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Carthage, Mo. church volunteers restore photos lost in Joplin tornado

AP reports:

Judy Lowe, a real estate agent, lost everything in the twister; all that remained of her house were bathroom tiles. So finding a photo of her son, Scott, on the Facebook page "was like claiming a victory from the tornado," she says.

"Every day you realize everything you had is gone," Lowe explains. "You think, 'I don't have this or that.' Then to get one part of your life back — it's overwhelming. You just cry."

The battered, orange-tinted picture shows Scott, then 2 (he's now 8) mugging for the camera in the bathroom, pretending to be shaving with foam on his chin.

"It's a day and a memory and a piece of time," she says of the photo. "That's all I have now. I don't have a baby blanket. I don't have his first little outfit he came home in. I don't want you to think I'm a pack rat, but it's honestly something that takes me back to happier times. ... Since the tornado, they've been few and far between."

Charlie Riedel / AP

Damaged photos are seen at the First Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo. where volunteers are cleaning and sorting photos and other personal documents found among rubble after a powerful EF-5 tornado destroyed a large swath of nearby Joplin, Mo. on May 22. The church has taken on the task of preserving thousands of lost photos and reuniting them with their owners.

Charlie Riedel / AP

Margaret Hagenbaumer, left, and Martha Cardwell, volunteers at the First Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo., clean and sort photos and other personal documents found among rubble after a powerful EF-5 tornado. destroyed a large swath of nearby Joplin, Mo. on May 22, 2011. The church has taken on the task of preserving thousands of lost photos and reuniting them with their owners.

Charlie Riedel / AP

A volunteer cleans a damaged photo at the First Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo.

Charlie Riedel / AP

Pastor Thad Beeler holds a damaged framed photo at the First Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo.

Charlie Riedel / AP

Judy Lowe displays photos of her sons that were recovered after she lost everything in an EF-5 tornado that ripped through Joplin, Mo.