Family heirlooms survive tornado after being blown 30 miles away

Heirlooms blown by tornado (NBC News photo)
Heirlooms blown by tornado (NBC News photo)

MERRYVILLE, Missouri — (KSDK) Winds reaching 165 mph can blow your belongings a long way. Just ask Ciersten Hahs of Perryville. The EF3 tornado that destroyed her house left her in shock, followed by a different kind of shock: the kindness of strangers.

Hahs said her family wasn’t home when the tornado hit, destroying her house which once belonged to her grandmother. The foundation and scattered debris and belongings are all that’s left.

You never think this kind of thing will happen to you or your family,” said Hahs. “What do you do from here, you know?”

Hahs’ family, friends, and volunteers they’d never met, salvaged what they could, including a number of photos.

Some of her belongings landed far beyond Hahs’ front yard. She learned that through Facebook, when she started getting notices that someone more than 30 miles away found a painting.

“Found a painting in our yard from the tornadoes. Name on the bottom Sue Spencer,” read the Facebook post from Lacy Palmer of Campbell Hill, Illinois, about 33 miles from Perryville.

Sue Spencer is Hah’s grandmother, a long time painter of portraits.

“My grandmother, she has painted for 30-plus years, painted all of her grand kids,” said Hahs.

The missing painting was of Hahs’ when she was in 6th grade, so it had special meaning. That’s why Lacy Palmer stopped her husband from throwing the painting away.

“My cousin was in the Joplin tornado,” said Palmer. I know how much it means when possessions are returned back to their loved ones.”

Thursday Hahs had a big hug for Tonia Burretta, who returned a Manila envelope full of letters to Hahs’ husband, also found in Campbell Hill.

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