Getting Organized

Before you begin the cleanup work after a disaster, take time to get organized so you can function more effectively. Remember that the shock and stress of an emergency will reduce your normal mental capacity.

(This section is adapted from the recommendations for cultural institutions in the Field Guide to Emergency Response, produced by Heritage Preservation.)

Organizing Your Cleanup After a Minor Disaster (ex: small flood or fire)

First Steps:

  1. Isolate/secure the affected area.

  2. Locate the source of the problem, and stop it if this is safe to do. (For example, if it’s safe to do this and if you know how, turn off electricity/gas/water; otherwise, call your utility companies.)

  3. Get rid of major hazards. Contact emergency service workers to deal with structural, electrical and chemical or other threats to health and safety.

  4. Determine the cause and extent of the damage. Report damage to your insurance agent, building owner, etc.

Second Steps:

  1. Assess health and safety risks. Get protective gear for cleanup.

  2. Identify needs for outside assistance, and notify, as necessary:

    • Hazardous waste contractor

    • Service workers or providers

    • Volunteers

  3. Assess and document damage.

  4. Assemble cleanup supplies.

  5. Prevent further damage.

  6. Figure out salvage priorities and logistics, and make a plan:

    • What can stay in place (with or without protection, such as plastic sheeting)?

    • What is unsalvageable and should be disposed of?

    • What needs to be moved to a secure, dry area?

    • Where will your “triage area” be?

 

Artist-to-Artist Video

We depended a lot on volunteers

Furniture maker Russell Karkowski talks about organizing clean-up and salvage of his studio after a flood.

Organizing Your Cleanup After a Major Disaster

Depending on the nature of the disaster, the need for evacuation, and when you get clearance from emergency authorities to re-enter your building, you may have to address the First Steps below from an off-site location. While you wait, you can also prepare for the Second Steps.

First Steps:

  1. Determine the cause and extent of the damage. Alert your insurance agent.

  2. If it’s safe to do so and if you know how, turn off electricity/gas/water. Otherwise, call your utility company.

  3. Get rid of major hazards. Contact emergency service workers to deal with structural, electrical and chemical or other threats to health and safety.

Second Steps:

  1. Assess health and safety risks. Get protective gear for cleanup.

  2. Identify needs for outside assistance, and notify, as necessary:

    • Hazardous waste contractor

    • Service workers or providers

    • Volunteers

  3. Assemble cleanup supplies.

Third Steps:

  1. Prevent further damage.

  2. Assess and document damage.

  3. Figure out salvage priorities and logistics, and make a plan:

    • What can stay in place (with or without protection, such as plastic sheeting)?

    • What is unsalvageable and should be disposed of?

    • What needs to be moved to a secure, dry area?

    • Where will your “triage area” be?

    • Where should you locate a first aid station/rest area?

  4. Purchase more supplies as needed.

 

Artist-to-Artist Video

Triage - We had to make choices

Gary Spykman talks about clean-up and salvage after a flood affected his furniture studio.

To learn more:

Disaster Mitigation Planning Assistance
With a searchable database for disaster-recovery supplies, services and experts.
(intended for museums and institutions, but useful for artists, too).

Heritage Emergency National Task Force 
An extensive list of links for emergency response, also intended primarily
for cultural institutions, but much of the information is applicable to artists’ studios.

Minnesota Historical Society
Excellent resource for information on salvaging personal belongings, buildings and records damaged by natural disasters.

National Park Service Museum Management Program
With downloadable resources such as the Conserve-O-Gram series (information is also applicable to a studio environment).

Login