CREST Reactivated!

Remnants of ice surround one of several felled cedar trees on the groungs of the CHB Museum.

Remnants of ice surround one of several felled cedar trees on the grounds of the CHB Museum.

Remember last week’s blog post announcing Severe Weather Preparedness Week? Well, this year the recognition and warning happened to coincide with actual severe weather. An estimated 3 inches of snow and ice fell in Guilford County on Friday, March 7. The combination of an icy coating and high winds caused many trees to split, or even fall, resulting in widespread power outages. The Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia suffered a small-scale disaster when melting ice leaked into the roof of its collections storage building.

Aside from tilting trees, the building's exterior did not hint and the damaged interior.

Aside from tilting trees, the building’s exterior did not hint at the damaged interior.

Saturday morning, knowing that power was out at the site, staff members arrived and to begin inspecting each of the site’s several buildings. Frachele Scott and Kara Deadmon, the site manager and assistant manager, quickly noticed water leaking in several places  in the structure that housed collections. They contacted Martha Battle Jackson, Chief Curator for NC State Historic Sites and a CREST member, who quickly called us. Since the site is fairly close to Raleigh (over 1 hour’s driving time), and since we believed the scope of recovery was manageable for a small group, we limited the CREST activation to those 4 Raleigh-based members, loaded up with our cache of recovery supplies, and headed west.

A nylon window screen made a useful surface to air dry a dampened pennant and ledger book.

By the time we arrived in the early afternoon, Deadmon had made great progress sorting collections and had already moved boxes that she knew had been affected by water out into the Visitor Center building that was dry and naturally well-lit. Once there, some CREST members prepared a recovery space on a large, screened-in side porch and began the air-drying process for dampened artifacts and books. Beginning to dry items that day was crucial, since mold begins to grow within 48 hours of damp conditions, and we knew that leaks may have started as much as 24 hours previously. (Above: a nylon window screen made a useful surface for air-drying a dampened felt pennant ad a ledger book.) Meanwhile, other CREST members continued the process of loading vans with collection storage boxes and relocating them to the Visitor Center. 

CREST members and site staff discuss loose ends before bringing artifacts inside and calling it a day. (L - R: Adrienne Berney, Frachele Scott, Kara Deadmon, Lyn Triplett, Martha Battle Jackson)

CREST members and site staff discuss loose ends before bringing artifacts inside and calling it a day. (L – R: Adrienne Berney, Frachele Scott, Kara Deadmon, Lyn Triplett, Martha Battle Jackson)

By the end of the afternoon, damp items had been drying for several hours and nearly all the stored collections had been relocated. We moved the air-drying-area from the screened porch into the building for the night and left, confident in the collections’ safety. Such an incident, at a museum with a small staff, highlights the importance of CREST as a resource for helping hands, useful supplies, artifact recovery knowledge, and moral support in the wake of a disaster.

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About collectionsconversations

This blog will contain posts from the C2C project staff on a variety of topics related to collections care and disaster preparedness. Enjoy the posts and let us know if you would like additional information or have a topic you would like for us to address.

Posted on March 10, 2014, in CREST, disaster preparedness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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