Yesterday, I heard from Scott Redler, who lives in Wichita and owns Freddy’s stores across the country, including the one in Joplin.
On Monday, he and Freddy’s namesake, Freddy Simon, traveled to Joplin to deliver to the Red Cross a check for $17,059, money collected from Freddy’s customers over the past several weeks. While there, Scott and Freddy congratulated two managers, who are credited with saving the lives of about 20 customers who were in the store when the tornado hit it.
They also met with several of those survivors, who shared tales of what happened in Freddy’s the night of May 22 and poured praise on the managers who helped them stay safe.
Scott says that Freddy’s definitely will rebuild in Joplin. The land the store sits on is rented, which is slowing the process down, but he says Joplin can expect to have its Freddy’s back within a year, if not less.
I thought I’d share a few of the e-mails that survivors sent to Freddy’s, Keep reading if you’re interested. They’re pretty powerful.
Dear Mr. Scott Redler, Mr. Markus K. Scholler & Mr. Ben Simon:
I wanted to write you and tell you how very proud of we are and you should be of the staff at your franchise at 1503 S Range Line Road, Joplin, MO 64804.
We are so thankful for the staff of management and employees you had working there. If it wasn’t for their quick thinking and emergency preparedness during the F-5 Tornado that hit Joplin and the Joplin Freddy’s we would not still be alive.
My 77 year old Mother Shirley, (my neighbors) Susan and Hannah and I were there just finishing our dinner on May 22nd when the lights flickered and one of the staff said we were under a Tornado warning. I went outside to get my mother’s wheelchair and as I was outside my neighbor and a Freddy’s management staff were at the door yelling for me to get inside, the tornado was not far away. We got my mom in the wheelchair and we all ran to the bathroom and shut the doors and the tornado hit.
We are talking 45 seconds from the time I went outside to the van and the time the staff got us all in the bathrooms. That is amazing how they all worked as a team and kept everyone calm. Your staff were calm and this made us feel calm. We believe the hand of GOD was wrapped around that building and protected us all. The staff was efficient and gave us trash bags to put over us to try to keep us dry while walking to safety. My van was a total loss since it had the roof of Freddy’s on top of it. We were so fortunate to have been where we were that fateful day and will never forget the images we saw while walking away from our safe haven.
We cannot wait until Freddy’s reopens (hopefully you will stay in Joplin) I want to hug each one of those employees and tell them THANK YOU! We appreciate them and the entire team at Freddy’s.
Thank you. Thank you , Thank You
Carterville, MO 64825
Another customer e-mail:
I contacted the COO on Monday about your Joplin employees’ performance during the storm. What I did not mention to him, in an effort to be brief, was the complete set of circumstances.
We, and others, were turned away, at BRAUM’S, as they locked the doors after the sirens had sounded. Not really knowing where the storm was, and being out with the family, we headed toward your store, thinking that was a safe direction. Turns out it was a bit of both, huh? There were 6 of us, in 2 cars. We ordered and the weather went bad and we ended up near, and then in the restrooms. Your staff did the right thing, as hard as it was, I’m sure, to convince customers what action was needed. They stayed pretty calm and professional throughout. As far as I know, there were no injuries among the approximately 20 customers you had in the store at that time. The only thing we can’t find is our car. Our family is safe, and that’s what matters.
I have already thanked the manager on hand. I have called you to let you know. But I want to tell you Thank You from myself; my wife; our 6yr old Gabe; 11yr old Aaron; Their uncle & their grandfather.
I’ve no idea if your restrooms were engineered to be storm safe, but they were for us. If the Joplin store’s actions are indicative of your company you can be sure we’ll stop in again, wherever we are, and wherever you are.
We hope that all the employees’ families are safe, as well.
Stephen & Laura Smart & family
And one more…
I wanted to drop a quick note to you about the wonderful manager on duty the fateful afternoon of the Joplin tornado.
My wife and I were there shortly before the tornado hit. We were on way back from Springfield and heard on the radio a tornado warning for Baxter Springs. We decided to get off the interstate & grab a bite to eat. Freddy’s is our main place to stop when in Joplin so we decided that was the place. Little did we know our lives would change forever. We came in, ordered our food, got our food then sat down to eat.
The manager (forgive me through all the commotion I never caught her name) announced that the tornado sirens were sounding. I grew up in western Oklahoma and a tornado siren goes off out there almost as much as a noon whistle.
The manager then insisted that everyone go to the bathrooms. We got everyone in the bathrooms and waited out the storm. Once the storm was over I opened the door to take a look outside. The manager and my wife were doing an excellent job keeping everyone calm.
I announced that we had been in a tornado and would have to find an alternate way out. I went to the next bathroom to make sure everyone was alright. The manager came out, assessed the damage and immediately went and made sure the gas was off. I asked about a back door and she told me where it was. We moved some debris and were able to get everyone out safely, including a woman in a wheelchair. Through all of this the manager stayed strong and made sure everyone was alright. Only after hearing that she had lost her house did she breakdown. I hugged her and told her what and amazing job she did and that was something to be proud of. Without her insistence and training the outcome of the 20 of us in Freddy’s may have been a lot worse.