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Past Responses

Flooding in Eastern Kentucky

Thanks to support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and donations from individuals, FAIC deployed three teams of National Heritage Responders (NHR) volunteers to Whitesburg, Kentucky, in November 2022 and spring 2023 to assist institutions impacted by flooding. Volunteers worked with staff from Appalshop, a site that documents and revitalizes the traditions and creativity of Appalachia, to help salvage thousands of quarter-inch open reel tapes in their collection. The volunteer responders also trained Appalshop staff in cleaning the reels and helped them organize damaged materials and consider various storage options for collections. FAIC also sent several shipments of personal protective equipment and recovery supplies, including HEPA vacuums, to several institutions in Eastern Kentucky.

Hurricane Florence

On September 30, 2018, NHR team members deployed to Wilmington, NC, to help salvage the cultural heritage materials damaged by Hurricane Florence. The team made site visits to affected institutions to provide guidance on specific collections care issues. They also offered a free workshop for local collecting institutions, collectors, and artists at the Cameron Art Museum. The program featured advice on salvaging objects with a focus on dealing with mold and health and safety considerations. The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded a special Director’s grant to support FAIC’s response.

Hurricane Maria

Following Hurricane Maria, conditions supported the deployment of a response team in Puerto Rico. In November 2017, NHR team members spent five days visiting damaged collections from San Juan to Humacao. Mold issues were persistent in most sites, as collections environments were imperiled by the lack of electricity. Team members conducted assessments, provided staff training, and facilitated salvage operations.

Hurricane Irma 

Following Hurricane Irma, NHR team members visited several affected sites in Florida, to help assess damage and set up cleaning protocols. Museums from Orlando to Miami received in-person assistance, and many institutions throughout the region were given advice via the NHR hotline.

Hurricane Harvey 

After Hurricane Harvey, NHR team members worked closely with the Texas Collections Emergency Resource Alliance (TX-CERA), the Heritage Emergency National Task Force (HENTF), and University of Texas-Austin students to collect damage reports and reach out to museums, libraries, and archives in the region. FAIC sent an NHR team to the Houston area on September 8, 2017 to help an impacted theatre with their flooded stage properties collection, and a second institution with a wall mural endangered by mold growth.

Superstorm Sandy

In November 2012, NHR team members provided assistance and advice to institutions impacted by Superstorm Sandy. On November 4, 2012, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and FAIC hosted an informational seminar for artists and art owners. Sotheby's generously donated a Leadership Gift in support of NHR's activities, allowing conservators to reach out further to arts communities affected by the storm.

Flooding in North Dakota

On August 5, 2011, NHR team members deployed to Minot, North Dakota, to help the Ward County Historical Society respond to damage from the hundred-year flooding event from the Souris/Mouse River. Responders were able to quickly mobilize, create an Incident Action Plan, and advise the affected institution.

Hurricane Ike

Following Hurricane Ike, a local responder made several trips to Galveston to perform assessments and make initial recommendations. Two additional NHR teams were deployed to the impacted area in September 2008. Team members offered seven affected institutions assessments, recommendations, hands-on recovery, and a training workshop on materials salvage.

Haiti Earthquake

FAIC joined the Smithsonian Institution and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield (USCBS) to help recover cultural and historic artifacts damaged by the January 12, 2010 earthquakes in Haiti.

In early May 2010, two NHR members joined Corine Wegener, President of USCBS, and engineers from the Smithsonian Institution to assess collections, and to evaluate a building in Port-au-Prince for use as a conservation center.

Over the next 18 months, FAIC sent 31 conservators on 35 trips, totaling over 430 days, along with over $34,000 in supplies and materials.  Volunteers worked on iconic pieces, cleaned dust and mold from thousands of items in collections, and helped train Haitian specialists to continue the work.