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Disaster Preparedness & Response Resources

In support of organizations that find themselves in the path of a potential disaster we have compiled a list of resources to help you prepare and recover.

Assistance

The American Institute for Conservation's National Heritage Responders provides 24/7 assistance to cultural institutions. Call 202-661-8068 for advice, referrals, or to arrange for a volunteer team to come to the site at no cost to complete a damage assessment and help organize salvage operations.

Report damage to your museum to the Heritage Emergency National Task Force at hentf@si.edu. This helps the Task Force coordinate federal agencies in responding to your needs.

The Regional Alliance for Preservation members each offer emergency assistance by phone:

  • LYRASIS: 800-999-8558
  • Balboa Art Conservation Center: 619-236-9702
  • Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts: 215-545-0613
  • Gerald R. Ford Conservation Center: 402-595-1178
  • Intermuseum Conservation Association: 216-658-8700
  • Midwest Art Conservation Center: 612-870-3120
  • Northeast Document Conservation Center Collections Emergency Hotline: 855-245-8303
  • TX-CERA (Texas Cultural Emergency Response Alliance)
  • Williamstown Art Conservation Center: 413-458-5741. After business hours: 413-458-9545, ext. 212
  • Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Service: 888-905-7737
  • The Northeast Document Conservation Center recommends these companies for disaster remediation services, including water removal, transportation, drying, and freezing. They can be reached 24/7.

    The FEMA Federal Disaster Declarations website has information about which counties are included in designated disaster areas and are therefore eligible for federal disaster assistance. FEMA's Public Assistance Program and Policy Guide provides an overview of the process with links to other publications and documents with additional details.

    Online Recovery Guides

    The Emergency Response and Salvage Wheel app has practical advice for saving collections in the first 48 hours after disaster strikes.

    The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a fact sheet: After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures.

    The Library of Congress Preservation Directorate offers Emergency Drying Procedures for Water Damaged Collections. It has concise information that covers air-drying of paper, books, and photographs as well as recovery from mold.

    The Minnesota Historical Society shares salvage procedures for a wide variety of materials, including textiles, photographs, wooden objects, leather, paintings, and paper.

    The National Park Service (NPS) offers After the Flood: Emergency Stabilization and Conservation Measures. It suggests planning methods to prevent additional damage to historic structures and to maintain historical integrity.

    The NPS also provides a Rapid Building and Site Condition Assessment form. Use it to quickly assess conditions; it has an emphasis on historic structures. Instructions on using the form and definitions are also available.

    The National Trust for Historic Preservation provides Treatment of Flood-Damaged Older & Historic Buildings. It discusses cleaning out mud, foundation problems, caring for wet plaster, treatment for saturated wood framed walls and floors, and treatment for historic wallpapers and interior finishes.

    The Western Association for Art Conservation offers Salvage at a Glance. The chart outlines priorities, handling precautions, packing, and drying methods for archival materials

    Preparation

    AAM's Developing a Disaster Preparedness/Emergency Response Plan reference guide can help guide staff in creating and approving a disaster plan.

    The Council of State Archivists has developed a Pocket Response Plan (PReP) to help staff note necessary information following a disaster. It is intended to be customized for each institution and individual staff member. 

    The International Council of Museums shares Guidelines for Disaster Preparedness in Museums. The guide provides information on roles and responsibilities, emergency response tips, regular disaster mitigation techniques and emergency communications. (PDF, 26 pages). 

    The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) provides information on Natural Hazards and their potential threats to society, and assists with developing smart, cost-effective strategies for achieving preparedness and resilience.