A group that restores photographs damaged in disasters plans a “rescue” mission in Cedar Rapids next month. Volunteers with “Operation Photo Rescue” will set up shop at the African-American Museum in Cedar Rapids on Friday, October 9th.
Organizer Margie Hayes says her group got started in 2006. “Two photo-journalists decided that they wanted to help the people that got hit by Hurricane Katrina. They’d seen photos that were, you know, destroyed and they knew they could help, so they took off to do that. They had a blog site and people started joining and pretty soon it grew and grew until finally we now have over 2000 volunteers,” Hayes says. “We have volunteers in all 50 states and 49 countries.”
The plan now is for “Operation Photo Rescue” volunteers to work in Cedar Rapids on Friday and Saturday, October 9th and 10th, but depending on the number of folks who come forward with damaged pictures, the session may be extended to Sunday, October 11th. There is a limit on how many snapshots each flood victim may bring.
“While we’d like to take every photograph that they have, we can’t do that,” Hayes says. “We ask that they take 20 that they’d like to have restored.”
“Operation Photo Rescue” doesn’t keep the damaged photos. Instead, volunteers take a snapshot of the wrecked photo with a digital camera and the “restoration” work is done mostly by “Photoshop” work on a computer.
“We wait until all of the pictures have been restored and then we send them off to www.DigMyPics.com and they have offered to do that free of charge for us. There will be no cost to the families. The prints will be mailed back to them,” Hayes says. “But we do wait until they’re all done rather than do them one at a time, mainly just for cost factors.”
Find out more online at www.operationphotorescue.org. The group’s website has a gallery which shows photos that were damaged in a variety of disasters, from wildfires to hurricanes to floods and the “restored” images which the organization’s volunteers were able to create. Hayes says “Operation Photo Rescue” has a wide network of volunteers.
“We have our two founders. They’re from Fredericksburg, Virginia. Our secretary and printer — she’s in San Diego. One of my distributors is in Australia. The other one is in the Netherlands. I am in Kansas. Our webmaster is in New York,” Hayes says, “so it’s really a global effort.”