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The Power of Resilience: Cookeville District Office Reopens

If 2020 was the year of change, we hope that 2021 will be known as the year of resilience.

The very definition of resilience is “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.”  Few could argue that the journey through 2020 has been challenging, and we've had to be tough to get through it.

The last twelve months brought a heaping helping of trials to the Upper Cumberland – challenges that other parts of the nation didn’t have in addition to the battle against Covid-19.

 Cookeville Office Damage from Tornado in March 2020The E-F3 tornado collapsed the UCEMC Cookeville District office's ceilings in the early morning hours of March 3, 2020.On March 3, 2020, deadly E-F3 tornadoes devastated our area, leaving thousands without homes, without power, and most tragically, leaving us mourning the loss of many of our friends and neighbors. One of our own at UCEMC was among those seriously injured when her home was destroyed.

Jessica Reed, a member service clerk at UCEMC, was at home with her husband Jason when the tornado alarm woke them in the early morning hours. The couple ran toward the safety of their basement, but there was no time. The tornado hit within seconds and pancaked the roof. Jessica’s back was broken when a wall collapsed on her, Jason suffered a head and neck injury.

Not far away, UCEMC Cookeville sustained significant damage. Parts of a tractor-trailer came to rest on the roof near Jessica’s office, collapsing the ceilings and knocking out the building's communications network.

Jessica Reed back at her office at Cookeville UCEMCJessica Reed is “back home” at her desk and ready to meet with UCEMC members. Today, as Jessica and Jason slowly get their bodies and their lives at home back to a new normal, the UCEMC Cookeville District office is set to reopen. Jessica is ready to meet with members in a renovated but familiar area for her workday. “It’s great to be able to get back to a sense of normalcy,” Jessica says.  “To feel like I’m home again with my work family in a place that I know, that helps me move on from what has happened to us.”

District Manager James Dennis believes the community is ready to get back to the UCEMC building's convenience. "In the portable buildings, we could only do so much at a time. On Mondays, both drive-thru lanes were full all day,” James says. “When we get our lobby open, we can help more people, and it will give our members a great relief from the stress.”

The drive-thru has been serving members for two weeks, as crews work inside to reconnect communications and IT equipment. The lobby is renovated and now open with social distancing guidelines and mask recommendations in place for the safety of UCEMC members and our member service associates.

Tractor Trailer Rests On Roof At Cookeville OfficeWhat’s left of a tractor-trailer rests atop the Cookeville District Office roof following the March 3 tornado. Resilience also means “the ability to bounce back, recover quickly, and go back into shape after being stretched.”  We’ve all been stretched by the past year – far beyond what some of us believed was our ability to recover – but we’re a determined lot here in the Upper Cumberland. We’re confident that by working together, we will all bounce back stronger and better than ever.

UCEMC wishes to thank our members for their patience and understanding during this transition. We look forward to seeing you at our Cookeville District office and providing you with reliable, safe, and resilient service in the coming year.  

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