Because Cheatham Countians are not strangers to devastating floods, it was almost instinctive to pull together for Houston residents after they were pummeled by Hurricane Harvey. After uniting to help the victims, many Cheatham County residents were faced with their own set of issues after excessive rainfall caused flood damage to local homes, businesses, and farmland. Shifting their focus to what was happening on the home front, many lost track of their relief efforts for the victims in Texas.
Two trailers, though, have since returned home from making a life-changing delivery to a small town in Texas. The tales it could tell would certainly tug at the heartstrings, says Ashland City resident, Clate “Jimbo” Reed, who spearheaded the massive relief project in Ashland City.
The day after Reed had the inclination to help the hurricane victims, he called upon Charlie King, Amanda Williams, family members, and the entire community. In just 24 hours, he had a trailer packed to the brim with supplies ready to go to Texas.
But he didn’t stop there.
The community was able to come together in under 48 hours to fill an entire semi truck, and an additional 32-foot trailer, with food, clothing, cleaning supplies, pet care items, and other basic necessities- just some of the countless things lost to so many after Harvey spiraled through parts of the Lone Star State.
“It was in my heart. It was the right thing to do,” says Reed of his decision to go all the way to Texas. “If we can’t be good to people, why are we here?”
Luckily Reed had plenty of helping hands. Trent and Jean Lee helped with the packing, categorizing, labeling, and loading of the donated items. And when it was time make the journey, three of Reed’s buddies offered to go with him to the chosen destination- one that was well-researched and intentionally picked to be the recipient of the Cheatham County donations.
Tim Hunter, Reed’s cousin, and Trent Lee made the decision and the arrangements for the trucks to land in Patton Village, a town located in the Greater Houston area in Montgomery County. It was an area that Harvey had hit hard, and the residents were left thirsty, hungry, and without everyday items so many of us take for granted. He made a contact there, assessed the need, and then fully committed.
On September 2, Reed, Lee, Michael Rose, and Ty Louallen headed out of Ashland City and began their 800-mile adventure. On the front of the truck, the men proudly sported the Tennessee state flag and two American Flags, all symbolic of their journey and eagerness to help.
After stopping for a night, the team out of Cheatham safely made it to Patton Village where victims were actually waiting on their arrival. When the gentlemen from Cheatham backed their trailer in and saw how much the supplies were truly needed there, the magnitude of the situation and the emotions set in.
“Everyone stopped to help unload,” remembers an emotional Reed. “Others stopped on the side of the road to come over and get food and water.”
But the most impactful part of the journey was when the grateful recipients shared their horrific tales about the devastation Harvey had left behind and of those who did not make it through.
In a raw, emotional, and mutually thankful moment before they parted ways, Patton Village residents and the Cheatham crew exchanged flags- a gesture that created a powerful bond that rose from great tragedy.
The American flags will now be flown over the Little League ball field in Patton Village in honor of the players who worked tirelessly to distribute donations; the Tennessee state flag will proudly hang in Patton Village City Hall as a constant reminder of the selfless individuals from the Volunteer State.
A humble Reed is quick to point out that the credit for the successful mission belongs to every single person who stepped up, volunteered, donated, and drove. “That is where the real credit goes,” he says with an unmatchable sense of community pride.
Reed, like many other residents of Cheatham County, has not forgotten what it feels like to witness so much devastation and natural disaster. He also has not forgotten what it feels like to unite, render aid, and be able to find beauty even in the darkest of circumstances.