Deadly tornado carries personal check from Alabama to Macon

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Macon, Ga. (WGXA/NNS/CBS Newspath) -- Tornadoes devastated Lee County, Alabama just over a week ago -- killing more than 20 people. A personal check from an Alabama family hit by the storm seems to have turned up in Macon days later.

Tornadoes devastated Lee County, Alabama just over a week ago -- killing more than 20 people. A personal check from an Alabama family hit by the storm seems to have turned up in Macon days later. Courtesy: WGXA/NNS/CBS Newspath

Now, it's not definitive that the storm that spawned the Lee County tornado is responsible for bringing a check from Opelika, Alabama around 100 miles to Macon. But we think it’s the only possible explanation.

Radar data from March 3rd shows the storm that spawned the twister moved across the Georgia state line, then on to Talbotton where homes were destroyed and roads were blocked by falling trees.

The same storm then moved into middle Georgia. It weakened by the time it made it to Macon, but there were still impacts, like windows blown out, flagpoles bent, trees downed -- and a personal check from Opelika left on Nancy Kistler’s back lawn.

“I thought that God was raining down money in my neighborhood, in my backyard!” Kistler said.

The check read that it belonged to Billy or Jane Capps and was dated April 29, 1997.

When Kistler saw the address, she knew she had to do something.

"I knew they had been hit hard by the recent bad weather," she said. "And I thought, ‘I’m just going to look up and see what the street address was.’”

“There was a memo where they’re paying for a son’s honors banquet at school," she added. "And I was able to find him on Facebook."

The Capps family said that their home had been severely damaged by the twister. And while we were able to get in touch with the Capps family, they said they were too busy rebuilding to sit down for an interview.

It may sound unthinkable that a piece of paper could travel so far and remain intact, but it has happened before.

A University of Oklahoma study put together a list of long-distance tornado debris fallouts:

A 1925 tornado that tracked across Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana tossed a business card 130 miles away.
A 1932 tornado in Alabama and Tennessee swept up a check that traveled 110 miles.
A social security card traveled 105 miles after an F-4 tornado struck Massachusetts in 1953.
And in 1979, cancelled checks made it over 200 miles after a tornado in Texas.

Back in Macon, Kistler says she’s amazed and that her door is always open to the Alabama family.

“I hope they feel comfortable -- if they’re ever coming through Macon -- stopping by and saying hello,” she said.