Cultural and historic resources are held in the public trust by a range of cultural institutions that include, but are not limited to, libraries, museums, archives, historical societies, municipal offices, and historic and archeological sites and properties. These institutions hold the collective history of our communities, our states, and our nation. Ensuring that these institutions are prepared for emergencies and disasters contributes to a community’s resilience. When disaster strikes, the recovery of these institutions and their collections is essential for the successful recovery of the Whole Community.
Founded in 1995, HENTF was co-sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the private nonprofit Heritage Preservation until Heritage Preservation was dissolved in June 2015. During those two decades, under the leadership of Heritage Preservation, HENTF exemplified the very best in public-private partnerships to ensure that museums, libraries, archives, historic sites, and the public at large have the tools and resources to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.
Today, HENTF is co-sponsored by FEMA and the Smithsonian Institution, an original member of the Task Force. The partnership of 42 national service organizations and federal agencies continues to address cultural heritage concerns across all five FEMA mission areas – prevention, protection, response, recovery, and mitigation.
HENTF’s mission is to protect cultural heritage in our nation’s states, tribes, territories, and local communities from the damaging effects of natural disasters and other emergencies. HENTF:
- Provides a framework to enhance coordination among cultural stewards and emergency managers at the federal, state, tribal, local, and institutional level;
- Promotes a unified approach to the delivery of technical assistance to cultural institutions and the public to create a more extensive response capability throughout the nation;
- Highlights courses of action that may be taken to improve delivery of technical assistance for the protection of cultural heritage across the nation;
- Provides five strategic objectives to increase capabilities and capacities of the Whole Community to respond to a vast range of emergencies and disasters; [link to Our Objectives below]
- Supports Emergency Support Function (ESF) #11 Protection of Natural and Cultural Resources and Historic Properties (NCH) of the National Response Framework; and
- Supports the Natural & Cultural Resources Recovery Support Function (NCR RSF) of the National Disaster Recovery Framework.
HENTF focuses on these five strategic objectives:
- Provide education and training to cultural stewards, first responders, and emergency managers to better prepare them to work together to address emergencies and disasters affecting cultural institutions and historic sites;
- Provide technical assistance, guidance, and/or resources to cultural stewards, first responders, and emergency managers to address disaster-related impacts to cultural and historic resources;
- Coordinate the collection and sharing of incident-specific information with cultural stewards, first responders, and emergency managers in order to protect cultural and historic resources before, during, and after an event;
- Increase the incorporation of cultural and historic resources into disaster planning and mitigation efforts at all levels of government; and
- Provide information and guidance to the public to help individuals and families protect, stabilize, and recover treasured possessions before, during, and after an event.