Staying Ahead of Sandy

I hope that you and your families are well and safe after Sandy’s visit to the Northeast.

The National Archives buildings were largely spared, thanks to extensive preparation based on “lessons learned” from similar weather events.  I am grateful to all of our staff and especially to our facilities and emergency staff for their ongoing work in keeping personnel and records safe. None of our records were damaged as a result of Hurricane Sandy, thanks to our staffs’ careful preparation.

At Archives I, in Washington D.C., our facilities staff took several precautionary steps prior to Hurricane Sandy’s arrival, including pumping down sump pits and pre-deploying the flood gates at the A1 moat openings.  Additional measures implemented after the 2006 flooding including the installation of coffer dams and watertight doors, successfully limited water leakage to a minimal amount.  The generator fuel tanks were filled and ready in case power was lost.


East Flood Wall (7th Street), Archives I Building, Washington DC:

East Flood Wall


West Flood Wall (9th Street) Exterior, Archives I Building, Washington DC:

West Flood Wall Exterior

(Photo credit: Timothy Edwards, National Archives Facility Manager)

At Archives II, our facility at College Park, MD, advance preparations included pumping down the rain water storage tank and securing the exterior of the building, as well as filling the generator fuel tanks in case power was lost. Power service remained throughout. There was some roof water leakage at AII, on an area of the roof that was being replaced when Hurricane Sandy hit.

The Washington National Records Center at Suitland, MD weathered the storm well with minor pipe leakage but no records damage.

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA, had only minor leakage.  The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library in Hyde Park, NY, seems to have fared well, as did our facilities in Philadelphia, Waltham, and Pittsfield.

Hardest hit was the National Archives at New York City, in its new location in lower Manhattan.  The building is on generator power, and staff are in touch with both the General Services Administration (GSA) and its contractors to assess the site as soon as possible.

And, the Office of the Federal Register remained open and published during the two days that the government was closed in Washington.

While the National Archives buildings overall fared well, we know that other archival facilities did not.  Our staff are reaching out to state archivists whose states have been affected by the hurricane.  Our staff  are poised to advise and coordinate with Federal agencies on any needed records recovery operations.

Thanks again to the National Archives’ staff for their hard work, and my hope for a speedy return to normal for all affected by the storm.


3 thoughts on “Staying Ahead of Sandy

  1. Sounds like all of the bases were covered on this one. Excellent job to all who were involved in not only the preparation but also the design and installation of these various systems.

  2. Good update, thanks. Thanks, also, to Arian Ravanbakhsh for putting up a post with useful links at the Records Express blog on Monday. A day when many federal workers were teleworking or on administrative leave as the storm was about to make landfall. As someone who worked for the National Archives when Hurricane Gloria made its way up the coast in 1985, I’m glad — but not surprised! — to see NARA’s employees in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast rising to the occasion. Good wishes to all.

  3. Absolutly, As someone who worked for the National Archives when Hurricane Gloria made its way up the coast in 1985, I’m glad but not surprised for us!

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