Written by Adam Jimerson, Branch Manager – Nashville
In the very early morning of Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020, Nashville and surrounding areas were hit with multiple tornadoes ranging in strength from EF 0 to EF 4 (185 MPH wind strength). As people began to wake up and start their normal work day, Nashvillians quickly realized that the usual normal was gone and a new normal was forming. By the day’s end, the loss of life was at 25 and many, many others were living among devastation and ruin. The amount of areas and people affected is baffling.
Andy Mayer, dispatcher in Nashville, was able to utilize his military training ensure all Penhall employees and family members were accounted for. After we knew employee status, we changed our focus to our customers and their job sites trying to get an idea of potential damage. There were many road closures due to debris and emergency people working. On Tuesday, even though our building simply lost power, we were not about to function as normal. Two crews were sent out to two job sites outside of the affected area. We were able to spend the time calling on customers outside of Nashville, having conversations with customers who saw damage from the tornadoes, and strategizing best ways to continue to move things forward. Over the next day and a half, we quickly realized along with citizens all over middle Tennessee that there is much to be done and Penhall, as a group of people, can step in and lend a hand.
After getting the go ahead from our President and CEO, Greg Rice, we devised a plan to bring in the grill to Nashville so that we could serve our community. Ben McMahan, Branch Manager in Atlanta, was tremendous help. He and his team went above and beyond. It seemed impossible to get the grill to Nashville from Orlando, so we were going to put together an arsenal of smaller grills, but Ben refused that option and graciously sent Brad Walker to Orlando to get the grill to Georgia. After the grill arrived in Forsyth, GA, Ben then sent “Tree” and Jon Huffine up from Atlanta at 3:00 a.m. determined to help us give back to Nashville.
Here in Nashville, Anita Woodall, Office Administrator, worked countless hours shopping for the event, buying supplies and organizing the details of whatever was needed. Her organizational skills and determination to give back to her life-long community was evident.
The grill arrived at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. Because of the extent of damage in the area and the amount of electrical crews and emergence personnel in the area, we set up in the street. Russ Grub and Berry Thompson, who are scan techs here in Nashville, walked the streets inviting people to come and eat. After firing up the grill, many first responders, crews, and people now without a home came to eat. We were able to serve: 20 lbs of BBQ pork, 225 hamburgers, and 350 hot dogs to more than 300 people. Mike Bogle and David Duer, account managers, were able to work the grill and keep everyone feed. People really came together. Feeding that many people was incredible, but we also got to interact with people living in and working in that area. For example, Joe Kemp, Operator for Nashville, served the community by moving boxes, washing machines and dryers, etc. He even had lent his shoulder for a few to cry on. There were many tears fought and many shed by those of us serving and those we were able to serve.
What an amazing day for the folks at Penhall Nashville!! We came together as a team and were able to make a change, even if it was only for a few hours.
Huge thanks goes to the following list of people (in no particular order):