When devastating tornadoes swept across parts of Arkansas, Indiana and Tennessee on March 31, team members from Farm Credit Mid-America stepped up in the aftermath to help affected families and communities.
Focused first on the safety and wellbeing of our customers, team members traveled to homes and farms to help those impacted wade through the aftermath. They offered support in whatever way they could, from physical assistance to helping families navigate crop insurance, loan options and federal aid programs to get them back on their feet.
“After a natural disaster, it can take months or even years to rebuild communities and restore farms, homes and lives,” said Randy Barbee, community investment manager. “In addition to boots-on-the-ground volunteerism, we contribute funding to the hardest hit regions and support our nonprofit partners in ways that best align to the needs of their particular community.”
Bringing Relief to the “City With A Smile”
In the early hours of the storms, an EF-3 tornado directly hit Wynne, Arkansas – a community known to locals as “The City With A Smile.” According to news reports, the tornado was on the ground for more than 70 miles.
Afterward, Farm Credit Mid-America team members joined volunteers at a local church and served hundreds of hamburgers to community members as recovery efforts got underway. Later, team members donated funds to Wynne Recovery and Relief Center, a nonprofit created to help rebuild the community piece by piece.
“We are so grateful for all money given to help our town recover from this disaster,” said Leanne Lovell with Wynne Recovery and Relief Center. “Because of Farm Credit Mid-America’s generous donation, we know families will get the help they need.”
(Photo: Wynne Relief & Recovery Center)
“At the end of the day, we do more than just support farmers,” said Stanley Mitchell, vice president agricultural lending in Arkansas. “We want to serve entire communities – and serving the ‘City With A Smile’ has been especially rewarding.”
Watching Out for Our Customers – During And After The Storms
When Chad Lanum, senior financial officer in Lafayette, Indiana, saw a tornado was headed toward the farm of customer and Advocate Council member Andrew “AJ” Cochran, he texted AJ to make sure he had taken cover. AJ responded that he wasn’t aware of how close the storm was and went down to his basement. Just a few seconds later, the home and the rest of his property were severely damaged.
(Photo: Natasha Cox)
Chad and other team members from the Lafayette office were at AJ’s property the next morning to help him clean up, move livestock and provide food for his family.
“As I walked around the property, I went into what had been AJ’s farm office the day before,” said regional vice president Natasha Cox. “Very few things were still standing. But I looked down and saw AJ’s Advocate Council name tag laying on the floor.”
(Photo: Natasha Cox)
Investments from Farm Credit Mid-America have since been given to local initiatives to help those who lost their homes in the Indiana tornadoes.
“We are so thankful for the support,” said Kim Kasting, vice president of development for the Johnson County Community Foundation. “The funding from Farm Credit Mid-America is essential in helping us meet the needs of our residents.”
More than a lender
During the storms, an EF-2 tornado damaged homes and property in the small community of Beech Creek in Wayne County, Tennessee. Investments from Farm Credit Mid-America are being used to repair the Beech Creek Volunteer Fire Department and support overall recovery efforts in the area through the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
“It was very humbling to see how everyone rallied around this cause,” said Jeffrey McWilliams, financial officer in Mount Pleasant. “We’re proud to be part of communities that take care of each other.”
“We are so appreciative of and overwhelmed by this support,” said John McDonald, a volunteer firefighter in Waynesboro. “This donation will go a long way in helping us rebuild our community.”
Our commitment to community support is not an isolated event—it is a cornerstone of our cooperative. Over the last several years, we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to support communities following devastating natural disasters including severe storms, floods and beyond. It is in times of crisis that our true character is revealed. When disaster strikes, our team members demonstrate our dedication to serve our communities as more than a lender.