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Jul18MonPhotograph returned to Joplin, Missouri, USA, from seventy miles away July 18, 2011 by William Becker
Salvation Army emergency relief teams are trained to expect the unexpected but even the most experienced relief worker would be surprised at the story of an item returned to the 'lost and found' collection point in Joplin, Missouri, USA. The item itself – a photograph of a child – was not unusual but the fact that it was found 70 miles from Joplin certainly was!
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Jim and Jackie Farrell of Willard, Missouri, were on their 60-acre farm north of Springfield when they came across a photo taken in March 2000. They believe the photo, mostly in good shape with just a few small holes, had blown 70 miles from Joplin in the tornado that destroyed much of the town on 22 May.
The tornado that ripped through Joplin had winds of more than 200 miles per hour (mph) and possibly peaked at 250 mph. It created a path nearly a mile wide and six miles long. At least 158 people lost their lives in the disaster, making it the deadliest tornado in the USA since 1947.
This photo found its way to The Salvation Army after the Farrells' cousin, Larry, read that The Salvation Army had an area of lost and found items at its tent on the corner of 26th and Main Street, Joplin.
'I was coming through the area, travelling to Arkansas, and felt this was something I had to do. To locate this kid,' said Larry. 'It looked like a photo that had been given to a grandmother or family member and I thought they might want it back. I did a little research, but couldn't find anything.' The photo has not yet been claimed.
The Salvation Army tent was set up on the site of what used to be its new thrift store – destroyed in the tornado – but operations have now moved to the old thrift store, which was used to hold supplies in the aftermath of the disaster. As well as the lost and found area the tent was home to a daily feeding programme. Caseworkers who offered financial assistance and free supplies have now relocated to the old thrift store as The Salvation Army's support to the community continues.