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In time of need, community stepped up

A lot of help was needed as soon as the tornado made its destructive path through Mt. Juliet.
The first responders did their best that evening and in the days after, helping those that needed it, and keeping people safe from possibly dangerous situations caused by the destruction. There were 25 people transported to the hospital that evening, and 90 were treated on scene. Curfews were put in place. Areas and roads were closed off to help keep from more tragedy happening. The National Guard even came in to assist on things that couldn’t be handled by a volunteer force.
With over 1,300 structures damaged throughout Wilson County, there was plenty of work to do. Luckily, Mt. Juliet and many other communities throughout the area were ready to help. The city set up a volunteer portal with the help of Pastor Daryl Crouch of Green Hill Church, and then had to halt it because so many people wanted to help. Over 4,000 people put their name in to help their community.
“We saw the worst of mother nature that night, but we saw the best of our community,” said Mayor James Maness in his recent State of the City address. Maness said as a commissioner (he was Vice Mayor at the time), one of the biggest things to figure out is to find something for all the volunteers to do, and where to keep all the donations that came pouring in.
Vice Mayor Ray Justice was heading up the volunteer operation at the time, but he needed help. Regina Girten, Pastor of Outreach at Providence United Methodist, was asked to come assist, and it set the stage for an organization that is still trying to help people today.
Amber Nutton of Connect Church assisted the Mt. Juliet Police Department in setting up a second portal.
“We had so many phone calls, local and national,” said Girten.
Girten coordinated with other churches in the area so they could make sure that all the volunteer work was efficiently done.
“It was so we could all be working together, helping the responders and not hindering their work,” said Girten.
As the days went on, another disaster came into the community – the COVID-19 virus. That slowed down the efforts, and forced them to change their plan.
From there Recover Wilson County started. Girten and her partners worked with UMCOR and the Salvation Army to learn the best practices of such an operation. That laid the groundwork for the organization.
“We built a car as we were driving it,” said Girten of putting Recover Wilson County together. Her co-chair on the project is Michael Moscardelli. They work in coordinaton with Amy Fair and Tornado Recovery Connection. If you need assistance you can visit www.tornadorecoveryconnection.com or call (615)270-9225.
Girten said they still have calls today, even debris removal, a year after the event. Girten said FEMA told them originally that the recovery time for the area would be 15-18 months.
There were many other organizations, group and individuals and that helped in the community’s recovery. Too many to list. Many came from other areas, but a lot was due to the hardwork of people here in Wilson County.

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