By Nancy E Kraft
On Monday, April 22, Iowa Museums, Archives, Libraries Emergency Response Team (IMALERT) members assisted with the retrieval and salvage of collection items in the flood-damaged Pacific Junction Railroad Museum (PJRM). We could not have had a more “perfect” flood recovery experience. The Mills County Historical Museum Director Steve Hunt from nearby Glenwood had everything well organized.
While the building was still underwater, he assembled a team of a few people available to bring their trucks and assist with rescue efforts. He also obtained supplies and cleared an area in a Mills County Historical Museum building where collections could be stored. Once the water receded, he worked with others to clear out the debris (fallen ceiling tiles, upended office furniture, etc.) so we would be able to get to the collections. He retrieved as many of the photographs as he could and a couple uniforms from the PJRM and City Hall, rinsed and laid them out. He also gave us the go ahead to provide assistance on April 22.
Team members from the University of Iowa – Nancy E Kraft, Cindy Opitz, Tiffany Adrain – joined team member Joy Stortvedt in Shenandoah and caravanned to Glenwood to join Steve and his team. Steve led the way to Pacific Junction as there was only one way in and it was hard to find. We loaded the collections into the trucks and hauled everything to Glenwood where we unloaded, sorted, and laid out the collections by material type. We spent the rest of the day rinsing material as needed. There were several notebooks of research material. Although we think the research material is on a server, we rinsed, wrapped, and stored the notebooks in a freezer. Once Steve has time, he’ll check the online files to identify those that really need to be salvaged
Everything is now stabilized. Material can be worked on as time and resources are available. We’re discussing a possible return for further assistance. The IMALERT has a 24/7 hotline that anyone can call for advice and assistance with collections damaged by disaster large and small. The number is 319-384-3673.