After hearing that a neighbor was going to throw out all of their family photos after they had taken considerable water damage, Kowalczyk realized she knew how to save them.
“A lot of the neighbors have already heaped piles of their belongings taller than me on the street. Everything they owned was in a pile lining both streets,” Kowalczyk tells Good Morning America. “And this wasn’t just a block. It was block after block, it was an entire community.”
Among the items of damaged belongings laid out on the Floridian streets were printed photographs of relatives; both living and dead.
“I looked at them, and right away I knew what we needed to do with them, we needed to get them out of those albums, get them out of their frames because that’s what’s holding in moisture and that’s what’s causing more mold,” Kowalczyk says.
The kindhearted photographer volunteered her expertise to “save family memories,” and is trying to digitize as many photographs as possible.
“From sunup to sundown every day I have been washing pictures, and drying pictures, and hanging them and cutting them out,” Kowalczyk tells GMA.
“It’s therapeutic, I like to know that this is doing something positive for somebody who has had a really, really hard time.”
Kowalczyk has even been posting videos on her Instagram sharing tips on how to salvage photo prints that have been totally submerged. She also advises that the film negatives fare better after a flood and they can be used to create another set of prints.
“In a time when you’re just watching all of this destruction and so many horrible stories and hearing that ‘this is gone’ and ‘that’s gone’ and you feel helpless. I wanted to be here because this is therapeutic. I want to know that I’ve done something positive.”