Floods continue to inundate the Mississippi Valley. What’s happening with history and cultural heritage institutions? Read more for how you can help.

NEH has just announced that it will be giving out $1 million in grants for disaster recovery: “Affected institutions in federally designated disaster areas may apply immediately for emergency grants of up to $20,000 to salvage, protect, and treat historical collections damaged by the flooding. Such collections may include manuscripts, historical records, art and artifacts, recorded sound, film and videotape, rare books, photographs, and other materials of cultural or historical significance.”

Here in Minnesota, Historic Forestville, a living history museum run by the MHS, in a state park, had some flood damage, including a washed out bridge, but the park reopened last weekend. The caves will take a while to dry out, so postpone that trip to the Mystery Cave when you’re down in Preston.

The Cedar Rapids Public Library, right on the river, had some serious damage to collections: there’s an interview with a library spokesperson. The library’s website notes: “Please do not return flood damaged books. Fines and fees for flood damaged library materials and overdue materials are waived until further notice.” These flooded library pictures are tragic. (via jessamyn)

Heritage Preservation has a disaster resource page, with links to damage response information and ways to get teams of crack conservators to come in to your institution as collections first responders. This should be particularly useful if you’re affiliated with a flood-damaged museum or cultural resource institution.

****Want to help out affected museums with a donation? I will match donations to the Iowa Museum Association for flood relief by PH readers up to $200. We all know that small museums run on a shoestring. Without help, some of these institutions may never be able to recover. Please send checks to Iowa Museum Association, 1116 Washington Street, Cedar Falls, IA 50613. Leave a note in the comments or drop me an email to tell me you donated.****

Here’s a message that’s been circulating from the Iowa Museum Association about how to help (and here’s more tragic photos from their blog).

…While we are still receiving damage reports, it is important to begin getting supplies and help to those who have been allowed back in their facility.

Mail and delivery services as well as e-mail, telephone and cell phone communication, are spotty in some areas at this time. For that reason we have decided to concentrate delivery of supplies to two main areas at this time. More will probably be added as we are able to determine where the need for help exists.

The organizations in Cedar Falls/Waterloo and in Cedar Rapids have been or are starting to be allowed back in their buildings. In some clean up and recovery has begun. You will find attached a list of items (flood-clean-up-supply-list1 [pdf]) that I am aware of that have been vital to beginning this process – if you know of others please let me know and I will add them to the list. The supply items listed are merely suggestions – if you would like to donate money, a fund has been set up by the Iowa Museum Association which will be distributed to those affected. Funds may be sent to IMA at the address below. If you would like to donate your time and talents, you will need to contact the individual museums and see if it is safe for you to travel to that area and how you can best assist. Again, my personal experience has shown that it takes many hard-working volunteers to begin the recovery process, so “helping hands” may be the greatest blessing you can offer.

The two collection points have different volume needs based on facilities identified to date that are in need of assistance.

In Cedar Falls/Waterloo, affected museums are the Ice House Museum, the Dan Gable Wrestling Museum, the Waterloo Center for the Arts and Hope Martin Theatre.

In Cedar Rapids, affected museums are the African American Historical Museum and Cultural Center, the Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library, the Science Station, Ushers Ferry Historic Village, Seminole Valley Farm historic building complex and the Mother Mosque of North America museum.

The collection point in Cedar Falls will be the Cedar Falls Historical Society, 308 West Third Street, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613.

The collection point in Cedar Rapids will be Brucemore, 2160 Linden Drive SE, Cedar Rapids, IA 52403.

Please ship all supplies via FedEx or UPS. In each box, please include your name, contact information and a complete list of supplies you are sending.

Area museums will be asked to send a representative to the two collection points to pick up supplies that will aid their recovery efforts. Donated supplies will be available to any museum or cultural organization that needs them, not just those listed above as identified to date.

Thank you very much for your offer of assistance!

Iowa Museum Association
mailing address: 1116 Washington Street
Cedar Falls, IA 50613
(319) 239-2236