Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Impact of Hurricane Sandy on NARA Facilities and Holdings

[Editor's Note: FGS just received this e-mail message from David Ferriero, the Archivist of the United States, describing the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the holdings of the National Archives and Records Administration.  Also, check the AOTUS: Collector In Chief blog for future updates.]

Dear Colleagues,

I hope that you and your families are well and safe after Sandy’s visit to the Northeast.

In general, NARA facilities were largely spared, thanks to extensive preparation based on “lessons learned” from similar weather events. I am grateful to all of our staff and especially to our facilities and emergency staff for your ongoing work in keeping NARA personnel and records safe.

No NARA holdings were damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy, thanks to your careful preparation.

In advance of the storm, representatives from Business Support Services coordinated with facility managers in NARA's east coast facilities to ensure necessary preparation.

At Archives I, NARA facilities staff took several precautionary steps prior to Hurricane Sandy's arrival, including pumping down sump pits and pre-deploying the flood gates at the A1 moat openings. Additional measures implemented after the 2006 flooding including the installation of coffer dams and watertight doors, successfully limited water leakage to a minimal amount. The generator fuel tanks were filled and ready in case power was lost.

Archives II advance preparations included pumping down the rain water storage tank and securing the exterior of the building, as well as filling the generator fuel tanks in case power was lost. Power service remained throughout. There was some roof water leakage at AII, on an area of the roof that was being replaced when Hurricane Sandy hit.

The Washington National Records Center at Suitland, MD weathered the storm well with minor pipe leakage but no records damage.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA, had only minor leakage. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY, seems to have fared well, as did our facilities in Philadelphia, Waltham, and Pittsfield.

Hardest hit was the National Archives at New York City, in its new location in lower Manhattan. The building is on generator power, and NARA staff are in touch with both GSA and its contractors to assess the site as soon as possible.

And, the Office of the Federal Register remained open and published during the two days that the government was closed in Washington.

NARA preparation also included the posting of a newly updated Records Emergency Toolkit available to NARA staff on which includes a First Response Checklist and other useful resources:

While NARA facilities overall fared well, we know that other archival facilities did not. NARA staff are reaching out to state archivists whose states have been affected by the hurricane. Agency Services and Research Services are poised to advise and coordinate with Federal agencies on any needed records recovery operations.

Thanks again to all of you for your hard work, and my hope for a speedy return to normal for those affected by the storm.


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