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Facebook page reunites tornado survivors with lost memories


One of thousands of lost photos posted on a public Facebook page in the aftermath of Wednesday's tornado outbreak in the U.S.
One of thousands of lost photos posted on a public Facebook page in the aftermath of Wednesday's tornado outbreak in the U.S.

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

May 2, 2011 — A Facebook page dedicated to reuniting tornado survivors with their lost belongings has also become a forum for support.

This photo travelled nearly 200 km during a tornado. It was retrieved in Tennessee and returned to its owner in Alabama
This photo travelled nearly 200 km during a tornado. It was retrieved in Tennessee and returned to its owner in Alabama

The page, Pictures and Documents Found After the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes, was created for residents of the seven states affected by Wednesday's deadly tornado outbreak to share the whereabouts of photos and personal documents found among the debris.

As of Monday morning, less than a week after the storms, the page had more than 82,000 fans.

Thousands of posts show or describe photos, birth certificates, financial statements and even prescriptions -- some intact, some torn and waterlogged -- found along the tornadoes' trails of destruction.

Some of the items have been traced back to their owners in the next town over; some items were carried farther afield by the storms' destructive winds.

One recent item, a photo of a woman holding a baby, was found in Normandy, Tennessee and claimed by a relative in Mt. Hope, Alabama -- a distance of 194 km.

Responses to the posts are tinged with both relief and sadness. For some people, the photos they have claimed from strangers on the group are among the few possessions they have left. Other items have been claimed by family members on behalf of people who were killed in the outbreak.

The group's creator was inspired after finding photos in her own yard
The group's creator was inspired after finding photos in her own yard

The group's wall is also filled with messages of support from across the United States, Canada and the world.

“France is with you in these horrible times,” one woman wrote.

“Hopefully all these photos and items will find their way back to their rightful owners,” another person wrote.

The group's creator, Patty Bullion of Lester, Alabama, was inspired after finding several photos in her front yard. One of the photos, an ultrasound, resonated with Bullion, who was adopted as a toddler and now has three kids of her own.

“The first thing I thought was, 'I hope these people are okay,'” she said. “I wanted a way to give (the photos) back to the owner.”

Bullion said she's overwhelmed by the response to the group.

“I never dreamed that it would get this big, but I'm very grateful that it has,” she said.

With files from MSNBC

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