(RINCON) Stories of people helping people continue to emerge in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. One story we brought you has touched a lot of people, the story of a man who was pushed to the breaking point. That’s when News 3’s Martin Staunton got involved and now, the story has the happiest of endings.
James Brown didn’t ask us for help. It was a passerby, Ronnie Roland, who saw him on Monday, sitting on a curb in front of Brown’s home in the Cottages of Savannah on the Eastside. Roland came directly to WSAV’s studios on East Victory Drive to tell us what he saw. Roland said there was an elderly man sitting on a curb, crying because his car was pinned under a light pole, with power lines tangled in a tree blocking the front door to his home. Roland also said the man now had now had no way to get to work as a result of the storm. Reporter Martin Staunton took the tip and investigated, finding exactly what Roland shared on Monday.
Brown, a 68 year old diabetic, with tears streaming down both checks, eyes red and swollen, shared his story as he stared at the light pole resting just above the rear windshield on his 2000 Nissan Sentra. Lines powering the broken light were wrapped around the pole like the red stripe on a candy cane. We could see an old blanket, closed in the back doors as a barrier to keep rain out of the shattered window. Clearly Brown risked touching the car with the line on it, the vehicle meant that much to him. When asked why the car was so important, Brown fought back tears to explain, voice crackling with emotion, “It’s my only way to work. I..I ain’t go no other way to get there and cain’t get no help to get the pole off my car.” Brown said as he wiped tears from both eyes. “It don’t seem like nobody cares about me, everybody else seems to be gettin’ help, but not me.” said Brown.
News 3 contacted Georgia Power to report Brown’s situation. Two hours later, two workers in a pickup truck arrived and removed the pole from Brown’s vehicle. “I’m better now.” Brown said, adding that he was going to get help with his insurance deductible from his employer, the Landings, where he’s worked as a cook and dishwasher for the last 31 years. He also said it appeared that there was damage to the rear axle as a result of the pole landing on his car, but he’d make do the best way he could and was grateful WSAV intervened on his behalf. He recalled his state of mind when his plight first went public. “That day, it one of the sad days I ever had. Yep, and I was, I was crying….. what, what, what goin’ on in the world here…like nobody don’t love me, what I did wrong…everything.” Brown said.
It’s the intervention of a former co-worker at the Landings that’s made the biggest difference so far. Eddie Smith worked with Brown in the late 1980’s and says he was touched by Brown’s plight, Smith himself suffering significant storm damage to his home in Pooler. “”A situation like this, where you think you got problems and you see somebody else’, it’s just really overwhelming.” Smith said. He now works for Rincon Chevrolet and went to management to arrange the most wonderful of gifts, a free car, but Smith and the dealership had to be convinced to go public with their donation. “We didn’t want any kind of publicity for it, it was, it was, you see somebody else’s problems and you think you got problem’s till you see theirs.” Smith said.
Rincon Chevrolet gave Brown a free car in great condition. it’s a fully loaded, 1999 Mercury Grand Marquis. Even though the car is not brand new, Brown says this experience is. “Ain’t never had nobody give me nothin’. I earned every bit of everything I did.” When asked what his new vehicle means to him. “Mean a whole lot for me, I can get back and forth to work, A and B, …anybody need some help, let me know, i will kindly give you, help you out. Anything I can do.” Brown said of his intention to pay his gift forward. So what’s the first thing he did after driving off the lot in Rincon? James Brown drove straight to work.