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R3c in the Field: Tennessee Tornadoes with Dr. Kathy Steele


My small community of Cookeville, TN was impacted by the tornadoes on the early morning of Tuesday, 3/3/20. From the latest reports, there have been 10 identified tornados that stretched from Middle Tennessee (Nashville and proximity) to the Upper Cumberland region (Cookeville and proximity). Within Cookeville, over 100 residences were demolished, and 31 businesses. Cell towers were down, as well as telephone and electricity, which left 5500 customers without power in and around Cookeville alone. Within our small town of Cookeville, out of the 25 fatalities in TN, 18 of those we lost from our community, and five of the 18 were children. There were 88 injured; some remain in the hospital suffering grave injuries.

With that, there were so many volunteers in the community, people were being asked to delay their help. Community centers and churches could no longer take donations because they were at or above capacity. Schools closed for the week in order to offer a place for people to take their children and to gather supplies. As people attempt to figure out where to turn next, hotels have worked with the community to provide discounted rates, and are allowing hot meals to be delivered to their locations. Funding has been set up to assist with hotels and car rentals for those directly impacted. All of those directly affected are either staying with family or friends, or placed in a hotel. At this point, monetary donations are the necessity as our families try to rebuild their lives, their homes, and create some semblance of structure for them and the children.

I was not one who was directly impacted, but I wanted to immediately step in and begin offering any resources and assistance that I possibly could. On Tuesday morning, I initially planned to offer my assistance in going to the location of the damage. I was called elsewhere, as I began organizing resources and put out notifications of services being offered to families who were directly affected. I also delivered donations to local sites that were serving families and children.

On Wednesday, I assisted again with organizing donations and assisted with clean up. That afternoon, I conducted a crisis response at a designation location.

On Thursday, we delivered 80 meals to first responders and volunteers assisting in clean up at the site of destruction.

On Saturday, I partnered with a local agency who provides executive office suites to the community, as well as the local lawyer’s association, to provide debriefing and support services to any families that were directly impacted and first responders. I am offering these services intermittently throughout this week, and during the coming weeks.

This was a tragic and unexpected event, and it will take time to heal from the effects as a community. I would like to thank my R3c family for their support in allowing me to take time to do what I could. When I awoke the next morning, I already had several emails and text messages from coworkers asking if I was okay.

You can find information about our Disruptive Event Management services by clicking here.

If you need support, please contact the R3c Disruptive Event Hotline at 1-888-736-0911 x1.

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