CARTHAGE — Nearly 3,000 photos collected after being scattered by the May 22 tornado in Joplin have been returned to their owners, but up to 20,000 others haven't been, the leader of a volunteer organization said.
Some of those 20,000 photos have been claimed via a Facebook page called the Lost Photos of Joplin, but many people have not been able to get to a church in Carthage that is holding the photos to claim them, Angela Walters, who founded the Facebook page, told The Joplin Globe for a story published Saturday.
To speed up the process, Walters and several volunteers will be at the Joplin Public Library from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to help those who have claimed the photos on the Facebook page retrieve them. And because Walters can't bring all 20,000 photos to the library, volunteers will have binders full of copies of the photos that have not been claimed.
"We're hoping that will make it easy for people who might not have Internet access or aren't connected with Facebook to come in, sit down and look through them," said Walters, a genealogist from Pryor, Okla.
Last week, the project reunited one family with 1,500 of its photos, she said.
"I started recognizing faces as I saw the same ones recurring in photos throughout our archives, so I knew they belonged together," Walters said. "The granddaughter came to pick them up, and we learned her mom and aunt, who were featured in many of the photographs, had passed away. We knew then that it was significant for the family to get these back."
In the days after the tornado, which killed 162 people, Walters created the Lost Photos of Joplin to post pictures that were being found in the city and miles away in other parts of the region. The First Baptist Church in Carthage volunteered to help with the project.
Volunteers at the church clean and dry each photo, then number, scan and send them to Walters.
The archivists have between 200 and 300 more photos still to be scanned, and Walters predicted that work will be done in the next two weeks.