On the afternoon of June 16, 2014, five tornados tore through the region around the village of Pilger, NE. One of the tornados stayed on the ground for over an hour and literally left a scar 18 miles long across the land.
By the time the storm faded, 2 people had lost their lives, 19 others were in critical condition, and the damage to Pilger was being described by first responders as “catastrophic.”
Estimates released in the days after the storm categorized four of the tornados, including the one that hit Pilger, as EF-4’s, meaning they had wind speeds as high as 200mph.
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On a recent trip to visit family in the region, I had the opportunity to tour some of the areas hit by the tornados. Even after months of cleanup, the scenes were devastating. And our family is just beginning to put their lives back together after losing a home and sustaining massive damage to their businesses.
I spent some time talking to one of my wife’s cousins about the recovery efforts, and our conversation naturally turned to the priceless photographs they lost in the storm. I’ve always admired the family photos they’ve commissioned from outstanding photographers in Nebraska, and I was sad to learn that many were lost. I hold out hope that some are eventually located. Amazingly, on the day of our visit, two months after the disaster, someone found the social security card of one of the children in our family and returned it.
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My visit to Nebraska has strengthened my resolve to do everything possible to protect my clients’ images. I utilize an offsite data center to store every image I provide to my clients. If they ever experience the tragedy of a natural disaster, even five years later, I can return their images to them.
If you’ve had photos taken by other photographers, here are some things you can do to protect them:
-If you received your photos on a disk, copy the images to a USB thumb drive, then ask a parent or sibling to keep the drive at their home.
-If you have your photos on your computer, you may also consider subscribing to an on-line backup service like Carbonite or iDrive. These services use the internet to transfer copies of your files to a remote data center where they are protected and can easily be retrieved.
-If you only have actual prints, consider contacting your photographer and purchasing a copy of your favorites, even if they are smaller, less expensive sizes. Once again, store these copies some place other than your home, like a safe deposit box at the bank.
-If your original photographer can’t provide copies of your favorite prints, check to see if he / she will allow you to scan the prints you have into a digital file. There are vendors around town that can help you with this if you have permission from the original photographer.
Some of this may seem like a lot of work. But if you ever experience the tragedy of a fire or tornado, you will be so glad you took the time to preserve your precious photos.
If you have specific questions about this topic, feel free to contact me at email@example.com. I’ll gladly help you work out the best plan for protecting your images.
If you would like to help the families in Pilger, NE, donations can be mailed to:
Pilger Community Development Fund
c/o Midwest Bank
PO Box 346
Pilger, NE 68768
Your help would be greatly appreciated!