Ombudsman: Tornado victims get surprise giftWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | firstname.lastname@example.org
It has been 19 months since a deadly tornado hit Northwest Ohio. It has been seven months since I talked with the Blank family, who were the focus of a yearlong Toledo Free Press series about the rebuilding process. It has only been a few weeks since I was asked, “How are the Blanks?”
The short answer is good. The longer answer is this amazing story.
When the Blanks lost their home to the June 5, 2010, tornado, they lost nearly everything inside: furniture, clothes, memorabilia and photos.
One of the irreplaceable photos was a framed picture of Ed and Julie Blank from when they got married nearly 18 years ago. The photo was mounted on the wall of their second-floor bedroom, which was blown away in the tornado.
But for Christmas, Ed’s son, Eddie, gave them a new photo — and the original. When Eddie and his wife, Michelle, went to get photos taken of her pregnant belly (she’s due any day now), the photographer, Tammy Palmer of Eternity of Memories, had the damaged photo.
She had found it in her studio’s yard in Oregon and had kept it since the tornado, Eddie said. It was ripped in half and stuck to Styrofoam; its journey had left it tattered.
Eddie took the original photo and put it together the best he could to make a copy. He included that and the original photo in a box for Christmas.
“When I opened it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, how did you find this?’ Now we have it sitting on a shelf in our living room,” Julie said.
This isn’t the first time their belongings have been found outside of their Millbury neighborhood. In July, their son’s bag with his name in permanent marker was found in Genoa.
The best gift, though, has been their new home. Built on the same property where the old one was leveled, the family just celebrated their one-year anniversary of moving in.
“Oh yeah, it feels like home. I sometimes forget what the old house looked like,” Julie said.
Now it feels even more like home with the photo of their wedding day.