Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Lessons Derived from a Near Catastrophe

The Springs Fire in Southern California burned much too close for my comfort.  Three Hundred Feet.  The Professor stated, "This is the closest I ever want to be to a major wild fire."  I concur.  After the fire burned and blew through our neighborhood and moved on toward the university where The Professor teaches and then to the Pacific Ocean, I sat and contemplated my reactions and the lessons I learned.  Here are four although I'm sure I will think of many more through the next week.

1. A prosaic day can turn climactic in an instant.  One word from our neighbor changed our direction.  We decided to continue on to our jobs but take what few things we felt we absolutely needed to save in the somewhat unlikely event that the fire would directly affect us.  (This was at 8am before anyone in our neighborhood realized just how fast and furious the fire was moving.)

2. All the planning in the world may not make a difference in what I choose to take with me.  I have an emergency list.  I totally forgot to refer to it.  Truthfully, we felt there wasn't time to spend on packing the cars, not because we needed to leave immediately due to fire danger (as did our friends who live in University Glen), but because we were taking simple precautions for our peace of mind before leaving for our respective jobs.  We packed our fire proof security box, genealogical information, photos, our laptops, external hard drive, camera, and various cables.  As I was driving away from the fire up the freeway, I realized that I had left the camera cord, check book, current bills, some cash and my favorite jeans (in fact, we took no clothing at all).  For the future, I need a better plan.

3. The stuff we left really didn't matter.  We have each other.  That's enough.  However, I've been thinking about our stuff.  Among my friends, I am known as the simplicity girl.  They know I maintain a simple house and don't shop for fun.  Perhaps other people wouldn't notice, but over the past few months things have crept in to my house, but other objects have not marched out, so the net number of possessions has increased.  This is not because I am going out on buying binges; it's just inattention to what's happening.  I need to pay more attention and be more pro-active in this area.  If that stuff doesn't matter, it shouldn't be taking up space in my house.

4. I've been feeling overwhelmed with a few areas around the house.  Mostly, I just don't want to deal with the huge task of organizing, filing, and scanning the photos which have collected here.  Somehow, I became the 'guardian' of many of the family photos from more than 100 years ago.  I want to share them with my family.  But there are so many I don't know how to approach the problem.  Also, I have those file folders full of background information about our families.  Truly, I'm interested in putting that genealogical information into a single readable document, but it's going to take a major block of time to accomplish that task.  Finally, I have planned for a long time to prepare a detailed personal property list for insurance purposes.  Fortunately, I didn't need to use it last week.  It's time to get over feeling overwhelmed and just do these jobs.

Hopefully, I won't have to face this problem of evacuation and possibly losing my home to a natural disaster again for a few years unless of course there's an earthquake.  (We are actually more prepared for an earthquake and staying in our house without services than we are for evacuation.)  This has been a wake up slap to get my house in order.  It was a hard lesson that ended well.

Did you notice that I didn't even think about my yarn and knitting needles?  I know those can be easily replaced.  However, how would I have been able to survive those days and nights without something to keep my fingers busy??


ellen b. said...

Oh dear...my head is spinning just thinking of how scattered my supposedly important stuff is. Oye!
Good thoughts Willow...

nikkipolani said...

Very good reminders, Willow. In the last fire that was close to our house, roomie and I put together a techno bag (computer/software stuff that'd be hard to replace) and basics bag. We did realize that we didn't have enough carriers for all the cats. I could stuff two of them in one of the bigger carriers, but it's not ideal for being evacuated!

Marg said...

Oh my, that truly is a disaster when it hits so close to home. I cannot image leaving my home so quickly. You've got some good thoughts going there and just prioritize what you need and take some time to enjoy the rest of summer.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

You have certainly given us much to think about, Willow. I'm glad all turned out well for you.

Bethany said...

We just changed insurance agencies and I was supposed to use an app to record belongings... I am so bad at that and haven't done it! I think it's hard to focus on disaster planning (especially when so much else needs to be done today!). But you are right! I was thinking about your photos-- maybe you could find someone to scan things in for you, and even type info if you have it together. You could offer to knit them a sweater or blanket in return (something you do enjoy doing). Some people love that kind of work. I have a lot of photos of the kids when they were little (as well as my own old photos) that I've always wanted to do that with also. I'm so glad that you have time to do this and nothing happened last week before you could!