First as a hurricane and then as a post-tropical super storm Sandy affected a huge area of the eastern US spanning nearly 1,000 miles. Impacts at National Park Service sites are anticipated to be widespread. As the immediate safety and critical services issues are addressed the focus will turn to assessing impacts to resources including historic sites, cultural landscapes and collections. The task can seem overwhelming when faced with widespread damage, but there are some important resources to help mitigate the risks to cultural resources when disaster strikes. The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training has assembled an extremely helpful collection of tools, links and documents to aid in the process of managing the effects and recovering from a disaster.
Important Considerations for Cultural Resources Personnel
Human safety comes first. Never underestimate the power of a hurricane. Follow the instruction of your public officials, police officers, emergency response teams, and safety officers. No cultural resource is as valuable as your life.
If you have a disaster preparedness plan, review it. Make sure that your team (or family) knows how to contact each other, where to shelter, and the duties assigned to each individual.
Make sure that you have a copy of a collection inventory placed offsite and far enough away from the storm that it will not be damaged. If the inventory is available electronically, send it to a remote server, or to a friend that is well away from the storm.
If time allows, board up windows securely to protect the structure from flying debris.
After a storm, there may be lengthy delays before you can return to your historic building, site or collection. While there may be a sense of urgency to begin recovery, take a deep breath and wait to ensure that it is save to enter a structure.
Prioritize your recovery efforts. Think about what can be replaced and what is critical to salvage.