Preparation is Your Best Defense!

Disasters can strike at anytime, sometimes with little or no warning.  Experience has shown us that while natural disasters can leave a path of destruction there are also man-made disasters that can bring an area to its knees.  Being informed and preparing for those that could effect you are key to saving your site, building and collections.

The first thing to remember is human safety is always the highest priority. Never value a collection or building above that of a person. If there is ever a question of safety stop, turn around, and leave the area until it is secure.  For additional information please refer to our Health & Safety section.

Residential neighborhood in New Orleans one year after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. (photo NCPTT)

Creating a disaster plan before a disaster strikes can be of great assistance in mitigating damage and loss.  There are online tools such as dPlan that provide templates to help institutions develop a customized plan.  Disaster plans assist in identifying risks and create  procedures to follow if an event occurs. The best disaster plans in the world will not be of assistance if no one knows about it or it is not maintained and updated! Planning for your collections should be done at the same time as preparing a plan for your building or site.  Prevention and protection needs would be determined during the planning process and could save time and resources when a disaster strikes.  For additional information please refer to Collections section.

Emergency Response Action Steps, FEMA
1. DISASTER ALERT:If you have advance warning
2. SAFETY FIRST!
3. GETTING STARTED OFF SITE
4. STABILIZE THE BUILDING & ENVIRONMENT
5. DOCUMENTATION
6. RETRIEVEL & PROTECTION
7. DAMAGE ASSESMENT
8. SALVAGE PRIORITIES
9. HISTORIC BUILDINGS: General Tips

Preparing historic buildings and sites for a disaster should firstly focus on the disaster most likely to hit the area.  If it is located along the coast or a body of water, flooding could be the most likely disaster to strike.  In the western United States earthquakes are common and can occur with little warning.  However, most disasters can occur over in multiple regions. Just because earthquakes are common on the west coast doesn’t mean that one will not happen in Little Rock, Ark. If any substantionel changes are planned to prepare an historic building for a disaster please refer to the Secretary of Interiors Standards for the Treatment of Historic Structures and check with all local and state authorities before making any changes. For additional information please refer to our Building & Site section.

If you are preparing for a disaster or have been already been affected there are several places you can look at for funding opprotunity. Before and After Disasters: Federal Funding for Cultural Institutions and the Disaster Assistance website can be of assistance, as can as a variety of local, state and federal offices.


Originally published on Jun 30, 2011.

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

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