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Assistance and resources for those with damage from recent flooding in Texas.

For Immediate Release

May 26, 2015

For Information Contact:

Lori Foley

(781) 259-8652

lfoley@conservation-us.org

Advice for Saving Damaged Family Treasures

Follow these steps to halt further damage

As the threat of flooding persists in Texas, residents in affected towns and cities are being urged to seek higher ground. When the flooding ends, residents will begin the long journey of recovery. With homes flooded and lives upended, treasured possessions such as family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes become more cherished. Unless they are contaminated by sewage or chemicals, these treasures can be saved. The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for individuals who discover their family treasures have been damaged:

Safety First! With any disaster there may be health risks. Wear long sleeves, sturdy shoes, and plastic or rubber gloves during cleanup. Protective gear such as goggles and a fitted face mask is recommended if there is mold.

Prevent Mold. Mold can form within 48 hours; you will need to work fast. The goal is to reduce the humidity and temperature around your treasures as you proceed to clean and dry them. If you do encounter extensive mold, use protective gear such as gloves, goggles, and an N100 face mask, available at most hardware stores.

Air-Dry. Gentle air-drying is best for all your treasured belongings—indoors, if possible. Hair dryers, irons, ovens, and prolonged exposure to sunlight will do irreversible damage. Increase indoor airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners, and dehumidifiers.

Handle with Care. Use great caution in handling your heirlooms, which can be especially fragile when wet. Separate damp materials: remove the contents from drawers; take photographs out of damp albums; remove paintings and prints from frames; place paper towels between the pages of wet books.

Clean Gently. Loosen dirt and debris on fragile objects gently with soft brushes and cloths. Avoid rubbing, which can grind in dirt.

Salvage Photos. Clean photographs by rinsing them carefully in clean water. Air-dry photos on a plastic screen or paper towel, or by hanging them by the corner with plastic clothespins. Don’t let the image come into contact with other surfaces as it dries.

Prioritize. You may not be able to save everything, so focus on what’s most important to you, whether for historic, monetary, or sentimental reasons.

Can’t Do It All? Damp objects and items that cannot be dealt with immediately should be put in open, unsealed boxes or bags. Photos, papers, books, and textiles should be frozen if you can’t get them dry within 48 hours.

Call in a Pro. If a precious item is badly damaged, a conservator may be able to help. Be sure to collect broken pieces. Set your treasure aside in a well-ventilated room until you find professional help. If a precious item has been exposed to contaminated water, seek a conservator’s advice on salvaging it; your health and safety, and that of your loved ones, is of utmost importance. To locate a conservator, go to http://www.conservation-us.org/findaconservator on the website of the American Institute for Conservation.

A free, online video guide demonstrating how to rescue soaked photographs, books, documents, and other valued items is available from Heritage Preservation. This 10-minute streaming video provides professional advice that benefits families as well as museum and library staff. View and link to the video at:

http://www.heritagepreservation.org/PROGRAMS/WaterSegmentFG.HTM

Additional resources for salvaging flood-damaged materials can be found here: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/PROGRAMS/flood.html

These recommendations are intended as guidance only. FAIC assumes no responsibility or liability for treatment of damaged objects.

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About FAIC

FAIC, the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase understanding of our global cultural heritage.

About AIC

The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works is a national membership organization supporting the professionals who preserve our cultural heritage. AIC plays a crucial role in establishing and upholding professional standards, promoting research and publications, providing educational opportunities, and fostering the exchange of knowledge among conservators, allied professionals, and the public. Learn more about AIC at http://www.conservation-us.org.

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Who and What is TX-CERA?

Texas Cultural Emergency Response

Mission statement:

The Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance (TX-CERA) is an affiliation of institutions and persons interested in preserving the cultural heritage of Texas. Through education and advocacy TX-CERA hopes to serve as a resource for cultural institutions in order to mitigate loss of cultural and heritage collections due to disaster. The organization will develop a roster of heritage and collections professionals in the state to create a network of ready support in the event of an emergency or disaster.

History:

TX-CERA is a revival of the State of Texas Alliance for Response Team (START), which has joined with with the Galveston – Houston Area Alliance for Response in an effort to organize an effective statewide organization. TX-CERA is part of the Heritage Preservation Heritage Emergency National Task Force that states, “Since 2003, Heritage Preservation has been promoting these connections through its innovative national program, Alliance for Response. The initiative begins with a one-day Forum for cultural leaders and emergency professionals and leads to new partnerships and local projects. Alliance for Response Forums foster cooperation among cultural and historic preservation organizations, improve local planning efforts, and enhance the protection of heritage resources.”

Who we are:

 

  • Art Conservators
  • Archivists
  • Librarians
  • Curators
  • Collection Managers
  • Preservation Specialists
  • Safety and Security Staff
  • First Responders/Emergency Management personnel

Our tasks:

  •  To train a team of first responders knowledgeable about the needs of special collections. Team members will be volunteers capable of working within an Incident Command System structure, with local OEM’s in order to reduce loss of cultural material threatened by disaster.
  • Part of this effort includes developing a Directory of TX-CERA members and expanding and updating the Directory of Conservators for Emergency Planning and Response hosted by the Ransom Center at http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/conservation/resources/emergency/
  • To represent the interests of the cultural community in state and local Emergency Management planning, resource allocation and response.
  • To increase awareness of the need for disaster planning and support for public collections compliant with NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museum, Libraries and Places of Worship.*

 

*

NFPA 909: Code for the Protection of Cultural Resource Properties – Museums, Libraries, and Places of Worship describes principles and practices of protection for cultural resource properties (museums, libraries, and places of worship) and their contents and collections from conditions or physical situations with the potential to cause damage or loss through a comprehensive protection program. Areas addressed include fire prevention; fire protection management; security; emergency preparedness; and inspection, testing, and maintenance of protection systems.

This important Code also covers ongoing operations and rehabilitation and acknowledges the need to preserve culturally significant and character-defining building features and sensitive, often irreplaceable, collections as well as to provide continuity of operations.

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