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Photo Restoration Group Helps Pensacola Flood Victims

Operation Photo Rescue

Operation Photo Rescue (OPR), a U.S. not-for-profit organization comprised of a worldwide network of volunteers will be in Pensacola, FL on September 26-27 to digitally copy photos for anyone whose pictures were damaged by the recent flooding.

Hosted by the Covenant Hospice, OPR will be onsite at 2001 N Palafox St, Pensacola, FL on Friday and Saturday, September 26-27 from 9 am to 5 pm both days.

Margie Hayes, president of OPR, says they decided to send volunteers to Pensacola after getting a great response from initial public awareness efforts, including WUWF's July interview with OPR colleague Mike Sluder. "We want to make sure that there's enough people that need our help to make the trip worthwhile, because it's expensive," she said, noting that it can cost thousands of dollars for participating volunteers.

There is no cost for the service and no pre-registration is required.

Anyone with photos damaged from flooding may bring up to 25 photos to be evaluated for restoration later. It's recommended that all photos be dry. "The problem is if your photos are wet, you're running the risk that molds developing in it, and that can be a real issue. When we were in Biloxi (MS), the entire crew came down, a lot of them, with a sinus infection. So, dry is a good thing," said Hayes.  

Also, if possible,  it's important for photos to be removed from picture frames and albums. Those that cannot be extracted will still be copied, but the quality may suffer. Photos that are stuck together can be separated by soaking, but should first be tested on a corner to see if the emulsion is stable enough to soak. Further instructions on care can be found on Operation Photo Rescue’s homepage: www.operationphotorescue.org.

Photos that can be repaired will be digitally captured with high end camera equipment and later restored and printed. Restored photos will be mailed to owners at no cost. The original photo remains with the owner.

Following family and pets, photos are the next most cherished possession, as the memories captured in photos are all that remain after a natural disaster.

Operation Photo Rescue (OPR) is a federally registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit charity that restores photographs that have been damaged by natural disasters. OPR was founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in January 2006 by two photojournalists, Dave Ellis and Becky Sell. Since then, the organization has grown into a network of over 2,000 volunteers from across the globe. Volunteers from all 50 U.S. states and 76 other countries have returned over 10,000 restored photos to survivors of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and wildfires.  More information is available at http://www.operationphotorescue.org.

Sandra Averhart has been News Director at WUWF since 1996. Her first job in broadcasting was with (then) Pensacola radio station WOWW107-FM, where she worked 11 years. Sandra, who is a native of Pensacola, earned her B.S. in Communication from Florida State University.