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Emergency Management for Natural, Cultural and Historic Resources

This Oregon Resource Dashboard was created by Oregon Emergency Management, in partnership with Heritage Preservation, the Oregon Historical Society, and Oregon Heritage.

  1. Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties
  2. Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery for Cultural Institutions
  3. Emergency Managers: A Primer on Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties
  4. Section 106 and ORS 358.653 Compliance
  5. Resource Library
  6. Our Partners

Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties

According to the Heritage Health Index (2005), about 80% of cultural heritage institutions don't have an emergency plan or trained staff to carry it out.

Every year museums, libraries and other important cultural and historic sites are affected by floods, earthquakes, tornados, and fires-- disasters large and small.

Every Natural and Cultural Resource and Historic Properties (NCH) should have a well-thought-out emergency preparedness/response plan for the following reasons.

  • Oregonians are proud of our cultural heritage. Life returns to "normal" more quickly when our treasured museums or historic "Main Streets" aren't sidelined due to damage.
  • Community resiliency is enhanced when its character and economy are protected.
  • NCH resources bring useful insights and resources when they are integrated into emergency mitigation and planning. In turn, Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties will already "be in the loop" when decisions are made about disaster preparation and recovery.
  • Well-prepared cultural institutions set the example for other community businesses and organizations.
  • Some state and federal Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties funding contracts require an emergency preparedness plan.
  • Many communities have ordinances and rules that require preservation of important cultural resources.
  • Oregon OSHA safety and health rules require employers to develop an Emergency Action Plan for the protection of their workers. See Expecting the Unexpected: What to Consider in Planning for Workplace Emergencies.


Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery for Cultural Institutions

Ready to begin?

  • Find your local Emergency Manager (EM)and build a partnership. Make sure your EM is aware of any special needs your building or collections may require during a disaster. The booklet Working with Emergency Responders provides tips for cultural institutions for connecting with their local first responders. Discuss ways that your Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties might contribute value before, during, and after a disaster. (For example, meeting rooms or equipment.)
  • Get free training for disaster preparedness and response and other preservation topics from WESTPAS, the regional preservation service for Western states and Pacific territories. Call their toll-free 24/7 disaster assistance phone line if you need expert (and free!) advice in an emergency.
  • Check out the Oregon Heritage Commission's Oregon Heritage MentorCorps-- a statewide effort focused on collections care and emergency preparedness for libraries, museums and archives in your region.
  • Learn about Public Assistance: Private Nonprofit Museum Eligibility 9521.2
  • Build your skills with the eLearning Tool for FEMA Grant Applications- Pre-Disaster Mitigation
  • See A Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management: Principles, Themes, and Pathways for Action

Education and awareness builds confidence. Consider enrolling in one or more of these courses:

Want even more information about your role in emergency management?


Emergency Managers: A Primer on Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties

Cultural institutions may need specialized help during a disaster (such as proper handling of a collection's delicate or hazardous materials) but cultural institutions can also serve their communities before, during or after disasters. Here are a few ideas. How can you help?

  • Libraries can offer free public access computers for displaced residents, and library staff is experienced in helping the public.
  • Historical societies can provide training on the proper way to restore family heirlooms.
  • Museums can provide meeting rooms.
  • Natural resource agencies can offer their open land for use as a supply depot.

The bottom line:

Communities must have Emergency Operations Plans (EOPs) and Hazard Mitigation Plans in place to ensure eligibility for state and federal disaster assistance funding, which includes compliance with Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties applicable federal regulations/codes and State statutes/rules.

  • FEMA encourages the integration and consideration of NCH resources across all plans and activities but Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties are specifically addressed in Emergency Support Function (ESF) #11- Agricultural and Natural Resources Annex. ESF #11 organizes and coordinates Federal support for the protection of the Nation's agricultural and natural and cultural resources during national emergencies.
  • ESF #11 works during actual and potential incidents to provide nutrition assistance; respond to animal and agricultural health issues; provide technical expertise; coordination and support of animal and agricultural emergency management; ensure the safety and defense of the Nation's supply of meat, poultry, and processed egg products; and ensure the protection of natural and cultural resources and historic properties.

Take a look at ESF #11 Annex in your community's EOP. Does it adequately address your local Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties? Does the document identify everyone who should be included in the EOP?

Note: These people are known as "stakeholders" which may include visitors, administrators, board members, funding sources, and contacts in your local/regional/national associations, among others. Need more information? Check out the following links:

Training Resources:


Section 106 and ORD 358.653 Compliance

Sovereign Nation Resources:


Resource Library

Links to sample documents and FEMA library guidance documents, Heritage Preservation guides, and what other states are doing.

FEMA Resources

Heritage Preservation & Sample Documents

Oregon Parks & Rec Links


Our Partners


Acknowledgement to subject matter experts and professionals in the development of this resource page:

Lori Foley, Vice President, Emergency Programs, Heritage Preservation

Kyle Jansson, Coordinator, Oregon Heritage Commission

Shawna Gandy, Archivist, Oregon Historical Society, Davies Family Research Library