Tornado victim searches for lost letters

By Ashley McNamee

December 12, 2013 Updated Dec 12, 2013 at 11:47 PM CDT

WASHINGTON, Ill. -- Almost one month ago, tornadoes ripped through our community shattering everything in their path.

Annmarie Klein and her family lost everything including their home, cars and belongings.

They also lost three unopened letters, but not their hope.

Annmarie Klein will never forget what the half-mile wide tornado looked like Nov. 17 as it raced toward her house.

“I remember seeing things flying. It was behind our neighbor's house so maybe like a quarter mile away," said Klein who lived on Bishops Court. "I just screamed bloody terror.”

Within seconds she huddled here in the basement with her husband and five kids.

“It feels like a train going through your head. It's not a train in the distance, it's a piercing sound in your head,” said Klein.

If the EF-4 tornado were a train, the Klein's home lay directly on its tracks. It took everything except the home's foundation and their lives.

“It's the only picture I have of him,” said Klein.

Days later someone outside Chicago found a picture of her brother Paul who died of colon cancer in 2005. That's when her panic set-in.

“He wrote a card to his kids and his wife. He asked me to give his kids and his wife those cards when it was right. I said how will I know? He said you'll know,” Klein said.

Klein found the right time to give Paul's wife her card, but not the kids.

“I feel like I let him down. I know I had no control over the tornado but I can't get those cards back unless we find them,” said Klein.

For weeks hundreds of people searched her lot, looking for any sign of them.

“One was neon yellow and one was bright pink," said Klein. "The thing that gives me hope is that they were wrapped in plastic."

Now she's asking everyone to search their yard and send anything they find to the Morton Public Library. And in the way tornadoes can be cruel, she keeps finding pictures from the very same closet those cards were in.

"It is holding me back because I will never give up hope. I will never give up hope," said Klein.

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