"Our Loose Ends" Genealogy Column
by Lynna Kay Shuffield
Houston, Texas

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Printed in the Taylor Daily Press - 21 June 2001

“The 2001 Flood”

As many of you have heard, Houston and 20 surrounding counties suffered flooding in excess of 32-inches in a 24-hour time-period. Some homes and businesses suffered a few inches of water while others had 10-foot of water!

Following a disaster, people often lose family heirlooms and other valuables to water damage. What would happen if you had 5-foot of water in your home? What would happen to your genealogy and family history research?

Check with your insurance company to ensure that your policy adequately covers the costs involved in restoring damaged records also determine if your present coverage addresses the retrieval of data from a damaged computer. Make that call today!

One answer is to keep a back-up copy of your computer genealogy and scan all of your photographs and keep a duplicate at another location.

How do you back-up your genealogy computer database? If you do not know, check your “HELP” button and following the directions. I try to back-up my data every time I make any changes.

If your computer was damaged by water, remove it to a dry area, remove the cases and blow dry on low heat.

If you are flooded, do not despair; there are alternatives to throwing away your material. Freeze valuable books, papers, and documents to retard mildew growth until drying can be undertaken. Wash away accumulated mud, sewage and dirt prior to freezing to avoid additional damage. Do not attempt to pull documents apart while wet. Remove all documents in blocks, if possible, so you do not increase deterioration.

Rinse mud off wet photographs with slow flowing clear water, but do not touch the surfaces. Dry the photographs by placing then between sheets of photo blotter paper. White paper towels, without any print, will also work. Do not use newsprint. Place the layers of photos and blotter paper under a weighted object so the stack will dry as flat as possible

Never dry your documents or photographs outside in sunlight and heat because it will dry the items too quickly, causing splits, warping, and buckling.

If you have microfilm and it has been damaged by water, do not allow it to dry on its spool. Keep silver or emulsion films wet in clean cold water.

If you find your photographs in a dry mass, place the mass into clean water. Add a photo wetting agent to the water. Allow the mass to soak for about 24-hours. Photographs should separate by themselves. Those that do should be removed for further gently cleaned in fresh clean water. Smaller clumps of stuck photos should be placed in a new bath of clean water with a greater concentration of photo wetting agent. After 8 additional hours try to gently separate the paper while under water. Stop at the least resistance and wait with the area wedged apart. Try again to gently peel the paper layers apart. Each time the paper is still stuck you may be at an area that has yet to be reached by fresh water and wetting agent. Be patient and allow the water and wetting agent to work.

Texas Historical Commission guidelines for disaster recovery go to: http://www.thc.state.tx.us/disasterhelp/dsastr1.html.

FEMA guidelines for saving textiles, documents, photographs and other valuables go to: http://www.fema.gov/DIZAS/recovery.htm.

In this column, I will be glad to highlight and review any family history, genealogy, county history, or similar book, free of charge, if you donate a copy of the book or item. After it has been highlighted and reviewed, on a space available basis, it will be donated to the genealogy section of a library. You will receive an acknowledgment of the donation from the library. Mail item or book to me at the below address.

Lynna Kay Shuffield has written several books related to Texas genealogy and military history. She has spoken before numerous genealogy and veterans groups. Also, is a County Coordinator for the Texas GenWeb Project. Regretfully, she cannot help with individual genealogical research. Please visit the website for this column at: http://www.geocities.com/lks_friday/COLUMN-001.htm or if you have any questions, comments, suggestions for column topics, genealogy or historical society announcements, please contact her at: P. O. Box 16604, Houston, Texas 77222-6604 or e-mail: lksfriday@sbcglobal.net

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This webpage was last created on 27 June 2001 and was last revised on ___________ 2001

Copyright © 1999, 2001 Lynna Kay Shuffield - All rights reserved.
P. O. Box 16604
Houston, Texas 77222-6604