In 2005, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. In addition to extreme loss of life and property in Mississippi and neighboring Louisiana, the hurricane damaged and destroyed a great deal of the region’s cultural treasures. In the months and years after Hurricane Katrina’s landfall, the NEH awarded more than $2 million in emergency grants to rescue and preserve artwork, books, manuscripts, archival records, and other cultural artifacts. Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Perkinston was the recipient of several emergency grants, which it used to preserve more than 146,000 photographs and photographic negatives that documented the culture and diversity of the Gulf Coast region—items that were suddenly all the more valuable because several Mississippi towns had been completely decimated. The images had been housed in buildings that were severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina and were subsequently exposed to high heat and humidity. The NEH provided funding to hire an expert conservator; purchase new storage equipment, fans, and dehumidifier; and train staff members to re-house the materials and use the new equipment. The NEH has provided similar emergency grants to other regions following natural disasters.
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