SYCAMORE — Even before the extent of the tornado devastation in Washington, Ill. was fully realized, Sycamore’s Lee Newtson was on his way to help in any way he can.
A veteran of disaster sites, Newtson knows what is needed. He has worked at ground zero in New York City and in the tornado-ravaged communities of Joplin, Mo., Ridgeway and Harrisburg, Ill., and Bethel Acres, Okla.
“They are pretty well organized in Washington. My contacts there told me they are doing another sweep this morning,” Newtson said Monday.
“I’ll probably be working with families to help them get paperwork to the proper agencies and helping them look through debris for their important papers.
“These are very important things at this point. I’ll do just whatever needs to be done,” Newtson said.
He’s not going to Washington empty-handed, either. Newtson said his truck was about three-quarters full with cleaning supplies and food donated by Pat Hill at Hill’s Country Store in Kaneville.
“He knows what he’ll run up against when he gets there,” Hill said. “When he went to Oklahoma, he had to sleep in his car.”
Hill said the store has a collection jar for needy families during the holiday season.
“We just switched the money already collected to a more urgent need,” Hill said. “We will probably continue to collect money in case Lee goes back down there again.”
Newtson said he always seeks out a couple of families that have lost everything. He gets a picture of them at the site where their homes used to be so he can tell their stories and collect funds and supplies to help them. He said donations can be sent directly to him at 2535 Lilac Lane, Sycamore, IL 60178.
“We’re all in this together. We need to do whatever we can to help each other,” Newtson said.