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May 21, 2013  

Lori Foley


Advice for Saving
Damaged Family Treasures

in Wake of Oklahoma Tornadoes

Follow these steps to halt further damage

As the threat of more large and devastating storms looms over the country’s midsection, the survivors of the recent tornadoes begin the long journey of recovery. With homes demolished and lives upended, treasured possessions such as family heirlooms, photos, and other keepsakes become more cherished. Even if these items are torn, tattered, and damp, they may still be saved. The Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a coalition of 42 national organizations and federal agencies co-sponsored by FEMA and Heritage Preservation, offers these basic guidelines from professional conservators for individuals who are searching for, and finding, family treasures in the ruins:

A free, online video guide demonstrating how to rescue soaked photographs, books, documents, and other valued items is available from Heritage Preservation. This 10-minute streaming video provides professional advice that benefits families as well as museum and library staff. View and link to the video at:

Additional resources for salvaging damaged treasures can be found at:


These recommendations are intended as guidance only. Neither the Heritage Emergency National Task Force nor its sponsors, Heritage Preservation and FEMA, assumes responsibility or liability for treatment of damaged objects.

Heritage Preservation ( is a national non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of the United States. By identifying risks, developing innovative programs, and providing broad public access to expert advice, Heritage Preservation assists museums, libraries, archives, organizations, and individuals in caring for our endangered heritage.

Heritage Preservation is co-sponsor with the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of 42 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the dam­aging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies.