'Bless you for posting': Facebook group reunites tornado victims with photos, documents
By F. Brinley Bruton, Staff Writer, NBC News
(NBC) -- The photo shows a baby in diapers on a high chair gazing at a white cake with one pink candle.
Glen Adkisson of Collinsville, OK, posted on Facebook that it had been found "in our yard" following Monday's devastating tornadoes.
This photo was posted on Facebook by Allison Messer after a tornado struck Oklahoma, with the message "Found in our pasture between Stroud & Depew. Would love to find the momma this belongs too."
The message below reads: "This photo is of my sisters deceased husband when he was a child. We are from Shawnee Oklahoma. She did live in the trailer park. She and my 7 year old nephew lost their home. I will try to contact u va Facebook. Bless you for posting this!"
This exchange appears on a Facebook page -- May 19th 2013 OK Tornado Doc & Picture Recovery -- set up to return photos and documents to victims of a deadly storm system that has ripped across the state.
Early Tuesday, the page included hundreds of family photos and documents. A picture of a cat with one blue eye sat next to another of a woman in a camp chair holding two blond and grinning children. A grimy electricity bill was next to the stained photograph of a toddler sitting on Santa's knee. An ultrasound photo showed what appeared to be a baby in utero.
Some postings had happy endings, with pets and pictures being reunited with their families.
A photo of a brown-haired young man cuddling a smiling girl with long caramel-colored hair elicited an overjoyed response from Dana Davis: "this is my picture it was in my room at my sisters and her house got destroyed by the tornado by lake thunderbird !"
Becky Miller, one of the page's administrators, knew the photos and documents that landed on the ground as so-called falling debris, might look like detritus but were in fact irreplaceable artifacts or documents for somebody.
"People had falling debris 100 miles away – people were saying it is raining debris in the yard," said the resident of Liberty, OK, which is about two hours away from Oklahoma City. "That's what started it. I wanted people reunited with precious pictures or colored pictures – you can't replace those in a disaster."
Indeed, Jeremy-Trista Blevins posted a ripped picture of three children – the smallest a bald and smiling baby – that she says she found in Sand Spring, 119 miles from where the hurricane struck.
The page, which was started by Leslie Edgar Hagelberg, Miller's cousin, and her sister, Sarah Miller-Deibert, quickly turned into a sort of clearing house, attracting others trying to help those in need.
Diana Gann's plea for help subduing a traumatized mule prompted almost 150 responses.
A posting originally on Photos of Moore Oklahoma Tornado Pets Lost & Found and cross-linked on May 19th 2013 OK Tornado Doc showed a nervous-looking black lab.
"3 dogs rescued from Moore tornado! Bathed, and cared for at rescuers home. Want to reunite them back with their families," the message with the photo read. "Prayer to all our furry friends and families."
Erin Lang posted this photo on Facebook after Monday's tornado in Moore, Okla., writing: "3 dogs rescued from Moore tornado! Bathed, and cared for at rescuers home. Want to reunite them back with their families. Please spread the word and contact Erin Lang or Carey Ralstin on Facebook! Prayer to all our furry friends and families."
And down the page another message from Farah Payton-Snider declared: "The black Lab is my (friend's)... dog Tin. Please call me ASAP."
Payton-Snider, 36, said she would close her flower shop and head into Oklahoma City first thing in the morning to try and help reunite people who had been hit by the tornado with their pets.
"I feel helpless, I want to be able to do something," said Payton-Snider, who lives in Newcastle, OK.