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  • Writer's pictureShelley Diamond

Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Heirlooms

Updated: Feb 6

Few of us are truly prepared for a devastating flood. We may be resilient Southerners bravely facing down storms each hurricane season, or inexperienced Northerners unprepared as those powerful storms sweep up the East Coast.

But this season has been a game changer from years past. The soaking rain storms, stunning loss of life, massive displacement, and resulting destruction of personal property has shocked many of us who, until now, have had limited experience facing cataclysmic weather and excessive water damage to personal property. Risk is ever present.

water damaged photographs

Damage and loss of cherished family memorabilia and heirlooms, often stored in basements or cellars, is one of the cruelest aspects of unforeseen flooding.

If you've experienced water damage to important family photographs, photo albums, scrapbooks, paper documents or other media, you can take steps to salvage these treasured and valuable possessions - even when the damage is seemingly irreversible.

Below are links to trusted online resources with guidance for salvaging different types of water-logged family memorabilia. Act fast. The quicker you respond, the better the outcome. More importantly, be aware of health risks from mold exposure, too.

Stay safe,


New York City

Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

American Institute for Conservation (AIC):

Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration (FEMA):

Midwest Regional Conservation Guild (MRCG)

The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)


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