Hurricane Matthew: The Aftermath

The Need-to-Know:

I need to hear ASAP about ANY damage to cultural resources. FEMA is in town doing an assessment. FEMA needs a minimum damage amount to declare a disaster.  I only need some absolute basics- a site and the type of damage to pass along to the FEMA representative in town. Please think broadly about cultural resources: cemeteries, buildings, collections, archaeology sites, parks, churches, archives, etc…..

Laura Seifert

The Details from Lori Foley, Administrator, Heritage Emergency National Task Force:

(I am quoting her.)

Through the Public Assistance (PA) Program, FEMA provides grant funding for Emergency Work and for Permanent Work. Chatham County has received a disaster declaration, but so far only for the two categories that fall under Emergency Work – Debris Removal and Emergency Protective Measures. The first is self-explanatory. The second comprises steps that any cultural institution takes to protect its facility, such as covering windows with plywood, sandbagging to prevent water entry, or laying a tarp over a hole in the roof.

Under Permanent Work, in order for disaster aid to be made available for private nonprofits (PNPs) – which include libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, botanical gardens, arts organizations, and any cultural institution or historic site that has 501(c), (d), or (e) status – a dollar threshold in damages must be met for the county. For collecting institutions and historic sites, Permanent Work would include the restoration of buildings and their content (such as collections!) and of parks, recreational, and other facilities. In order for cultural institutions and historic sites to receive federal funding, Permanent Work must be approved by FEMA.

So I urge everyone to report to Laura any damage to:

  • Your building/facility – damage to the structure/envelope itself
  • The materials, equipment, and exhibition furnishings associated with the storage, display, preservation, or exhibition of collections and individual objects. This would include HVAC systems and fire suppression systems.
  • Collections and individual objects, including records and archives of the organization

The damages reported by cultural institutions are added into the county’s total estimate for Permanent Work. But if cultural institutions don’t report damage, it’s possible that the threshold may not be met. Please ensure that cultural heritage is on the radar of the assessment team!

Lori Foley



Records Emergency Planning and Response (REPR)

Records Emergency Planning and Response (REPR)

Offered by the Georgia Archives

9:30am-3:30pm on October 6th, 2017

Lunch will be provided plus a behind-the-scenes tour of the Archives. Download the registration form here.


The Georgia Archives previously presented the IPER Essential Records (ER) overview course last April. We intend to offer both full IPER courses in 2017. https://www.statearchivists.org/programs/emergency-preparedness/essential-records-er-course/

If you have any questions about the IPER courses or our registration process for this course, please contact Christine Garrett, Georgia Archives Electronic Records Manager (christine.garrett@usg.edu).



As we continue to reorganize and reboot SHER, we are continuing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Coastal Museums Association, pending approval of SHER’s membership. The MOU has the same wording as last year (click to read it: MOU CMA SHER 2016-17). Please vote to approve or deny the MOU by clicking here.  Voting ends July 1 at midnight.

Philadelphia Begins Important Planning and Mitigation Project

Pennsylvania has recently begun mapping and prioritizing historic resources in targeted counties using FEMA grant money from Hurricane Sandy. This is why the program is critical,

“To date, among the most common strategies used by PEMA and FEMA to prevent or lessen the severity of future disaster impacts have been to acquire and demolish hazard-prone buildings to remove them from harm’s way. Such buildings may be located in early settlement areas and include those listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places as well as buildings of an historic nature that remain undocumented.” (PA SHPO blog)

But the good news, “To date, only a few localities nationwide are known to have integrated historic property considerations into their hazard mitigation plans according to this guidance.”(PA SHPO blogChatham County is one of them. 

More detailed information about Philadelphia’s planning is available in the article,  Philadelphia to be first big city with disaster plan to protect historic buildings. Unlike Philly’s survey, however, Savannah needs to think about cultural resources, which is far more comprehensive than historic buildings. We need to protect archaeology sites, monuments, historic neighborhoods, historic trees, cemeteries, viewsheds and landscapes, parks, museums and historic sites and their collections as well as historic buildings.


CEMA Training Opportunities

from Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA):

“Beginning this month, we are excited to announce a new planning, training and exercise initiative that will take place over the next year.  In an effort to increase participation, you will receive an Emergency Management Program “Save the Date” flyer at the start of each month that lists upcoming events for a two month period. It is our goal to give key players and partners sufficient notification about important upcoming opportunities, that through involvement, helps strengthen our community.  We have simplified the information so you are able to quickly assess whether or not the event pertains to you or your department.  Action items are also included to take the guess work out of registration.  If you have any questions or need additional information, we are happy to assist!”

I will make these available here for download by date.

Aug and Sept Save the Date 2015

October November 2015


We have been working behind the scenes to ensure that SHER continues its vital functions despite poor attendance at our workshops. After a meeting with the Coastal Museums Association (CMA) Executive Board, we are proposing that SHER become an affiliate of CMA through a Memorandum of Agreement.  In essence, we are proposing the following changes:

  • The SHER membership drive will be folded into the CMA membership drive. This mean less paperwork each year.
  • SHER membership will continue to be free and available to any CMA member as well as first responders, CEMA officials, and related businesses.
  • One CMA program per year will be devoted to disaster response training and information.
  • SHER will also conduct one or two independent trainings or workshops as demand dictates (i.e. the CEMA Hurricane Conference).
  • Starting next year, two Co-Chairs will govern SHER: a Liaison to Chatham Emergency Management Agency (CEMA) and a Liaison to CMA.

We are going do use the MOU on an ad hoc basis for the first year to see how it works. If we proceed with the MOU after the first year, then we will make the appropriate changes to the by-laws.

Please review the proposed Memorandum of Agreement and vote on whether it should be implemented or not.

Laura Seifert, SHER Chairperson

Invitation to City of Savannah Hurricane Exercise

Click for an overview of the exercise, including a tentative agenda

On April 28th, the City of Savannah will be holding its annual Hurricane Exercise at the Savannah Civic Center (8:30am-2:30pm). This year, the exercise includes four breakout groups, including one intended specifically for historical and cultural sites to discuss their plans, concerns, and intentions for re-entering and assessing facilities in Savannah after a major hurricane. An overview of the exercise, including a tentative agenda is available for download at the top of this post. We would really like to have representatives with hurricane planning responsibility from all of Savannah’s historical and culturally significant sites represented at this exercise. Please make sure this message is forwarded to the appropriate staff with your organization.

To RSVP for the exercise, please send an email to Dan Stowers, Emergency Management Director for the City of Savannah, at DStowers01@savannahga.gov.

Thank you, and I look forward to seeing many of you there!
Luciana Spracher, Director
City of Savannah, Research Library & Municipal Archives