Is the collective memory of the nation in the water? “Fortunately, the state archives themselves were spared from the water damage,” communications manager Geertje Elaut told Het Nieuwsblad. “But many government records that we oversee have suffered significant damage. The depots of Verviers, Limbourg, Wanze and Eupen were so affected that they remained inaccessible for more than three days. Archives have also been inundated in some courts.
Legal consequences cannot be excluded. “Most of our files are legal or tax in nature and are kept for the burden of proof,” Elaut explains. “Most of the copies are unique and not digitized.
Now the State Archives are looking for -20 degree freezer chambers. These should help fight the mold blast and ensure that the ink does not run out and the glue comes off. To avoid water discharges during a possible thawing of the archives, companies using large-scale freeze-drying are also allowed to register.
The question is whether freezing still makes sense. “The first 48 hours are crucial,” explains her colleague Els Herrebout, head of the State Archives in Eupen. “It’s actually too late now. But it all depends on the material and the degree of damage, so who knows. “
In Eupen, Herrebout and his colleagues identified the most important 50 meters of archives over 150 meters in half an hour last Monday (with flashlights in dark basements flooded without electricity) and brought them to cold rooms in Cologne. “If we freeze dry them within six weeks, we’ll see what we’ve been able to save effectively. “
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