As people all over Kansas sift through whatever's left of their property after Saturday's tornado outbreak, they're discovering their photographs - many of them wet, stuck together or damaged.
But Operation Photo Rescue knows, the most precious things you have are your memories. The non-profit organization travels all over the country, after disaster, to help salvage those memories.
"Think about it," says Margie Hayes, President of Operation Photo Rescue. "If your photos were destroyed, what would it mean to you?"
Hayes says, the group goes into a disaster area, takes copies of the photos, restores them and returns them, all free of charge.
The group started in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina by two photojournalists. Word spread and now more than 2,000 people volunteer to help. "It just kind of snowballed," says Hayes.
Since then, it's been to places like Joplin after the deadly tornado in 2011 and to Pennsylvania earlier this year.
"When we went to Joplin they brought van loads of dried photos and brought them to church there they had to rent a dehumidifier," Hayes told us. "Out of that they got 40 gallons of water so, water is bad."
That's why people have to act quickly.
The first thing to do, is get your photos to dry:
- Take them out of their albums and frames. Don't let them get stuck because the ink could start running
- Don't let mold grow on them. It can destroy the photographs
- Lay them out on a paper towel and away from direct sunlight
- If they're stuck together, check whether they're stable and soak them in distilled water. If they easily peel apart, do that
Operation Photo Rescue will operate out of El Dorado in Kansas. Contact them at 316-321-1445 or click here for their website. It limits photo restorations to 20 because it operates on donations.
Tax-deductible donations can be made to:
Operation Photo Rescue, Inc.
1355 E. 6th Ave.
El Dorado, KS 67042