10.3.5 Records Disaster Recovery Plan

Added: 11/14/2013
Revised: 07/08/2015
Last Reviewed: 07/31/2018
Effective: 08/07/2015







This plan provides guidance for the recovery and restoration of mission critical documents and information that may be damaged or lost in a mishap or disaster. Mission critical is defined as documents and/or information necessary for the successful day-to-day operation of the institution. In this plan, records will refer to mission critical documents and information.

Electronic records are subject to the procedures established by the Chief Information Officer and documented elsewhere. This plan relates to paper records which are mission critical. There are also many paper records of an archival nature that, while not necessarily mission critical, are of great historical value to the institution.

The safety of students, faculty and staff is of utmost importance. Fire, severe weather or other disasters may cause structural damage that renders a building unsafe for occupancy. In the event of a disaster, personnel should not enter a damaged building until it has been inspected and deemed safe for occupancy.


Implementation of this plan will depend largely on the nature of the cause of damage to records.

Localized Incident: Causes such as a leaking roof or a broken water line usually result in localized damage which is limited to an office, office suite or floor of a building. In localized damage cases, the department/unit head of the affected unit(s) will be responsible for implementing the recovery process.

Widespread Incident: Causes such as fire or severe weather often result in more widespread damage. In such cases, it is possible that the MGA Emergency Operations Plan will be activated. The provisions of the MGA Emergency Operations Plan take precedence over the Records Disaster Recovery Plan. When the Emergency Operations Plan is in effect, the Records Disaster Recovery Plan is to be activated only when clearance to enter the affected building(s) and to assess the damage has been given.

Disaster Recovery

Most, but not all, mission critical paper academic records are stored in a fireproof vault when not being used. Some of the mission critical paper administrative records (financial, human resources, etc.) are stored in fireproof vaults and cabinets, but the voluminous nature of these records prevents storing all of them in such facilities.

Units within the institution should approach disaster recovery for mission critical records in the following manner:

  • The department/unit head(s) of the affected unit(s) should contact Plant Operations for assistance with any necessary post-disaster clean-up.
  • Department/unit head(s) and records manager will be responsible for the initial assessment of the nature, extent, and severity of the damage to records in their respective unit. Successful recovery depends upon quick action; therefore, the initial assessment should be conducted as soon as possible after discovery of the damage.
  • After the initial assessment, the unit head should contact the Plant Operations Department for a more detailed assessment of the damage and for advisement regarding the steps necessary to increase the likelihood of successfully recovering the damaged documents.
  • Actions necessary to recover documents can range from simply air drying damp records to hiring restoration specialists for severely damaged records.

Water Damage Restoration Steps

There are two types of water damage. Direct damage occurs when documents are completely saturated. Secondary damage occurs when documents are damp due to high humidity related to flooding, etc.

  • Air Drying: This process is quick and effective with smaller quantities of records with secondary damage. Records are separated and spread out in a cool, dry location. Fans and air conditioning are used to circulate dry air over the documents. This process is usually complete within 72 hours.
  • Dehumidifiers and Air Movers: This method is used with larger quantities of records that have received secondary damage. The documents are left in their original containers and dehumidifiers and air movers are brought into the facility. Depending on the volume of records, this process can take weeks to complete. There is the possibility of residual damage if this process is not completed properly. Therefore, this process should only be used after consultation with a restoration specialist and only if dehumidifiers and air movers are available in sufficient quantity and capacity.
  • Freezing: Freezing is appropriate when documents have received direct damage. This process is usually done by a restoration specialist and involves separating records and placing them in special containers in commercial freezers. Depending on the volume of records, this process can often require several months to complete.

Fire Damage Restoration Steps

The full recovery of records damaged due to fire is less probable than records damaged by water. Documents damaged by fire that are recoverable will have a permanent smoke odor. In cases where it is necessary, a process called “dry cleaning” may remove most, if not all of the smoke odor. This process is usually done by a restoration specialist and requires treating each page of the affected records with a special solvent and allowing them to dry.