Lewis Barton, owner of Native Country Studios and TV 8 of Fort Pierce, FL, exemplified himself as a pillar of society and exceeded his responsibility as a veteran news reporter during and after Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne. He risked his life to obtain this extraordinary news-making footage to keep the public aware of the weather conditions that posed imminent threat to human life and the entire Treasure Coast. Lewis Barton himself was a victim to the hurricanes, losing his home into the ocean as well as most of his business, Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant, into the floodwaters.
Chuck’s Seafood Restaurant was a major contributor during the most difficult time of rescue and recuperation in the Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach areas. Mr. Barton opened his heart and restaurant doors immediately after the storms to provide hot meals to the local fire, police, Coast Guard, National Guard, Red Cross, Homeland Security staff, and the press on the foundation of his former waterfront dining room (during a time when all at Chuck’s) at a time when hot meals and fresh water were hard to come by.
Mr. Barton provided up-to-date broadcasting of the status of the hurricanes and damages done to the Treasure Coast. He personally paid for all the food provided to the emergency staff and local residents – during and after his own losses.
Mayor Robert Benton of Fort Pierce and Sheriff Ken Mascara both agreed that the generosity of Lewis Barton during this crucial time lifted spirits and most likely saved lives. Early on Lewis Barton realized that he was able to make a difference. The fact that Chuck’s Seafood Resturant was in a location where many people were impacted and in need of water and blue tarps for their roofs, he ordered thousands of bottles of water from his food distributions and again opened his doors to the public for the distribution of blue tarps.
After the devastation and things had begun to settle down there was community concern as to the status and efforts being set forth by the community leaders for the restoration of the Treasure Coast, again Lewis Barton opened his doors and invited the national media to broadcast areas to tell their story and the recuperation efforts being done.
Although Lewis Barton did not share in the limelight, he did coordinate and contribute all his technical expertise, up-linked the broadcast, hosted the mayor and press to insure that the community received this important updated information.
When I asked Lewis Barton his thoughts on the devastation during the past nine months and how he felt about receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from the Fort Pierce Police Department for thousands of free meals and hours donated, his response was “with the past nine months experience, I now think that I am prepared more than ever to serve the community.”