Museum Handbook: Primer on Disaster Preparedness
Return to Primer Table of Contents
Orange Line Graphic
Orange Block Graphic THE RECOVERY TEAM

Conducting a successful and efficient recovery operation after a major flood or similar disaster requires, in addition to a good supply of dedicated labor, a team of experts who should be assembled before practical work begins.

The leader should be a person who has had practical experience and understands the effects of different environmental conditions on water-soaked materials of all types, conditions, and ages. The team leader should to be assisted by custodians who know the collection intimately; conservators who can provide additional advice and guidance as well as help in training workers in safe removal procedures; procurement specialists; building maintenance engineers; electricians; carpenters; plumbers; a chemist if available, and health and safety experts.

One or more persons familiar with national and local resources are highly desirable to assist in locating and procuring the special facilities, equipment and supplies needed during the operation. They should be familiar with using the Yellow Pages to track down materials and equipment, able to seek out the key chemical supply companies in the country, if necessary, and generally have the authority to cut through administrative red tape.

The assembled team should be carefully briefed on the recovery plan and procedures to be followed as well as various contingency alternatives which might have to be adopted, priorities to be observed, and their own specific responsibilities.

Team leaders need to be identified and instructed in the details of the recovery plan and its main aims and goals. They in turn should brief all workers so that they too will understand the purpose of the plan and what is expected of each of them. A well briefed and dedicated team works much better than enthusiastic individuals who are allowed to carry out actions which may be disruptive to the main purpose of the team plan.

The major objectives of this team should be:

To stabilize the condition of the materials before removal by creating the environment necessary to prevent further damage.

To recover the maximum number of material from the damaged collections in a manner which will minimize future restoration and its costs.