By Dennis Seid
TUPELO – More than 1.2 million square feet of commercial retail space had been all but deserted for the better part of two days, but cash registers are beginning to ring again.
With generators providing power, several businesses in the normally busy Barnes Crossing District in north Tupelo were open on Wednesday, two days after an EF-3 tornado ripped through the city.
In the area around The Mall at Barnes Crossing, most shopping centers – including the mall itself – remained closed. While damage was minimal in the busy commercial corridor, the lack of electricity prevented most businesses from opening their doors.
Most, but not all.
Kroger on Barnes Crossing Road was operating on generator power, though lighting was limited.
The Walmart super center and Sam’s Club, which anchor the Big Oaks Shopping Center on North Gloster, opened Wednesday morning.
The stores lost all their grocery items on Monday when electricity was lost, but the items were replenished, and generators enabled the stores to reopen.
Generators also enabled Renasant Bank and BancorpSouth to open their branches in the area.
Other businesses that were open for business Wednesday included Walgreens, Waffle House and Chick-Fil-A.
In the decimated area around North Gloster and Green streets, severe damage will keep many businesses from opening – with or without electricity – anytime soon.
But a small island in the sea of destruction was La Vino, a wine and liquor store that also was open Wednesday. While its sign was toppled like so many others, and its building still bearing scars from Monday’s storm, a “Now Open” sign was clearly visible.
Meanwhile, Northeast Mississippi’s largest shopping center, The Mall at Barnes Crossing, plans to reopen at 10 a.m. today, said General Manager Jeff Snyder.
“We haven’t opened simply because we’ve been without power, and we were very fortunate that there was very little damage at all here,” he said.
But, he added, “It’s kind of difficult for me to talk about us reopening when so many other businesses and homes have been affected by this tragedy.”
With Tennessee Valley Authority restoring power to the Barnes Crossing area around 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, more businesses should be reopening in the next few days.
Having the mall, stores in nearby shopping centers and area restaurants reopening also will put hundreds back to work.