Protecting Your Photos During Hurricane Season

By Carol Lyon

Doorstep Digital - Digital Archivist - Photo Scanning

Doorstep Digital – Digital Archivist – Photo Scanning, Slides Scanning, Digital Organization


In June of 2001, Houston was confronted by tropical storm Allison. I was living at my aunt’s house in The Woodlands at the time. In the night, the rain started to come down heavy, and the cul de sac began to flood. I remember wading into knee-deep water to retrieve my aunt’s trash bins, which were drifting down the street. My family became concerned that the water would rise into the house, so we called my aunt, who was stuck at the airport and unable to drive home. We asked if there was anything she wanted us to move upstairs and out of the reach of the flood. Out of all of her possessions, my aunt asked us to safeguard only one thing: her family photos. The photos were stored in plastic boxes in the closet under the stairs. For the next hour or so, my family formed an assembly line from the closet to a bedroom on the second floor, transferring the treasured boxes to a safe level.

Thankfully, not only the photos survived, but the waters receded without wetting the doorstep of my aunt’s home. However, the same cannot be said for many homes in the Houston area. Tropical storm Allison flooded 70,000 houses, causing $5 billion in damages–which does not even account for the damage of priceless, irreplaceable property like family photos, albums, slides, and film. Once these items are lost, they are lost forever.

In Houston, we accept that tropical storms and hurricanes come with the territory–literally! Hurricane season lasts from June 1st to November 30th, and every year Houstonians keep an eye on the weather forecasts in case a storm veers toward our coast. We are advised every year to prepare for a hurricane with knowledge of evacuation routes, a disaster kit, and extra food and water. We at Doorstep Digital would like to add one more suggestion to this list: protect your family photos, slides, and film.

My aunt had the right idea. She kept her photos in sealed plastic boxes. This protects them from moisture in the air as well as from spills or floods. She also asked my family to move the photos upstairs. As a good rule of thumb, photos should be stored high and dry at room temperature. But if a hurricane inflicts devastating damage to a home, these safety tips may not be sufficient for protecting your photos from the elements. That is why Doorstep Digital encourages families to prepare for hurricane season by making digital copies of all their family photos and videos. Then, save the digital copies in four separate locations: two at your home on external hard drives and two on virtual clouds like Dropbox or Apple Photos or Backblaze.

If you would like your family photos and film to be professionally archived, give us a call or fill out the more-info form on our website. We would be pleased to answer any questions about how best to preserve your personal collection.