Sunday, July 14th, 2024

10 Years After Hurricane Katrina


Ten years ago on August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall and history for the devastation she brought. Two photojournalists, Dave Ellis and Becky Sell, wanted to help after seeing a photo thrown away by a family that Becky was doing a story on.  She did some photo restorations and then ask Dave if maybe they could go back and do a bigger effort to help those whose photos had been damaged. With the backing of their newspaper, The Free Lance Star, they traveled to Pass Christian, MS in January 30, 2006 to see if they could offer their help in restoring damaged photos. Here is Dave’s account of day 1.

Setting out on this project., Becky and I were fearful of many possible failures. We wondered if we discover the idea too late. We were concerned that there would be nothing left to save and that no one would show to take advantage of our volunteer work. We were completely wrong.

Today we opened for business. We were met by nearly 30 residents each bringing to us several photos. Our self-imposed limit was five per family, but we soon found that our spirit of generosity grew as more and more people came in. We have not done an official count, but I would estimate that we have taken in nearly 200 photos already.

On May 3, 2006, Dave and Becky made another trip back to help, but this time to Metairie, LA at the Jefferson Parish Library. Now 9 years later, Operation Photo Rescue is making the same trip back.  Little did Dave and Becky ever guess that their efforts would turn into a nonprofit organization with volunteers throughout the United States and around the world. Their efforts struck a cord with people that could understand how much a photo means and the heartache of losing their memories. A video was made shortly after their trip and it is as touching now as it was back then.


OPERATION PHOTO RESCUE COMING TO Metairie, LA for the 10 Year Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina
EL DORADO, KS – July 23, 2015 – Operation Photo Rescue (OPR), a U.S. nonprofit organization comprised of a worldwide network of volunteers will be returning to Metairie, LA on August 28-29 to digitally copy photos and later restored for anyone whose photos were damaged by Hurricane Katrina.

Hosted by the Jefferson Parrish Library, OPR will be onsite at the East Branch Regional at4747 West Napoleon Ave, Metairie, LA.

Hours will be: Friday, August 28, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday August 29, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Anyone with photos damaged from Hurricane Katrina or other natural disasters may bring up to 25 photos to be evaluated for restoration later. Photos that can be repaired will be digitally captured with high end camera equipment and at a later date will be restored, printed, and mailed home to the owners at no cost. The original photo remains with the owner.

All photos need to be dry and removed from picture frames and albums. Those that cannot be extracted will still be copied, but the quality may suffer. Photos that are stuck together can be separated by soaking, but should first be tested on a corner to see if the emulsion is stable enough to soak.

Following family and pets, photos are the next most cherished possession, as the memories captured in photos are all that remain after a natural disaster. Operation Photo Rescue (OPR) is a federally registered 501(c) (3) not-for-profit charity that restores photographs that have been damaged by natural disasters. OPR was founded in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in January 2006 by two photojournalists, Dave Ellis and Becky Sell. Since then, the organization has grown into a network of volunteers here and around the globe that have restored over 10,000 photos for survivors of hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods.

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Media Contacts:

Margie Hayes, Operation Photo Rescue, 316-322-5998, [email protected]
Chris Smith, Manager of Adult Programming, 504-838-1100,


7 Responses to “10 Years After Hurricane Katrina”
  1. Bettie kernion says:

    In our local newspaper, The Times Picayune, the site for OPR in Metairie on August 28-29 is the Old Metairie Library on Metairie Rd but your site indicates the location as east Bank Regional on West Napoleon. Could you confirm the correct site for me? Thanks so much for this wonderful project. Bettie Kernion

  2. Margie says:

    Betty, thanks for catching that as we will be at the East Bank Regional on West Napoleon, and not the Old Metairie Library on Metairie, Rd that was listed. If you have the chance come by and see us and tell everyone you know about our coming.

  3. Carol Victor says:

    Can you tell me if there is a way to remove a picture from the frame without it possibly sticking to the glass it was under water for a period of time in Meraux, St Bernard Parish Louisiana. Any help would be appreciated.

    [email protected]

  4. Patricia M. says:

    How wonderful. I’m sharing this on Facebook so it will get around. Awesome way to help people heal and get back good memories.

  5. Margie says:

    Patricia, thanks so much for getting the word out. We are very happy to have a second chance to help those hit by Hurricane Katrina.

  6. Margie says:


    If your picture is stuck and cannot be removed without tearing the photo, bring it in and we will take a picture through the glass. It may not be as good a capture as it would have been otherwise, but we have done this before with good results. Hope to see you there.


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  1. […] Operation Photo Rescue Jefferson Parish East Bank Regional Library, 4747 West Napoleon Ave., Metairie. Volunteers from Operation Photo Rescue will be on hand to help people with photographs damaged during Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, Aug. 29 from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Attendees may bring as many as 25 photos to be evaluated for restoration. Photos that can be repaired will be digitally copied and later restored and printed. Restored photos will be mailed to owners at no cost. The original photo remains with the owner. Further instructions for photo care and preparation can be found on Operation Photo Rescue’s website. Admission: Free. Call 504.889.8143. […]