Facebook page reuniting photos, tornado victims

NEED TO KNOW
  • Memories carried off by the storm, now some returning home
  • One photo was returned after landing 93 miles away
Facebook page reuniting photos, tornado victims
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Hundreds of found photos have been posted to the site, in hopes of locating and returning them to their owners.

It wasn't her birthday, but on one of the worst days in Oklahoma's history, a woman in the town of Davenport received a birthday card anyway. The unlikely greeting was pretty beat-up and didn't arrive in her mailbox.

Instead, it was lying on the ground outside the woman's home and adorned with some pastel flowers, a yellow bird and the hand-written date: "1974."

The birthday card, made out to "Debbie" and signed "With our love, Mom & Dad," was carried by the deadly winds of Monday's tornado from Newalla, Oklahoma, to Angela Landers' home in Davenport, 40 miles away.

Perhaps more remarkable than its arrival was its departure just one day later, sent back to its owner who had used a Facebook group where photos of scattered keepsakes from the tornado are being posted by those who find them.

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Hundreds of found items have been posted to the May 19th 2013 OK Tornado Doc & Picture Recovery Facebook page (as well as this offshoot of it) in hopes of creating unlikely reunions with their owners. Many of those reunions have actually happened, including the one between that birthday card and the daughter of its author, whose home was destroyed and memories scattered across a 100-mile area.

There's finding a needle in a haystack -- and then there's locating the home of a random keepsake which flies into your yard. Of course, the needle-finders never had the benefit of Facebook.

After every disaster, we hear just-thankful-to-be-alive victims speak about the things which can be replaced -- a roof, a car, perhaps an entire home. What's often left unsaid, though, is that many items are literally irreplaceable -- baby photos, grandma's wedding ring, pictures of parents no longer alive. Personal, invaluable treasures that many victims in the Sooner State may never see again, unless the objects' long ride through the Oklahoma skies ended at the right feet. Which is why the tornado document and picture recovery pages were set up.

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They are both filled with pictures of pictures. Several new photos are being added every hour by good-hearted Facebook users who have found a scrap of a stranger's life.

There are vacation photos and pictures of young children with the family puppy. Even a sonogram photo, which fortunately already has the patient's name displayed on it.

A picture of a bride and her father on her wedding day was posted and just two hours later a woman left a comment that a friend of hers knows the bride. Needle. Haystack.

This found prom photo will also be making a return trip to its owner. "I know who this belongs to please hold it and I will let her know!" reads the first comment beneath it, posted less than a day after the picture was shared.

Many of the pictures were discovered in pretty rough shape; dirty, torn or punctured either by time or more likely, a 50-mile trip inside an EF5 tornado. So one man has been taking these damaged photos and digitally repairing them for free, then reposting them in this album. "You sir are an angel! Thank you from the bottom of my okie heart!," reads one comment.

Alongside this repaired and reposted photo of a young boy, a woman wrote "This is awesome, thank you! This is a picture of my son that was my mom's."

That woman is the same one who received that 1974 birthday card -- and seven storm-swept photos -- in the mail. The previously lost keepsakes arrived from as far as 93 miles away.

Included with one of the photos was this note:

"Enclosed is the picture I found from the tornado. So happy it found its home. Sorry for your mom's loss. Our prayers are with all the tornado victims."

Follow Jonathan Anker on Twitter @JonFromHLN

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