Dating sites to meet firefighters
Kathryn had a few toys left, so she stopped and offered to play with the kids for a while.
"I told them I could take the ruined pictures, copy them and give them digitally restored photos," she recalls. Rebecca took their photos home with her once her assignment ended, restored them and took them to the couple at their temporary residence in Virginia.So in January 2006, with paid time off from the paper, the two set up shop in the Pass Christian, Mississippi, public library, 65 miles from New Orleans (or rather, the double-wide trailer that now served as the library; the original had been destroyed in the hurricane). "It was a massive undertaking." In a stroke of luck, a popular website linked to Dave's blog about the experience, and soon Operation Photo Rescue, as it came to be known, had emails from hundreds of volunteers, including photographers, restoration experts and Photoshop whizzes, eager to help.After posting a notice in the community newsletter, Rebecca and Dave were inundated with 500 photos in four days: water-spotted wedding pictures, baby photos crinkled with moisture. Though digital restoration is a painstaking process, mending irreplaceable family pictures means the world to victims like Emily Lancaster, 71, of Ocean Springs, Mississippi, who tossed out piles of ruined photo albums after Katrina, never thinking the mildewed mess could be salvaged.They were so affected by the terrible events in their own backyards that they immediately stepped up to lend a helping hand to other disaster victims—one stranger at a time. Kathryn, her three other children and her husband survived.When a tornado ripped through the small town of Otwell, Indiana, in May 2006, Kathryn Martin, 32, who lived 60 miles away in Evansville, couldn't get the news of it out of her mind. "It was the most terrible experience of my life," she says."It's great to be able to give people some of their history back," says Rebecca.
"One person told me that thanks to us, her grandmother got to see her photos again before she passed away.
"And feeding people is what I do best."The power was out in town, so she and a few other residents who hadn't evacuated hauled over an industrialsize propane grill from the firehouse a few blocks away.
She set it up on the street in front of her restaurant and started pots of beef and beans cooking.
I'm so happy to have these two."In the five years since Katrina, Operation Photo Rescue—now headquartered in Fredericksburg, Virginia, with more than 2,000 volunteers—has collected thousands of pictures ruined by floods, hurricanes and tornadoes in such states as Iowa, Georgia, Kansas, Texas and Louisiana.
Volunteers make "copy runs" to disaster areas across the country to gather damaged photos from survivors; operating costs are covered by donations and grants.
For each, the pair snapped a new digital picture, then used high-tech software to erase water spots and restore colors. But she just couldn't bear to part with a few treasured pictures, including a portrait of her father, who had passed away, and a photo of her husband as a boy. "I didn't have a whole lot of hope they could fix them, but they did," Emily says.