Newtonia family of seven still rebuilding after tornado

Todd G. Higdon

Nearly two months after the May 10 tornado hit Southwest Missouri, one family is still trying to recuperate.

Justin and Diana Mosley and their five children, Derrick, 13, Ashley, 13, Tina, 12, Dakota, 10 and Mariah, 9, are still picking up the pieces after their Newtonia home was damaged.

“We had a tree on the roof, which caused several holes, and a lot of the shingles were blown off,” Diana Mosley said. “All the windows in the front and on both ends of the house were blown in by debris. The girls’ bedroom on the south end of the house took the most damage with all the windows and the door busted.

"The boys bedroom window was broken and debris was in it. The two windows in the north bedroom/office were blown in, debris all over, floor damaged and the ceiling was cracked. Also, the porch was heavily damaged and Tina’s hot tub she got from Make-A-Wish was destroyed.”

Since the tornado hit, they have been staying in their home, located at the east end of Newtonia. For several days, they had no power or water. With the damage to the house and their neighborhood, the Mosleys are in the cleanup stage.

“Our insurance company has taken a very long time to figure out our claim. We finally did get some money to start on the roof," Diana Mosley said. "The girls’ room is still condemned to be in. It has to be completely torn off and rebuilt. Our windows are all still plywood. We have cleaned up most of the yard, and have hauled off lots of debris.”

Outside of their home after the tornado, they had seven different roofs in their yard, three mailboxes and loads of things that they have no idea where they came from.

To help out, the Newtonia Baptist Church opened its kitchen. The women from the church and the Mennonites from Stark City and Fairview came and made sure there was food available three times a day and plenty of drinking water. Also, the baptist church became the disaster relief center for the town.

“We had animals and we could not leave them behind, so we stayed in the house,” Diana Mosley said.

The family applied for a FEMA grant.

“A few days later, we received a letter stating that we ‘had insufficient damage and full insurance coverage,’” Diana Mosley said. “We were going to just forget about FEMA, but a neighbor across town said that FEMA sent them the exact same thing and they had lost a major portion of their house. I am planning on contacting FEMA again and see what they can do to help us.”

It has not been an easy process for the family these past two months after the storm.

“I would say the stress is the hardest to deal with,” Diana Mosley said. 

“We have a great church family that got us through that first week by feeding us. Red Cross was here and AmeriCorp came and helped tarp the roof and clean the yard. We have seen many amazing people come and help us all out. We are so blessed and thankful for all everyone did for us. Our house is cramped and the three girls are in a very small room, but they are doing OK.”

To keep their sanity, they have turned to their faith.

“God always helps,” Diana Mosley said. “There were times when I thought I would lose my mind, but we tried to find the humor in the situation.”

Justin Mosley said he was getting frustrated at first with the whole situation.

“But I realized that the most important thing is my family and their well being,” he said. “That God is there for us in everything. But I do pay more attention to the weather now.”

Daughter Ashley said she was upset that her stuff was gone.

“But I was happy we were all OK,” she added.

Mariah said she is scared of storms now, adding that most people have left town and might not come back. Newtonia’s population was a little more than 200 prior to the storm hitting.

Derrick said he has helped in the cleanup process.

“We have cleaned and cleaned and then when we look, we find more,” Derrick said. “I don’t think we will ever get it all cleaned up.”

Despite all this, the Mosleys have no plans to move.

“This is our home and this is our town,” Diana Mosley said. “Newtonia came together, one neighbor helping another. We worked side by side. This community showed what a community is all about.”

Neosho Daily News