MEXICO BEACH, Fla. (WJHG/WECP/Gray News) - During Hurricane Michael, personal property was thrown all over Mexico Beach, only for many items to wind up in the police station.
"We began collecting the items, identifying the locations they were found," said Mexico Beach Police Chief Anthony Kelly.
Now nearly a year later, they're still holding on to many priceless memories.
"Lot of military paraphernalia. We have a wedding certificate or marriage license that goes back, I think, 60 or 70 years," said Kelly.
He even found a bag of human ashes along the shoreline. Since it had a tag from the crematorium on it, he returned the remains to family members.
"These are people's lives. The storm changed everybody's life. But if we can return something to a family member that was heartbroken and devastated and this put a smile back on their face, then I feel we've done exactly what we're supposed to do," said Kelly.
Kelly says more than 300 items have been found and returned to their owners, leaving about 100 left that are unclaimed.
"This was a personal project that I wanted to make sure got taken care of, at least one more time," said Kelly.
He’s taking pictures of every item still in his possession. He’ll post them on the city’s Facebook page and he’s also creating a booklet to put in local shops in hopes these items return home.
"It's history. I think it's very important that we know where we've come from and what we've done," said Kelly.
Kelly believes many of these items are invaluable for the families who've already lost so much.
"Insurance can cover a lot of things but the photograph of your grandchild, a wedding certificate, those are priceless items that just can't be replaced," said Kelly.
If you believe an item is yours or a family member's, Kelly requires you provide proof of address and your ID to claim it.