Hurricane Ike damage at Bayou Bend Gardens, 2008.

Hurricane Ike damage at Bayou Bend Gardens, 2008.

Days before touch down, managers and stewards of historic landscapes should be well prepared for the aftermath of a major catastrophe.

Bart Brechter, the Curator of Gardens at Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens in Houston, TX, has seen his fair share of tropical storms and hurricanes over his 10 year tenure, most notably Tropical Storm Allison (2001) and Hurricane Ike (2008).

Preparedness at Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens begins at the start of Hurricane Season, not days before a storm.  Major efforts include the thinning of historically significant trees, as well as trees close to important structures, to allow for strong winds to pass through and not bend and break the upper limbs and branches. Additionally, plant records and documentation are updated.

Leading in to a storm he has suggested the following tips:

  • Start contacting your local crews and volunteers days before the storm to coordinate clean up and repair.  Having commitments in place prior will minimize the chaos in the days immediately following the event.
  • Prioritize sections of the landscape to be cleaned up by developing a map and a calendar.  What needs to be cleaned up and by when?  Determining this is particularly important for sites that depend on events for revenue.  You can’t afford to cancel them.
  • Secure your documentation materials.  Make sure your archives, plant lists and databases are safe and accessible.  This resource will be instrumental in re-establishing your site should significant damage occur.
  • Secure all movable garden features, such as benches, planters and small sculptures, either on-site, or to a more secure location.

The goals are to minimize the amount of loss to your historic landscape by working quickly and efficiently in the immediate aftermath.  Prioritize, plan and be safe.

For more information please visit:

National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119