Historic Columbia Offers Assistance for Flood Victims

Written by Fielding Freed on October 13th 2015.

Historic Columbia Foundation Steps in to Help Preserve Family Objects

In October 2015, torrential rains fell across the state of South Carolina, causing record floods and created a catasrophic event that left many people with out homes, automobiles and a devestating loss of personal items. Many of the items lost can be replaced, but many of those personal items included letters, family letters and personal items that are irreplacible. The Historic Columbia Foundation and their Department of Cultural Resources have stepped in and are offering assistance through consultations for basic preservation of damaged items. Staff will even come to you, as resources allow, and help you to decide how to save your family treasures. The HCF understands that there's a lot of confusion and feeling of helplessness and they want those in the Columbia area to understand that help is out there and your items can often be salvaged. For more information, click here

General points:

1. Avoid drying wet things in direct sunlight! 
Use paper towels to blot off excess water.
3. Newspapers can rub ink onto other paper.
4. Un-frame works of art or photos behind glass if wet.
5. Many water-damaged items can be repaired or conserved—do not be too hasty in throwing them away.
6. If a stack of family photos are stuck together, put in paper towel and freeze. They can be slowly thawed out and separated later.
7. Take a digital photo of printed photos if they are heavily damaged. The digital image can later be printed and the damage retouched.

Framed objects/ Works on paper/ Photographs:

1. Un-frame if wet.
2. Use paper towels to blot.
3. Dry flat out of the direct sun.


1. Clean mud and dirt off with paper towel and clean water.
2. Avoid drying in direct sun. This will cause wood to crack, especially veneers.
3. Avoid using heavy cleaning agents, such as bleach wipes, as they can strip wood of its finish.

Metal objects:

1. Clean off mud/dirt with clean water. 
2. Dry with paper towel. 
3. Do not apply solvents like WD40 on sculpture or other works of art in metal.

Ceramics/ Glass:

1. Clean with soap and water.
2. Ceramics and glass normally do not “pick up” and hold mud and dirt. They can be cleaned.


1. Delicate fabrics should be carefully hand washed using dye and perfume free detergent and cold, distilled water.
Wash only as a necessity as some dyes can and will run. 
Do not wring the fabric after washing-put it between layers of clean dry towels and gently squeeze out water. 
Hang to dry in indirect light.

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