Aiming to avoid the "identity loss" of the Gulf Coast, the National Archives and Records Administration authorized the release of up to $25,000 in emergency grants to state archives in the hurricane-battered region for disaster assessment and recovery activities.
Allen Weinstein, NARA archivist, also stated that the agency will designate a senior conservator to help Louisiana officials and the Orleans Parish coroner provide document recovery assistance and support.
"The potential loss of information that directly affects the lives of people in these states is staggering," Weinstein said. "The loss of our collective memory of this region — 'identity loss,' in other words — is at stake. Property deeds, birth certificates, personal papers, information documenting the rights and entitlements of citizens, such as Social Security and veterans' benefits, are all at risk. Records found in federal, state, local and cultural sites must be rescued."
On top of the $25,000 in grants to the region, Weinstein said the agency will consider additional grants of up to $100,000 from the 2006 fiscal year when those funds are appropriated.
"Archives staff has already spent hundreds [of] hours working with federal agencies and our partners in state and local government to scope out this effort and begin to identify and recover records," Weinstein said. "In the coming days and weeks, working with our partners in the states and the federal agencies, we are committed to spending thousands more."