Smithsonian experts offer tips on salvaging flooded memories

Preservation experts offer advice on how to save the keepsakes many thought were lost forever in the flood.

HOUSTON - Preservation experts from the Smithsonian Institute were in Houston Wednesday helping victims of Hurricane Harvey keep their precious memories alive.

They will be traveling up and down the Gulf Coast offering advice on how to save the keepsakes many thought were lost forever in the flood.

“We don’t recommend that you pull them, because then you can rip the picture. We recommend that you space them," said Teddy Reeves with the National Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture.

It’s fighting water, well, with water -- two very different types of water, that is.

“Deionized water has no minerals so we don’t recommend it for drinking, but we do recommend it for doing a lot of these salvaging projects and salvaging techniques," Reeves said.

Salvaging seems to be all many can do now after their homes and memories were flooded by Harvey.

“A lot of things can be replaced, but sometimes memories are hard," Reeves said.

But they’re the experts. They say it can be done -- something that seems impossible.

“We can preserve that graduation photo. It’s important. It’s who you are," Reeves said.

For instance, photos that have molded or are stuck together, they say you can soak them for 30 minutes in distilled water, and then separate and lay out to dry.

Books aren’t hard, either. You soak them, just like the photos.

“Just brush away dirt from the cover, binding, and the edges of the textbook," Laura Manaker with the National Portrait Gallery said.

Then there’s a few ways to dry the books.

“So it is time consuming. You do have to kind of stand over it and fan the pages. You can leave it for awhile, but you do have to come back and monitor it," Manaker said.

There are other things you can save, too, that, maybe, you didn’t think of, like molded clothing, cherished blankets, ceramics or even damaged wood.

They say it’s an important part of getting your life back after it’s been lost.

“It’s helping people come to this place of preserving that of which they felt that this storm took away from them," Reeves said.

There is a free app called the Emergency Response and Salvage App with many of those tips and more on how you can salvage many of your belongings lost in the flood.

© 2017 KHOU-TV


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