As many insurance companies will tell you, the cost of flooding can be enormous. Using the handy tool at FloodSmart shows that if a modest, 1000 square foot home was hit by just 2 inches of flood water, you could well be looking at around $10,000 of damage, including electrical and computer goods, kitchen appliances, door and window bases, and furniture. Move the gauge up a notch and we will see that a flood of 2 foot of water would cause over $30,000 worth of damage. But furniture, doors, window, electrics – all of these things are replaceable, although certainly it is easier to replace them if you have good flood insurance cover.
But what about losing items of sentimental or emotional value such as treasured family photos? Imagine losing your whole photo collection to a flood. Wedding and vacation photos, childhood, graduation and even pet portraits – all of those cherished family memories could be taken away and lost forever.
Operation Photo Rescue
Fortunately for people in the USA, charity organisation Operation Photo Rescue (OPR) is there to help.
Operation Photo Rescue is a not for profit charity that offers free photo restoration to those whose photos have been damaged by any natural disaster, including floods. It is made up of a network of volunteers, many of whom may be professional or amateur photographers, graphic designers, digital image enthusiasts or image restoration artists. Their mission is to repair photographs damaged by unforeseen circumstances such as floods, at no cost to the people who own them.
The charity’s president, Margie Hayes says that OPR helps people to “get back their memories”.
A recent recipient of OPR’s services said:
“The work that you do is a blessing to many people. Houses can be rebuilt, but the memories caught is photos can’t be replaced once they’re lost. You are bringing much needed comfort to people at a time when they most need it.”
The charity was created by two photojournalists in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and now has volunteers from all 50 US states and 76 other countries worldwide, including Germany, Australia, and The Netherlands. Between them, the volunteers have returned over 10,000 restored photos to survivors of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.
How Operation Photo Rescue Works
Margie Hayes explains how OPR operates once a disaster has struck in a community.
“We wait until after the cleanup and try to pick a library where we can stay for a couple of days and during that time we have copy stands with high end digital cameras set up to take digital copies of the damaged photos. Once uploaded to a secure website, the photos are put out in a gallery for volunteers from all over to restore with digital software.”
Currently OPR only operate in the USA. Most recently they have been helping victims of the devastating mudslide in Oso, Washington. In the past they have helped victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey, a tornado in Moore OK, flooding in Lindsborg KS, Tropical Storm Lee in Hummelstown,PA, flooding in Stark County Ohio…the list goes on. On the first year anniversary of the tornado.in Joplin, Headline News came out to find out more about how OPR had helped people overcome the disaster there: