Mark Hoosier, manager of Highland Alco, said he was walking behind the store the morning after the Feb. 5, 2008, tornado hit to assess the damage. "I saw this quilt lying in the grass and I picked it up," Hoosier said. "I called Lenice thinking it could be cleaned and given to someone who had lost their belongings in the tornado."
Hansen, along with others at the Peace Lutheran Church, is in a quilting group. "The first thing Lenice said was, 'We'll see if we can find who this belongs to,'" Hoosier said.
Hansen said she checked with locals who had lost their homes and the quilt didn't belong to any of them. Her next step in finding who the quilt belonged to was putting it on the Areawide Media Web site.
Hansen said she still received no leads on the quilt so she contacted Country Living Magazine and put a picture of the quilt along with the story in the March issue of the magazine.
"I knew as I was cleaning up the quilt and patching it that it was handmade," Hansen said. Hansen had the quilt in a bedroom on one of her beds just waiting to find its owner.
After the one year anniversary of the Feb. 5 tornado, Hansen received the call she had been waiting for. Pam Owen of Atkins called and said her friend was the owner of the quilt.
Ruby Kersten and her family had lost everything in the tornado. Kersten had the quilt stored in a camper that was demolished by the tornado.
"All that was left of the camper was the chassis, and it was wrapped around a tree," Kersten said. "We had belongings scattered everywhere."
Kersten said she had a room that was lined with family pictures and all that was left hanging after the tornado was a cross.
Kersten came across the picture of her quilt in the Atkins Chronicle. The paper had done a special issue for the anniversary of the tornado and had used the picture of the quilt and the article from the Country Living Magazine.
"I walked into the restaurant and told Pam, that's grandma's quilt," Kersten said. But they said all they had was a post office box to get a hold of Hansen.
"I called city hall and told the woman on the phone I had to get a hold of her (Hansen)," Owen said. "She said, 'Well honey, they probably don't have electricity or phones or anything.'"
Owen said she finally obtained Hansen's number and it took her over a week to get hold of her due to the ice storm. Owen and Kersten made the three hour drive from Atkins Feb. 20 to meet Hansen and get the quilt she had been missing for over a year.
"My husband said, 'Why don't you just send her the money for postage, it would be cheaper,' but I said, 'Oh, no I have to meet her,'" Kersten said.
When Kersten walked through Hansen's door, she immediately hugged Hansen with tears streaming down her face.
"I can still remember sitting with my grandma and poking the needle back through the top while she was quilting," Kersten said as she grasped the quilt with tears in her eyes.
Kersten said she and her husband are still living in a camper while their home is being built.
Hoosier told Kersten, "Right where the tornado changed course is where it dropped the quilt."