Smithsonian Prepares for Hurricane Irene

August 26, 2011
News Release

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Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo are preparing for possible severe weather this weekend along the East Coast due to Hurricane Irene.

Smithsonian museums in Washington, D.C., and the National Zoo are open; however, if weather worsens over the weekend, this status could change.

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York City, the George Gustav Heye Center, will be closed on Saturday, Aug. 27 and Sunday, 28, due to a severe storm threat.

Preparations for the storm include:

  • 1,000 sandbags, filled with 20 tons of sand, have been placed around the museums to protect buildings and collections from possible flooding.

  • Staff at the National Zoo are moving animals from outdoor exhibits to indoor exhibits and putting up flood gates.

  • The National Zoo has at least one week of produce and a month’s worth of dry feeds and meat, and millions of gallons of clean water in holding tanks and pools.

  • Crews are securing the turrets and chimneys atop the Smithsonian Castle, which were damaged by the Aug. 23 earthquake, with plywood and metal and nylon bands so they will not sustain further damage in the heavy winds and rain expected during the next few days.

  • Staff are clearing areas outside of the museums, moving concession stands and other portable items.

  • Security and facilities staff will be on site around the clock this weekend to monitor the situation and respond quickly to avert damage caused by wind or flooding.

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