Jimmie Wooten was hunkered down on the bathroom floor holding his wife, LaDonna, the moment before a tornado blew through his home in Benton, Ky. on Dec. 10.
“When it hit… I could feel the power. You could feel the wind come underneath the bathroom door,” said Wooten, who is a Large Store District Sales Manager serving the Paducah area.
The tornado was one of dozens that left a trail of destruction throughout eight states that weekend – destroying homes where families had once shared a lifetime of memories.
“It was a whirlwind that night,” he said.
According to the 17-year Coke Consolidated veteran, the vicious storm that lifted his home from the ground lasted no more than 10 seconds, but the destruction it left behind took nearly a week to cleanup. A cleanup that he and his family did not have to face alone.
The morning after the storm, Wooten got a call from Tony Nunley who leads the Coke Consolidated Response Team. The team, which is made up of volunteer teammates who work in a variety of roles throughout the company, was formed in 2018 with the desire to serve teammates and their families during natural disasters and other setbacks.
“Any time there’s a disaster, we head to the area to see who we can help,” Nunley said. “Our number one goal is teammates and their families.”
By Tuesday, the team was on the ground – helping remove debris from Wooten’s yard and picking up pieces of his family’s life out of the mud.
“I don’t know what we would have done without that team,” Wooten said. “And not just me, but my entire neighborhood because they helped everyone around me.”
Debris from Wooten’s home landed in his neighbors’ yards and the Response Team went door-to-door lending a helping hand in the aftermath of the storm.
“The heart to serve others is just so tremendous and everybody was in complete awe of that,” Wooten said. “So, if there was a stranger who was cold, they would hand them a sweatshirt. If they were thirsty or hungry, they had snacks and they had drinks.”
The team spent about 12 hours a day for six days helping with recovery and cleanup efforts for Wooten and his neighbors.
“We took it to the point where his contractor can start building,” Nunley said. “Any demo that needed to be done, we stayed until all of that was done, and all the debris was out.”
After nearly a week, Wooten’s family and the Response Team ended their cleanup efforts at worship services on Sunday. Wooten, who also lost his brother the same week as the tornadoes, said the team rallied around him and the Company’s Purpose to serve others was a constant source of encouragement.
Coca-Cola Consolidated also supported the Mayfield, Ky. community by donating pallets of Dasani water to first responders who were supporting residents with their recovery efforts.