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Alliance for Response News Brief – October 2013

The Great NorthEast ShakeOut
If you live in one of the six New England states or New York, New Jersey, or Pennsylvania, mark your calendars! Join millions of people who will Drop, Cover, and Hold On at 10:17 a.m. on October 17. The Great NorthEast ShakeOut, a regional opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes, is organized to encourage you, your community, and your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.
The website has a wealth of resources and planning documents, including a ShakeOut Drill Manual for non-profits and other organizations. Participate and prepare!
Looking for ideas and activities to stimulate your Alliance for Response network? Read on to see what some of our AFR networks have been up to in the past months—from workshops and presentations to creating by-laws and steering committees. We are collecting these resources and ideas for incorporation into a new Alliance for Response website, which is currently under construction, so our collective activities can be readily shared. Great work is under way!

Work continues on the FEMA Hazard Mitigation Grant Program grant awarded through the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA). One component of the project, a short video to introduce COSTEP MA, was recently completed. Protecting our Cultural Heritage includes commentary by the Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Director of MEMA. The seven-minute video is being shared at community meetings across the Commonwealth and is available to view here
With direction from and guidance by MEMA, work also continues on the creation of Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines (SOP/SOG) that will be used by COSTEP MA personnel for disaster response and/or recovery when damage to cultural institutions is anticipated or has occurred. A draft of the document will be reviewed by a COSTEP MA sub-committee in October. When the document is completed, COSTEP MA will gladly share it with other AFR networks.
On July 26, the Galveston-Houston Alliance for Response held its second forum, which focused on the cultural community’s response to Hurricane Sandy. Some 300 library, archives, and museum professionals based in 10 counties in the Houston and Galveston areas were invited to share expertise and resources at this disaster preparedness event. The conference reviewed the details of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the New York City arts community and its implications for a response to a future storm along the Gulf Coast.
On September 11, the AFR Houston group teamed with the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation (FAIC) to host a workshop on Emergency Planning and Mitigation Strategies for Historic Sites. The workshop enabled small institutions to gain valuable knowledge of disaster preparedness and response and to establish a relationship with a regional AIC-CERT team member before an incident occurs.
AFR Houston has also created a new steering committee called START and is working to step up its network. Six new members have been added to the steering committee, which will be responsible for organizing training programs, seeking program funds, connecting with local and state offices of emergency management, and supporting the growth of START. The committee will also work to create and train a volunteer response group that can assist AFR members in response and recovery as well as improve the readiness of their own institutions. It will operate under the umbrella of AFR and will collaborate with AIC-CERT when necessary. It will be called the Texas Collections Emergency Response Team (TX-CERT).
New York City
With generous funding from the New York Community Trust (NYCT), Heritage Preservation and Alliance for Response NYC have launched a two-year initiative to develop key tools to improve emergency communication within the New York cultural community and train and manage a local Heritage Response Team to respond to disasters at local institutions.To kick off this initiative, AFR NYC has launched a new Facebook page for announcements, useful links, tips, and articles. Please visit, "like," and share!
NYCT funding has enabled AFR NYC to partner with a local web production firm to build a robust infrastructure that will support an online registry of local cultural organizations. Access to these resources will be provided through a new website, currently in development.
On October 7, 2013, AFR NYC will participate in a panel discussion at the New York Archives Week Symposium: Disaster Planning for Archives and their Communities at the Center for Jewish History. The panel is entitled The Impact of Cultural Collecting Institutions on Their Communities, and will be presented in conjunction with representatives from Philadelphia’s Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts. The co-chair of COSTEP MA will also participate on a panel entitled Preparing Emergency and Cultural Resources Personnel to Respond During and Following a Disaster.
North Carolina
With the help of an IMLS grant, the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and the Connecting to Collections project have developed workshops for staff training and assembled emergency supplies for immediate salvage and recovery efforts after a disaster at cultural institutions. This project includes the development of a statewide CREST team (Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team) that can deploy members across the state immediately after a disaster. CREST members arrive with special supplies for triage of artifacts and have had specialized recovery training that includes soot removal, photograph salvage, freezing techniques, and textile cleaning for temporary or long-term conservation and storage.  
A part of the CREST initiative is staging workshops in cooperation with the local fire and rescue professionals in the Piedmont, Mountain, and Coastal Plains regions of North Carolina. The first disaster/burn-recovery workshop was in Buxton, NC, on the Outer Banks. A mock museum was set up and, after a controlled burn of the “museum,” area historical collection stewards received hands-on training in the actual recovery of the wet and damaged items. Members of the recovery teams consisted of employees, volunteers, boards of directors, local members, and other passionate people who would respond should a fire, flood, tornado, or other disaster occur.
Northwest Pennsylvania
The Northwest Pennsylvania Alliance for Response held its kickoff forum at the Raymond M. Blasco, M.D. Memorial Library in Erie, PA, on June 6, 2013. Despite flooding rainstorms throughout the afternoon of the meeting, about 35 people attended the session to learn about emergency preparedness and emergency resources in the Erie area.
The event Planning Committee felt that a good mix of institution types attended, including libraries, museums, archives, and arts/cultural/historical agencies. Attendees reported “some gain” in knowledge of the principles of disaster planning and response, available resources for disaster planning and mitigation, and special considerations of cultural institutions during emergencies. They reported “big gains” in knowledge of the structure and protocol of local emergency management, significance of local cultural resources, and cooperating with emergency responders and cultural institutions on disaster projects.
Potential topics for an initial Fall follow-up meeting, tentatively scheduled for November, include: a disaster plan writing and review clinic; touring a cultural heritage site with local emergency management, fire, and police representatives; and “Winterizing Your Building and Collections.”
During the Savannah Heritage Emergency Response (SHER) September meeting, Rebecca Fifield from the Metropolitan Museum of Art presented on her experiences during Hurricane Sandy. Rebecca teleconferenced from New York City into their Emergency Operations Center (EOC) Annex. The meeting gave everyone the chance to see the EOC, get a brief tour, and gain a better understanding of how the EOC works.
SHER has nearly finished its work on the county’s Emergency Operations Plan, NCH11c Annex. The Chatham County Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) will follow this plan during an emergency. As part of this process, SHER solicited help from the Natural Resources constituents in Savannah and offered them SHER membership in return. The SHER by-laws allow for both natural and cultural organizations, and this is an excellent way to gain a greater range of resources and expertise. SHER has also been working, for the past year, to create mutual aid agreements, and is very pleased with the result.
Twin Cities
The initial AFR meeting in the Twin Cities, held earlier this year, created contacts and relationships with key first responders and emergency managers in the area. Those contacts, along with Midwest Art Conservation Center (MACC) connections to area museums, libraries, and archives, enabled AFR Twin Cities meetings to discuss practical, replicable steps that collecting institutions can take to improve communications with their local first responders.
MACC produced a short list of details local fire departments want to know about an institution, as well as information the police departments want to know. AFR Twin Cities will be using these lists as informative handouts for institutions so they can prepare answers about their locations prior to meeting with their local responders. This preparation should allow more in-depth discussions between the responders and the institutions and will demonstrate forward thinking and planning on the part of the institutions.
Aside from discussing and including these handouts at disaster planning workshops around the region, these handouts will also be sent as email broadcasts so that they might reach a wider array of institutions across a larger region. These broadcasts are also meant to encourage institutions to make initial contacts and hold meetings with their local first responders. AFR Twin Cities intends to track that activity—hoping to see a good response over a period of months—and is looking into ways to accomplish this.
Northeast Ohio
On May 2, 2013, Polygon Specialist Summer Street gave a presentation entitled “When Disaster Strikes.” This presentation utilized two case studies to outline the proper protocol surrounding emergency response procedures for documents and books. The cases focused on massive floodwater intrusion in a records management facility and a library. Summer discussed the basics of document drying and restoration, techniques, and best practices for successful recovery. The annual meeting followed with a discussion of dPlan and roundtable reporting/discussion of each institution’s disaster planning progress.
The Seattle Heritage Emergency Response Network (SHERN) completed work on its by-laws.
On September 6, SHERN visited the Seattle Office of Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center. A current project is to identify the locations of SHERN members’ holdings so they can be tracked using GPS.
The Emergency Management for Cultural Resources (EMCR) team is a small group that came out of the larger 2011 AFR Salt Lake City Forum. EMCR consists of various Utah state agencies with a common goal of protecting and preserving Utah’s cultural resources.
The EMCR group has met six times this past year and has been working closely with the state Division of Emergency Management (DEM). The EMRC team toured the Emergency Operations Center earlier this year. The team is also working with DEM on a Hazard Mitigation Grant Program project, and has submitted a state mitigation plan to DEM.

Amanda Browe
Program Assistant, Emergency Programs

Heritage Preservation

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