Why is it that as a preservation professional I do not always heed my own advice? Spring Thaw Tips–great ideas. Did I follow through on all of them? Of course not, I thought I’d get around to them later. Well, later kept getting postponed since it has been a rough summer. July 18 we had a high wind and rain storm that uprooted huge trees because the ground was so saturated and brought down large limbs. My neighbor’s tree fell in my yard taking out electricity, cable, the utility pole and three sides of my fence. The tree was finally removed last week. And, as you know, we experienced some flooding August 11, and my basement took on six inches of water around 1:30 am. Thankfully, it was ground water that came in and receded very quickly (in about two hours).
There wasn’t much damage since it is an unfinished basement and things were not sitting in water long. I kept the dehumidifier and fan running, which kept humidity down. No mold. I was feeling pretty stupid and sorry for myself until I looked out my window later that morning and realized that the Hilton Colosseum parking lot was a lake, and that other residents had it much worse. I also recognize that using pallets would not have completely prevented damage since the water came up so high. Things that were on bottom shelves did get wet. From now on, I will use plastic bins on the bottom shelves and put all appliances on blocks.
There was a lot to haul out of the basement (apparently I like empty cardboard boxes). Luckily, packed boxes were labeled so I knew the urgency level of unpacking and treating them. I did find some manuals that had gotten wet and I put my salvage skills to work interleaving every page since the paper wanted to block instantly. (Note to self, use this material for future salvage workshops).
My lessons learned: weeding is a very important preservation activity since it allows you to respond quickly to the items that matter most; use pallets, shelves, or blocks to lift things off of the floor; have good inventory control or know what is where; and use plastic bins instead of cardboard boxes. I am slowly putting the basement back together the right way.