Volunteers Save Flood Damaged Photos

Many Hurricane Ike victims lost precious memories when photographs were damaged by water. One volunteer group is trying to help them get those memories back. Charles Bornstein reports.


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Suzette Gunter had about 4 feet of water in her Shore Acres home during Hurricane Ike. The storm not only damaged her home, but also some things which could not be replaced.

“I had left some very old pictures of grandparents and great-grandparents in a firesafe, thinking it’d be okay, but firesafes are not waterproof…, don’t ever do that. Hopefully, these good people will restore it for us, some of them are pretty bad, but maybe there’s something we can get back.”

The good people she is referring to are part of Operation Photo Rescue. They try to help victims of natural disaster by copying and digitally restoring damaged pictures free of charge. The volunteer network of professional and amateur photographers recently held an event where Ike victims could bring in their damaged photos.The event was staffed by local photographers like Roland Johnson of Pasadena.

“We’re placing the images under glass to make sure they’re flat and that they’re parallel to the plane of my sensors. ….We shoot…As I said, we’ve already color balanced…so everything should just come out perfect (camera click).”

But that’s just the start of the process. Next the captured images need to be repaired through digital enhancement. That’s where another part of the volunteer network gets involved.

“We’ll be burning the images to a DVD and then those images will be sent to the Operation Photo Rescue Photoshop people. They’ll be going back in and repairing portions of the images. They’ll be replacing or painting in colors that need to be replaced that are totally gone. They’ll be improving the overall tone of the images.”

Local organizers are hoping to stage another event after the new year in Galveston. For more information, view

Charles Bornstein….KUHF Houston Public Radio News

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