Church reuniting memorabilia with tornado victims

April 6, 2012 4:13:00 AM PDT
In natural disasters, the most heartbreaking property loss is usually that of the things that can't be replaced. We're talking about photographs, mementos and cards. One church in Forney is trying to reconnect people with the things that mean the most to them.

In just a matter of minutes Tuesday, the lives of the people here were scattered across Forney.

"I've never been in a tragedy like this, but anything I can do to help," volunteer William Rose said. "Someone had a picture of their son or grandson in the Army."

They're pieces of their past that have been torn apart.

"It's sad they have to have their memories gone like this."

But inside Mustang Creek Community Church, neighbors in this community are all intermingled by a common bond.

"We're putting all the pictures we can on the wall," said Gena King with Mustang Creek Community Church. "How do you sort through someone's life and say here's your stuff?"

Somehow volunteers are doing it one picture, book and toy at a time.

"I know. I'm a collector of pictures myself. I know these are special," volunteer Vanessa Stenberg said. "I know that those dolls over there that belong to the little children are special."

They're footprints from the past.

"Your past isn't completely gone. You still have that to hold onto," volunteer Jennifer Valentine said.

From the biggest days of their lives, important legal papers are lined up against the wall.

"As you can imagine everything was wet. This is a wedding dress someone found," King said.

Forney was split in half Tuesday -- those who were hit and those who are trying to help.

"We're basically going to start over but that's OK because we are alive," storm victim Terri McKeever said.

Some discoveries spark a laugh. Others pull at the heart, like a card sent to a dear grandmother.

"Oh my word, that's it, I'm pretty sure it is," McKeever said. "You think about all that hanging in your house or wherever and whoosh, it's all gone."

For this family and so many more. There is a lot ahead. But somehow these moments help smooth the jagged edges just a bit.

"It means a lot. It's pieces of your past that are now together and you have a little tiny part of it," McKeever said.

"The volunteers have covered a lot of ground the past couple of days. They say they will keep collecting items and hang on to them as long as they are needed.

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