UT volunteers help preserve flooded photographs

The community is gathering and dropping off small mementos that survived the flood in hopes of a reunion with their original owners.

HAYS COUNTY, Texas -- In the immediate aftermath of devastating flooding in communities like Wimberley, residents impacted by the floods look for some sense of normalcy.

One way to find that is to retrieve precious mementos that families may have thought were lost. That's why a group of volunteers from the University of Texas has come into the flooded areas to help.

At the Wimberley Public Library, tables are covered in life's special moments: photographs of smiling babies, weddings, anniversaries and vacations.

"People are bringing them here. We are laying them out and letting them dry so victims of the flood come by when they are able to look through the pictures and claim what's theirs," said Carolyn Manning, the Wimberley Library Director.

The community is gathering and dropping off small mementos that survived the flood in hopes of a reunion with their original owners.

"A lady came in for her baby book yesterday and she heard it was here she found it and it didn't have all the insides and she took it and it was beautiful," said librarian, Kristina Minor.

Volunteers from the University of Texas are also teaching how to preserve the photographs, even after storms have taken a toll.

"We know how to deal with paper that's wet that's damaged that's mold eaten and we want to share that expertise so people don't lose their family archives," said Karen Pavelka a lecturer with UT"s School of Information.

Experts said the first step is to separate photos and let them dry face up in a room with good circulation. Wear latex gloves and use a soot sponge to carefully remove mold. The goal is to make them safe to create a digital copy, and later Photoshop can fix major issues.

"The point of what we are doing right now isn't to make them perfect, its to make them safe so later on we can scan them," said Rebecca Elder, an adjunct faculty member with the School of Information.

Elder said to not throw anything out until its been assessed, even when it looks damaged beyond repair.


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