Wider walk ways and bright lights are the new concept for the newly remodeled J.C. Penney at La Plaza Mall on Wednesday. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

McALLEN — J.C. Penney has rebuilt its store from the ground up after suffering severe damages from Hurricane Hanna and is ready to reopen its facility here at La Plaza Mall.

The store suffered severe roofing and water damage, which caused the ceiling to collapse during the Category 1 hurricane in July 2020.

However, despite the damages, the company relocated many of its employees to sister stores in Edinburg, Weslaco and Brownsville.

“J.C. Penny is known for having a very family oriented environment,” J.C. Penney District Manager Gaby Esparza said.

Priscilla Hernandez, a merchandising supervisor at the mall, was one of the associates relocated after the store’s demolition.

“Coming into my shift and then not being able to walk into my store was devastating,” Hernandez said about her experience the day after the hurricane.

Still, she felt grateful the company relocated her to its J.C. Penney location in Edinburg because not all associates were relocated. Some were furloughed.

Mannequins are seen at the newly remodeled J.C. Penney on Wednesday. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

And after a long year, she said Wednesday she was excited to be back at her home store at La Plaza Mall.

J.C. Penney General Manager Enriqueta Calvillo, who has been with the company for 29 years, was there the day after the roof’s collapse.

“It was very sad to see that happen to this beautiful store,” Calvillo said. “But look at it now, we have a newly renovated store.”

J.C. Penney employees put out new merchandise on Wednesday at La Plaza Mall in McAllen. (Delcia Lopez | [email protected])

Calvillo said she and her staff are excited to share their new facility with the public during its grand reopening Sept. 3. The new store will be equipped with wider aisles, and new graphics, mannequins, fitting rooms, carpets, paint and light fixtures.

“We’re looking forward to opening our doors and taking care of our shoppers,” Calvillo said.

With only 60-70% of associates returning, J.C. Penney is looking to hire 40 associates for customer service and stylists for the salon.

Those interested in applying can do so online at J.C.penney.com or visit the store in person during the tax-free weekend, Aug. 6-8, when interviews will be conducted.

“There is a lot of love for the community,” Esparza said. “Everybody is so excited to finally be able to reopen the store, to be able to serve our customers and give them the amazing customer service that they deserve.”

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