NewsCut Flashback: A tornado’s connections

(Originally published March 6, 2012)

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.