I know that last week I promised you a post about Civil War embalmer Dr. Richard Burr, but it seems more appropriate to cover Hurricane Sandy this week! I’ll get back to Dr. Burr in a couple of weeks. I will also apologize for only having one photo this week, but I have been stuck at my home for the past couple of days.
The hurricane preparations started about a week ago when the weather reports indicated that it might affect our area. At that point, the staff was alerted to keep an eye on the weather reports. The museum’s staff contact information was checked to be sure it was current and was then distributed to all employees so that we could communicate with each other outside of the museum if necessary. Each employee was instructed to double check that their work flashlight had working batteries, and we checked the status of our emergency kits as well. Our Director, George, advised us to have the proper emergency supplies in our homes as well.
When it became clear that Hurricane Sandy was heading our way, closing procedures were discussed and duties were assigned. My job was to ready the galleries in the main museum for the storm and to check on them as long as weather conditions allowed. The Pry House was assigned to Tom. The rain started on Sunday night, and we got the official word that the museum would be closed to the public the next day. On Monday morning the rain was somewhat heavy, but there was not much wind yet, so I went in to check the museum. I double checked the doors and windows and brought in the flags. I also put plastic over the two areas that sometimes leak during very heavy rains, and, with George’s help, moved the display panels away from those areas. I walked through the galleries a couple of times that morning to check for leaks, but all was well at that point. The radar was showing that more severe rain and wind were heading our way, so I went back home and George took over at the museum.
My plan was to go back and check the museum again in the morning (unless called in sooner), but the tree in my driveway prevented that! I did stay in touch with George and learned that there was only one very small leak in the galleries, which was not near any exhibits or artifacts, but was not in either of the usual areas. He set up a fan to dry the carpet. The worst damage was to the museum’s front door, which was ripped off its hinges by the wind. Fortunately, we do have a second set of locking entrance doors, so the contents of the museum were not in danger. The museum stayed closed for a second day though, while the front door was repaired.
The museum is open now. Overall, it seems we weathered the hurricane pretty well, with no injuries to the staff, no damage to the artifacts, and only minor damage to the museum building. I hope everyone else was as fortunate and well prepared!