But almost three months later, at least one family is learning The Gulf of Mexico is starting to return some of those family heirlooms.
The exterior of an old steamer trunk shows its travels. The interior shows it has a story to tell.
The trunk was last seen the night before Hurricane Ike hit back on September 12th inside an apartment near the water in Seabrook.
That complex was destroyed by Ike, but the trunk was swept out into the gulf and somehow months later washed ashore on South Padre Island. It was rusted and coated with barnacles.
That's when Darla Card and her daughter made the discovery on the South Texas beach.
"They saw the trunk, turned it over and looked in it," said Deanna Thornton whose heirlooms were recovered. "She said this belongs to a family and they may have lost everything but this."
And you could say the trunk never let go of its family treasures. There was a wedding journal from 1966, children's art work, embroidered tea towels, report cards from the Houston area dating back to the mid 1980s and even an HPD patch.
"And she opened it up and found all these old family memories and heirlooms inside and found our names," Thornton said.
The story ran on an Austin TV station which generated buzz. Soon Thornton and her husband, a retired HPD officer who now live in the San Antonio area, began getting calls.
"It was an old trunk to begin with and how it kept from getting just totally demolished and ruined just beyond us," she said.
You see the trunk was at their daughter's apartment in Seabrook during the hurricane. Thornton says its discovery is perfect timing.
"I just think it's ironic that the only picture in there that survived here in Christmas time was the one with Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus with our granddaughter," Thornton said.
Mrs. Thornton tells me that she is in the process of coordinating a meeting with Darla Card who found the trunk. She hopes the two can meet in Austin in coming months which is just about an hour away from where they live in San Antonio.
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