Marcelino Benito, KHOU 11 News 12:21 a.m. CDT April 14, 2015
KHOU 11 News has confirmed, along with the Walmart in Livingston, Texas, four other Walmarts across the country also closed on Monday for plumbing repairs.
The stores are located in Brandon, FL, Midland, TX, Tulsa, OK, and at an undisclosed location in California.
The Livingston store’s closing is the talk of the town off Highway 59 in Livingston, Texas. Hundreds of locals packed into Walmart just hours before it closed.
“It was chaotic, the line was from the front all the way to the produce,” said customer Pam Underferth. “It was crazy.”
The company calls it a temporary closure to perform extensive repairs to the store. For now there’s no date to reopen. The store is expected to be closed for at least six months.
“They’re the ones who dropped the bomb on us,” said one former employee.
More than 400 store associates found out around 1 p.m. on Monday their jobs at this location were being eliminated.
“She was crying and upset,” said Betty Suarez.
Suarez’s daughter-in-law called her to let her know what was happening.
“She has three kids, what is she going to do,” said Suarez.
Walmart tells us there are no layoffs. The employees apparently are “eligible to transfer to other stores if a suitable opening exists.” The only problem is the closest store is 30 miles away.
“We’re going to have to drive to Lufkin, or Cleveland or Huntsville,” said Underferth.
Before we were asked to leave Walmart’s property employees told KHOU they are getting two months pay. Some employees may also be eligible for severance. They say they were all told a new position isn’t guaranteed.
“Everybody was really emotional, because some people have been working there for 25 years,” said another former employee.
It’s rattled customers and employees in this small town alike. People that rely on this store everyday.
“We’re thinking what’s it going to do to our economy,” said Suarez. “We don’t have K-Mart, we don’t have Target. Walmart is it.”
Below is a complete statement from a Walmart spokeswoman:
“As part of an effort to ensure all of our stores are fully serving the needs of our customers we regularly assess the conditions of our stores. Due to ongoing plumbing issues that will require extensive repairs we are temporarily closing the Livingston store. We will immediately begin the process to address these issues and intend to reopen the store as soon as all of the plumbing issues are resolved. Deciding to close a store is not a decision we make lightly, but after careful consideration, we felt it was necessary to make these repairs so we can better serve our customers and the community in the long run.”
If you were impacted by this temporary closure, Walmart will host informational sessions for associates with questions on April 16 and 17th at Camp Cho-Yeh in Livingston. Contact Walmart for more information.