A tornado’s connections

Though I’ve been in the news business for over 35 years, the connections and coincidences in the news — especially in times of turmoil — never fail to amaze me.

This woman has become the “poster child” for those connections


She’s Marta Righthouse of Marysville, Indiana, whose house was demolished by last Friday’s tornado.

As I mentioned on yesterday’s 5×8, I posted another picture of her on NewsCut on Saturday morning. And on Saturday evening I received this e-mail from Nita Putterbaugh of Burlington, Kentucky:

We were showered yesterday with lots of debris from the storm. I found items with “Mae Righthouse, R1, Marysville, IN”, Mike Montgomery on Henryville Otisco Rd, and a phone bill for Charles Troncin in Henryville…and lots of other items that apparently came from the schools.

Then yesterday, Jim Vice, a mailman in northern Kentucky, posted, “I found an 1978 electric bill from a George T Righthouse.” Related? Maybe.

But it was this comment attached to a NewsCut post which has gotten additional attention:

Yesterday, Sunday, I found a picture of Bob Righthouse, taken at Christmas 1995 at the age of 80. It was found at Sharon Woods, a Hamilton County park in Sharonville, Ohio, just north of Cincinnati, I have reason to believe he was living in Marysville or New Washington, Indiana. I would like to return the picture to him or his family. If anyone knows a contact, please get in touch.

It came from Balther Van Dierendonck in suburban Cincinnati.

Bob Righthouse was Marta Righthouse’s husband and we know that because we heard today from Erica Thompson, who is friends with Debbie Gilbert, the woman hugging Marta in the above photo. Today, she’s been helping her friend dig out from the tornado and — somehow — found the original NewsCut post.

“We are a very small town so everyone pretty much knows everyone,” she wrote this afternoon and reported that Marta is doing OK. “They are all so excited I found this post. It is truly amazing that things have traveled that far away. We are just very busy with the clean up process now.”

We’re pretty sure that nobody in Marysville, Indiana is a regular (or even occasional) NewsCut reader, but we presume that people have Googled names in the aftermath of the tornado and found the original NewsCut post.

If anything, it speaks to the need for an efficient site to be used in the aftermath of disasters, that would help match people who found someone’s valuable photos and treasures, with the people who once held them dear.

Once a few weeks pass and the telephone system is restored, we’ll get the picture of Marta’s husband back in her hands.



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The aging of the BWCA visitor.

Five by Eight: Why are African American students disciplined more often?

  • Jeanne

    I’m happy to read that News Cut, in some small way, will be able to get the picture back to Marta. I remember seeing the website that was set up after Hurricane Katrina which was used to help people find people. There’s no reason why a website couldn’t be set up to help people find personal belongings, especially using sites like Flickr for photos of items. It’s a lot of work administratively, but it could be done.

  • JackU

    Not to be a wet blanket, but any site like that needs to be monitored for scammers and other ne’er-do-wells who will see a site like that as fertile soil for their schemes to separate people from what ever money they have.

  • Aleksandra

    Very nice example of how news can share good news even in the time after tornados and property ruined after it. Great example to return the found personal memories

  • Cara

    You are the connection, Bob. Outstanding!

  • Jonathan thompson

    This is Erica Thompson’s husband I just want to say thank you. I think what everybody did here was pretty cool! Please pray for us we got a looooong way to go, and I hope all stays well for you guys!

  • Marce Righthouse

    Hello. I am Martha and Bobs granddaughter. We would love to have back any items from the Righthouse family that you find. Please contact me to return found items. Thank you.