Saving de Kooning and Picasso Paintings from Rising Flood Waters

Sean Roach, TCC's Associate Art Handler, recounts his expedition to South Dakota to rescue four paintings from impending flood waters:

"In the Shipping and Disaster Response department, we never know what tomorrow will bring, from the typical to the extreme. So when I set out on this trip, I looked at it as an adventure. Having been to hundreds of unique on-sites whether fire, flood, or general deterioration no account is like the next, but a few do stand out as extraordinary. This trip was very memorable to me because of the unique artwork involved and the extreme situation we had to remove it from.

Early one morning Paul Kirk [Director of Transportation and Operations] and I were dispatched to South Dakota to pick up artwork from a home near a flooding river. After a 12-hour drive, as we reached the outskirts of the client's town, we witnessed large helicopters carrying huge sand bags heading towards the river. As we inched closer to our destination, it was evident that rescue teams were signaling the locals to evacuate and formed roadblocks. Due to the state of emergency, we were expected to be asked to turn around by the police. Luckily,we made it to the client’s residence.

After, we backed our truck up to the front of the house, the house manager and he showed us the artwork: a Picasso and three de Kooning paintings. As Paul and I were packing up the paintings, we could see water approaching the house less than 100 feet away. The staff members fought the flood by building a 6 foot wall out of sandbags to protect the house. After about 27 hours we arrived safely back to The Center, with the paintings unscathed”