A photo of John O’Connor and his brother from the 1950s that was pulled out of John’s flood-damaged home in Pacific Junction, Iowa, on Friday. The flooding barely damaged his photo but wiped out the photo of his brother.

Area residents with family treasurers, heirlooms, photos and books that were damaged in the March flooding, do not throw them away just yet. You may be able to save them, and some experts from the Smithsonian Institution can help you.

Preservation professionals hosted workshops at state/federal Disaster Recovery Centers in Sidney and Glenwood Wednesday and will host a workshop in Missouri Valley today.

The Missouri Valley workshop will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Harrison County DRC, Harrison County Fairgrounds Exhibit Building, 800 West Huron St.

The event is sponsored by The Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a coalition of 58 national organizations and federal agencies co-sponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution that offers basic salvage guidelines

For residents who can’t make any of the events, FEMA offers two fact sheets that can help you save your possessions.

Here are some basic procedures to get you started:

If your prized possessions have been in contact with sewage or any chemicals, you will need professional help. Call IMALERT (Iowa Museums, Archives and Libraries Emergency Response Team) at 319-384-3673. They accept calls from members of the public and can provide advice and suggest a conservator who can help you. Other sources of help include the Ford Conservation Center in Omaha, 402-595-1180, and the Midwest Art Conservation Center in Minneapolis at 612-870-3120.

Gentle air-drying indoors is best for all your treasured belongings. Hair dryers, irons, ovens and prolonged exposure to sunlight will do irreversible damage. Increase indoor airflow with fans, open windows, air conditioners and dehumidifiers.

Use great caution in handling your heirlooms, which can be especially fragile when wet. Separate damp materials: remove the contents from drawers; take photographs out of damp albums; remove paintings and prints from frames; place paper towels between the pages of wet books.

Gently loosen dirt and debris on fragile objects with soft brushes and cloths. Avoid rubbing, which can grind in the dirt.

Clean photographs by rinsing them carefully in clean water. Air-dry photos on a plastic screen or paper towel, or by hanging them by the corner with plastic clothespins. Don’t let the image touch any other surfaces as it dries.

You may not be able to save everything, so focus on what’s most important to you, whether for historic, monetary or sentimental reasons.

For more information, visit the Heritage Emergency National Task Force at culturalrescue.si.edu/hentf/ or email HENTF@si.ed.

Sign up for The Daily Nonpareil news alerts

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.