The scenes of devastation and the resulting chaos from New Orleans and southern Mississippi almost defy belief. Although the odds of such a destructive storm hitting New England are much lower, this is a reminder that we must be prepared for bad things to happen to us as well. We haven’t heard anything about the fate of land records in Louisiana, but there are two stories from registry lore that illustrate the consequences of catastrophic destruction of land records. The first instance was the famous Chicago fire of 1871. All government land records were destroyed, but the Chicago Title Insurance Company prudently loaded all of their records on a boat before the fire consumed their building. By floating the boat down the Chicago River, they saved one copy of all of the city’s real estate ownership records. When we visited the Cook County Registry of Deeds back in 2001 during our quest for a new computer system, I was quite surprised to learn that Chicago Title has its own scanning operation in the basement of the registry and new documents presented for recording must go through the Chicago Title office before they reach the registry of deeds. That arrangement was the price that Cook County paid to get copies of the records that were destroyed by the fire. The other registry horror story was caused by the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 when the building containing the only copy of property ownership records was consumed by fire. In that case, re-establishing ownership of real estate took more than ten years of litigation. While our migration from paper based to electronic records may seem like a less stable way of preserving these records, it is really the opposite. As long as we have electricity and a functioning computer somewhere, we can make multiple copies of all of our document images very quickly and ship copies all over the country and even the world, something that could never happen with 19,000 paper record books. We certainly recognize that electronic storage carries its own risks, but we prefer the flexibility they provide. (Several days ago I inadvertently created some excitement with my blog entry when I mentioned a local service station increase the price of a gallon of gas to $1.69 per gallon – I meant to say $2.69 – but before I could make the correction, I was inundated with calls asking for the whereabouts of the cheap gasoline. Sorry for the confusion).