This year was a rough start for many businesses in the Donelson, Hermitage and Old Hickory areas.
Even before COVID-19 forced many to shut their doors to customers, some were still picking up the pieces from a March 3 tornado that ripped through the area.
The Enbright Credit Union branch in Donelson sits in the parking lot of Kohl’s department store on Lebanon Pike, and was heavily damaged from the tornado.
“We took the right side of the tornado as it was going across Lebanon Pike headed over toward Central Park across the greenway,” said Enbright president Ron Smith. “We fortunately did not take a direct hit from it, but we took enough of a hit that it's between $400,000 and $500,000 for the damage.”
Even without a direct hit, the force of the storm was so strong it wiped out the front entrance of the building and blew out many of the windows, leaving an eerie sight. “It was really weird, because when it pushed the windows out, it took the drawstrings to the blinds and sucked them into the window frames and drywall, and then pressure released and the windows came back in, so the drawstrings to all the blinds were embedded in the wall,” Smith said.
The tornado damage was a setback, but Enbright was determined not to let it shut it down. They immediately relocated crucial items to their other branches, and within days had their backup plan up and running.
“We had an 8-by-40-foot shipping container dropped off in the parking lot,” said Smith. Containers like those are often converted into temporary office locations. Enbright planned to use it to serve their customers until the repairs to the building were finished. But, they didn’t even get that far before they were knocked down once again.
“As we were finishing the set up of the container so we could open it the next day, all of this COVID-19 stuff came down,” said Smith.
Once again, the branch stopped what it was doing and went a different route.
“I've got several friends who are Marines, so we've adapted their motto, which is ‘adapt and overcome,’ and that's what we're doing. We just adapt to whatever the situation is and figure out a way to do it.”
The branch decided to use the drive thru for all modes of business so there would be no direct contact between customers and the employees. They quickly got it up and running and went back to business as usual. Deposits, withdrawals and even loans are able to be done with the drive thru.
“We’re even setting up new accounts. People can send in their information through the drive thru tubes, and we'll send them the application back. They'll turn around, sit in the parking lot, fill everything out and back to the drive thru, and we'll open the account for them.”
Everything was going smoothly with the new plan, but then out of the blue, two more setbacks came out of left field.
“About two weeks ago, we had vandals come through and cut the locks off the container. We’ve got them on video loading their cars.”
The thieves stole printers and office equipment out of the container. Nothing of major value was inside. They are working with police to identify who did it.
The fourth, and what Smith hopes is the last, hurdle came when the branch once again lost power for a couple of days during the storms that came through May 2. Once again, they adapted by hooking up generators to the drive thru and working through it. Somehow Smith and his team found a way to smile through it.
“We haven't had the best of luck, but we're laughing about it, and we're making the best of it. Our bottom line is that we’re there for our members, and we’re there for our community. So whatever we need to do, we're doing.”
Smith estimated it will take about six weeks for the repairs to be finished on the building, and as long as the CDC guidelines will allow it, Enbright will open back up completely at that time.