Heroic effort saves priceless items in museum flood
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, January 29, 2014 6:56PM PST
Last Updated Thursday, January 30, 2014 7:45PM PST
Staff at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology are being credited for their quick action to stop major damage to the museum or to any of the priceless anthology of B.C. First Nations art during a massive flood yesterday.
The cascade that flowed down from the road was quickly stopped at the lobby. In all, 25 people sprang into action thanks in part to a thorough emergency preparedness plan, giant disaster preparedness kits, and a bit of good luck according to exhibition designer Skooker Broome.
“The waterfall was this incredible sight that was not something you should see. It wasn't Niagara but it felt like it,” said Broome.
“If this was 2 in the morning or even 6 o'clock at night without staff the remedial work that we did wouldn't have happened,” he said.
Nearly a foot of water rushed up against the museum’s front doors and at least three inches leaked through the glass front doors before staff used three lines of four-foot high foam barriers to help prevent the water from further entering the museum.
“This whole area was covered pretty much in water,” said Dr. Anthony Shelton, as he gestured to a wide swath of museum’s lobby during a tour with CTV News.
Other than giant fans blowing air through the lobby, MOA, UBC security and building operations staff continued the mop-up job through the night with little evidence of the earlier inundation today.
“I want to thank all of them because they really helped avert what could have been a major disaster,” said Shelton.
The flood occurred after a water main on Northwest Marine Drive above the museum burst around 3 p.m. Wednesday, which caused water to cascade down the steps to the lobby.
The Museum of Anthropology is located at UBC's Point Grey campus in Vancouver, and houses over 500,000 archaeological objects, most from the northwest coast of British Columbia.
The museum is well-known for its large First Nations collection, and for the outdoor Haida houses and ten full-scale totem poles on its grounds.
The museum is currently hosting two touring exhibitions: Speaking to Memory: Images and Voices from St. Michael’s Residential School and The Marvellous Real: Art from Mexico 1926-2011.
With files from Norma Reid and Canadian Press