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Friday
Nov162012

World War II Love Letters Wash Up on NJ Beach After Sandy

ABC News(ATLANTIC HIGHLANDS, N.J.) -- Superstorm Sandy destroyed towns and homes, and took lives, but a stack of 57 letters tied together with a pink ribbon survived the devastating storm.

Kathleen Mullen was taking a walk along the Henry Hudson Trail in Atlantic Highlands, N.J., the day after the storm hit when she spotted the bundle of letters.

“They were obviously tied with a pink ribbon, so I automatically knew that they were love letters,” Mullen told ABC News’ New York station WABC-TV.

 

She took them home, carefully dried them under the fireplace in her powerless home and began to read. The letters were written by Dorothy Fallon of Rumson, N.J., and Lynn Farnham of Vermont between 1942 and 1947.

“There isn’t much more to tell you tonight, dear,” one letter read. “I love you very much. Yours always, Dotty.”

Mullen was determined to reunite the letters with their owners. She posted about the letters on Facebook, Craigslist and eventually did a search on findagrave.com, where a Lynn Farnham was listed who died in 1992 and was buried in New Jersey.

Through the website, Mullen connected with Shelly Farnham-Hilber, a niece of the couple, who lives in Virginia. She was thrilled to hear of the find.

“It’s magical. You go, ‘This can’t be real,’” Farnham-Hilber told WABC-TV. “It’s like a genealogical gold mine. It’s just that moment that you think is lost forever and here is something. It’s a gift.”

Farnham-Hilber said that Lynn Farnham, her uncle, served in WWII and was at Pearl Harbor. The couple had two children. The son has died and Farnham-Hilber’s family has lost touch with the daughter. Dorothy Farnham is 91 years old and lives in a nursing home in New Jersey.

The family is looking forward to being reunited with the letters and the find was a beacon of light to Mullen during tough times.

“It kind of sent the message that love conquers all, you know, in such devastation … something so delicate just washes ashore,” she said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Nov152012

Obama Meets with Parents Who Lost Sons in Sandy

MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thursday, on his first trip to New York City after superstorm Sandy walloped the Northeast, President Obama met with the parents of the two young boys -- Brandon and Connor Moore -- who died after being swept out to sea.

"I had the opportunity to give some hugs and communicate thoughts and prayers to the Moore family," Obama said of Damien and Glenda Moore. "They lost two young sons during the course of this tragedy. And obviously, I expressed to them, as a father, as a parent, my heartbreak over what they went through. And they're still obviously a little shell-shocked."

Obama said the resiliency and generosity of the Moores, who had lavished praise on New York police Lieutenant Kevin Gallagher "for staying with them and doing everything he could so that ultimately, they knew what had happened with the boys, and were able to recover their bodies, and has been with them as a source of support ever since."

"That's not in the job description of Lieutenant Gallagher. He did that because that's what so many of our first responders do," he added.

"I'm very proud of you, New York," said the president, "You guys are tough."

Sandy, which hit the Northeast on Oct. 29, has left more than 100 people dead, thousands displaced and billions of dollars of damage.

On Thursday the president saw the storm's destruction in New York first-hand, visiting with victims and volunteers at a FEMA disaster recovery center in one Staten Island neighborhood. (There were more than 40 deaths in New York City alone from Sandy, half of those on the borough of Staten Island.)

The White House announced Thursday it has already approved more than $600 million in direct assistance to individuals. The president also announced he had assigned Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, a former New York City housing commissioner, the job of coordinating the federal government's long-term response to Sandy's devastation in the New York and New Jersey region.

"We thought it would be good to have a New Yorker be the point person," Obama said on Staten Island following a tour of the recovery efforts.

The president made the announcement following an aerial survey of parts of Queens, Brooklyn and Long Island, including Far Rockaway and Staten Island, flying over sand-covered streets and destroyed homes piled along beaches.

He also saw the Breezy Point neighborhood, home to many of the city's firefighters and police officers, where more than 100 homes were leveled in a raging wind-whipped fire that spread even as flood waters rose.

"There are still going to be complaints over the next several months," the president said. "Not everybody is going to be satisfied" with the pace of recovery. The president asked "insurance companies and some of the other private sector folks who are involved in this ... to show some heart and some spirit in helping people rebuild as well. But when I hear the story of the Moores and I hear about Lieutenant Gallagher, that's what makes me confident that we're going to be able to rebuild."

Obama was accompanied by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Secretary Shaun Donovan.

New York senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both Democrats, also joined Obama for the trip aboard Air Force One to New York.

Days after the storm Obama took his first trip to see the damage, touring New Jersey's hard hit shoreline with Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican. Just six days before the election, Christie, one of Mitt Romney's most high profile surrogates, praised the president for his oversight of federal emergency efforts. Christie thanked Obama, adding the two had a "great working relationship" and Obama "sprung into action immediately."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Oct312012

Superstorm Sandy: Death Toll Up to 50, But Some Steps Toward Recovery

Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It blasted the ocean itself over dunes, seawalls and berms and into downtowns, tunnels and subways. It killed dozens of people, destroyed famed landmarks and amusement parks, pushed houses off their foundations and toppled trees. It virtually shut down New York City, the nation's largest city, with major airports, highways, bridges and tunnels in and out of Manhattan shut down, just as they were after 9/11.

For millions of people in New York City and elsewhere, the lights remain out, communications remain down and floodwaters, downed trees and power lines still make roads impassable.

However, some of the hardest-hit areas on the East Coast were beginning to take the first steps towards recovery. For instance, some New York bridges, tunnels, highways and airports reopened or were slated to be reopened by Wednesday morning.

So far, Sandy has been blamed for up to 50 fatalities, and has left more than eight million customers without power. The number of dead continued to rise by the hour a day after the storm made landfall near Atlantic City, N.J., and rocked several states, including New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, North Carolina and West Virginia.

"I just never thought I would see what I saw today -- ever," New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said. "It won't be same. It will be different because many of the iconic things that made it what it was are now gone and washed into the ocean."

The power outages were spread over 17 states, from Virginia to Maine, and while the number of customers affected topped eight million, the number of people living without power would be several times that number. The number of power outages topped two million customers in New Jersey and half a million in New York City, and approached another million on New York's Long Island.

President Obama issued disaster declarations for New York and New Jersey so that federal aid will be offered to the affected areas to help supplement state and local clean-up efforts.

During a visit to the Red Cross headquarters in Washington, D.C., Tuesday afternoon, Obama sent a very clear message to federal agencies.

"Do not figure out why we can't do something. I want you to figure out how we do something," the president said. "I want you to cut through red tape. I want you to cut through bureaucracy. There's no excuse for inaction at this point. I want every agency to lean forward and to make sure that we are getting the resources where they need -- where they're needed as quickly as possible."

The president said mayors and governors who run into any trouble can call him directly at the White House. He praised the heroic efforts of rescuers and helpful community members, but emphasized that recovery is going to take some time.

"It is not going to be easy for a lot of these communities to recover swiftly, and so it is going to be important that we sustain that spirit of resilience, that we continue to be good neighbors for the duration until everybody is back on their feet," Obama said.

Among the hardest hit were New Jersey and New York, where public transportation was shut down, millions lost power and storm surges swamped cars, homes, businesses and boardwalks.

But in the wake of the devastation, states are beginning to make moves toward comebacks.

In New York, the New York Stock Exchange is scheduled to reopen on Wednesday after being closed for an unprecedented two days. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was scheduled to ring the opening bell.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the area's airports and bridges, said it plans to have two major airports -- John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, N.Y., and Newark Liberty Airport in New Jersey -- open Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. with limited service. However, LaGuardia Airport in New York City will remain closed amid flooding on the tarmac and other damage.

Public transportation in the city also screeched to a halt as the subway system, rail yards and bus depots were flooded in what officials called the biggest disaster of its 108 years in existence.

"The New York City subway system ... has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night," MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said in a statement.

All bridges into Manhattan were reopened Tuesday and limited bus service was to resume Tuesday evening -- though the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel remained submerged beneath floods. The Holland Tunnel also remained closed though the Lincoln Tunnel was reopened early Tuesday.

Officials hoped to have power restored to New York in two to three days and aim to have the subways running in three to four days, Bloomberg said.

It will take about a week for PATH trains between New Jersey and New York to resume service.

"This was a devastating storm, maybe the worst that we have ever experienced," Bloomberg said at a news conference Tuesday.

Obama will visit ravaged New Jersey on Wednesday, where search and rescue missions have become a priority.

A berm in Bergen County, N.J., was breached Tuesday morning, resulting in four to five feet of water flowing into three towns and endangering as many as 2,000 people, said Jeanne Beratta, spokeswoman for the Bergen County Office of Emergency Management.

"We're doing rescues by boat. We're doing rescues with large trucks. We're doing rescues all over those areas," Baratta told Good Morning America.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said that the state "kind of took it in the neck worse than any other place," but praised Obama and his administration for how it has handled the crisis.

"[President Obama] called me last night around midnight to ask what else can be done," Christie told GMA. "I have to say, the administration, the president himself and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this."

Other parts of the country were struggling with snow and blizzard conditions. West Virginia was under a blizzard warning and more than two feet of snow was reported in some parts of the states. More than 100,000 customers are without power.

Sandy also brought winter conditions from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, and into Ohio.

The former hurricane had joined forces with a cold front coming from the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland to dump snow on eight states. Davis, West Virginia has been blanketed with 17 inches of snow, which continued to fall into the early morning.

By Thursday, meteorologists predict up to three feet of snow was possible in higher elevations.

New York University Medical Center was among the millions left without power in the wake of Sandy. A full evacuation was under way after the hospital's back-up generators had failed.

Early Tuesday morning, approximately 200 patients had been evacuated by private ambulance with assistance from the FDNY.

John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison, said it was too soon to say when power could be restored and that inspectors would be out once it was daylight to assess the damage.

Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm shortly before it made landfall at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City, N.J., on Monday.

By late Tuesday evening, Sandy remained a tropical cyclone with maximum sustained winds of 40 mph. Though it was weakening over Pennsylvania, it churned up the waters of the Great Lakes, prompting gale warnings and small craft advisories in some locations, according to the National Weather Service. Parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast states remained under flash flood watches and warnings.

"Sandy is expected to turn north across Western New York or Lake Erie ... and continue to move northward into Canada on Wednesday," the National Weather Service said in it's 11 p.m. ET briefing Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Al Gore: ‘Sandy’ a Symptom of Larger Climate Crisis

Heather Kennedy/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Former Vice President Al Gore warned in a blog post Tuesday that Hurricane Sandy is a, “disturbing sign of things to come” if the world doesn’t quit “dirty energy.”

Tuesday afternoon, with large swaths of the Northeast still swimming in the storm’s mess, the Current TV founder and environmental activist published a statement asking the public to, "heed this warning and act quickly to solve the climate crisis."

"Sandy was also affected by other symptoms of the climate crisis," Gore wrote. "As the hurricane approached the East Coast, it gathered strength from abnormally warm coastal waters. At the same time, Sandy’s storm surge was worsened by a century of sea level rise. Scientists tell us that if we do not reduce our emissions, these problems will only grow worse.”

Gore isn’t the only politician tying Sandy's wrath to global climate change.

"What’s clear is that the storms that we’ve experienced in the last year or so around this country and around the world are much more severe than before," New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a briefing Tuesday. "Whether that's global warming or what, I don't know. But we'll have to address those issues.”

N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, an early favorite in the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, expressed similar concerns, quipping that New Yorkers, "have a 100-year flood every two years now."

Cuomo also suggested the state could look into the construction of levees to prevent future flooding.

"It is something we're going to have to start thinking about," Cuomo told reporters. "The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level.”

Gore made some headlines after the first presidential debate when he blamed President Obama’s muted performance on a different kind of change in the climate.

"I'm going to say something controversial here," he said to his Current TV roundtable-mates. "Obama arrived in Denver at 2 p.m. today -- just a few hours before the debate started. Romney did his debate prep in Denver. When you go to 5,000 feet, and you only have a few hours to adjust -- I don't know…”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Superstorm Sandy Deaths: 2 NY Boys Killed by Downed Tree

File Photo - Matthew Fiasconaro/ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A community in Westchester County, N.Y., is in mourning Tuesday after two boys, ages 11 and 13, were killed when a tree downed during Sandy struck the suburban house where they were hunkered down.

"It's just a tragic, tragic accident, and it could have been anybody's kids," Investigator Brian Dedusevic of State Police Troop K in Somers told ABC News.

Neighborhood pals Jack Baumler, 11, and Michael Robson, 13, died Monday night when a nearly 100-foot oak tree crashed into the family room of the Baumler home, in North Salem, N.Y., Dedusevic told ABC News.

"Heaven got two all-stars too soon," Daniel Seymour, Jack Baumler's uncle, told the Journal News from outside his North Salem home Tuesday.

"Our faith will comfort us. North Salem has a huge heart, and this community wraps its arms around this family. We're asking for prayers and privacy," he said.

New York State police in Somers, N.Y. arrived at the home shortly after 7:20 p.m. Monday in North Salem and found that the massive oak had crashed into the home, striking and killing the boys.

"I believe the boys died instantly," Dedusevic said.

The accident, which Dedusevic said he believes was likely caused by high winds and wet soil, also injured two other minors, ages 15 and 12, according to the New York State Police.

The injured 15-year-old was Michael Robson's 15-year-old sister Caitlyn Robson, according to state police. She was treated for scrapes at the scene by responding EMS personnel, but suffered no serious injuries. She and her brother were friends from a neighboring residence, police said.

Jack Baumler's 12-year-old brother William was at the house as well. He also survived with only minor scrapes and was treated at scene. Their mother Valerie was also home at the time but not injured, according to Dedusevic.

"A lot more of stuff could have happened with the winds and weather that we experienced. And it picked two innocent kids," he said. "It's very hard to swallow."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct302012

Sandy Aftermath: Ruptured Gas Lines Worry Seaside Heights, New Jersey

Mario Tama/Getty Images(SEASIDE HEIGHTS, N.J.) -- Aside from widespread power outages and flooding that is reaching doorsteps, residents stranded in Seaside Heights, N.J., are worried about another danger: ruptured gas lines.

Locals told Nightline anchor Terry Moran that they had been told there is a concern that the slightest spark could set the town ablaze.

Moran, who canoed to the beach because the storm surge from Sandy was so high, said he could smell gas and oil coming from the standing flood waters and reported that dozens of people who rode out the storm in their homes were waiting to be evacuated.

“They are scared, they are cold, it’s getting cold, there’s no power here, and the evacuations have not really done much to clear the town,” Moran said.

Seaside Heights is a barrier island on the New Jersey shore, connected to the mainland by bridges on Route 35 and Route 37. It’s about 62 miles north of Atlantic City, which lost much of its iconic boardwalk as the storm surge from Sandy tore through.

The rides at Funtown Pier, the amusement park in Seaside Heights, are under water, and much of the town’s boardwalk is in ruins. Boats and pieces of docks float down the town’s streets.

Sandy was downgraded from a hurricane to a post-tropical storm shortly before it made landfall at 8 p.m. in Atlantic City on Monday, but that didn’t stop it from wreaking havoc. The National Weather Service estimated that up to a foot of rain fell across southern New Jersey overnight and winds peaked at 77 mph in Atlantic City.

On Tuesday night, parts of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast remain under flash flood watches and warnings. Sandy killed at least 35 people in seven states and left more than 8 million customers without electric power.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Oct282012

Hurricane Sandy: States Scramble to Prepare For Superstorm

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Hurricane Sandy is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge flooding to the Mid-Atlantic coast and could wreak havoc for days across 800 miles of the United States, impacting tens of millions of people in the eastern third of the country.

Sandy will meet up with a cold front coming from the northwest and a high pressure system from Greenland, fueling it with enough energy to make it more powerful than the "Perfect Storm," some meteorologists say.

"This storm that is going to be impacting the mid-Atlantic and parts of the Northeast...is going to be destructive, historic, and unfortunately life threatening," AccuWeather's Bernie Rayno said.

The first rainfall from the megastorm is expected Sunday and forecasters warn it could bring inland flooding around Maryland and Pennsylvania and up to two feet of snow in West Virginia.

Sandy remained at a Category 1 strength today, with 75 mph winds being measured. The storm was moving northeast at 10mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

A sea buoy that is 158 miles east from Cape Hatteras in N.C. reported wave heights of 32 feet every 13 seconds moving north, showing how much water the high energy storm was capable of pushing ahead of it.

New York City transit officials are preparing for a shutdown of the subway system, the largest rapid transit system in the world, at 7 p.m. Sunday night. Sandy can potentially create a storm surge capable of overtopping the Manhattan flood walls, filling the subway tunnels with water.

"Lower Manhattan is the most vulnerable place to a storm surge," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

States of emergency were declared from North Carolina to Connecticut. Coastal communities in Delaware were ordered to evacuate by 8 p.m. tonight.

"While the predicted track of Hurricane Sandy has shifted a number of times over the last 24 hours, it has become clear that the state will be affected by high winds, heavy rainfall, and flooding, especially along the coastline for a several day period," said Gov. Jack Markell of Delaware. "These factors, along with the potential for power outages, have convinced me that the prudent thing to do is have people leave most of our coastal communities."

Given its size and expected duration of two to three days, Hurricane Sandy could turn out to be comparable to 1991's Hurricane Grace, also known as the "Perfect Storm," and a cyclone that struck near the Appalachians in November of 1950, FEMA administrator Craig Fugate said. But, Fugate said, officials don't try to make historical comparisons until after a storm hits.

Power companies are being proactive before Sandy makes landfall, trimming trees and putting equipment in place to hopefully minimize the number of people left without power after the storm.

Last year, Hurricane Irene left 7 million homes without power in the same area Sandy is expected to batter with wind and rain.

"The best thing is to be prepared, and I think that's where we are. We're prepared for what the worst will bring," said Vince Maione, who has been with Atlantic City Electric, a company serving south New Jersey, for 28 years.

Gov. Chris Christie warned New Jersey residents they could be without power for a week to ten days. He said he is concerned residents may try to put generators indoors and run extension cords in a haphazard way to get electricity.

"That's a good general New Jersey rule: If it looks stupid, it is stupid," Christie said.

Sunday also brought hundreds of flight cancellations, with more scheduled for Monday as airlines prepare for the storm.

As of Sunday morning, United Airlines had canceled more than 300 of the day's flights, according to data from FlightAware.

The other legacy carriers – Delta, US Airways and American – were so far sticking to their Sunday flight schedule as of 7 a.m. JetBlue and Virgin America has canceled 51 and 24, respectively.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Aug272012

Tropical Storm Isaac: Hurricane Warnings Issued for Gulf Coast

NOAA-NASA GOES Project(NEW YORK) -- As Tropical Storm Isaac grazed the Florida Keys with less force than was feared, hurricane warnings have been issued for the Gulf Coast from Central Louisiana to the Florida panhandle with Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana declaring state of emergencies ahead of the storm's landfall.

Isaac is expected to strengthen to a weak Category 2 or Category 1 hurricane before making landfall along the Gulf Coast by Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, according to the National Hurricane Center.  Hurricane warnings were issued from east of Morgan City, La. -- which includes New Orleans -- to Destin, Fla.

If it hits the Gulf Coast Wednesday morning, as forecasters said is possible, it would come on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which killed hundreds of people and flooded 80 percent of New Orleans.  

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu admitted anxiety levels are high.

"The timing of this storm coming on, as fate would have it, the anniversary of Katrina, has everybody in a state and sense of alertness and that is a good thing," he said Sunday.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal declared a state of emergency and said he's "strongly advising" people in low lying areas of coastal Louisiana to evacuate ahead of the storm.

"There is a 70 to 80 percent chance we'll have tropical storm winds in southeast Louisiana and again as it moves west you'll see more of our state could potentially be covered, by those wind warnings," Jindal said on Sunday.

As of 11 p.m. EST Sunday, Isaac's winds were whipping at 65 mph and expected to strengthen as it moves over the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico.  The center of the storm is about 110 miles west, southwest of the Florida Keys, according to the National Hurricane Center.  To be considered a Category 1 hurricane, winds have to be 74 mph or higher.

"With winds of that strength, one of the greatest concerns is storm surge, where the water will be moving ashore, blown in by the winds," said Ed Rappaport, forecaster with the National Hurricane Center.

Since the storm is apparently moving further west, the Tampa Bay area is not expected to be affected as much as was previously thought.  Fears that Isaac would pound Tampa, Fla., on Monday led GOP officials to decide to postpone the start of the Republican National Convention, which was scheduled to begin on Monday.

A tropical storm warning is still in effect for Tampa Bay and Miami.

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Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Remembering Hurricane Andrew, 20 Years Later

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As Tropical Storm Isaac approaches Florida, many people who live there are looking back and remembering Hurricane Andrew, which struck 20 years ago on Friday.

Four days before Andrew ripped into Florida's Atlantic coast on Aug. 24, 1992, the storm didn't look too serious.  But when it made landfall it was a Category 5 hurricane.

Dozens died and more than 200,000 people around Miami lost their homes.

Until Hurricane Katrina, Andrew was the costliest in U.S. history, causing an estimated $30 billion in damages.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Jan252012

New Wedding Photos for New Orleans Couples Who Lost Albums in Katrina

Comstock/Thinkstock(NEW ORLEANS) -- Three New Orleans couples who suffered devastating losses in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, including the loss of their wedding photos, got a chance to re-create their wedding days for an army of professional photographers.

Among them were April and Darryl Allen, who have been married for 17 years. They lived two blocks from the breach in the London Avenue Canal.

“We lost our entire house. We had about eight feet of water in our house. We didn’t preserve a lot,” April Allen told ABC News. “There were a lot of things I had to leave behind or things that I thought I had put high enough. We thought we’d get a foot.”

Allen had to leave behind her wedding photos, but in the wake of all of the other destruction, the loss didn’t really resonate for several years.

“Until you experience something like that, you don’t really know how you’ll react,” she said. “But when you lose everything and you have to rebuild your entire home, you have two small children, jobs, bills...you’re sad that you lost these things but you have to put back together what you have.”

A few weeks ago, she saw a tweet that caught her attention. The convention and visitors bureau was looking for couples who had lost their wedding photos in Katrina. She followed the link and filled out an application.

Before she knew it, Allen was in a stunning strapless wedding gown posing for a bevy of photographers in some of New Orleans’ most picturesque spots.

“It was so much fun,” Allen said. “It wasn’t just one photographer, it was 20. We got hair and makeup. It was actually more fun and no stress [compared to the wedding]. At your wedding, you’re stressed about every detail.”

The Allens were just one of three couples chosen for the “Pay it Forward” shoot run by the Digital Wedding Forum, an organization of wedding and portrait photographers.

Right after Hurricane Katrina, the Forum raised $100,000 to aid photographers who lost clientele and equipment. The group developed an “affinity” for New Orleans, according to its founder and CEO Jeff Caplan. This year, the Forum decided to have its yearly convention in New Orleans.

“At the end of the convention, we decided we wanted to give back in some small way,” Caplan said. A team of 122 photographers led by well-known wedding photographer John Michael Cooper assembled for the shoot.

Caplan said it was both an education experience for the photographers and a way to give back. He described it as an “exciting experience” for everyone involved.

“The important thing that we learned while down there and talking to the locals is that it’s been cleaned up but you don’t blink away a horror like that in a mere seven years,” Caplan said.

The couples will be speaking with Cooper and his team this week to put together wedding albums with their favorite photos. April Allen was excited to see the images and get back a little piece of what she lost.

“It’s something you can really never get back. What we do get back will be different but will still be in the same spirit,” she said. “It is really cool. Everyone wants something to sit down with their daughter and say, ‘Look at Mom and Dad all dressed up.’”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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