Smithtown, New York, may have learned an expensive lesson. Genealogists, historians, title search companies, attorneys, and more will also encounter difficulties because of improper storage of important documents. Tax files, birth and death certificates and other documents waterlogged from last month’s record rainfall may cost Smithtown hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore, officials said.
An estimated 301 boxes and 85 ledger books from the town clerk’s, assessor’s and comptroller’s offices were damaged in the Aug. 13 storm that dumped more than 13 inches of rain on parts of Long Island, said Smithtown Town Attorney Matthew Jakubowski. Several inches of water flooded the basement areas where the documents were stored.
Town officials rushed to freeze-dry the records, the first step in stopping the damage. The town received a bill for about $42,000 for services that include “document pick-up transportation and vacuum freeze drying,” and an invoice for about $6,600 for fumigation services and the cost of return shipping, according to a Sept. 9 memo from Kostecki to the town clerk, assessor and comptroller.
You can read more in an article by Lauren R. Harrison in the Newsday web site at http://goo.gl/QbT6mB.
I wonder why towns and other archives continue to store important documents in basements and other locations where flooding is a serious problem.
My thanks to newsletter reader W David Samuelsen for telling me about this story.