Holly Hero Recognized With ‘Pay It 4ward’ Gift
Published: May 2, 2007 | 6131st good news item since 2003
Another death brings a renewed sense of loss to the little town of Holly. One month after a tornado ripped through the residential section of town, 76-year-old Delores Burns died from her injuries. She had two broken shoulders and broken ribs. A Holly town official says she never recovered.
That deadly tornado wiped out 57 houses in its path.
“There are countless houses to rebuild,” J.W. Neal told CBS4. “That’s what’s overwhelming; we lost a third of the town.”
He is among the Holly residents who lost his home. The lot where his home once stood is now a giant mud puddle. There’s a couch and a child’s shoe, but little else indicates that the Neal family called this spot home for decades.
“It bothers me when I stop and think about it. If you keep moving and keep doing something it doesn’t bother as bad,” Neal said.
Moving is exactly what J.W. Neal did in the wake of the tornado. Instead of dwelling on his own loss, he spent the first 48 hours after the storm helping his neighbors. He drove around town clearing a path for an ambulance, driving people to emergency stations, and checking on townspeople.
“I think he did everything from search and rescue to checking water lines,” Prowers County Administrator Linda Fairbairn told CBS4.
Finally his boss had to step in. “She had to make him go home after two days. I don’t know if he slept at all during those two days,” Fairbairn adds.
Now the people in Holly think that J.W. needs some help to put a house back on the spot where his was blown down.
“We’re trying to get a downpayment so we can get something in here so that we can stay,” Neal told CBS4.
That’s where the residents of Holly come in. They’re paying it forward to a man who continually gives back to his community.
J.W. Neal is a man of few words. He’s grateful for the gift, but wants to get back to work. The storm destroyed his home, but not his spirit of helping.