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Reunited: Facebook page returning tornado-tossed items

A Facebook page set up to reunite tornado-scattered pictures and other items with their owners is claiming several early success stories.
Image: Deacon letter
Lisa Thompson
/ Source: msnbc.com

A Facebook page set up to reunite tornado-scattered pictures and other items with their rightful owners is claiming several early success stories.

As of Friday, at least 40 items whose pictures were posted on the "Pictures and Documents found after the April 27, 2011 Tornadoes" page have been spoken for and were on their way back to their owners, said the page's creator, Patty Bullion of Lester, Ala.

The reunited items include a church deacon's nomination slip, a high school diploma and a quilt.

Bullion set up the page on Thursday, a day after a series of destructive tornadoes ripped through Alabama and five other Southern states. The storms killed more than 300 people — most of them in Alabama.

By Friday afternoon, residents had posted nearly 600 images of family photographs, documents, pets and other items they found in their back yards, on streets and elsewhere — sucked up by the storms and deposited in another location sometimes miles away.

"I never dreamed that it would get this big but I’m very grateful that it has," Bullion told msnbc.com.

In one case, Bullion posted a picture found by a friend of a document titled "Deacon Nomination 2007." A Facebook user recognized it as belonging to her father-in-law, Wes White, who is the pastor of Smithville Baptist Church in northeastern Mississippi — about 125 miles away. Within hours, White got in touch with Bullion by email and claimed the item.

"Lord that we can return the things that we have found!" Bullion posted after the successful reunion.

"When the tornado struck we had one portion of our office that we kept all our documents and important papers in," White explained in a telephone interview. "It was a sealed room. It got unsealed."

"It was an unbelievable thing that it was found that far away."

In another case, a woman spotted a picture posted to the Facebook page and recognized it immediately: It was her mother.

“I have emailed the wonderful woman who posted it,” she wrote. “Thank you thank you thank you and please keep posting.”

Bullion said other items that have been sucessfully claimed include a handsewn green quilt made for a graduating high school senior, a high school diploma and assorted photographs.

"There were a couple of pictures of people who didn’t make it through the tornadoes that have been identified by relatives. There was some cancelled checks that were found that belonged to a gentleman that didn’t make it through tornado, they (relatives) would like it back," Bullion said.

Bullion started the Facebook page after finding several photos that were blown into her yard. "The tornado went over our house but did not touch down. We were very, very blessed."

One of the photos was of an ultrasound, and that struck an emotional chord with Bullion.

"I was adopted when I was 2. I had no idea what I looked like as a baby I wanted a way to give them back to the owner," she said.  "I have three kids and I have their ultrasound pictures. I look at them every day, so the first thing I thought was, 'I hope these people are OK.'"

Bullion doesn't know when she'll take the Facebook page down — only that it won't be anytime soon.

"It's going to go on as long as people keep posting," she said "G od’s working wonders on it, that’s for sure."