Arriving at Newtonia around 7 p.m., tears literally filled my eyes. Power lines, old and new trees down, entrances blocked and debris everywhere. The only way that I could get inside Newtonia was to climb a fence on my parents’ place. I ran to the storm shelter that Mom and Nanny had called home for nearly an hour. They were safe – along with the dogs.
Making sure that they were OK, it was time for me to go to work. I walked the streets of my hometown, seeing families outside sifting through rubble, accounting for family members and checking on their neighbors. And they also checked the skies to make sure that another storm was not coming through.
While talking to the residents, one question always came up: Did anyone die in this tornado? The answer that I gave them was that I did not know and that was the truth. I did not know about the deaths until an hour later.
For the next few weeks, Newton County residents will be sifting through the rubble and rebuilding their homes. You can imagine that neighbors will be helping their neighbors, church groups will be coming in and, hopefully, federal aid will also come into the pool.
But as I close this column, my prayers go out to those who lost loved ones.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Higdon column relates Newtonia devastation
In a column posted today on the Neosho Daily News website, Newtonia native Todd Higdon relates his feelings after first seeing the damage that had been done to his home town during Saturday's tornado: