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Smithsonian experts show impacted residents how to preserve documents, memories

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ROCKPORT -

The Smithsonian Institute holds a lot of memories.  It's home to world renowned artwork and artifacts.  Now, they've partnered with FEMA to help Coastal Bend residents preserve some of their storm-damaged treasures.

"Many of the items I've cataloged came from people's personal collections," said Carrie Feldman, Smithsonian Institute Preservation Specialist.  "Their photographs of their grandparents and their great grandparents."

Family photos, important documents, books and family heirlooms are a few of the items that the preservation specialists say can be salvaged.  Many of the techniques use every day household products that can be bought at the grocery store.

For example, here's a quick fix for photos that have mold or are stuck together.  Soak them in distilled water for 30 minutes, then separate them and lay them on a flat surface to dry.

"I think the instinct is, when there's water damage, to throw things away.  It's instinctive and you do it, but then you have regrets about it," Feldman said.

Dustin Reinfeld, is an avid book collector.  He learned how to salvage books using water, paint brushes and paper towels.

"It's an amazing thing," said Dustin Reinfeld.  "It they weren't here, there would be a lot of history and memories that would be lost.  Memories you can't get back."

"They're important pieces of American history and of world history so the fact that people down here might have something like that and we can help them clean it and get it stable is huge," said Emily Seigerman of the Smithsonian Institute.

You never know what might end up in the Smithsonian.

The duo will be making their rounds to Disaster Relief Centers across the Coastal Bend from 11:00 am to 5:30 pm. Tomorrow, they'll be in Robstown and on Friday, they'll be in Victoria.

There is a free app called the Emergency Response and Salvage App with many tips on how you can salvage many of your belongings destroyed by the storm. Disaster Relief Center locations and information on downloading the app can be found on FEMA's website http://fema.gov/DRC.

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