Sidelining Tragedy, Not Service to Others

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RHA Health Services provides a full range of residential options for people with disabilities in the Chattanooga area. They have several homes in the East Brainerd area that provide semi-independent living services for mentally challenged adults. The residents learn how to prepare meals, manage money, go shopping, and take care of themselves. In a safe, healthy environment that closely mirrors a mainstream experience, they develop basic skills and build interpersonal, social relationships with their neighbors.

On the night of April 12, their way of life was threatened when category three tornados with 145 mph winds devastated the area. The storms caused millions of dollars in damages. Several RHA houses were hit and were among the thousands of homes without power. Thankfully, no one was physically harmed, but the situation certainly added to the anxieties that RHA residents were experiencing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hearing that best estimates to restore power would be a week to a week and a half, Jamie Hughes, knew she had to act. As Coast 2 Coast IT Manager, Jamie is well known to be our go-to problem solver. She began by searching for a generator and quickly discovered that they were all sold-out in Chattanooga. She found the closest generators available for sale were in Nashville. She was ready to make the two and a half-hour drive but, then she remembered seeing one in the Coast 2 Coast storage room.


A few quick calls later and she confirmed that the generator was still there. Jamie was a little worried because it had been five years since it was used, but she knew if anyone could make it work, she could. She loaded it up and carried it over to the site. Fortunately, she didn’t have to put her mechanical talents to the test. It was a simple matter of filling the tank with gasoline and making sure it had plenty of oil. It cranked-up on the first try.

Jamie commented, “These precious adults already had to learn new coping skills because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a difficult thing even for those of us who do not share their challenges. Then to get hit with these tornados and walk outside to see their community in a shamble. It is a little much. The least I could do was provide them with a generator that we had sitting in a storage room and fuel. It has been good for me to be able to go back and make sure things were working well and help clean up the debris. I have enjoyed being able to interact with the residents and help them begin to put things back in order. Life’s too short to sit on the sidelines.”

At Coast 2 Coast, we love Jamie’s heart and quick thinking. Her “jump-in and help” attitude is contagious.

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