Severe Tornado Support + Recovery Resources

December 15, 2021—Our hearts go out to so many people in the wake of the devastating tornadoes in Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, and Missouri. Even though a major disaster has been declared only for Kentucky (to date), the Heritage Emergency National Task Force is prepared to support state cultural agencies, arts organizations and cultural institutions, and local and state government entities that have been affected.
Life safety and life-sustaining activities remain the highest priority. Please check on the status of your colleagues, grantees, constituents, and members in the above states.
Please help disseminate the following information to help the public salvage cherished photographs, letters, and other irreplaceable objects:
Save Your Family Treasures | This FEMA site offers guidance to help individuals and families salvage their treasured family belongings following a disaster. The site includes the two-page fact sheet Salvaging Water-Damaged Family Valuables and Treasures (, which is available in multiple languages. The site also contains step-by-step instructions to help survivors stabilize their treasured photos, documents and papers, and books and buy time to make an educated decision on further treatment and handling of family mementos.
Resources for the Public | Smithsonian. This Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative site offers the above guidance along with additional how-to resources that include videos.
The National Heritage Responders, a team of trained conservators and collections care professionals administered by the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, has a public helpline email address to provide guidance on salvaging family heirlooms: The National Heritage Responders also staffs a 24/7 hotline to assist cultural institutions affected by the tornadoes: 202-661-8068

The SAA Foundation National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives (NDRFA) provides grants that support recovery or archival collections from major disasters, regardless of region or repository type. Request support here. To support institutions and archivists affected by these tornadoes, consider making a donation to the NDRFA fund

For Immediate Advice or Assistance:

Contact the National Heritage Responders at 202-661-8068.

See the Northeast Document Conservation Center's Emergency Resources or contact NEDCC's 24/7 Emergency Hotline at 855-245-8303



 FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution co-sponsor the Heritage Emergency National Task Force, a partnership of 42 national service organizations and federal agencies created to protect cultural heritage from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies. 



The Foundation for Advancement in Conservation (FAIC) supports conservation education, research, and outreach activities that increase understanding of our global cultural heritage.


The Society of American Archivists Foundation is the nation’s leading source of nonprofit funding dedicated to the interests of archives and archivists. The SAA Foundation and the Society of Southwest Archivists sponsor the National Disaster Recovery Fund for Archives, which provides funds to address the stabilization and recovery needs of archival repositories affected by natural disasters.