The Log Cabin Democrat’s office at 1111 Main Street in Conway is Faulkner County’s official drop off location for photographs and identification documents found in tornado cleanup.
The newspaper is partnering with National Disaster Photo Rescue to collect and store lost photographs recovered by cleanup workers in affected areas and photos found miles away from the tornado’s path that are believed to have been blown by the storm.
"We wish for peace for these affected community members, and in this time of trouble we want to be a venue to collect the priceless memory pieces for the victims of Sunday’s tornado so that they may be returned to them at a later date," said Log Cabin Democrat Publisher Zach Ahrens. "Preserving documented history is in line with our mission. In the midst of the community’s hardship and cleanup, we are striving to provide timely, accurate and relevant information for our readers. Hosting this collection is something we can do to provide a small piece of lasting comfort."
The nonprofit National Disaster Photo Rescue project was born in the aftermath of the May 2011 Joplin, Mo. tornado out of the First Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo. The group travels to communities in the throes of disaster cleanup and works with locals to establish a system of collection, storage and eventual claim process.
The Log Cabin Democrat, in Federal Plaza with the post office, will be open to photo collection weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Photos should be brought in small boxes.
Photo albums will also be accepted.
Project founder Thad Beeler said in the wake of the Joplin tornado, the group collected about 40,000 photographs. National Disaster Photo Rescue is still returning photos to families three years after the storm in reunification events.
"People are looking for things to remind them of what their life was like before the tornado. If you hand them five photographs, you have reconstructed a part of their life that was gone. It’s a tremendous event for them," said Beeler. "Families from the Joplin tornado who had nothing but the clothes on their backs were given photos, and those photos became their most prized possessions."
He said NDPR volunteers are trained in photo restoration and grief counseling.
To be a local volunteer, visit the group’s website and register at www.nationaldisasterphotorescue.net.
NDPR is looking for a local permanent location for photo storage and volunteer work space, as the reclaiming process may take families months or years.
Photographs recovered from the April 28, 2014 tornado will be posted on group’s website after collection.
(Staff writer Courtney Spradlin can be reached by email at email@example.com or by phone at 505-1236, or on Twitter @Courtneyism. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit.)