Plaza Owner Hopes for Holiday Reopening After Tornado

WILKES-BARRE TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- It's been almost a month since a tornado ripped through the Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township.

Workers say it hasn’t been easy, but the Arena Hub Plaza in Wilkes-Barre Township has come a long way since last month’s tornado.

“No one has had a day off. We worked the Fourth of July and everybody put in work. We really sweat it. As a team, we came together and we did it well,” Belfor laborer Philip Long said.

Owner of the Arena Hub Plaza, Robert Tamburro, said nine of the shopping center's 24 businesses are still closed because they were so severely damaged by the storm.

"The stores that are currently not operating are Dick's Sporting Goods, TJ Maxx, Staples, Carters, Osh Kosh, Barnes & Noble, Eddie Bauer Outlet, and Men's Wearhouse," said owner Robert Tamburro. "And Petsmart."

Hundreds of workers have been putting in 16-hour days cleaning up debris, fixing electrical lines, and getting the place ready for the Christmas holiday shopping season.

People like John Herron of Herron Electric in Mountain Top are proud to be a part of it.

“Everybody in this whole area knows the Arena Hub Plaza. It's a big staple to the Wyoming Valley, so it's really cool to be a part of this project,” Herron said.

In the coming weeks, 150 workers are going to be here every day making sure all of the Arena Hub Plaza is back up and operational as soon as possible.

“I'm happy to be rebuilding part of Wilkes-Barre Township. I love Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre is a great town. I'm just so happy to be able to help,” Long said.

Tamburro said there’s been a lot of coordination between the plaza and its retailers to make sure they all stayed in the shopping complex after the storm.

"We're excited that the stores are going to be fresh when they get rebuilt and we're excited by the enthusiasm that the store personnel have shown about getting back to business," Tamburro said.

He’s learned a lot in the last month.

“You have to be prepared to roll with the punches, and when things come that are unexpected, you have to stay calm,” Tamburro said.

He said all the extra help from emergency responders immediately after the tornado is still felt a month later because there were so many businesses that could have been looted.

“They really provided the security and the manpower to make sure that everything here was safe and secure,” Tamburro said.

People are grateful for all the hard work contractors have been putting in.

"It's beneficial for the local area especially for these businesses and the economy of the area," said Rafael Navarro.

"I usually go to Barnes & Noble every single day, either during my work break, before work, right after work, whenever. So I'm really excited that that's going to be open soon," Victoria Rendina said.

Some people we spoke to say they're excited for these stores to reopen because, in the meantime, they've had to go to other store locations that are farther away.

"For this summer, we bought kayaks, so I was actually going to buy it at the Dick's (Sporting Goods) here because it's the closest to where I live but instead of buying it here, I had to go to Scranton and buy it at Dickson City in the Dick's (Sporting Goods) over there," said Navarro.