Hurricane/Tropical Storm Emergency Management
Disaster recovery resources for libraries, archives and cultural institutions
Libraries are never more needed than in times of crisis, and it is in times of crisis that we demonstrate why we libraries are so essential.
Houston Public Library Director Dr. Rhea Lawson wrote to us after Hurricane Harvey in 2017 to report on the status of damage to her libraries. Dr. Lawson made the following wonderful observation:
“As you know, for so many people libraries are a vital lifeline. We recognize that during catastrophic times libraries are even more essential as people need a trusted familiar anchor and touchstone in the community to remind them that everything will be all right again. But most all—our mission right now is to restore the joy in the eyes of children and adults who have seen so much destruction, and experienced so much fear and uncertainty.”
TSLAC will continue to work with federal, state, and local organizations to find ways to assist libraries and archives as they deal with weather-related emergencies.
Texas state points of contact
Texas Library Association: The Texas Library Association awards grants from organization’s Disaster Relief Fund to libraries impacted by natural disasters. Grants range from $2,500 to $5,000 and can be used for technology, facility repair, collections, furnishings, or other needs related to storm damage. Academic, public, school and special libraries are eligible to receive assistance.
If your library has recently experienced damage due to a natural disaster, please contact TLA.
Library Development and Networking Library Developments Blog: “Responding to Water Damage in Libraries” - Collection of resources compiled in response to Winter Storm Uri: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/ld/librarydevelopments/2021/02/19/responding-to-water-damage-in-libraries/. Other topics may be addressed in future posts.
State and Local Records Management Division: Webinars on Disaster Recovery for Records Managers. These will be helpful to librarians, archivists, county clerks and others responsible for such collections: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/slrm/webinars/disaster
For Texas Federal Depositories (U.S. government documents):
GPO Outreach and Support Unit: Federal depositories should call 202-512-1119 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Texas Federal Regional coordinators: Angela Kent at the Texas State Library and Archives Commission in Austin (email@example.com, 512-463-5426). Tom Rohrig at Texas Tech University in Lubbock (firstname.lastname@example.org, 806-834-2632)
Federal government and national associations
Library of Congress: Emergency Management, Response & Recovery tips (including what to do if collections get wet) available at: www.loc.gov/preservation/emergprep/recovery.html
American Library Association:
ALA’s Disaster Recovery Toolkit is available at: www.ala.org/aasl/awards/beyond-words/recovery
ALA’s Libraries Respond: Natural Disasters page, with links and information regarding disaster relief for Hurricane Harvey: www.ala.org/advocacy/natural-disasters
National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives: The Society of Southwest Archivists (SSA) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA) created the SSA-SAA Emergency Disaster Assistance Grant Fund. Any repository that holds archival records or special collections is eligible to apply for a grant; membership in SSA or SAA is not required. For more information, including how to donate to the fund, visit: www2.archivists.org/groups/saa-foundation-board-of-directors/national-disaster-recovery-fund-for-archives
National Heritage Responders:
The National Heritage Responders (NHR), a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals, are available 24/7 to provide advice to cultural stewards. Call 24/7: 202-661-8068.
Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation:
For at-your-fingertips salvage advice, see the Disaster Response & Recovery Guides: https://www.culturalheritage.org/resources/emergencies/disaster-response-recovery
Conservation Center for Art and Historical Artifacts (CCAHA):
Northeast Document Conservation Center:
NEDCC staff members are available 24/7 to provide telephone advice to institutions and individuals handling collection-related disasters. For emergency assistance, contact NEDCC’s toll-free collections emergency hotline at: 1-855-245-8303. For more information, visit their website at: www.nedcc.org/free-resources/disaster-assistance/emergency-phone-assistance
National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, National Park Service: www.ncptt.nps.gov/articles/disasters/
Heritage Emergency National Task Force: www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/113297
Federal and State Emergency Management points of contact
The FEMA fact sheet “Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Heirlooms” offers tips and resources on salvaging different types of objects, from photos to fabric to furniture and more: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1537903952519-bf860ca4e5af4a26a25e9f215678eb02/SalvagingFamilyValuables.pdf (PDF).
The FEMA fact sheet “After the Flood: Advice for Salvaging Damaged Family Treasures” offers tips and resources for individuals and institutions: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1537903646474-713c46c9f75fc24d3184cfc95ab98260/Flood_FIMA_Fact_Sheet_2015_508_rev_092418.pdf (PDF). Versions are also available in Spanish and Vietnamese.
Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force, Office of Environmental Planning & Historic Preservation,Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration,FEMA | DHS
Mobile number: 202-826-6303
Read the “Bracing for Recovery” post on Texas State Librarian Mark Smith's blog for more details: https://www.tsl.texas.gov/director/bracing-for-recovery/
Office of the Governor:
Texas Hurricane Center: https://gov.texas.gov/hurricane
Emergency Management: https://gov.texas.gov/organization/disabilities/emergency_management
Texas Emergency Preparedness: https://emergency.portal.texas.gov/
Department of Public Safety:
Division of Emergency Management: www.dps.texas.gov/dem
Department of Housing and Community Affairs:
Disaster Relief Resources: www.tdhca.state.tx.us/disaster-resources
Department of Transportation:
Road Conditions: www.drivetexas.org
It’s important that individuals and cultural institutions in these states prepare:
- Track the storm via the National Hurricane Center, www.nhc.noaa.gov/.
- Gather your staff and review your disaster plan today. No disaster plan? Put that at the top of the to-do list once the storm passes (and hope you didn’t need it this time).
- If you have a disaster plan, make sure everyone has a printed copy to take home. An electronic version may be useless if you lose power.
- Make sure staff, volunteer, and board contact lists are up to date. Determine how you will communicate with one another before, during, and after the storm.
- Make sure your insurance and disaster recovery vendor contact information is readily available.
- Back up electronic records and store the back-ups off-site or in the cloud.
- Secure outdoor furniture, bike racks, book drops, signage, etc. – anything that can become a projectile in strong winds.
- Move collections that are in areas vulnerable to flooding (i.e., the floor, the basement) or susceptible to rain (near windows or under roofs) out of harm’s way.
- If you have time, cut lengths of plastic sheeting to be able to throw them over shelves, cabinets, or equipment should the building envelope be compromised.
- Know the location and shut-off procedures for water, electricity, and gas.
- Review individual or family plans. You’ll feel better attending to your organization knowing that your loved ones are safe.
- Download the FEMA mobile app for disaster resources, weather alerts, and safety tips. The app (available in English and Spanish) provides a customizable checklist of emergency supplies, maps of open shelters and recovery centers, disaster survival tips, and weather alerts from the National Weather Service. The app also enables users to receive push notifications reminding them to take important steps to prepare their homes and families for disasters. https://www.fema.gov/mobile-app
- For tips on what to do before, during, and after a hurricane, go to https://www.ready.gov/hurricanes.
- Keep this 24/7 hotline number handy: 202.661.8068. The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals administered by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation, are available 24/7 to provide advice.
- Familiarize yourself with the disaster declaration process in case one is declared for your state, https://www.fema.gov/disaster-declaration-process.