240.000$ Damages to Restore Books after Car Hit Hydrant


The California Historical Society reopened on March 2nd, 2009,  after a flood damaged more than 1,500 antique and historic books and its building four months before. On December 2008, a car hit a fire hydrant in front of the society’s Mission Street building causing a geyser several stories high and a flood that seeped through the front doors into the building. Water soaked through the hardwood floors and into the book vault below, damaging the books.
The estimate for restoring the books is about $240,000 and repairing the building is about $60,000. About 20 books are probably unsalvageable, although these items are expected to be replaced through specialized book dealers. The efforts of restoration technicians and library staff are credited with saving many of the historical texts that date back as far as the 1920s.

The Headquarters of the California Historical Society (Beyond My Ken, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

After staff arrived at the scene, the waterlogged texts were quickly put into boxes and then into a freezer trailer where the cold fended off the onset of mold growth and deterioration. At Fort Worth, Texas, document facility, 670 soggy books were put in a vacuum freeze-dried container that expels moisture from damaged texts,  At the Hayward compound of Belfor Property Restoration, nearly 1,000 books were put on specialized racks in sealed rooms equipped with dehumidifiers and fans to draw the water out.

Because the society’s building also was damaged by the flood, crews were called in to remove nearly 2,000 boxes of undamaged books so construction could begin on the waterlogged hardwood floors, insulation and celling of the library.

The privately funded California Historical Society is primarily a library of books, used by researchers and historians. It also houses manuscripts, pictures, documents, artifacts and various texts that chronicle California’s past.

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