Saturday, November 12, 2016

If you had to evacuate, what "stuff" would you take?

Fires are raging to our east and west (Courtesy Tusquitee Ranger District)

The brilliant George Carlin once did a very funny (and apt) sketch about all the “stuff” we find important in our lives:

“And I don't know how you are... ...but I need a place to put my stuff. You know how important that is, that's the whole meaning of life, isn't it? Trying to find a place for your stuff. That's all your house is... ...your house is a pile of stuff... ...with a cover on it. It's a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff. Now, sometimes you gotta move... gotta get a bigger house. Why? Too much stuff."

So what happens when an emergency presents itself such as a flood, hurricane or fire? What kind of “stuff” are you going to take with you?

I ask this question because we are experiencing terrible wildfires here in western North Carolina and other southern states. We’ve had no rain since September and nothing is in the forecast.

I'd have to leave my roses behind :(

Yesterday a friend who lives in the Lake Lure area (about 60 miles from us) was surprised by an evacuation order. Earlier in the day she had posted on Facebook they were fine. By 4pm yesterday afternoon she announced they were leaving.

I wondered if being close to the fires, she and her husband made a list of things to take if they were forced to evacuate. They had, and said it was fortunate because they had little time to gather precious belongings and were understandably very stressed when the order came through. 

A rare "rocket" radio from my collection

That’s why we are starting our list today. We are fine as I write this. But there are fires to our east and west and should the worst happen, I don’t want to wonder why I didn’t save the opal ring my beloved aunt left me.

An emergency evaluation checklist can help get your ducks in a row before facing an evacuation order. One site warned the uncertainty of what to take and what to leave behind in an emergency can leave people paralyzed with doubt and fear. It's best to plan ahead just in case.
Our friend Tom made this uke for me

The advice to take insurance policies, prescriptions, passports, birth/marriage certificates and so forth is common sense. I am also planning to engage an online backup company so my all my computer files and photos are protected.

But what about other “stuff”, items of sentimental value or things that can’t be replaced? I will be putting our marriage album and family photos on the list. My recipe file. iMac, iPads and iPhones plus chargers. My London International Advertising Award. Chris’ Mum’s carriage clock. Maybe his sword from the Royal Navy, if I can convince him to take it. 

Rowdy, my Gator hand puppet will be in the car. He is home to all my Gator pinback buttons from the past 44 years. And original artwork, including two irreplaceable paintings of our Maryland home. Plus a turtle painting a dear friend gave me before we moved to the mountains.

Carla Huber's painting of our MD hydrangeas
My favorite ukulele will be on the list. And cameras. A couple of radios from my vintage collection. An everglades painting by original Highwayman Ellis Buckner (my aunt left it to me and I had no clue how much it was worth.) My favorite piece of Portmeirion china. And Lord knows what else. There is too much great stuff and too little room.

I hope we never need the list. But I will rest better tonight knowing we have earmarked some of the things we love to save should disaster strike.

What would you take?



Sunil Patel said...

Oh no, Lynn, that's awful. I couldn't even begin to think of all the things I'd want to take with me and hope I'm never in that situation. I hope you aren't forced to evacuate and whatever happens, please stay safe.

Lynn Hunt said...

Hi Sunil, as I told Chris, if a tree fell and hit our house (instead of a fire) we'd face many of the same decisions. So I felt good going through our papers, throwing away old stuff and getting everything in order. The fires are still miles away and at the moment we are very safe. Thank you for your thoughts, my friend!

Kerry Schultz said...

That is a thought-provoking article. I believe it depends on the situation, I would never want to leave some of the stuff cos that is too sentimental.

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