- Within days of Katrina, NCPTT was helping FEMA with its damage survey. At FEMA’s request, the Center took the lead to produce a Rapid Building and Site Condition Assessment tool and database that FEMA could use to evaluate flood-damaged historic buildings in New Orleans and surrounding parishes. Rapid Cemetery Condition Assessment and Detailed Building and Site Condition Assessment forms and databases followed.
- NCPTT Staff Members Go into the Field to Assist Preservation Recovery Efforts. With limited cultural resource staff on hand and staggering losses of historic properties to contend with, FEMA requested that the Center detail staff directly to the Joint Field Office in Baton Rouge. Historic Architect Andy Ferrell, NCPTT’s Chief of Architecture & Engineering Programs, spent 30 days assisting FEMA with evaluations of historic structures the city had deemed unsafe for entry. He also surveyed Pontchartrain Park, a mid-century African American community, for eligibility for the National Register. Physical scientist Dr. Mary Striegel, NCPTT’s Chief of Materials Research, followed Ferrell’s detail with a 30-day assignment assisting FEMA with condition assessment of damaged collections and technical assistance in collections recovery. During her detail, she served on a strike force to recover and salvage about 1,750 objects from the Ft. Jackson Museum in Plaquemines Parish. Sean Clifford, NCPTT’s webmaster, is currently assigned on an intermittent basis to assist FEMA with a project to gather all of their data together in a usable form and map it.
- NCPTT created a Clearinghouse for technical information on disaster recovery. Only days after the first storm hit, NCPTT began gathering technical reports and guidance on repair and restoration of historic resources damaged by flood, mold, and fire. This was posted on the Center’s website in a new section that became a major source of information in the region. Updated almost daily in the early weeks, the site was featured on the NPS Katrina site, promoted in public service announcements throughout the affected area. NCPTT’s site quickly became a “one-stop-shop” for historic resource and disaster zone maps, technical advice, assessment tools, and other helpful links. NPS also used it to post its regular updates on the condition of historic sites in the impact zone. In her testimony before Congress on the response to Katrina, NPS Associate Director Matthews said, “The NCPTT web site is a primary national information resource.”
- NCPTT helped create Team Tarp (Operation Roof Aid) in New Orleans. Following Hurricane Katrina, NCPTT nurtured the development of several temporary roofing initiatives in New Orleans. NCPTT intern and evacuee, Alice-Anne Krishnan saw an immediate need to protect thousands of roofs on historic homes in New Orleans ineligible for FEMA’s Blue Roof program, which excludes slate, tile, asbestos, metal, or flat roofs. Supported by NCPTT, Krishnan began to reach out to national nonprofits, government agencies and local preservation leaders to brainstorm solutions. These conversations spurred the creation of Tarps New Orleans, a pilot project directed by Krishnan that in collaboration with Americorps and volunteer contractors has tarped over 80 historic homes to date.
- NCPTT sponsors Wet Recovery Workshops. NCPTT continues to address the recovery effort by partnering with the American Institute for Conservation (AIC) to provide three one-day workshops to provide technical skills training in recovery of collections damaged by water. Titled After the Storm: Recovery of Wet Collections, these workshops were held in March 2006 at the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, the Rural Life Museum in Baton Rouge, and at NCPTT headquarters in Natchitoches. More than 60 curators, collections managers, and volunteers from around the state attended to learn from conservation experts from the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC), NCPTT, and the National Archives.
- NCPTT Provides Assistance to FEMA and Communities. The Center continues to provide technical assistance to FEMA as needed as the recovery continues. Dr. David Morgan, Chief of NCPTT’s Archeology & Collections program, has assisted with Section 106 and tribal consultation issues and the Center has offered to help FEMA staff in Lake Charles assemble the expertise it needs to accomplish its cultural resource plan. Center staff have also written and spoken about the plight of Louisiana’s resources, and are scheduled to present papers on the recovery efforts at several national professional conferences this year. The Center believes it is important to keep the impact of the two hurricanes before the eyes of the rest of the country, and to explore ways to improve governmental responses to large-scale disasters.
Hurricane Rita, September 22, 2005. Photo: NOAA.
Hurricane Katrina, August 28, 2005. Photo: NOAA.