Walmart locations in Chatham, Austin reopen after being damaged in Chicago civil unrest earlier this year

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Two Walmart Stores reopened Friday morning after being closed for months due to damage during civil unrest earlier this year.

Looting at the end of May forced a Chatham Walmart to close. It's finally officially reopening, which is a big deal to residents in the South Side Chicago neighborhood.

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Two Walmart supercenters were damaged during the looting and civil unrest after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis -- the Chatham location, near 83rd Street and Stewart Avenue, and the store in Austin, in the 4600-block of West North Avenue.

Because of their closure, there have been fewer options for residents to get their groceries and other essentials.

"A lot of people don't even understand, when you take communities and big stores like this out of our communities where do we have to go to do anything for our families?" customer Luke Carpenter said. "We need medical, food, clothing, things of that nature, you take it away what do we got?"

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When the stores opened at 8 a.m. Friday, residents lined up for over an hour to get in.

"I need some disinfectant wipes and some spray, and it's hard to find in Chicago" London Robinson said.

As the stores reopen, they're offering in-store health clinics at both sites. Those locations will be the first of their kind in an urban area in the country.

Walmart officials said they are trying to add more health services in underserved neighborhoods.

"It is incredibly vital," family physician Dr. Chinni Pulluru said. "Communities like Chatham are healthcare deserts; there is not access to health care in this community, and to be able to bring to life affordable and high quality health care that people can access whether they are not insured, insured or under-insured, transparent pricing, they know they are getting the best of care."

The clinic provides a doctor, three nurse practitioners, a dentist, hearing and vision services, behavioral health and more.

"Now I can get my health care and prescriptions here, now one-stop drop," customer Marian Smith said. "I'm excited."

The store also only has self-checkout options, and every employee is from the area and part of the community.
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