Disaster Recovery

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    • #133547

      I am the registrar at the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, a department of the city of Corpus Christi. Recently, my colleagues,–both in the museum and city library and myself have been on a journey toward better planning for potential disaster. We’re attempting to streamline and make our emergency preparedness and recovery plan as transparent and structured as possible for our colleagues, outside of our departments, who… may or may not take our line of work as serious as possibly other departments. Alas, we mean business and we want to ensure the cultural heritage is protected.

      We’re seeking literature and as much as information as possible. That being said, we have a pretty thorough plan of action in the event a disaster, especially of water or wind relation, were to occur. That being said, there are so many things we feel unprepared for, and we just don’t know where to start to make sure we’re covered. What’s most daunting to us is whether we need to have contracts already established with transportation affiliates, storage facilities, and conservation groups before the event.

      We find all of this a little unnerving i.e. What if we’ve established these contracts, but after the storm we aren’t the first to contact our groups of choice and another facility, experiencing a similar fate to us, snatches up our preferred or contracted groups? Or our preferred contacts are backed up with unrelated work? These scenarios just seem so impossible and unpredictable to plan for. We know it’s not as though these groups are sitting around waiting on-call for some kind of bad luck to happen to us.

      Does anyone have advice on how to be confident and establish a secure relationship in advance without knowing what could or couldn’t happen, without having to indemnify ourselves?


    • #133553

      Elizabeth, you raise some very good questions. My firm is a national disaster response contractor. We also specialize in museum recovery. I have worked with numerous conservators to help our clients. During a disaster our goal is mitigate the damage to the collection under daunting conditions such as the aftermath of a hurricane or area wide flooding. I have a contract with the US Senate Museum, the National Archives and many others. During Hurricane Irene & Tropical Storm Lee I did emergency work for the Tioga County Museum. Unfortunately all the conservators in the NE were already overworked and no one could come on site. Fortunately we knew what to do. I did get some tips from a textile conservator for the historic clothing we removed from the flood waters. I can send you a news video that was done on this museum recovery if you like.

      We have no cost emergency response agreements that are available should you want to consider that. We have always supported our clients even during all the gulf hurricanes.


      Mark Rocco

    • #133552
      Judy Knight

      Have you checked with westpas.org (Western States and Territories Preservation Assistance Service)? Their web site has lots of resources. I know Texas isn’t part of their service area, but you can always ask them for references. On their contacts list, I went to a training with Julie Page, and recommend talking to her. Disasters are her “thing”. I know that having pre-disaster commitments with conservators and archivists, as Mark suggests, is a good way to avoid some of the problems that you bring up in your post. Julie recommended the “Pocket Response Plan” that is available from http://www.statearchivists.org/prepare/framework/prep.htm From that website you get a downloadable template that you then fill out for your region. And you can order Tyvek sleeves that the folded up plan fits into so that your staff and board can all carry around a copy in their billfolds, its designed to be the size of a credit card when folded — very handy. I’ve just applied for an NEH PAG grant on this topic, using Colorado conservator Terri Schindel as the consultant, she’s done quite a bit of work on disaster preparedness/response planning, her blog is museumtrainingnetwork2004.blogspot.com or you can Google her organization, the Museum Training Network. A direct email for her is terrischindel@aol.com.
      Judy Knight
      Specialty Grants Coordinator
      Laramie Plains Museum

    • #133551

      When it comes to handling disasters there are many companies with substantial capacities that can respond at a time of need. If the event is widespread, they will probably all be quite busy and the response will need to be shared among all the affected institutions in the geographic proximity
      There are some other powerful resources that everyone on this Forum should be aware of. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic works (AIC) maintains the ultimate reference page on the topic: http://cool.conservation-us.org/bytopic/disasters/
      The AIC is the national organization conservation professionals and it also maintains a directory of peer reviewed conservators who can be called upon in cases of emergency or routine services. The Directory is searchable by geographic region as well as field of specialization and can be accessed at: http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=495 .
      AIC-CERT is the emergency response arm of the AIC. For information visit http://www.conservation-us.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=Page.viewPage&pageId=695 . The Collection Care Network, (CCN), is a brand new initiative of the AIC and it will truly help in the task of connecting to collections. For information visit: http://www.conservators-converse.org/2012/01/aic-collection-care-network-charge/ .
      There are a great many conservators in private practice (CIPP) across the country and we have our own group within the AIC. I happen to be the Chair of CIPP currently and have occasion to help institutions find a qualified conservator for any given task. Feel free to contact me in case of need.
      Lastly, the very best advice I can provide is to cultivate volunteers in the community, train them and prepare them to help out at a time of need. They have a vested interest in local institutions and will make the effort.
      George Schwartz george@ConservArt.com

    • #133550
      Gary Spivey

      I have a related question. What do you do if you are a small volunteer organization and do not have the funds to hire an emergency contractor?

    • #133549

      Some things that will really help in an emergency,r egardless of the scale of your organisation:
      1. make the contacts beforehand – get to know possible suppliers, companies, helpers, emergency services, insurance agents
      2. make sure staff are conversant with the emergency plan – if they understand thoroughly what they are to do they can act swiflty and adapt when circumstances do not fit the plan
      3. rehearse – try out different scenarios, from small to major, and test the system. Is the kit where you thought it was? Do the phone numbers work? What happens when the batteries run down?

      For Gary Spivey – there may be advantages for small organisations by joining together – in the West of England many small volunteer-run museums have joined together as county groups and have joint membership with a rescue service which provides free transport and storage for collections after an emergency, a 24/7 call-out number and help with triage and treatment. See http://www.hdrs.co.uk 60 members pay one subscription jointly, but are entitled to full benefits as if they had each paid singly.

    • #133548

      I concurr with Mark. Having had contact with one or more contractors before hand is a definite asset in case of emergency. Polygon has a free service called code blue that will get you on a priority list should a wide spread event occur. It will help in the planning process by identifying key information such as size of your space, priority items in your collection, access points etc. If you are interested in more information on code blue or case studies please let me know. amanda.jovanovic@polygongroup.com

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