The flood that hit Emilia-Romagna in the spring of 2023 posed an unprecedented threat to the region’s rich cultural heritage. The Cultural Heritage International Emergency Force (CHIEF) was immediately on the front line with teams of experts and volunteers to try to contain the damage caused by the flood to the region’s book and archive heritage.

Throughout the duration of the emergency, and again for the entire month of June and until mid-July 2023, CHIEF teams worked and will work hand in hand with local authorities and volunteers to plan and implement emergency response actions. They tackled the water, mud and debris while trying to minimise damage within the structures that housed the cultural heritage affected by the flood.

In particular, CHIEF teams operated at the Municipal Archives of the City of Forlì, with the objective of recovering from the mud and immediately freezing approximately 3.5 linear km of documents damaged by the mud.

CHIEF’s action demonstrated that the protection of cultural heritage is a global priority and that combining efforts and expertise can make a difference in emergency situations.