately, we have a few friends who could help in that department. Hendrick Automotive Group really stepped up to figure out how to make this as easy as possible for everyone and Mr. Hendrick, as always, wanted to lend his support as well."
Lowe's spokeswoman Julie Yenichek said Thursday that work will begin soon to demolish the condemned remains of the tornado-battered building constructed in 1998.
The store's 160 employees who were praised for ushering customers to safety during the storm have all been given new jobs at nearby Lowe's stores, and the company has donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross in their honor.
Coverage Archive: April 2011 tornado outbreak