By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
A new national photo rescue operation based in Carthage that formed to help salvage and return to owners what was lost in the Joplin tornado has reached out to Moore, Okla., and next week will help storm victims there get down to business.
The new project, modeled after a similar effort in Joplin for the past two years, at first was named Lost Photos of Moore, but was renamed Oklahoma Photo Rescue to reflect multiple areas in Oklahoma impacted by tornadoes. Having just passed the two-year anniversary of the Joplin tornado, nearly half of the 35,000 photos collected have been returned to their owners.
According to Thad Beeler of the Carthage-based Lost Photos of Joplin project, which evolved into National Photo Disaster Rescue, the Oklahoma effort will be supported by local volunteers, the Moore Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and industry, along with National Disaster Photo Rescue.
The group’s first coordinated event will be a “Picture Patrol” event on Tuesday. Volunteers are to meet at Fort Thunder Harley-Davidson, 500 S.W. 11th St. in Moore, next to the Warren Theater in the destruction zone. The first patrol will be begin at 9 a.m., with a second patrol slated to go out at 1 p.m.
Beeler said volunteers are needed immediately to help retrieve photographs from public areas. The “Picture Patrol” will work in teams in the field, he said, to properly handle and keep lost photos from further damage and demolition.
Volunteers for “Picture Patrol” events and collections may sign up online at www.nationaldisasterphotorescue.net. Click on “Help Oklahoma.” A Facebook page has been created at www.facebook.com/OklahomaPhotoRescue.
Beeler said the National Disaster Photo Rescue and Oklahoma Photo Rescue are committed to returning lost photos to their owners without charge. Like the Joplin effort orchestrated by volunteers at First Baptist Church in Carthage, volunteers will collect, clean, sort, scan, document, and hold reunification events in Moore.
Official photo drop-off locations also have been organized. Photographs collected can be taken to area Arvest banks, Walgreens, Dental Depot and Studio Innovations.