2015 Memorial Day Flood Response

Conservators and students at The University of Texas at Austin's School of Information are available to provide advice and limited disaster recovery assistance to help the 2015 Memorial Day flood victims salvage damaged family treasures.

Quick Tips

  • Do not rush into salvage. Rushing may cause you to damage fragile paper. Instead, take your time and think about how you can work safely.
  • Wear nitrile or latex gloves when working with flood damaged materials to protect yourself from contaminants in the water.
  • Consider freezing wet books, paper and photographs to prevent mold growth. If possible, place pieces of wax paper at ¼” intervals in stacks of paper and between each photograph. Place stacks in plastic bags and freeze. Then you can thaw and dry them at your convenience.
  • Do not freeze anything made of glass.
  • Air dry materials by laying them out on a surface covered with paper towels, terrycloth towels, or other absorbent material. Dry paper in stacks no more than ¼” high. Dry photos in a single layer.
  • Use fans to keep the air moving, but do not aim fans directly at the wet materials.
  • Clean mold from materials using soot sponges.
  • Materials may look curled or wrinkled after salvage. This is okay. Salvage is designed to get things safe from mold growth and further damage. A conservator may have to help restore damaged items to their previous appearance.
  • Refer to the readings on the back for more in-depth information on salvage.

For advice, e-mail response@ischool.utexas.edu or call 512-903-9564

Resource List: How to Salvage Wet Materials

Library of Congress Guide to Drying: http://www.loc.gov/preservation/emergprep/dry.html

Tips from the Library of Congress on how to preserve and dry paper, books, photographs, and other materials.

National Park Service:

The National Park Service has put together helpful leaflets on safety and the salvage of different types of materials after a water emergency.


  • The salvage of textiles:


  • Full list: (see section 21 for more disaster recovery advice)


How to Save Wet Books: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/savewetbooks/index.html

Short videos and step-by-step instructions that demonstrate how to clean and dry wet books.

Salvage Procedures for Wet Items:


The Minnesota Historical Society has assembled information on how to save different types of items, including paper, books, photographs, scrapbooks, textiles, records, and more.

Procedures for Drying Wet Books and Paper: https://www.library.cornell.edu/preservation/librarypreservation/mee/man...

Illustrated guide on how to dry books, paper documents, and palm leaf or bark manuscripts.

Emergency Salvage of Moldy Books and Paper: https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-...

A detailed guide from the Northeast Document Conservation Center.

Emergency Salvage of Wet Photographs: https://www.nedcc.org/free-resources/preservation-leaflets/3.-emergency-...

General instructions on air drying and freezing water damaged photographs

WAAC Salvage at a Glance Chart A quick reference for salvage of all types of materials. http://cool.conservation-us.org/waac/wn/wn19/wn19-2/wn19-207.html

glqxz9283 sfy39587stf02 mnesdcuix8