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Emergency Preparedness: Hurricane Response and Recovery


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Hurricanes can damage collections in multiple ways. The sheer impact of high winds, flying debris, driving rain and rushing and rising waters can break windows, blow papers around, scatter and tear documents, and knock over bookshelves. Even if books initially remain on bookshelves, rain or flood water can cause the paper in the books to expand, swelling book bindings to the point where loosely stacked books may pop off the shelves. Water can dissolve inks, colorants and other components of letters, prints, photographs and books. More importantly, flood waters are often dirty or contaminated, depositing soil, mud or worse on precious family treasures.

Following rain or flooding, residual dampness can lead to the growth of mold which can cause health problems for humans and disfigure books and papers. Some papers, such as clay-coated bookplates, can also stick or “block” together.

Despite these dire circumstances, there are actions that can be taken to salvage collections of hurricane-damaged papers, prints, books and even audiovisual materials such as films, tapes, CDs and DVDs.

For more information, see the following links:

Recommended links for flood-related emergencies are listed below:

Recommendations are compiled here to provide a convenient, efficient access to key concepts for reducing risks and responding to or recovering from emergencies. These suggestions are general, and based on good practice in libraries, archives, museums, and other collections-holding institutions. They may be superseded by requirements of a specific institution or emergency, or by the instructions of civil defense or other emergency responders.

Find additional information about hurricanes at:


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