Volunteer 'Photo Renovators' Are Transforming Photos Damaged By Hurricane Harvey

"It brings a lot of hope just to know that these can be restored. Then I know I can be restored back to new."

The billions of dollars of damage Hurricane Harvey caused last summer when it ripped through the Houston metropolitan area was easy to see, but the emotional toll thousands of survivors had to endure upon realizing some or all of their belongings were gone or seemingly damaged beyond repair was harder to spot. That's why Texas Photo Renovators formed and began restoring priceless memories residents displaced by Hurricane Harvey thought they had lost forever.

The initiative launched in the months following Harvey as photographer and native Houstonian Levi Rosen and a small team of volunteers knew they needed to find some way to help. "If we can help even one family hold on to a special family photo, especially after their home has been lost to flooding, we can help them hold on to hope," TPR's Facebook page states. 

As for why he helped start restoring photos with TPR, Rosen told FOX 26, "They're precious. They're memories, and if you lose those it's almost like you lose your history." 

Though the group limits their free services to 10 images per household and can't salvage every photo, they have brought plenty of hope and happiness to dozens of families in the Houston area and other storm-ravaged areas such as Puerto Rico and Florida. Together with help from software company Adobe and its student program, plenty of meaningful images have been restored to their former glory.

In the video above, you can watch as students (with assistance from TPR) from all over Texas help those in need by repairing treasured photos that had been nearly destroyed by the "nightmare on Earth" that was Hurricane Harvey. For many victims, these priceless images were some of the only pictures of deceased relatives that still existed. As one survivor put it, "The house can be replaced, but our pictures can't."

Upon seeing that a collage of photos of his deceased mother had been repaired to look as good as new, one young Harvey survivor told a group of students, "This means the world to me."

And those who lost everything to Hurricane Harvey weren't the only ones who found this experience incredibly gratifying. "It was such an honor to work on that photo for you," one student volunteer told a Harvey victim after helping to restore a picture of her mother. "I'm so happy it brings you so much joy."

Northside Independent School District teacher Jill Barton, who teaches digital media to many of the young volunteers seen in the video above, was thrilled her students could lend a helping hand. "As a teacher, it doesn't' get more real world than this," she told My San Antonio. "It not only helped the community but allowed them to take what they're learning and apply it for the better good."

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