Washington, Ill. tornado victims find keepsakes hundreds of miles away


by CBS News


Posted on November 20, 2013 at 8:09 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 20 at 6:38 PM

(CBS News) Weather experts were on the ground in Illinois Wednesday morning, trying to pin down the exact number of tornadoes that struck Sunday. Survivors are now collecting pieces of their lives. They’ve been searching for days, sifting a mountain range of wreckage for a few precious items important only to themselves and their loved ones.

For Becky Holthe, whose home is now an indistinguishable pile of rubble, keepsakes keep turning up nearby and very far away.

Click here to see photos of the widespread destruction.

“Anything, you know, anything is better than nothing,” she said. “We found one [photo] yesterday and a couple today, but the one that’s of me and my son and his dad - that was found by Bolingbrook, Ill.”

A friend heard that someone posted a picture on Facebook, a photo found on the ground 120 miles away, a picture of Holthe, her ex-husband Jim and their son Grant, who died 19 years ago at the age of 2-and-a-half months from heart problems.

Viewer photos: Storms leave trail of damage in St. Louis area

Holthe told CBS News’ Dean Reynolds that they broke down crying when they saw the photo because it’s all that they have left of him.

“Material things, objects, clothing, household goods - those things can all be replaced,” she said. “But memories and things that help you with those memories, they can’t be replaced.”

Photos: 6 killed in Illinois tornadoes

On Monday came news about another family treasure - an obituary of her late father. His funeral card was found by Midway Airport in Chicago, which is 140 miles away.

“That’s like two, two-and-a-half hours north. That’s crazy,” she said. “It was on that Facebook page.”

On Tuesday, someone located her son’s remembrance card that was handed out at his funeral.

Video: Man recites the Lord's Prayer as tornado passes through Washington