Surviving Sandy: Recovering Collections After a Natural Disaster

Surviving Sandy: Recovering Collections After a Natural Disaster

Sushan Chin (New York University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3914-8.ch048
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This chapter offers a case study on how the New York University medical archives, located in New York City, recovered from Superstorm Sandy and resumed operations. The importance of having the right tools, such as a disaster plan and business continuity plans, are emphasized. With the right tools, institutions can recover from disasters of most magnitudes. Experiences shared in this chapter include working with a disaster recovery company, implementing digital technology to provide access to library and archival collections, and utilizing social media and other Web 2.0 technology to improve communications between staff and patrons. These experiences will assist archivists, curators, and special collections managers in preparing for and recovering from a major disaster.
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Increasingly, libraries and archives are experiencing greater catastrophic emergencies as a result of natural disasters. According to hurricane experts, the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have begun to spin off more frequent and destructive hurricanes than in previous decades, with the number rising in 1995, and increasing every year thereafter (New York City Office of Emergency Management, 2014). In 2012, Superstorm Sandy produced record high storm surges, and brought gale force winds up to eighty-five miles per hour (Sharp, 2012). The storm caused power outages in fifteen states, and cut electricity to more than eight million homes for weeks. The storm also flooded essential transportation tunnels and completely halted public transportation in multiple states for days. It also damaged oil refineries, and caused widespread gas shortages in New York and New Jersey. The fuel shortages resulted in gas rationing and long lines of cars waiting for gas unseen since the 1970s (Hu, 2012).

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