Carter County preserving flooded documents with scanners

Digitizing historical documents in Carter County

VAN BUREN, Mo. (KFVS) - This month a company is helping officials in Carter County, Missouri scan and digitize important documents that were almost lost during the 2017 flood.

Ninety-five percent of the county’s historical books and day to day documents have some sort of water damage.

“You’re devastated. You’re worried. So if you can imagine trying to move an entire courthouse full of records that are nasty, and wet and muddy into a freezer truck overnight," Carter County Clerk Leona Stephens said.

In order save the documents they were frozen, dried and are now being scanned.

Derek Riedel with U.S. Imaging says they’re scanning thousands of loose sheets and hundreds of bound books that date back to the 1800s.

Even if the ink is faded, Riedel says they can fix it by digitally enhancing the scanned pages.

“And they can pinpoint and bring just the lightest writing to where Yes it makes it legible," Riedel said. "Get rid of the mud and everything else that is in there. It takes a lot of time, effort. It’s still pretty impressive to me what we can do as far as bringing back what could be gone forever.”

Stephens is encouraging other counties to be proactive.

“Digitize your stuff. Get it now while you can still read it and it’s not an emergency situation like ours unfortunately," Stephens said.

The Carter County Clerk said the scanning effort will cost $650,000.

But almost all of it will be paid for by using money from FEMA and the Secretary of State’s office.

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