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Baton Rouge Room: Louisiana Flooding Disaster Recovery

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Computer and Electronic Media Recovery

Here at the library we understand that many of you are suffering the loss of your homes, vehicles, possessions, important records, and family treasures.  Some of those documents and family treasures may have been stored on your computer.  If your computer was damaged by the flood the library may** be able to recover some of the lost data.  Here is what we need you to do:

**There is no guarantee that data can be recovered once the hardware has been wet. Factors that can prevent recovery include: whether the media was switched on when it was submerged, how quickly it is dried and how it is dried, corrosion from dirty or contaminated water, and the type of disk (generally, a solid state drive is shot after submersion but magnetic media has a higher chance at recovery).


Consider floodwater as TOXIC! It is NOT just dirty, and that muck it left behind is NOT mud. It’s an unknown mix of petroleum products, dead organic things, and every chemical known (including all those containers in our garages and under sinks with warning labels about exposure and DO NOT MIX!) all combined together to produce no-one-knows-what. First Responders have learned the hard way, losing their health, when not being extremely careful with what is left behind once flood waters recede.

So, wear latex or nitrile gloves, face masks (preferably N-95 which the CDC recommends against mold), available at Home Depot, Lowes, hardware stores, pharmacies, and keep skin covered when working in contaminated spaces or with contaminated materials.


Air-Drying: DO NOT USE HAIR DRYERS!! DO NOT SWITCH ON UNTIL COMPLETELY DRY!! Air-dry as rapidly as possible. Do this by increasing air flow around the various components. Higher humidity means that drying with take longer than usual so be patient. Set up desk fans or box fans near the CPU, diskettes, and other electronic materials to help the air move. 

If your electronics are still wet and are covered with debris and/or toxic floodwater try to gently rinse the components with fresh clean water before they dry completely (not tap water if possible. Try to use bottled).  DO NOT RUB OR SCRUB to remove debris. If debris is present when switched on it can cause disk crash.

Only switch on electronics if you are certain the unit is dry. If you try to switch it on too soon it will fry.

Rice: Rice can be used after items have been left out to air-dry for at least a day.  Submerge cell phones, external and internal hard drives, etc. into bins filled with rice and leave for a few days.  Again, patience is a virtue. 

Once you are completely sure your devices are dry (wait at least three to four days if not more) you can switch them on.  Note: many sites claim that even if devices are functional after drying they usually don’t last any more than three months (generous time frame). Take this opportunity to back up any files you need. 

The library will be conducting a service to create bit level disk images or preservation copies of magnetic media such as hard drives, floppy disks (only 3.5 right now), etc.  If you are interested in this service or would like to discuss/ask questions about how to best preserve your damaged items please contact the Digital Archivist Emily Ward at 225-231-3752 or you can send an email to   

Big thank you to Ann Frellsen of Emory University for providing us resources in our time of need!

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