By Laurin Stroud
On Tuesday, March 3, an EF-3 tornado ripped through Mt. Juliet, a town about 20 miles east of Nashville, during the night. After seeing a Facebook post made by Mt. Juliet’s Police Department requesting help, Bradford Police Chief David Andrews sent Lt. Sherman Perry and Sgt. Allen Weeks to help the beleaguered department.
Perry and Weeks got to Mt. Juliet that afternoon, where they met Captain Chandler of the Mt. Juliet Police Department who was surprised to see the help. Chandler put the duo to work right away. They were escorted to the Mobile Command Unit, issued radios, and posted in a hard-hit neighborhood called Triple Crown, a subdivision of approximately 100 to 150 nicer homes, with only one main road leading in and out.
Perry and Weeks patrolled the area for the next 12 hours.
During that time, they assisted residents, helped when needed, and Perry even helped locate a woman who was gone for an extended period of time. She was walking her dog, and her family grew concerned when she didn’t return as expected.
“Some residents would flag us down for assistance,” Perry said. “What might seem small to us, was big to them. Some residents were able to stay in damaged homes with generators for power, while some homes were completely destroyed. Other homes might not have even seemed touched.”
After their first 12-hour shift, Perry and Weeks rested at a local hotel. They went back to work Saturday afternoon for a 15-hour shift, helping with traffic on a busy highway called Golden Bear Parkway, which is close to Mt. Juliet’s industrial park. Industries include Under Armour, FedEx, and CEVA Logistics, which was “nearly destroyed,” the officers said. These companies were “running on skeleton crews,” and Weeks and Perry were there to allow employees and electrical workers access in and out.
Weeks said the damage in Mt. Juliet was “about 10 times” the damage that Gibson County sustained during the tornadoes back in 2006.
“One elementary school was totally destroyed and a large part of their middle school was damaged,” he said. “There was also a total of three deaths. Some of my family lost their home here in Bradford during the tornadoes in 2006, so I was able to related to the residents in Mt. Juliet.”
The experience was humbling for Perry.
“This was very humbling for me, and brings back things and makes you appreciate what you’ve got,” he said.
Andrews said offering aid to a department in need was an easy call for him to make.
“We’re only a 7-man department,” Andrews said. “I was honored to make this happen, and I know the mayor [Ray Arnold] was.”
Chandler later reached out to the Bradford officers to personally thank them for coming to Mt. Juliet.
“Brothers in blue, that’s what you do,” Weeks said.