Hurricane Isaac teaches important lessons on family photos

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It’s been nearly five years since Hurricane Isaac poured through Lake Pontchartrain and then poured through the streets north of Airline Highway in LaPlace and Reserve, flooding nearly 7,000 homes in St. John the Baptist Parish.

But for all the damage that occurred to homes, what many of those who got through the storm grieve the most for are lost photographs and documents.

Camelia Street resident Mary Schmidt was able to save her albums by putting the photos into plastic bins and hoisting them up onto a shelf above the waist-deep water.

However, many on the northern end of Camelia Street were not so lucky.

“It came up so fast,” said neighbor Kathleen Bordelon, whose home had water up to the doorknobs.

Despite the damage, which was eventually repaired with insurance money, Bordelon said she lost all of her family photos. Her voice trembled as she talked about it.

Bordelon points to
where the water
level reached in
her LaPlace home.

“All my kids’ baby pictures are gone,” she said. “I’m never going to be able to see them again.”

Thankfully, there are many ways to safeguard these irreplaceable images with a little bit of work.

Not only are there are numerous options for online storage, but digital storage is relatively cheap, and can be stored in an album or in CD jewel cases. Here are some important steps to take in order to preserve your family’s photo memories.

Make digital copies of important pictures. These include weddings, Christenings, birthday parties and other events that show your family. This can be done in several ways.

Take a photograph of the photograph with a digital camera. This can be as simple as using your phone. But remember to send copies to your family and extended family. Ask them to do the same.

Buy or borrow a flatbed scanner, which looks like a compact copy machine. They are inexpensive and can be shared. Just place groups of photos on the glass and scan them into a computer.

Ideally, place digital tags on each photo identifying each person in the photo. This makes it easier to find photos of grandma no matter where they are on the computer.

Invite relatives to bring their family photos to a scanning party. Just don’t spill wine on the primary reason for the event.


So what do you do with these photos? They can be stored on computer hard drives, DVDs, CDs and such. But they can be bulky. A flash memory stick is also a good choice, especially when sharing them with extended family.

Another option is a detachable hard drive, but these drives are targets for thieves, not easily shared and will fail suddenly after a few years.

A more secure method are inexpensive double-layer DVDs, which hold twice as much data as traditional DVDs, or the new Blu-Ray discs, which hold at least 25 gigabytes of data, five times as much as a DVD. They cost about $2 apiece for that size but are cheap enough to share with extended family.

These discs are available with capacities up to 100 gigabytes at a significantly higher cost. They require a DVD player/burner that accepts Blu-Rays, but these devices will play CDs and DVDs, as well as Blu-Rays and cost less than $100.

Saving your important memories can be work, but preserving your family legacy may make it worth the effort.