NEW YORK, Dec. 26 (UPI) -- A New York couple said a kind stranger restored an album of photos destroyed by the waters of Hurricane Sandy.
Mary and Lenny Buongiorno said the waterlogged photo album, which included family wedding pictures from the 1950s, had to be thrown out after the October storm ravaged their home in the Midland Beach neighborhood of Staten Island -- so it was left in their yard during cleanup efforts, the New York Post reported Wednesday.
"Everything was floating," Mary Buongiorno said. "We were looking at the pictures -- with bacteria and water, you don't know what to do. I figured it was gone forever."
However, the album was retrieved from the roadside by bus driver Mike Valente, who said he spent a few hours each day for five weeks cleaning, drying, rescanning and restoring the photos on his computer.
"When the album came to my house, it smelled terrible," Valente said. "It was sitting underwater for two weeks, the leather and cardboard absorbed the water and there was also sewage there."
Valente brought the restored album to the Buongiorno home last week.
"I never expected anything," Mary said. "When I opened it up, the pictures were just overwhelming!"
Valente said he performed the unexpected restoration because he knows the value of photographs.
"We have traditions and we have things that we do in my family; I'm all about memories," he said.