National Heritage Responders Help with Florence Recovery

By Jessica Unger posted 10-23-2018 13:43

A team of National Heritage Responders deployed to Wilmington, NC from September 30th through October 3rd to help those affected by Hurricane Florence. The team, consisting of Susan Duhl, Steve Pine, and David Goist, assessed damage to cultural heritage sites and conducted a workshop on disaster salvage.

The sites visited included Latimer House and Gardens operated by the Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, Inc., Museum of the Cape Fear, Cameron Art Museum, Thalian Hall, and the Children’s Museum of Wilmington.

A four-hour workshop was conducted at the Cameron Art Museum on October 2nd, with seven institutions represented. The workshop covered health and safety issues, strategies for recovery, and specific issues of salvage, drying, and mold control in collections and buildings. Supplies, generously provided with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, were passed out to participants. A majority of these supplies were donated to the Latimer House with the intention of sharing resources with other local historical societies.

Team leader Susan Duhl reflected on the experience:

"My advice to disaster response teams is to patiently listen to the stories of the people you meet. Their stories are important in so many ways, providing a foundation of information about the specific conditions and current capabilities of their organization and community. Taking time to listen and understand the personal situations and psychological state of individuals will help gain trust, which, in turn will be key to developing an effective and successful recovery unique for each institution. It is also essential to respect that every team member has something to offer, including the disaster-effected staff, other responders, and NHR staff. Understanding each person’s strengths will help develop a strong recovery. This is especially true because organizing and implementing successful collections salvage and teamwork are unique and complex. Flexibility, inventiveness, and good humor are important characteristics for responders. Trust and take good care of yourself and your teammates."

The NHR team was able to provide information, resources, and advice to local institutions to help in the recovery process. FAIC is grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for supporting this deployment and to those team members who volunteered their time for this effort. 

NHR team member Steve Pine meets with staff from Latimer House
Team members Steve Pine and David Goist inspect artifacts for mold