Restore The Shore: Fixing damaged photographs

May 13, 2013 3:34:03 PM PDT
A big effort is under way to restore some very sentimental items damaged by Sandy.

When tidal flooding from Sandy washed through homes at the shore it destroyed or damaged countless family photos such as a picture of Cheryl Chando's grown son Ryan taken when he was a year old.

"Oh, it was just so sad because those are memories. It was just a special time back then and this is the way you remember them. It was a shame to see them in such deplorable condition," Cherly Chando of Normandy Beach said.

It may seem hard to believe, but water and mold-damaged pictures are not a lost cause thanks, in part, to a non-profit organization called Operation Photo Rescue. Its volunteers travel to disaster areas around the country to make digital copies of damaged photos and using computer technology, restore them in a way that's almost unbelievable.

"It can take a full week or more on some of these photos, single photo, to restore them," Mike Sluder of Operation Photo Rescue said.

"The joy is seeing that people recover their lost memory. Seeing that when they get that back, the joy they have is also the joy we have," Shujen Chen of Operation Photo Rescue said.

During Operation Photo Rescue's recent visit to Seaside Heights, Nancy Carlson was thrilled that some of the pictures she salvaged after the storm, including one of her late mother surf fishing, might be able to be restored.

"Every time you would come across a photograph or anything you'd be like 'I hope I can save that,'" Nancy said.

The process takes about 6 months or more. The photos are restored, printed, and then shipped to the owners free of charge.

2,800 volunteers across the states and in 22 countries do the work, and what they accomplish on their computers is nothing short of amazing.

Cheryl Chando can't wait to get her pictures back.

"Oh it'll be wonderful. Like you could almost forget what happened," Cheryl said.