You’re given fifteen minutes’ notice that a raging wildfire is encroaching on your home and you have to evacuate. What do you take?
This was the scene in Fort McMurray, just five hours northeast of where I live, on May 3, 2016. A small wildfire broke out in the forest surrounding the city on May 1. Evacuation orders in a couple of neighborhoods were changed to shelter-in-place orders the evening of May 2, as the fire appeared to be moving away from the townsite. At noon Tuesday, the fires shifted and entered the city; by 6:30 pm, the entire population of 88,000 was under a mandatory evacuation order. Ten percent of the city – 2,400 buildings – was destroyed by the fire; in one neighborhood, 90% of the homes were destroyed.
The fire shifted extremely quickly and some residents had less than an hour to evacuate their homes. As I watched the news reports all night, it got me thinking about what I’d grab in a situation like that.
Of course, our first priority would be to ensure Miss A, Wilson, my husband and I were safe. After that, as a scrapbooker, obviously I put a high value on pictures. I have several albums I’ve made with pictures that I took prior to digital cameras, and I don’t have the negatives anymore. I also have a couple that are from digital photos, but I didn’t keep the digital files. Those would be the albums I’d reach for first. Anything where I have the digital files saved, I could recreate at a later time. I’m diligent about backing my photos up to a cloud server, but I’d still try to grab my laptop just in case. I’d also try to grab the box of Miss A’s artwork that I haven’t had time to do anything with.
ID, credit cards, passports, my jewelry, maybe our insurance policy if I could grab it fast enough, and that’s probably all I’d take. It would be devastating to lose everything, but the bulk of the things in our home are replaceable.