Thinking About Big Weather and Disaster Planning

Fall 2014 has been a reminder of drastic weather events that change everything.  The environment is changing and dynamic weather related events are on the rise everywhere.  So far this year, FEMA lists 30 states as having weather driven major disaster declarations.

The North American cold wave moved in on November 13, 2014 and quickly buried Buffalo, New York in some 88 inches of snow.  In California and Oregon, this December has brought a fierce storm dubbed the “Pineapple Express”, bringing wind gusts of up to 67 mph and dumping as much as 21 inches of rain in the past two weeks.  The recent weather events have triggered dangerous flooding and mud slides in California.

Here are some snapshots of the damage done from storm surge from past events such as Katrina and Hugo:

KATRINA2005 clean up after Katrina on ledger books

KATRINA2005Shelves mold formed on shelving post storm surge

What does all this mean for you?  It means now is the time to make a move and set forth a disaster plan for your institution if you haven’t already done so.  There are plenty of resources and tools.  Big weather changes are increasingly a threat to our communities and cultural collections.  Now is the time to be proactive on creating a plan if you don’t have one.  This step is important to your collections and to your institution!

One tool freely available and perfect for smaller institutions is the dPlan. You can explore and get a feel for using the dPlan by first using the demo version.   Non-profit cultural institutions can submit institutional information to the North East Document Conservation Center NEDCC and be approved for a dPlan account.  The dPlan has a “lite” version and a more in depth version which allow you to enter collection data stored to a secure server.  The software allows you to create a disaster plan management document which can be printed out or exported to PDF format.

There are other tools available.  The NEDCC has a worksheet tool that you may want to use for creating an outline for your disaster plan.  The Pocket Response Plan (PReP) can be customized for each institution and each staff member.  The PReP plan complements disaster planning already in place.

A current and ongoing exhibit at the National Building Museum called “Designing for Disaster” may provide a good way to start the conversation in your institution.  There is a good Exhibition blog called MitigationNation that chronicles some previous disaster milestones.  Explore the resources, start the conversation and create your own plan today.