Going Home …

I’ve heard it said that you can never go home again, but I beg to differ.  Let me explain…

Those of you who have followed my blog for awhile, may recall that a little over a year ago, my cousin lost her home, and most of her belongings, when a tornado struck her town, and nearly wiped out her neighborhood.   This is the same town I grew up near, and went to high school in.  If you missed that post, the full story is HERE.  I wanted to give you an update.  The photo on the left is the view from her house, looking down the street, and was taken a few days after the tornado struck.  The photo on right is the same view as it looks today.  Most of the homes have been rebuilt, or are nearing completion.  It was so nice to see people out walking their dogs, and builder’s trucks all over, getting those homes finished so their owners could move back in again.  To this day, it amazes me that not a single life was lost in this neighborhood, given the magnitude of the devastation.

tornado aftermath

Most of her belongings were completely gone, never to be seen again, or destroyed, but those who helped to rummage through the wreckage, stacked up any wood they thought was salvageable, and my cousin allowed me to bring those pieces home to work with.  I don’t even remember this coat rack, but I was looking for something in my workshop a few days ago, and spotted it near some of the other wood I brought home that day.

coat rack tornado salvage

Five of the six coat hooks had been broken off as it was thrown around, but the wood itself was surprisingly undamaged.  It just needed to be cleaned up, and the coat hooks needed to be replaced.

tornado salvage coat rack

Obviously, not much survived from what once had been her home, so the thought of being able to return just one thing to her, made me happy.

tornado aftermath Washington, Illinois

The timing is perfect, because she is just a few weeks away from being able to move into her rebuilt home.  My cousin was so surprised when I gave the coat rack to her.  She didn’t realize I had it, and didn’t know she was getting it back.  She was giving me the tour of her new home when I gave it to her, and she held it up to the wall in her laundry room, where it had hung in her old home.  It was a bittersweet moment.  No, she can never return to her old home, and her new home will never be the same, but still … she’s going home, and I’m so happy for her.

Here I am, standing in front of her new home, bringing the coat rack home…where it belongs.

coat rack going home

I want to thank my local Lowes store, who was kind enough to donate the coat hooks.

There's No Place Like Home via KnickofTime.net

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  1. What a miracle that no lives were lost and what a wonderful cousin you are to bring a piece of her home back to life!

  2. What a thoughtful gift, Angie…I know it meant a lot to her!

  3. Kathy Cagle says

    Thank you Angie for the wonderful surprise. Yes, most importantly, lives were spared although we remember the 1 was lost that day and 2 more later that were attributed to injuries in the storm. Things can be replaced. But having something in perfect condition returned and to be able to put it back in place is really special to me. Thanks for sharing the story. And to you and Meghan for being there and helping me that day.

  4. I’m so happy to read that you were able to give her back a tiny bit of what she had lost! Two thumbs up for Lowe’s wanting to be part of returning a bit of her home to her.

  5. I always enjoy reading your posts, Angie. This was an especially touching one

  6. Ellie LaJuett says

    Heartwarming story! God Bless your sister and her family for blessed new beginning! Coat rack was a wonderful idea!

  7. What a wonderful, thoughtful gift & thank you for the update. With the shows on TV showing total remodels in just a few days or weeks, it’s easy to forget it takes years to rebuild towns, even for those of us who have lived with the devastation of a tornado.

  8. Dear Angie,
    Thank you for sharing this traumatic event in your families life.
    This has taught us that all we have to do is look further than our own noses, there’s always someone worse off than ourselves.
    God keeps on giving us chances to show that we can work together to make this a better world and that we are never alone. I know this because although you live thousands of miles away, every day you give me just enough hope to carry on.
    It’s the simple acts that we perform that bring such heartfelt pleasure and gratitude.
    Thank You
    Kind regards

  9. My best friend also lost her home in the Washington, IL tornado. The little things mean the most. It was sad for her to realize her precious Christmas ornament collection was gone but it was a miracle they survived inside their home!

    • Lynne, I’m so sorry to hear your friend lost her home as well, and I do think it’s often the little things that can’t be replaced that people miss so much. My cousin is the oldest grandchild in our family, and she had quite a few family heirlooms that were lost, or extremely damaged, and I know she is still very sad about that.

  10. What a sweet moment for you and her. My home was damaged by a tornado several years ago. It took 6 months for it to be repaired and for me to get to move back home. No one can imagine what an empty feeling it is to know that you are without a home until you go through it. I count my blessings that everything damaged could be replaced. Two lives were lost in our town on that terrible day, the town has rebuilt and moved forward, but when those dark clouds begin to build again we always remember that day and the devastation that can happen so quickly. God bless you and your sister. I wish her happiness in her home.

    • Donna, I know what you mean. Having seen firsthand the damage and loss that a tornado can cause, I’m always very nervous when I see dark clouds forming, because we live in a very tornado prone area. I’m so glad you weren’t harmed in the tornado that struck your home, and that you are safely back in it now.

  11. So very glad no one was hurt in that tornado. I think I read somewhere that you live in Illinois so….are you referring to the tornado that hit Walnut two years ago? That was bad. I live in Mendota and we had “debris” from Walnut in our yards. Our Church headed up a plan to do what ever we could to help those who needed household items and clothing to get them by getting donations from all around town.
    Returning the coat rack to her had to be a very special moment for the both of you.
    God Bless,
    Treasures by Renee

    • Renee, no this tornado was in Washington at the end of 2013.

      • Ok…we have had several bad tornadoes come through the middle of Illinois and was just wondering if this was one of them. I am very glad that no one was hurt and they are getting their lives back somewhat close to normal. God Bless them.
        Treasures by Renee

  12. Angie,, how sweet of you to give her back a little piece of her old home to put in her new home. So thankful no one was hurt and your cousin can start over making new memories in her new home.

  13. That was very sweet and thoughful, Angie. I always feel very sorry for people who lose all their belongings in a natural disaster or fire. Even though most things can be replaced, I think almost everybody has some items that are connected with special memories. It’s great to hear that your cousin will be able to move into her new home soon. I wish her all the best.

  14. Thank God no one was killed…This brought tears to my eyes Angie. What a wonderful thing you were able to do! God bless your sweet heart ♥

  15. Marlene Stephenson says

    That was a great thing to do, i live near Moore,Okla.where that tornado hit had family there that God protected so, i do know what this means to your family.

  16. Sandy Park says

    Angie, what a great and thoughtful gift. I love your blog and read it daily.

  17. Terri Hughes says

    What a sweet thing to do for your cousin. Little things mean the most when you have lost everything. So happy that your cousin is in her new home and that she and her family were not hurt. You did a great job on the coat rack, I love it. I pray that God will keep them all safe!

  18. Angie … you are so sweet and thoughtful. The coat rack looks so lovely. Glad you were able to return a piece of the old home to her. May all lives be blessed as they try to rebuild both the town and their personal life.
    Blessing to you too.
    Audrey Z.

  19. What a wonderful story Angie and such a thoughtful thing for you to do. I can’t even image going through such devastation. I hope your cousin and her family will be spending many more happy years in their home.

  20. Angela
    We’re all reeling from three truly catastrophic bush fires in Australia; one on the West Coast + one on the East Coast and one smack in the middle of our Southern Coast.

    Thankfully and gratefully, yet still tragically, we have lost one life (a firefighter). The physical loss is a LOT higher as we have lost scores of homes and even whole towns and our wildlife has been decimated.

    Fire, like wind, is terrifying when it comes en masse and with fury.

    Giving your sister that lovely reclaimed coatrack is an important and valuable step towards her reclaiming her life.

    She will need many more of these small moments in the months and years to come.
    I wish her all the best for her emergence into a new life.

  21. What a very kind and thoughtful gift and an instant (new) family heirloom I’m sure.

  22. As someone who chases tornadoes and writes about storms, I can affirm the miracle of no lost lives in this disaster. How sweet of you to return even a small bit of her previous home to her. What a wonderful idea!

  23. Sometimes it’s the little things that make your heart happy. I’m sure your cousin is grateful to have something from her old home to hand in her new one. I’m so happy they were all safe and unharmed and wish them many happy years in their new home.

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