Country Bank First Vice President Jeff Brayton unloading food for tornado victims.After last week’s violent storms, Paul Scully, CEO of Ware-based Country Bank, found it fairly easy to get past police roadblocks in tornado-damaged towns in Western Massachusetts.

He simply mentioned he was a bank representative, and he had food – lots of it. And it was headed to overworked policemen and firefighters.

That did the trick, apparently, as Scully and Country Bank First Vice President Jeff Brayton piled into a van and went on a two-man goodwill mission to distribute sandwiches, cookies, water and Gatorade to hectic command centers in affected towns.

"We knew the first-responder folks were just going to be working around the clock," Scully said. So he and Brayer called up local Wal-Mart and Big Y supermarkets, which eagerly helped supply dozens of meals for first responders and others in need of a bite to eat.

The two stopped in a number of towns, including Monson, Brimfield and Sturbridge. By the time they reached Wilbraham in the evening, the local police station was still bustling, and grateful for the platters of grinders that made their way through the door.

Distributing food brought plenty of good cheer among police in Wilbraham, and Scully praised the intense focus and organization of police and fire departments in affected towns.

Put In Perspective

The bankers had no illusions that their spirit-lifting task was brought on by very somber circumstances, and their travels took them into heavily smashed-up areas.

Country Bank CEO Paul Scully unloading food for tornado victims.As witnesses to the storm’s power, both Scully and Brayton spoke in awed tones: They’d seen the complete destruction of homes, the mowed-down trees, the clearly defined paths of wreckage that showed where as many as three separate tornadoes sliced like razors through Western Massachusetts.

As with all tornadoes, the sheer randomness of the damage was especially hard-hitting, as intact homes sat next to buildings that had been annihilated. When the two stopped for an interview at Country Bank’s Palmer branch, the surroundings were peaceful and business was being conducted as usual. As Country Bank spokeswoman Patti Mitchell put it, "Everything is pretty calm." She said that, save power outages in one branch, Country Bank’s locations were largely undisturbed.

As for Brayer and Scully’s efforts, the food was primarily for first responders, but Scully said plenty of other people – volunteers and victims both – could use a decent meal after a night like Wednesday, and they were welcome to it.

"We quite frankly didn’t care who ate it, so long as it was going to help out," he said.

Hungry First Responders Fueled By Country Bank

by Banker & Tradesman time to read: 2 min