New York News

Man restores family's photos after Sandy damage

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Even almost two months after Hurricane Sandy, it is tough for Mary and Leonard DiMatteo to walk back into their Midland Beach, Staten Island home. Their beach side bungalow was nearly destroyed.

"I was just numb, stood there looking around, said a prayer and that was it," said Mary.

Mary and Leonard showed Eyewitness News just how high the water rose, and with it, they believed at the time, essentially erased part of their past.

When the DiMatteos returned home after the storm, they discovered the heavily damaged photos - some from Nancy's parent's wedding in 1950.

Leonard said that when he saw the photos, it broke his heart.

"I really didn't want them, because besides the water, there was sewage backed up, and I felt we didn't want them anymore," Leonard added.

The DiMatteos figured the pictures were ruined, so they put them in the garbage in front on their home. The photos were then picked up - not by sanitation crews, but by a bus driver named Mike Valente, who spent weeks restoring the photos.

"I didn't realize anything, I didn't know that someone had picked them up. It was a big surprise to me," said Mary, "he had them laid out on the table, and he said that every day when he used to work, he felt a connection with them, and that made me happy."

Valente then surprised the couple with the photos.

"It really was very nice, I was overwhelmed by it," said Leonard.

Mary added that she was so overjoyed that she had her parents' memories  a simple act of kindness worth its weight in gold.

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Tags:
new york city, hurricane, hurricane sandy, staten island, new york news, kemberly richardson
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