Disasters threaten the survival of important files

June 4th, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

There are a range of natural disasters from floods, to hurricanes, to fires that can damage or destroy critical records forever. As organizations look to prevent this from happening in the face of a variety of potential catastrophes, deploying an electronic document management system can be one way to keep files safe, regardless of any environmental conditions.

The Portland Press Herald reported that after a water main recently burst beneath Pearl Street, the basement adjacent to the Cumberland County Courthouse was flooded with 2 and a half feet of water. As a result, police were forced to search for and obtain case evidence from a floor below street level that was flooded. According to the news source, this line is just one of the multitude within the Portland Water District that has become weak with age. As the system becomes increasingly fragile, there is a chance that other pipes could continue to rupture, threatening the survival of any information contained in these buildings.

The water in the courthouse basement may have damaged up to 25 percent of the old deed records that were stored there, The Portland Press Herald revealed. Fortunately, Bill Whitten, assistant county manager, noted that digital copies of these deeds exist, meaning that even if originals were in fact destroyed, the information is still available.

Preserving history
Chesterfirst revealed that a similar flooding incident at the Chester Town Hall in England caused hundreds of damaged archives at the county record office. When the basement was flooded with 1 foot of water, boxes filled with records dating back to the 17th century became soaked, making it difficult to salvage them. The news source noted that heavy rain caused a storm drain's inspection cover to burst, allowing water to cover paper documents on the bottom shelves. The majority of the affected files were sent to Oxfordshire to document restoration specialists. Paul Newman, acting archives and local studies manager, told Chesterfirst that the damaged records are irreplaceable and hold significant value to their respective organizations.

"I'm delighted a part of our rich heritage has been saved for posterity and would like to congratulate our archivists on providing an excellent service to the public," said Stuart Parker, executive member for culture for Cheshire West and Chester Council, according to the source.

By deploying conversion services, institutions have the chance to create digital copies of any important documents to ensure that data is secure and accessible for years to come.

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