The Huyck Preserve suffered considerable damage after Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. The upper falls bridge was swept away; the foundation of the lower falls bridge was severely compromised and had to be closed; Lincoln Pond Cottage was flooded and the septic system backed up; and the basement of the Eldridge Research Center—where important papers were stored—was flooded.
The Huyck Preserve staff rescued many of the papers and spread them out to dry in one of the classroom. Before long mold began to grow on the papers. I made an emergency trip to the Preserve (I live in Maryland) so I could sort through the papers myself and determine which ones were historically significant and therefore worth saving. Much of the material could be discarded because we had duplicates in our files. But there were many original letters from the Preserve’s founder Jessie Van Antwerp Huyck.
I did some research to learn what safety precautions are necessary when handling materials in areas where there is mold and other flood-related debris. Here is what I learned and a list of helpful resources.
• Wear an N-95 respirator (a dust mask is not protective enough; you
can get respirators in the hardware store–check to see that it’s N-95
• Wear goggles without vent holes
• Wear gloves so that you don’t touch mold with your bare hands.
• Wear long pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and boots or work shoes
Here are some Web sites with helpful information. The National Library
of Medicine, for instance has a Web site dealing with restoration of
records. There are also links to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) resources on building
restoration after floods, health and safety links, etc.
National Library of Medicine info on preservation
Preserving treasures after a disaster
Mold remediation in schools and commercial buildings
EPA’s flood cleanup booklet
Other EPA resources