Structures like the historic Long Memorial Methodist Church in Cordova, Ala. are being assessed using NCPTT’s updated forms. The church was damaged by a tornado in April. Photograph courtesy of FEMA.

This week, NCPTT and its partners, Heritage Preservation (HP) and the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), announced the release of the 2011 updated Building and Site Condition Assessment forms and database for use in documenting the devastating effects of natural disasters on historic properties.

FEMA’s Environmental Planning and Historic Preservation Program are already putting these tools to good use to document effects of the April tornado outbreaks throughout Alabama.  FEMA staff, as well as state and federal partners, are using NCPTT’s detailed building and site assessment forms to carefully record the conditions of historic structures in the aftermath of the tornadoes.  This information will be used in a variety of ways.  Documentation is needed in order to determine soundness of the structure and allow for emergency measures such as stabilization to take place.  Before actions such as debris removal can begin, the site must be evaluated to insure debris that may have historic significance (such as debris from buildings eligible for the National Register of Historic Places) is not being discarded.   Federal laws may require review of a site and structure before repairs can be made or in the worst case, before demolition occurs.

Chris Stavroudis, a member of the AIC Collections Emergency Response Team, was instrumental in quickly developing the latest version of our Building and Site Condition Assessment forms and database.  The updated Filemaker Pro database contains a rapid assessment for use to evaluate a site in about ten minutes.  The database also contains a detailed assessment intended to allow the end-user a chance to more thoroughly document the site and surroundings.  New this year is a combined assessment that integrates the best of both the rapid and detailed assessments.  Detailed instructions and definitions are now part of the database. The updated database can operate on Filemaker Pro version 7 and higher.

New fields for Global Positioning System (GPS) data are included on the forms.  GPS data can be gathered for up to five locations on a site.  Data information is in stored in decimal degrees, using the NAD83 datum.  A decimal converter is conveniently added to the database if needed.

Previous iterations of the Building and Site Condition Assessment documents were developed after Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  As with previous versions, we offer downloadable PDF versions of each form as well as instructions and definitions.  Documentation can be undertaken using these forms in paper format without the aid of a computer.

Stavroudis is currently fine-tuning stand alone runtime versions of the 2011 updated Building and Site Condition Assessment for computer use.  Additionally he is creating versions that can be used on iPhone and IPad systems in conjunction with the Filemaker Go application.

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Originally published Jul 29, 2011.

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