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Flood water and club scrapbooks…

bjnjii | Posted in General Discussion on

I come to you not knowing where to turn.  Hurricane Katrina flooded our club house and files containing minutes, scholarship program, everything pertaining to our club since we joined the National Federation of Women’s Club in 1943.  One member just today got to the club house and found black mole inside the file drawers.  She shut them and said we should not attempt to save anything there.  The one thing we may be able to save are our club scrapbooks.  Those were in plastic bags.  Unfortunately those bags filled with flood water.  We are in a dilemma as to how to go about trying to save them.  Tomorrow, my husband, one other club member and myself will attempt to bring them out of the club house to my home where I hope to be able to dry some, scan and preserve some of our history.


If anyone here knows of another web site I should go to this evening, please let me know as I want to be able to do the right thing tomorrow when we get them.


Thanks for any help you can give, bj


  1. User avater
    paddyscar | | #1

    I would definitely take precautions against breathing in any mold.  This is a health risk at any time, but given what the flood conditions were, there is a gigantically  increased hazard. 

    I would check with your local county/state health office before embarking on a salvage operation.  

    I know that wet paper/books can be freeze dried, which has been done in libraries and archives that have had water damage from both fires and floods. . . but that is a costly operation and is undertaken immediately to avoid mold.

    Paper is not a very forgiving material when it even gets damp (for example take any box of books that has been stored in a basement and you know how the smell lingers forever), so I'm not very hopeful of being able to rescue wet paper.  I think you'll find alot of items will have bled through and have become unreadable.

    I wish you the best, the loss you have suffered in these hurricanes leaves me without words ... God bless.



    1. bjnjii | | #2

      Thank you Frances, not only was Hurricane Katrina so devistating but then came Hurricane Rita and wiped community after community completely away in the Louisiana low-lands.  My friend from Cameron, which took almost a direct hit, said there was nothing left.  Even the utility poles are gone and they have no idea when electricity will be restored.  They are a resilient people and they will come back as will people along the Ala, Ms, and New Orlelans coastal areas.  God is good and he will see us through this.

      What I hope to do tomorrow is to remove the yearbooks from the plastic bags and, following instructions I was able to glean from another web site, take the pages from the binder and place them on "blotter paper" with a fan blowing over them to dry quickly...this was the answer to a question on preserving wet papers. 

      What I am considering is placing the papers on sheets out on my lawn.  The sun and wind should dry them quickly enough.  Then I plan to put Saran Wrap on my scanner table, above and beneath the papers and scan them to put together new scrapbooks.  I know this may not be the same quality print, etc., as the original condition, but hopefully I will be able to save some of the history...or a lot, I am hoping.

      Am I on the right track?  Any other comments?  We will be wearing masks.


      1. User avater
        paddyscar | | #3

        I did once put a brand new book from our corporate library in a microwave for a short period of time.  I had just bought the book and it was very expensive, and someone had put it on the window ledge and the condensation damaged the book.  I put it in the microwave to stop mold from forming and it worked.  But we now know more about the dangers of mold, so I'm not sure that it was the best idea.

        If the paper is just wet, it would dry it out though.


        1. bjnjii | | #4

          That's a thought, Frances.  Though I am not certain I want to put those moldy books in my microwave where I would be putting food.  I don't know if the mold would be killed...though it would probably free some pages that has stuck together.  Will think on that one and do a little more research.  bj

  2. mimi | | #5

    Have you tried the local library or state historical society or Archives?  They are the real experts.  If all else fails, call or e-mail the Smithsonian.

    Good luck with this.  I was a member of the Delaware State Federation of Women's Clubs for years and know what good things they do for the community.


    1. bjnjii | | #6

      I am a member of the Smithsonian by way of subscribing to their magazine.  I wanted to contact a museum.  Why didn't I think of them?  Thanks, Mimi

      Company arriving for the evening, but will try to contact them today.

      Daughter from New Orleans wants to borrow car this afternoon as she has two job interviews and no car...is to meet a friend and go to apartment, 3rd floor, in New Orleans 'garden' district to retrieve clolthing...husband went out this morning and found one tire almost flat, so I went to Mobile and got two new tires...want her to be safe.

      Thanks to everyone for all their good wishes and prayers for all affected by Katrina and Rita.


      1. mimi | | #8

        bjnjii:  Good luck with your books.  It is amazing how many different aspects of peoples lives were affected by the hurricanes.  I wish you the best of luck and let me know of anything I can do.


  3. lafate | | #7

    Good luck to saving your stuff. I know this post may be too late.

    What you cannot save in actuality you may be able to dry and scan. What you cannot dry and scan, you may be able to photograph. Hopefully you or someone you know has a decent digital camera and a tripod. Don't discard what can be saved, and record anything that cannot be saved but can still be read or seen, even if it's not 100%.

  4. Fruzzle | | #9

    This link is from the National Archives:http://www.archives.gov/preservation/disaster-response/guidelines.html

    It has a lot of information; this link within the page looks it might have a lot of the information you might need: http://www.archives.gov/preservation/conservation/flood-damage.html

    I also found this article from an organization called the Heritage Emergency National Task Force: http://www.heritagepreservation.org/NEWS/SaveTreasRight.htm

    Good luck -- I hope this isn't too late!

    1. bjnjii | | #10

      To Fruzzle and All, Thanks so much for your help.  I am feeling a little overwhelmed at the moment; I mean I am about to tear up from your concern and help. 

      And thank you Fruzzle for these web sites.  I know now that I will be able to save more than I first thought.  And, yes, I hope to scan and make new scrapbooks from all that I save...digital camera, my daughter has a new camera and I will borrow hers tomorrow (was telling my husband only a few weeks back that we need to buy one...and now's the perfect time).

      Will come back and let you know how it goes a little later.  Thank you so much.


      1. mygaley | | #11

        In central Louisiana where I live, we are praying God's blessings on all hurricane victims.  My husband drove a school bus to N.O. to transport evacuees from the convention center.  Our wonderful son-in-law is an environmental engineer, and he says to be sure to wear a respirator around the mold, not just a pollen mask.   These are available at safety/construction companies and cost around $20.   Also a 10% solution of chlorine bleach will kill black mold spores.  You might want to experiment with dipping individual papers in that. 

         The following is from me, not the engineer:  I have successfully removed black mold from 100% polyester fabric blouse and I have restored white keds tennies that were in mud and lake water by spraying them with X-14; let sit for a couple of hours and then wash in the washing machine.  If you let them set for three weeks, though, it makes holes in them.

         I once salvaged a bible that had been partially dropped in a lake by ironing each page as I carefully turned them, back to front.  Also, while I was not ironing, I kept a ceiling fan blowing on the open book all the time.  It was not like new, especially the binding, but the beloved book was in one piece.  I think taking pictures is a wonderful idea.  Photograph them wet, then dry also.  From the Engineer:  Safety First:  DO NOT MIX any Chemicals or cleaners with Chlorine bleach.   God bless you  and I look forward to hearing a good report from you.

        Shameless bragging:  the w-s-n-l was inspired to offer classes to teach evacuees and others with lost jobs due to the storms how to work in hazardous cleanup.  The local university is helping his firm.  200 persons will have work soon, and a career as long as environmental cleanup is needed.

        1. User avater
          paddyscar | | #12

          Shameless bragging:  the w-s-n-l was inspired to offer classes to teach evacuees and others with lost jobs due to the storms how to work in hazardous cleanup.  The local university is helping his firm.  200 persons will have work soon, and a career as long as environmental cleanup is needed.


          I don't think that is bragging - I think it's wonderful that something so positive (training for a lifetime career), could come from something so horrendous!  Teach a man to fish ... etc.


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