Are You Prepared For The Next Natural Disaster?
On the early morning of October 9th in 2017, I was sleeping on my couch with my dog. We were both up all night because the wind was whipping harder than I had ever heard it. There was a smell of smoke in the air and my little furry friend was terrified.
I had seen on the news there were fires in Napa Valley just over the hill from us. I was living in Bennett Valley in Santa Rosa in a quiet community, a mile down the end of a dirt road.
At some point, the power went out, cell service was down and I had no way to communicate with the outside world and no way of knowing how close the fire was.
I had finally fallen asleep when my dog woke me at 3:08 am. He was panting and nudging me with his nose, nothing unusual for a dog with anxiety. What was unusual was the sound of crackling that I heard. I got up from the couch and went to the french doors that looked out onto our porch and my neighbor's house.
His house was on fire.
I froze for what felt like an eternity and like my body was physically unable to move. I snapped out of it and immediately knew we had to get out and had to do it quickly. There was no time left.
I am asthmatic so my very first thought was “get your meds, Meg." I ran upstairs, got my medicine, and as I ran past my office remembered I should grab my Emergency Folder.
Luckily I had organized all my important files into one place about a year before.
I ran downstairs, slipped on flip flops, grabbed my laptop and my terrified dog and got in the car.
As I drove down the driveway I stopped at my other neighbor's house and yelled in through the front door that they needed to leave, there was a fire! They quickly acknowledged me and I got back on the road.
When I made it to the highest vantage point and the spot where I needed to decide what I was going to do, I realized that the hills in every single direction were glowing red, and the community I loved was on fire.
I was panicked, scared and alone. I decided to head to Petaluma where my brother lived and prayed it would not also be on fire when I got there.
When I arrived at my brother’s house I was shaking and crying, realizing I had just left my entire life behind and had no idea if I would ever see it again.
As I write this almost two years later, I am so grateful I was prepared for that unthinkable moment.
I had spent several weeks the year prior digitizing all of my important documents, tossing what I no longer needed and keeping a very small file of physical papers that were imperative to keep.
95% of my physical paper was gone and now safely stored in the Cloud.
I lost a lot in those 2017 fires: a small cottage, storage sheds, and a pump house burned to the ground. But I was one of the lucky ones...my home was saved by the firefighters. Five of my neighbors were not so lucky.
In the nine months it took to clean up after the disaster, while living with my brother temporarily, I was easily able to access all the documents I needed for the County, the Insurance Company and the Contractors, to get my property back in shape. It was all stored on the Cloud and I was able to email documents quickly and easily making a very stressful situation more bearable.
Do you feel prepared for a disaster?
It’s something we think about...and yet most of the time we just say we’ll “get to it later."
I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I was prepared when the fires came.
And I’d like to propose that you take care of your emergency preparedness plan now, so that you have peace of mind knowing your paperwork is in order when disaster strikes.
If you are feeling ready to take on this project but overwhelmed by the thought of it, I am here to help. Schedule a 15-minute phone consultation with me and I’ll let you know how.
Ciao for now,
P.S. If you have a disaster survival story I would love to hear it, please share.