President Barack Obama called the Lowe's store manager who helped guide customers and employees to the back of his store moments before the front was ripped apart by a tornado. The president thanked manager Michael Hollowell for his actions, according to a press release from the White House.
The Sanford, N.C., store was one of many buildings damaged by dozens of tornadoes that brought destruction to North Carolina on Saturday, when 21 people were killed by the storm.
Hollowell credited his team and the corporate emergency-planning policies for the safety of the 100 or so people caught in the store.
Based on television news show interviews of participants and witnesses, store managers and employees had to act quickly to move customers to the windowless rear of the store, and at one point they had to convince customers that there really was a danger after a tornado was reported.
No one was hurt in the incident, but the store was severely damaged.
A statement on the White House website said the president called Michael Hollowell "to offer his gratitude for Mr. Hollowell’s swift action that saved so many lives."