Home Depot recognizes Joplin associates at annual meeting

Four Joplin, Mo., associates of a Home Depot store destroyed by a tornado May 22 were flown to Atlanta for the company's annual shareholders meeting. 

CEO Frank Blake introduced Jason Smith, the manager on duty the night of the storm, Joe Barbosa, Joe Cabalero and Steve Cope, the store's manager. The four men received extended applause as well as Angel Awards, given to associates who help save lives. 

Blake also read a letter from a customer who praised the store's staff for saving the lives of her husband and her two children. The family was driving near the store and ran inside to escape the tornado. "We were met be calm employees the whole time," read the letter.

One employee, Dean Wells, died during the tornado as he made a final sweep of the store to check for customers, Blake said. Cope accepted the Angel Award in Dean's honor.

"We are committed to the community, and we will rebuild the store," Blake said.