Photos lost

Published 10:28 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

Amelia Chung demonstrates how burglars broke into her home.

Memories survive tornado, but fall to burglary

She survived a tornado, her home was flattened and rebuilt, and she was able to recover only a few special items. But now they are gone.

“I just want my children’s pictures back,” said Amelia Chung, Health and Wellness Director at the Suffolk Family YMCA, “The thing that I care about is my children’s pictures. Take my wedding ring and sell it. Sell my computer. I don’t care. I just want my children’s pictures back.”

Amelia Chung’s home was burglarized Tuesday night. She came back to her Hillpoint Farms home after teaching a step class to find a metal shovel leaning on the wall next to the door leading into her home from her garage. The door was ajar, and the door jamb was split all the way up.

Email newsletter signup

Inside, she noticed that her DVD player was not where she left it.

“When I realized that the laptop was gone, my stomach hit the floor,” Chung said.

The laptop contained some of the most important things she and her husband were able to recover after the April 2008 Suffolk tornado destroyed their home — pictures and videos of her children.

In the few minutes after the tornado, her husband was able to recover pictures and early memories of her two children from her computer before it stopped working. But those memories were taken from her on Tuesday.

“It took a year and a half to just start feeling safe again in this house,” Chung said, “I just started to rectify one thing in my brain, and now I have this on top of that.”

On the day of the tornado, Chung had barely enough time to get into a bathtub with her son and infant daughter before her home started shaking and was lifted off of the ground. It floated in mid-air before being shifted and falling like a deck of cards to the ground, she said.

When it was over, part of the home was in the nearby lake, and Chung and her children were lying on their backs underneath a bathroom wall and other debris.

After the tornado, Chung said she came to realize that it’s best not to focus on material objects. It is her children and her memories that she values most.

But the burglary has made her feel violated. She said she can’t sleep at night thinking about strangers coming in and spending so much time in her home.

Burglars took two MacBook computers, her wedding ring, her great-grandmother’s emerald and ruby studded antique ring, all of her wedding jewelry, a butterfly necklace and earrings, a 24 carat gold necklace, pearl and diamond white gold earrings, her checkbooks, her father-in-law’s checkbooks, and around $50 from her 3-year-old daughter’s pink piggybank.

“Maybe they need it to help their family members,” she said. “Take them and sell them. I’m not mad at that. Hopefully it helps you in your life. Just give me my pictures back.”

Chung asks that whoever took her computers return her pictures. The photos can be returned on a jump drive or CDs to the YMCA at 2769 Godwin Blvd. or to the Suffolk News-Herald office at 130 South Saratoga St.