Association of College & Research Libraries

Tropical storm Allison

When Tropical Storm Allison circled over Houston, Texas, on June 5-9, it dropped as much as three feet of rain in parts of the city, causing catastrophic flood- ing in many areas. Damage estimates for the region ex- ceed $5 billion.

One part of the city that was hardest hit was Texas Medical Center. The Hous- ton Academy of Medicine- Texas Medical Center Li- brary that serves the aca- demic institutions affiliated with the medical center ex- perienced severe flooding. The Street Level of the Jesse H. Jones Library Building was filled with water and raw sewage.

The Street Level of the building housed the com- puter lab and classroom and the John P. McGovern Historical Collections and Research Center, among other facilities.

Approximately two-thirds of the public- access computers were destroyed. About one- fourth of the McGovern Center’s manuscripts, hospital newsletters, and personal papers were damaged. The records from the Medical Aits Hospital were completely destroyed. Historical videos and audiotapes have been sent to a professional company for restoration and transfer to new media. More than 800 boxes of documents, journals, reference books, and historical books were sent to be freeze-dried. Despite the damage, the library re- opened with limited hours on June 14, with regular hours resuming on July 16.

David Page, journey electrician, rolled up his pants and put on his beach shoes to help remove water-damaged books from the University of Houston Law Center's library.

Another area hit hard by the storm was the main campus of the University of Houston. However, the University Libraries were extremely fortunate in that none suffered any water damage, although high humidity will require vigi- lance against mold and mildew damage.

Unfortunately, the in- dependent O’Quinn Law Library was not as lucky.It suffered heavy damage to the facility and its collections. The entire lower level, which housed the government documents and international collections, was totally flooded, while collections on the upper level were damaged by the extremely high humidity. —Barbara E. Kemp, University of Houston, (some information provided by Deborah Halsted of the HAM-TMC Library)

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