In their first meeting since the March 3 tornado, Mt. Juliet city commissioners each expressed their gratitude for the response from the community.
“It has been a heartbreaking and exhausting week, both emotionally and physically,” said Mayor Ed Hagerty.
Hagerty said there are so many people who should be thanked for their work over the last week, but that the word “thanks” is insufficient.
“The entire country saw firsthand what it means to be a Tennessee volunteer,” said Hagerty. “They jumped in, went to work, sought no recognition.”
The commission also praised the faith community. Many local churches immediately stepped up, gathering donations and volunteers and feeding responders throughout the week. A prayer gathering was quickly organized and held Thursday at Providence United Methodist Church.
“I’m absolutely humbled by the response of our city employees and faith community, the churches and volunteers,” said Hagerty.
The commissioners also were grateful for the response Mt. Juliet received from other cities and communities in Tennessee. Trucks from all over the state brought much need help, donations and volunteers to assist in recovery and relief.
“Despite some difficult days ahead, we will come out of this better and stronger than before,” said Hagerty. “This event will not define us.”
Commissioner Ray Justice, who helped organize volunteer response, praised the first and second responders as well as all those who have come to the city’s aid.
Vice Mayor James Maness said that everyone on the commission is grieving with all of those who were impacted and is sending hope and prayers of healing.
“A a city we’ve been bent, but we’re not broken,” said Maness. “We’ve seen the worst of Mother Nature, but we’ve seen the best from our people.”
Maness also urged patience and compassion as the city continues to recover.
Commissioner Jennifer Milele said she couldn’t believe all of the damage, but is thankful for the donations and volunteers who have stepped forward to offer their help. She said her thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been impacted and who have lost everything.
“It’s an emotional state that most people have never experienced,” said Commissioner Art Giles, whose district was the main area affected by the tornado.
Amidst the destruction left behind, Giles has been moved by the response from the community. The compassion and love that has been on display throughout the week is touching.
“Continue to pray for us as a city as we unite together,” said Giles. “We’re going to get out of this. We are Mt. Juliet Strong.”