- The new ‘Hunger Games’ book paints President Snow as a hero—and people are not happy Tuesday 9:03 PM
- Influencer called out for ‘troubling image’ with Kenyan child Tuesday 8:18 PM
- Professor arrested for spending $185K of grant money on iTunes and strippers Tuesday 7:28 PM
- Man cuts his books in half to make them ‘portable,’ spurs online debate Tuesday 6:09 PM
- Fans defend Lana Del Rey after she was mocked for flying commercial Tuesday 5:10 PM
- Lady Gaga fans find alleged new song name in her website’s code Tuesday 4:42 PM
- Barstool Sports deletes anti-union tweets, blog post in settlement Tuesday 3:47 PM
- The ‘can have … as a treat’ meme has come full circle Tuesday 3:09 PM
- Joe Rogan says he’s voting for Bernie Sanders Tuesday 2:54 PM
- Woman spots mole in man’s TikTok video, saves him from cancer Tuesday 2:17 PM
- ‘You’ star confirms his character is queer and ‘never will be’ straight Tuesday 1:08 PM
- This Twitch streamer pooped his pants during a broadcast Tuesday 12:17 PM
- Apple’s iCloud encryption plan halted amid FBI pressure, report Tuesday 10:57 AM
- Glenn Greenwald charged with cybercrimes in Brazil Tuesday 10:48 AM
- BadBunny rips her fans for not sending her enough money Tuesday 10:06 AM
Facebook groups help return tornado victims’ scattered possessions
Photos, jewelry, and even a wedding veil have been returned to their rightful owners.
Houses can be rebuilt and cars can be repaired. But deadly tornados like the ones that touched down in Illinois earlier this week are capable of destroying and displacing objects of priceless personal value that cannot be replaced.
At least that was the case before social media.
In the aftermath of this week’s storms, thousands of Illinois residents affected by the tornados have turned to Facebook to locate missing items that, in some cases, were blown miles away.
“It’s a small way to make a difference if you can’t get down there to help,” said Becky Siegel-Harty, of Seneca, Ill. who started a Facebook page that tornado survivors can use to locate personal items lost in the Nov. 17 storms.
This Facebook page, which already has 750 members, has made four successful matches so far, though Siegel-Harty tells the Chicago Tribune she expects more people have privately arranged to return missing items. Most of the found items posted on the site are old photos, though group members have also located missing jewelry, wedding veils and other sentimental mementos.
Using social media to help return displaced items in the wake of a natural disaster is nothing new. Siegel-Harty said she drew inspiration from similar efforts following the devastating 2011 Joplin, Mo. tornado that killed 161 people and level whole swaths of that town. And hers is just one of several such Facebook groups to pop-up after these recent storms. Dan Davidson, a Dayton, Ohio, resident who grew up in Morris, Ill., started a similar group that already has 6,500 likes and more than 20 successful matches.
Finding a missing photo or piece of jewelry might seem trivial in the aftermath of a storm that killed 6 people, but for survivors, locating these items is an important first step in the process of piecing their lives back together.
“If there was a fire in my house, my pictures are the first thing I’d grab after getting my family out of the house,” Brenda Strange told the Tribune.
Strange was able to return a treasured 40th wedding anniversary photo to Beth and Dennis Doolan following the storm. The powerful storm carried the photo some 40 miles from the Doolan’s home in Washington, Ill., to Strange’s front yard in Morris.
Though a 40-mile journey might seem like a lot, meteorologists say it’s not unusual for a tornado. Strong vertical winds are known to suck debris high up into the atmosphere where strong jetstreams can sometimes carry items hundreds of miles. These distances are why social networks may be the best way of returning these items to their owners.
“Forty years is really something, and even though this is small, hopefully it will give them a little hope,” Strange concluded.
Tim Sampson is a reporter who focused on the technology, business, and politics beats. He's also an established comedy writer, with work on Comedy Central and in The Onion and ClickHole.