While the names Harvey, Sandy, and Katrina ring loudly in the ears of many today – can we still learn valuable lessons in the archives from Diane, Camille, and Agnes? Climate change increasingly contributes to not only more frequent and more violent tropical cyclogenesis, but repeated extreme flooding events caused by unnamed weather systems, supercells, dam failures, and surges from rising oceans. These events have opened questions of survival for communities across the United States, and recent examples show that some communities indeed face pressure to abandon their long-standing ground and forego rebuilding.
In a 2013 article titled “Come Hell and High Water,” activist and author Bill McKibben addressed the dual threat of flood and rising temperatures, and posed the questions “what's an appropriate response? What even begins to match the magnitude of the trouble we face? What doesn't seem like spitting in the wind?”
How can archives respond? How can we help educate the public regarding myths around climate, weather, and historical efforts to rebuild after similar events in the past? How can archivists work with activists in the community to educate stakeholders, politicians, and taxpayers regarding the risks and rewards of rebuilding, increased infrastructure investments, or to advocate for revised flood zoning, revamping of insurance programs, and literal rainy day funds? Should archives help shape these community discussions? Where do digital archives fit into the picture? In this session, a group of panelists will provide thematic discussions addressing these questions, followed by a town hall style, participatory discussion. The points of views expressed, ideas for involvement, solutions, and advocacy opportunities suggested, as well as stories from the trenches, will be recorded using Mentimeter and shared following the session.
Bravent, Jay-Marie; Greenwalt, Kari A.; and Gladden, Shawn, "“Come Hell and High Water”: The Role of Archivists, Historical Myths, and Activism in Communities Facing Repeated Extreme Flooding Events" (2019). Library Presentations. 214.