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Stepping up

Co-op family responds after floodwaters leave path of death, destruction in Middle Tennessee
Story by Claire Hill 10/1/2021

 

The United Farm and Home location in Waverly fortunately didn’t have any damage to the store itself; however, multiple pieces of bigger inventory were damaged in the lot surrounding the store. Photo by Keith Earhart, United Farm and Home Co-op Waverly location manager.
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When an unprecedented flash flood shattered homes, businesses, and farms in Dickson, Hickman, Houston, and Humphreys counties in Middle Tennessee August 21-22, the consequences were unthinkable. Twenty people were killed, a result of up to 17 inches of rain falling in less than a day. Of the 20 deaths, 19 of those were in Waverly in Humphreys County. 


The Co-op community suffered

losses as well when the flood destroyed

the homes of four employees at United Farm and Home Co-op in Waverly, and employee Quinton Brake lost his mother, Regenia. 


United Farm and Home Co-op employee Dewayne Linville lives near the Waverly store and happened to be at the right place at the right time. He and his wife had been out of town, and upon getting the news alerts about the rainfall, they headed home earlier than planned. 


As Dewayne pulled back into Waverly, flood waters had started to rise near the Co-op. He noticed a Tennessee State Trooper vehicle, but there was no officer in sight. Suddenly, Dewayne and his son, Trey, spotted Tennessee State Trooper Steven Brown floating near a log in the debris. Dewayne and Trey — a local contractor — were able to use ropes and form a human chain to save the officer as well as their neighbor, Kayla Brake. 


Dewayne’s own elderly father was rescued by a Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA) boat. 


“The most important thing in life is family,” says Dewayne. “Material things can be replaced, but family cannot. I’m truly blessed that God was watching over me and my family during this wave of destruction. When we say ‘thank you’ for all that has been done for us, it’s more than two simple words; it’s truly coming from our heart.” 


The Linville and Brake families were just some of many area residents overwhelmed by the flood. 


The parents of Tennessee Farmers Cooperative (TFC) Education and Training Specialist Scott Bohanon — Chris and Melissa Bohanon — lost their business, Bohanon’s Nursery and Landscaping. The family enterprise, located in Waverly, had served the community for the past 20 years. 


“We are saddened to have lost our nursery, but we are just devastated for the loss of so many lives and homes in our community,” says Melissa. 


In true Co-op fashion, the cooperative family has stepped up in response to the tragedy. Donations have flowed into the area from multiple sources — Co-op employees, member Co-ops, TFC, and cooperative businesses nationwide. Concern for the community is one of the seven cooperative principles, and Randy Stubblefield, CEO of United Farm and Home Co-op, says that employees and Co-op businesses have demonstrated that commitment through their actions.


“First and foremost, the management team at United Farm and Home Co-op focused on taking care of the employees,” says Randy. “We spent the first week trying to help our team members and support them as best we could.” 


The team has also turned its attention to the farmers in Humphreys and the surrounding counties. United Farm and Home Co-op employee and veterinarian, Dr. Martin Sander, is providing veterinarian services at no cost to Co-op members across the service area to support the farmers who have been impacted. For more information or to schedule a farm call, contact the United Farm and Home Co-op location in Dickson at (615) 446-3805. 


TFC sent volunteers to help with fencing and other tasks to assist farmers. Staff members from Faithway Alliance, Greenpoint Ag, and ProTrition have donated money, time, and in-kind products as well. 


“The team at the Co-op has been more generous than I could have ever expected,” says cattle producer Kent Hayes, a United Farm and Home

Co-op member. “Volunteers spent hours working on my farm in Waverly after the flood took out my pasture fencing.” 


TFC was joined by Land O’ Lakes — the agricultural cooperative based in Arden Hills, Minnesota, of which TFC is a member — and CoBank, the national cooperative bank based in Denver, Colorado, in donating funds to assist with recovery efforts. The Columbia location of United Farm and Home Co-op held a concert by Columbia native Shane Profitt on August 28, and concert goers were asked to bring donations for Waverly.


“We are so thankful for the outpouring of love that has been shown to our communities,” says Keith Earhart, United Farm and Home Co-op Waverly location manager. “Being a part of the Co-op family is a blessing. On behalf of the United Farm and Home Co-op family, I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your thoughts, prayers, donations, and time helping to restore our area.” 


The flood received federal disaster recognition as President Biden approved a Major Disaster Declaration for Humphreys County. The declaration will make the Federal Emergency Management Agency Individual Assistance program available to individuals and households. Individuals in Humphreys County can apply for the program at www.disasterassistance.gov. The application phone number is 1-800-621-3362 and is available from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. 


More information about flood preparedness and response for livestock can be found at animalscience.tennessee.edu/disaster-responses. 


If you would like to contribute to the recovery efforts, checks should be made out to Waverly Baptist Church, and in the description, please specify the check is for families of United Farm and Home Co-op. These checks should be mailed to United Farm and Home Co-op, 2173 Highway 13 South, Waverly, TN 37185-2929.


 
 
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