Louisiana Flood: What to do with my wet Documents?

Natural disasters are one of the biggest concerns that our customers aim to mitigate when starting a digitization project. Much of south Louisiana is currently under water as I type this post after the second flood to strike in 2016. Thousands of affected businesses have filing cabinets under water at this very moment. If you are one of those businesses, you need to act fast in order to prevent mold growth or degradation. 

Keep in mind that a large collection of records or records that have been completely submerged for any period of time should be freeze-dried by professionals. If you are able to access the records in short order, air drying could potentially restore your records to usable condition.

To begin the air-drying process, first identify a dry area with moving air. A few fans and containers to collect water will do the trick. Moving air is essential as you will need to remove the water from the atmosphere. You will need absorbent paper to place between documents. You will need to stage the documents in a way that will allow them dry appropriately.

There are different degrees of 'wet' that you need to identify before staging paper for drying. As the paper becomes drier, you should alter how the book is staged.

What to do with wet books

1. If you have a book that is completely saturated, stand the book on its end and place an absorbent sheet of paper between the covers and paper leaving the book slightly fanned open. Change the paper once it has become saturated and flip the book over each time. 

2. If you have books that are partially wet but not saturated, place a sheet of absorbent paper between the pages about every 15 pages. Lay books flat. Change the paper once it becomes completely wet. 

3. If you have a book that is slightly damp, stand the book on its end and fan the pages open with air blowing parallel to the drying collection. Never let a fan blow directly on the records. Once the paper is nearly dry, add absorbent paper between the covers and the paper. Lay the book flat with a weight on it. 

What to do with wet paper in filing cabinets

When dealing with unbound or loose paper, there are several thing to keep in mind.

1. Make sure the paper stays in order. Document the order like a set of blueprints so that you can easily place the paper back where it came from. 

2. Identify a staging area that is large enough to lay out all of the documents individually. You will need a large table or floor so that each piece of paper can be separated and laid on paper to dry. 

3. For saturated documents, lay them flat on a sheet of absorbent paper and change the paper once it has become wet.

4. Once the documents aren't completely saturated anymore, lay them between two pieces of absorbent paper. Add a light weight to aid in flattening them out. 

5. Once completely dry, rehouse the records in new folders and boxes.

We can help

Our storage facility in Abita Springs, Louisiana, can house your records until your office is ready for them. We can digitize the collection once they have been dried to eliminate the need for bringing them back to your office. If mold is present, we can transport them to our office for freeze drying. Let us know how we can help.