Many of us cherish out family photographs; many have been passed down through generations and are old, delicate memories. However, when disaster strikes, what would you do if the worst should happen to those precious photographs of your family and ancestors? If they were to be lost forever, how would you show your own children family members who have passed away? These are very real questions that get asked around the world regularly, after a natural disaster or a house fire.
That’s exactly what happened when hurricane Sandy hit the East coast of North and South America and the Caribbean in 2012. As one of the strongest and most destructive storms the area has ever seen, hurricane Sandy claimed at least 233 lives across eight countries. Homes and businesses were completely destroyed across the storm path, leaving hundreds of families without a roof over their head, and without their treasured photographs to keep them positive.
However, those who were involved in the clean up efforts after the hurricane rescued hundreds and hundreds of old photographs, many of them in black and white. Instead of throwing them away, a volunteer in Staten Island, NY collected all of the lost photographs, cleaned them and had them scanned to form an online database. Two years since she set up a Facebook page to find the people in the photos, Nicole Malliotakis is renewing her effort to return the memories to their rightful owners.
With 696 photos in the Sandy collection, it is certainly a daunting job, but one Nicole is determined to finish. She has previously organised a public viewing at a local high school, but hundreds of photos remain unclaimed. In a statement, she said: “Some of the photos we collected are very old and perhaps the only memory of a wedding day, a new baby or a relative no longer with us. I know I would want that captured moment back and that is why I started the process of cleaning the photos, organizing them and having them scanned for online viewing.”
It’s stories of a community spirit like this which really stand out after a devastating event such as hurricane Sandy. However, such a rescue effort for memories wouldn’t be needed if families had safeguarded the photographs from any type of damage. By making digital copies of photos and other memory books, people know that regardless of what happens to the physical copy, those memories can always be retrieved. This is so important for families who like to leave a record of their lives and pass it down to future generations.
Speak to us about protecting your photographs by creating a digital archive.