Post-Katrina salvage of audio gear and software

First, I consider myself fortunate to have made it out of our downtown New Orleans hotel-shelter with my elderly parents and Brittany spaniel. I am very grateful to the hotel staff, national guard, friends, family and kind strangers I have encountered along the way. I also want to thank the audiogoners who have made and encouraged contributions to Katrina relief efforts. My home in the Lakeview section of New Orleans was inundated with aproximately 10 feet of brackish water after the levee adjacent to the 17st Street Canal broke on August 29th. Inside was enough gear for two tube-based and one solid state system. At present, it is unclear when I will be allowed to return to inspect damage. What should I and others similarly situated do with our audio equipment and software? I am thinking that we should consider all the audio gear a total loss with the possible exception of the cables. Any thoughts about this matter and what we should do with our vinyl and CD collections would be much appreciated. David
Sorry for your loss. I can't imagine the feelings going through your head about the past and the uncertain future.

Doubtful that even the chassis of the electronics would be salvageable.

Most of us probably don't carry enough insurance to cover all of our stuff in such a catastrophy.

I bought some jazz records that had been in a flood a few years ago, many cleaned up. The hard part was getting the mold to release. The paper sleeves are abrasive, so moving them without cleaning first will be tough. Best of luck.
I'm afraid you're probably right about the loss, but only you know where and how the gear was stored and how vulnerable to 10 feet of water that is.

I deeply commiserate with you. We went through a fire in the last six months, with smoke and water damage that made everything on the top floor of the house a write-off. I will never forget watching those wonderful firemen tossing burning furniture from the alley window, to save our house.

Our coverage was not quite adequate, unfortunately, and we decided to have all the written-off possessions returned to us, rather than pay for their replacement out of pocket right away. Some the gear was usable after a cleaning, either by me or by an audio shop. Other gear would have been usable, but poor storage conditions had worsened the damage and we had to throw it away. Some was just burned and/or soaked beyond all hope. Nothing we managed to fix or clean wound up looking ( or smelling ) the way it had before the fire.

At the end of the day, we did have some of our old stuff in working condition, and some new stuff which insurance had paid for. Very few CDs were damaged by water; fire and the cleanup job was what did in the ones we did lose. The entire vinyl collection was downstairs and most escaped the worst--only the reject pile had been directly under a waterfall.

Everything else was totally transformed. I shudder to think of having to deal with peeling waterlogged cardboard sleeves off a collection of vinyl discs. A job like this is very discouraging, as you discover how much work will be required to save what others may consider unsavable. Both attempting the job, or deciding it is too much and letting go of your treasures, take great strength. I wish you all you need.

One thing I do appreciate. After the fire we became "nomads" in our own city for six months. We saw it from another point of view, one that we would never have experienced otherwise. We lived without our possessions, out of suitcases and in temporary accommodations. There is an upside to this, I came to believe, and a potential renewal. It is much too soon for you to tell, and perhaps your losses will be too great, but ultimately you may find it so as well.

May the love of the Lord and the help of our fellows be with all of you.
I am sorry to hear of your miss fortune. This is indeed devastating. First off I wish you and yours the best and hope that as a country we can rebuild this area into something special like it once was.
As for the gear, I am not a professional in the audio business but just a Hifi buff. IMHO I think the wires will be no good as well as they are not waterproof and will oxidize over time. I would not take the chance of hooking them up to anything you may value in the future as the moisture may create electrical shorting. Laissez les bon temps rouller
Hello David!

Great to hear you and your parents and Trixie made it out okay. I feared the worst for your house, and from what you describe that seems to be the case. I'm still kind of shell-shocked by it all, and I wasn't even there.

Regarding the post-flood prognosis for your equipment, my suggestion would be to give Richard a call. I'm e-mailing you his cell phone number through your Audiogon identity; I lost your e-mail address. If you can't get your e-mail that's sent through Audiogon for some reason, then e-mail me at

Your vinyl might well be salvageable. I'm thinking a good soaking in a mild detergent solution to loosen the paper as the first step. Alan T. might be a good resource on this, but I don't have his contact information either. Richard might. Anyway, you'll probaby have some mildew in the grooves, and Kevin Blair of Buggtussel sells a record-cleaning enzyme that is supposed to work especially well on mold and mildew. I'll put on my dealer hat and give him a holler. Here's a link to his mold-eating enzyme page:

If you want to call me, my New Orleans-based cell phone isn't working reliably yet but you can reach me at (208) 852-2610.

Lori also says hello.

Hello David,

First, my thoughts and prayers are with you and all those about you!

It may be a long shot, but the electronics may be salvageable. I'm not too sure, but since the components are air tight then they should be water tight also. Dismantle as much as possible and flush out all the silt and salt with plenty of fresh water. Use reagent grade methanol or isopropyl alcohol to flush/rinse out the water and blow dry with canned air. Water damage should clean up far easier than heat and smoke damage I would expect!!! Once the units are cleaned up you can decide whether sending them back to the manufacturer(s) for inspection/repair is worthwhile...

Don't give up hope just yet!!!
simply forget about gear.
Dont let any bone heads tell you to give up on your gear, maybe it will be ok and maybe it wont, but for those who suggest you give up without trying I would suggest putting yourself in others shoes. God Bless you guys and I hope you can get back to some normal life as soon as possible.
I feel for you dude. I used to live over by Elysian Fields and Robert E-Lee. I've been homesick for New Orleasn since the day i moved out 15 yrs ago. I was just back in April taking time off of doing some Hurricane related work in Pennsacola. Bummer to think of all that was ruined. One can only hope the city's groove wasn't included in the big list. A bunch of my friends in the city and Slidell have had better days. One of them playes for the Iguanas and i think he was on tour during the Hurricane. I'm guessing he lost a bunch of his instruments.

the records and CDs should be fine with a proper cleaning though lables and covers will be toast. i'm going with the guys that say try to save the gear. My brother found an abandonded QED power amp laying in a field filled with silt and rusted in places. It worked fine after a little cleaning. (If you don't want to try send me the tube stuff and i'll let you know how it turned out.) the biggest problem will be with the salt in the water trashing connections but if you get to the pieces and give them a good cleaning before they have much exposure to air you may be OK. cleaning the pots may be a pain but they are relatively cheap to replace. Transformers may be a problem depending on how they were sealed. I'm guessing cables may be a bigger problem since they are twisted wire rather than solid core which would allow water to migrate into them around the casing. Make sure that everything is bone dry before you put power to it. I'd set the cleaned pieces under heat lamps for a couple of days if it were me. Then i'd just turn things on and wait for the big puff. If it passes that test then you may be OK. If it fails it still may be a relatively cheap fix.

good luck with everything.
just turn things on and wait for the big puff

Oog. Maybe that isn't such a good idea.

A competent audio technician will power up your gear using a variac, which raises voltage slowly. At the first sign of anything wrong ("What's that smell ?") the tech cuts power and looks for signs of trouble.

If I had any gear I cared about, that's how I would treat its first powerup after cleaning.