Hurricane Sally pounded the Alabama Gulf Coast as a Category 2 hurricane in mid-September, making it the first hurricane to make landfall in Alabama since Ivan in 2004 when it crept ashore on Sept. 16. In some cases, the storm's destruction was considered worse than Ivan, a Category 3 major hurricane at the time of landfall, as Sally littered neighborhoods with boats, unleashed widespread flooding and caused significant damage to many homes and businesses.
But in the aftermath of the destruction came a heartwarming tale of neighborly compassion and the positive power of social media in the hard-hit Alabama community of Fairhope, a city located just off on the eastern shores of Mobile Bay and about 30 miles northwest of where Sally made landfall in Gulf Shores.
Three years ago, Scott Christmas, a Fairhope resident, lost his beloved wife, Amy Christmas, to brain cancer. Since her passing, Scott kept several photos of the "love of his life" nearby including a picture of the couple on their wedding day in his shirt pocket and other treasured photos of Amy on the dashboard of his Jeep.
Not long after the worst of Sally's impacts subsided, Scott and his daughter hopped in his Jeep and headed south to the nearby community of Point Clear to check in on several family members as well as Amy's grave, according to FOX 10 in Mobile.
As Scott drove down U.S. Highway 98, trees and limbs were blown everywhere, he said. Eventually, he and his daughter had to get out of the Jeep to help others clear debris from the road, according to his Facebook post. When that happened, a strong wind gust whipped through and carried one of the cherished photos of Amy right off the dashboard and through the open window on his daughter's side of the vehicle.
Scott wrote that he was "crushed" when he realized the photo had blown away and was likely gone forever despite searching for it frantically amid the fierce winds in the area. He even said he went on a run looking for it the next day after cleaning up more storm debris, but to no avail.
Bjarke Hansen and his wife Kimberly were assessing storm damage at their Fairhope property when Bjarke noticed something laying in the grass, he told Fox 10.
"Suddenly, I saw something laying over here in the grass ... It was upside down. A piece of paper I thought. I lifted it up and saw it was a beautiful woman on the picture ... and thought, 'Oh, who could that be,'" Hansen told the news station. The Hansens were located nearly two miles away from where the image blew away, Fox 10 said.
Kimberly eventually shared the discovery of the photo to the "What's happening in Fairhope" Facebook group, writing, "We found this picture of a beautiful girl ... anyone recognize it? It's a bit damp, but we will keep it safe. If it's yours let us know."
Soon, a number of community members recognized the woman in the picture as Amy, who was an ophthalmologist in the area prior to her death.
A number of friends quickly began to tag Scott on Facebook this past Monday evening, Sept. 21, alerting him to the miraculous recovery of the photo. He received a message from a friend that read: "Check Facebook. Your Angel is calling you."
Scott said the news of the photo came during a very difficult week, which marked the anniversary of his wife's passing. He said reading all the positive comments people wrote in the Facebook group about Amy and her work as a doctor helped to lift him up.
After eventually obtaining the photo from the Hansens, Scott expressed his gratitude to them in the Facebook post.
"Some are just worse than others. But like all storms the darkness eventually fades and the light shines through," Scott wrote. "Thank you Kimberly and Bjarke. You all were a light within a storm."
Scott told Fox 10 he realized anyone could have easily just picked up the photo and thrown it away. He said that the remarkable recovery of Amy's picture was her way of letting him know "they'll be together again one day," and the picture "means the world to me."
"You can destroy my house, my cars, everything, but my pictures, that's what I want, because those are the memories."
Read his full post on recovering the photo below.
An Angel in a storm. Sally unleashed her fury on Fairhope last Tuesday and Wednesday. An unexpected storm that no...
Posted by Scott Christmas on Tuesday, September 22, 2020
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