We have posted about hurricane awareness and disaster response before. With two major hurricanes hitting the United States so far this season, it is time to round up some information for those hit by these and other storms.
Help for Cultural Institutions
The National Heritage Responders (NHR) – formerly the American Institute for Conservation – Collections Emergency Response Team (AIC-CERT) – responds to the needs of cultural institutions during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors and the public. Volunteers can provide advice and referrals by phone at 202.661.8068. Requests for onsite assistance will be forwarded by the volunteer to the NHR Coordinator and Emergency Programs Coordinator for response. Less urgent questions can also be answered by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cultural institutions in FEMA-designated disaster areas of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and other impacted states and U.S. territories can apply immediately for NEH Chairman’s Emergency Grants of up to $30,000 to preserve documents, books, photographs, art works, historical objects, sculptures, and structures damaged by the hurricane and subsequent flooding. Applications for emergency grants are available here (Word Document).
If you are ready to start recovery you can use the Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel ro recover collections. The Wheel is also available in an app on both Android and Apple devices. Many other useful apps are out there to help you find information or organize a response.
Local and state organizations such as state archives, museums, university libraries, etc., will have experts on staff that can help answer collection emergency questions. Many states also have state-wide preservation groups with experts who can help (e.g. the North Carolina Preservation Consortium, LYRASIS, Texas Library Association).
September is National Preparedness Month. Even if your institution was not affected by recent storms, now is a good time to review your current disaster plans and training. The Alliance for Response links cultural heritage and emergency response representatives. There may already be a local AFR network near you or you could consider forming one.
Recovery Guidelines for Collections and Personal Items
- American Institute for Conservation–the Disaster Response and Recovery website has a lot of useful links.
- The AIC Wiki — Extensive instructions for planning for and responding to disasters.
- Northeast Document Conservation Center–Emergency Management Leaflets are organized by type of material for quick reference.
- University of Texas at Austin iSchool–Great collection of useful links focusing on family treasures, including to how-to’s by format.
- Western Association for Art Conservation–Salvage at a Glance poster breaks down response by material type.
- Library of Congress Emergency Response page –Click through for more specific information.
- FEMA–The Heritage Emergency National Taskforce and the Smithsonian Institution have written documentation on saving personal treasures in multiple languages.
Other useful information
- National Archives–If you were impacted by a hurricane and need priority service to obtain or replace proof of U.S. military service, you can contact the National Archives National Personnel Records Center. Information can be found on the NANPRC website.
- FEMA–A good list of what entity you should contact if you need to replace important papers such as birth certificates, green cards, passports, etc., can be found on the FEMA website.
- U.S. State Dept.–More information on replacing lost or damaged passports.
- Both the Society of American Archivists and the Texas Library Association have disaster relief funds available.