Rebuilding, Remembering & Rallying Around Each Other

In the early hours of March 3, 2020, a tornado swept through the middle of Tennessee, leaving a path of destruction in its wake. Store 5175 in Algood suffered a significant and painful loss. Store Manager Sue Koehler and her husband, Todd, lost their lives in the storm. Dee Higgenbotham, a department manager at the Algood store, described Sue as well-loved.
When disaster struck, Dee, who’s been with Walmart for 27 years and at the Algood store for 10 years, immediately assumed her typical role: store mom. She was everyone’s first and last phone call, serving as a liaison between associates and the management team to account for them during the confusion immediately following the storm. Sue was the only one they weren’t able to reach. As a search party jumped into action, associates worked as a team to repair the store, all while sharing stories of their manager and friend. “Sue trained us well,” said Dee of the way the store responded to the crisis.
When they learned of Sue’s passing, the already tight-knit group of associates banded together to support each other. If someone didn’t want to be alone, other associates were quick to invite them over. If someone just wanted to talk, another would simply listen. “When one’s down, we’re there to pick them up,” said Dee.
“People may think they’re alone, but when something like this happens, they realize they’re not alone, everybody’s here for them.”
— Dee Higgenbotham
Not only were the associates there for one another, but the store was touched by the support from the community, as well. “The outpouring of support from the surrounding counties and community has been phenomenal,” said Dee. And it goes both ways – Dee said store associates have been there for the customers who just want to come in and talk.
Sue was a beloved part of the Walmart family for 24 years, and while her loss has left a palpable void in the team, the store is ensuring she will not be forgotten. Nearly every associate at the Algood store has Sue’s photo on their badge – figuratively, and literally, close to their hearts.
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