Seth Bogdanove, owner of Digital Archiving and Photo Restoration in Manhattan, said washing wet pictures is dangerous. "I would put them up on a piece of paper or towel or something absorbent and let the water leach out from the bottom and let the air dry the top, because the surface of the photograph is an emulsion -- you get it wet, it gets sticky and it can smear. You can get fingerprints on it. You put anything on top of it, it will stick. So the best thing to do is just put them face up and let them air dry."
Only if they were stuck together, he said, would he "very gently" soak them to separate them.
He recommends those who want to safeguard their pictures have them digitalized and stored that way.
In general, the approach worked, said Garfinkel. "Some of them, the ink in them didn't hold up very well," she said. "But very few, actually. Most of them are perfect. You know what held up best? Kodak. The ones that were printed the old-fashioned way."
Beckman, who has moved from her home to a relative's, said she was planning to pick up the photographs as soon as they are ready.