Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Help The Newtons!

Josh Newton, photogLosing his house and everything in it wasn't on Josh Newton's bucket list, but it happened anyway. The former El Ocho photog and his family fled to their storm shelter Wednesday night, shortly before a tornado erased every vestige of possession from their Alabama address. Now they're among the reeling and the displaced, another Southern family suddenly without a home. It's been several years since I've spoken to Josh. During his tenure at my station we became fast friends. A thinker and a tinkerer, Josh is a relentless reader and wry observer of life. His early encouragement convinced me to keep trying to write and it's my hope that I can return the favor. Right now, he needs it.

As with much spot news these days, it broke over Facebook. A mysterious message, posted by Josh in the middle of the night:
"My family and I are safe with each other and nothing else. Please keep us in your prayers."
Eighteen short words that left a wide swath of speculation among the Newton's many friends. With fresh footage of spinning twisters on every TV set, it didn't take an investigative reporter to figure out what robbed the Newtons of their home. Still, it was hard for many of us at the station to believe our old coworker was among the stunning numbers of victim currently digging out of the Deep South. Then, a picture of Josh's property surfaced on-line, followed by a message from the man himself.

Newton's Neighborhood

"Right now i don't know where we will sleep night tonight. I own a car and a backpack full of "stuff" and that is all now. My address is a storm shelter and a concrete slab. We thank everyone for the prayers. when we know where we will stay, I will send out more info. Our community has taken is in and is helping in sooo many ways. Red cross has set up a shelter and aid station in another town, and have not seen them... The locals are mot prepared for the devastation. If you want to use this in your blog or anywhere else, please do, but be sure and mention our town of Ohatchee, Alabama. it seems that they have forgotten about us."
Knowing Newton's penchant for self-sufficiency made his words all the harder to read. Though he no longer chases news for a living, Josh is practiced in the art of the grab. He's covered many a debris field before, with compassion and flair. How it must now feel to be on the other side of the glass is a revelation I can live without. But I look forward to the day when Josh can tell me all, preferably over a shot I've bought him. Not that he needs my permission to persevere..
"Life moves on. It is a day of rest, canceling checks, credit cards, paying what bills need to be paid. We took Maggie out to the site, and she handled it like a champ! We joked and laughed. It helped us all move a little closer to center. We have the best friends and family that anyone can ask for. There are businesses that have gone above and beyond for us. They have my lifelong business...and they understand it's not about business, it's about community, and family."
The NewtonsJosh, Brandy and Maggie are going to see better days. But they can't do it alone. If you're in a position to help, won't you join me in lending assistance to this undefeated family? A letter, a check, a gift card ... e-mail me and and I'll forward you the mailing address. If you're at all fond of the stories I tell here, know that Josh has long helped inspire them. Or, if like me, you just feel a little uneasy sitting there in your den as others clutch at rubble on the evening news, well, here's your chance to do something about it.

1 comment:

Joshua said...

It has been a while since I've had the time to sit and think while at the keyboard. I want to THANK YOU ALL. Those who sent money, gift cards, and prayers. We are slowly getting on. We still don't know where the permenate home will be,. what china pattern we want. It's one day, one week at a time still. Knowing that you all are out there and are willing to help...well it's beyond words the love I feel for each and everyone of you.

Josh Newton