Collaborative Effort to Facilitate Disaster Planning at Maine Cultural Organizations

Cultural organizations around the state will soon have the opportunity to have trained facilitators help manage the process of creating a disaster plan for their institutions, thanks to a recent grant awarded to the Maine State Museum from Jane’s Trust. The project will include two rounds of facilitated planning, from September –December and again from February–May.

The Maine State Museum has long recognized that disaster planning is a bit of administrative housekeeping that cultural organizations all too frequently put off until disaster strikes, and a year ago it took the lead in helping address this situation by forming the Cultural Emergency Resource Coalition (CERC: Maine). CERC is a collaborative effort with the Maine Emergency Management Agency and several cultural agencies and conservators, including the Maine State Library, the Maine State Archives, the Maine Historic Preservation Commission, and the association Maine Archives and Museums. In its first year CERC focused on surveying Maine’s cultural community to evaluate the state of disaster planning, developing three levels of disaster planning benchmarks and resources to help streamline disaster planning for institutions of various sizes and complexity, and sponsoring disaster planning workshops.

With the Pejepscot Historical Society agreeing to act as a beta site, CERC is developing a facilitation guide that outlines, meeting by meeting, the process for a cultural organization to develop a solid disaster plan that meets the identified benchmarks. CERC is also working with FEMA to schedule a FEMA Corps team in Maine. After receiving training in using the guide and in issues facing cultural organizations, the team will go into the field and work directly with several of Maine’s libraries, museums, town offices, archives and other collecting institutions, helping them develop disaster plans.

Organizations interested in participating in the program may apply online through the CERC website (under the Write Your Own Disaster Plan tab). Participants will be selected to represent a broad range of institutional sizes, geographical locations, collections types, and building construction. For more information about this project, visit the CERC website or contact Ellen Dyer, CERC: Maine Coordinator, at CERC.Maine@gmail.com or (207) 287-6696.

Forming Disaster Networks to Be Topic of Conference Session

As emergency planning systems have grown more sophisticated, museums, libraries, and historic sites are challenged to develop effective responses to large disasters. A session at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) will discuss the importance of forming networks for response and training, provide tips for starting new networks, and offer suggestions for fostering relationships with emergency management personnel.

The panel session will feature presenters Dyani Feige of the Conservation Center for Art and Historic Artifacts (CCAHA), who will moderate the session and discuss the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network (PaCRN); LeRae Umfleet, Office of Archives and History, North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources, who will talk about North Carolina’s Cultural Resources Emergency Support Team (CREST); Pat Young, Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware, and current chair of the Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT), who will discuss DDAT’s formation and structure as well as lessons learned along its six-year history; and Kathy Craughwell-Varda, Project Director of Conservation ConneCTion, Connecticut State Library, who will discuss their accomplishments, which include increasing awareness of the need for all cultural heritage institutions to be disaster ready and laying the foundation for mutual aid.

Some of the panelists participated in the Philadelphia State Heritage Emergency Partnership forum in 2013. The AASLH Annual Meeting will be held September 17–20, 2014, in St. Paul, Minnesota. Early bird registration for the meeting ends July 25.

DHS Releases Sector Risk Snapshot

The Department of Homeland Security recently released Sector Risk Snapshots, an overview and risk profile for the 16 critical infrastructure sectors and 11 of the subsectors and transportation modes. Each two-page overview provides a quick look at the sector, common threats and hazards concerning each sector, and lists primary dependencies and interdependencies between sectors.

PDF pages 25–26 cover the Government Facilities Sector. This sector includes the Education Facilities Subsector, which covers pre-kindergarten through 12th grade schools, institutions of higher education, and business and trade schools. The Government Facilities Sector also includes the National Monuments and Icons Subsector, which includes assets listed in the National Register of Historic Places and the List of National Historic Landmarks.

Department of the Interior Hazard Mapping

Federal, state, and local officials – as well as members of the public – can access up-to-date information about current natural disaster hazards across the country using the DOI (Department of the Interior) Interior Geospatial Emergency Management System (IGEMS).

igems_mapIncluded among the potential hazards are wildfires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The map is highly interactive, allowing users to update the “Layers” menu to obtain the most relevant information. In addition, users may click on specific events to obtain additional details about the hazard.

IGEMS is supported by the DOI’s Office of Emergency Management.

Save the Date! Navigating Public Assistance Following a Disaster

A Webinar and Live Chat Event
Wednesday, June 25, 2014 3:30 – 5:00 pm Eastern
Instructor: Kristy Barbier, Program Specialist – Appeals Team, Public Assistance, FEMA Region VI
Following a Presidentially declared disaster, federal funding through FEMA’s Public Assistance (PA) program is available to help cultural institutions recover. The aim of this free 90-minute webinar is to provide an overview of the PA process to both state cultural agencies and emergency management agencies, so you in turn can provide proper guidance to affected cultural institutions.Details and registration information to follow shortly.

Note: Participation in this webinar will be limited to members of state heritage emergency networks. A recording of the webinar will be posted to the State Heritage Emergency Partnership website and made available free of charge to cultural institutions and interested individuals at a later date.

This program, the first in a series of four webinars on topics relevant to the State Heritage Emergency Partnership, is made possible by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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Delaware Disaster Assistance Team (DDAT) Hosts Program on Mental Health and Disasters

Susan Duhl, private conservator and AIC CERT member, and Faye Rosenbaum, General Manager of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance, presented a program to DDAT members as part of the Spring 2014 gathering on May 21 at Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware.  Susan discussed the theoretical and practical issues relating to stress and mental health that can arise among responding staff members during and following disaster situations, while Faye reflected on her experience and that of the Martha Graham Center’s staff during their response to and recovery from Superstorm Sandy.

Although DDAT programs have addressed a broad range of mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery topics in the past such as creating a disaster plan, working with first responders, triaging impacted collections, and developing wet material recovery skills, this was the group’s first time addressing and considering the topic of mental health needs that often manifest in the wake of a hurricane, tornado, flood, or other disaster.

It was particularly interesting and useful to reflect on the more unique situations that can develop when the collections impacted belong to a performing arts organization such as the Martha Graham Center.  Because the collections themselves serve a different role within the organization than those of a museum, library, or historical society, the response and recovery process differed and created challenges with regard to triage, communication with response and recovery professionals, etc.

This program served as an outstanding starting point to address a vitally important topic and DDAT looks forward to continuing this discussion moving forward as we work together to support one another in strengthening our disaster preparedness skills.  For more information on the program, please contact Pat Young, DDAT Chair, at pyoung@udel.edu.

Potential Budget Cuts Threaten Illinois Emergency Management Agency

A recent post in Emergency Management magazine highlighted some of the potential budgetary threats to IEMA, the Illinois Emergency Management Agency. The loss of funds may lead to cuts in regional positions, which could translate into slower response times and decreased ability to provide effective aid. Unfortunately, many state emergency management agencies can relate.