Preparedness for flooding and hurricane impact

Our thoughts are with all the people displaced by tropical storm Barry and affected by the severe weather along the East Coast. Feel free to reach out for support and answers to your questions. Your local museums and institutions may be overwhelmed by the requests of help or may be focused on preparing in case the emergency materializes. Wherever you are, you can reach us through the numbers and emails listed on our Facebook page. We are glad and eager to help.

You can also contact the National Heritage Responders (NHR). Volunteers provide advice and referrals by phone at (202)661-8068 or, for less urgent questions, emergencies@culturalheritage.org. For more information:
https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/national-heritage-responders

If you have an emergency plan, review it with everyone involved. Make sure the phone numbers in your list are current. If you have art pieces or storage close to the ground and are afraid your space may become flooded, move your collection to increase its distance from the floor. For example, if you have large paintings hanging from the walls and close to the floor, consider placing them flat on tables.

These are some “tip sheets” prepared by the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) for response and recovery in case of emergency for the arts. The topics covered range from Mold to Removing flat paper pieces from flat storage and Drying wet collections and buildings.
https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/national-heritage-responders/tip-sheets

More useful information on stabilization of photographs, textiles and family heirlooms:
https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/disaster-response-recovery

A list of activities from the American Institute for Conservation (AIC)s’ website for emergency preparedness:

  • If you have a disaster plan, dust it off and make sure it’s up to date.
  • If you don’t have a plan, commit to creating one by making a timeline for developing it.
  • Conduct a building evacuation drill, evaluate the results, and discuss ways to improve your staff’s performance.
  • Update your staff contact information and create a wallet-size version of your emergency contact roster using the Pocket Response Plan™ (PReP™)
  • Identify the three biggest risks to your collection or building (such as a dust storm, leaking water pipe, heavy snow, or power failure) and outline steps to mitigate them. You can use FAIC’s tools for risk evaluation to guide your assessment.
  • Identify and prioritize important collection materials.
  • Eliminate hazards such as storage in hallways, blocked fire exits, or improper storage of paints, solvents, etc.
  • Make a plan to install any needed safety systems.
  • Plan to train and drill an in-house disaster team.
  • Provide staff with easily accessible disaster response information, such as the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel.
  • Get to know your local firefighters and police–invite them to come tour your institution and give you pointers on safety and preparedness.
  • Plan to take a course on risk assessment or disaster planning.

After Hurricane Sandy MoMA prepared and distributed a document with simple and concise instructions on how to stabilize affected artworks.  You can find it on MoMA’s website under “Immediate Response for Collections”:
https://www.moma.org/momaorg/shared/pdfs/docs/explore/conservation/emergency_guidelines_for_art_disasters.pdf

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