Random Thoughts of a Disordered Mind

What would you take?


TexasStrongIt was hard to tear myself away from watching Hurricane Harvey coverage. It went on forever and every day had more stories of damaged buildings, flooded streets and homes, injuries and deaths. But it also had heartfelt stories of the Cajun Navy and strangers rescuing stranded people in boats, of shelters in unlikely places such as furniture stores, of social media helping stranded people be found and brought to safety. All they had with them was what they could grab in a few minutes before they got out.

I can’t do anything about Houston except send prayers and give money to organizations doing feet-on-the-ground disaster relief assistance. Those I have done and continue to do. But I’ve been thinking about what I would do if faced with the same situation here. Where would I go? What would I take with me?

I’ll be honest – I’d probably be one of the people who evacuated ahead of the storm, even if no one told me to go. I’m not very agile and climbing onto a roof or into a boat would be problematic. I’m good at hunkering down for something like a blizzard but a hurricane is a different animal altogether.

My house is full of things, and they’re just things. While I love and would mourn the loss of things with family history ties, they’re still just things. I’ve looked around and thought about what’s in different rooms and what I would take, given the chance. In no particular order (well, yeah, the genealogy stuff came first), here are some:

  • Genealogy files and old photos
  • Purse with wallet and credit cards
  • Medicine
  • Cell phone
  • Laptop and backup portable hard drive
  • Kindle
  • Charging cords
  • Insurance papers
  • Car title
  • House deed
  • Good jewelry
  • Clothes

KeepCalmMy mom had what she called the “Boy Scout Folder” that she put on the kitchen counter when she and Dad would go out of town. In it she had copies of insurance papers, social security cards and drivers’ licenses, bank information, list of account numbers, list of people to notify (family, medical, bank, insurance), obituaries and pictures to use with them. She would have grabbed that folder if she needed to leave in a hurry and know that what she needed was there.

I can do that but mine will also be digital on a flash drive – actually, a copy for me and one for my brother so it’s available outside the house if something happens here. Scanning documents won’t take long and the peace of mind will be worth it.

My genealogy scanning hasn’t been a huge priority for me but it needs to be. Many of the records and photos are one of a kind. They need to be scanned as high-quality images and saved in multiple places so they can be preserved and shared. Bottom line is they are just things, however precious to me. I have the power to make sure they are digitally preserved. It’s time to map out a plan to scan and add metadata so what I know stays with them.

Hurricanes happen. Tornadoes happen. Floods happen. Fires happen. Earthquakes happen. Everything we have could be gone in a heartbeat. We owe it to ourselves and to our families to be as prepared as possible. Do it now.

Texas strong!

2 thoughts on “What would you take?

  1. Absolutely be prepared. I live in a New Orleans and can do a thorough evacuation in less than a half hour. A satisfactory one in a few minutes and have needed to do that twice because of an electrical fire and a fire next door.

    Have a list and know where everything is. Have a current video of your entire interior. Store copies of your favorite pictures somewhere that is not your house. The thing that people missed most after the levee breaches of Katrina were their pictures. If you have a car, have an evacuation bag there that includes a physical phone list of family and important numbers (mortgage holder, insurance, doctors). Have a grab and go travel bag always ready with Rx and anything else you would need for a few days. Have pet carriers easily available and a pet travel bag packed (including passport). Have written directions on how to turn power, water, gas on and off. Also have backup copies of professional licenses etc and anything else possible either online or stored someplace that is not your house.

    Aside from above and those things you’ll find listed on evacuation lists, the following items are on my personal list for a full evacuation:
    Art that people in my family have made
    A couple of sentimental heirlooms
    Family recipe books
    A binder (similar to your mom’s) that has physical copies of birth certificates, credit cards, licenses etc

    • Really excellent suggestions, Gale, especially since you have been through this more than once and know from your own experience. If I still had Tessie, the pet stuff would be high on the list and will be again when I get another cat. I hadn’t thought about taking a few sentimental heirlooms and recipe books but they have lots of memories and would be comforting – and small. I like the idea of a binder, too, rather than a folder. Easier to carry without things falling out. I have some plastic sleeves that I can use to hold documents as well, which will be helpful. Also forgot about the passport – duh, important identification!

      My travel bag used to up to date when I was working but I’ve let it slide in retirement. That needs to change. Including meds for now might be hard since they do expire but I can grab them all quickly where they are and have done in the past.

      Having a written list of what to take is SUCH a good idea! It takes time to think things through and make sure they’re easily findable, but without under pressure and without a list to work from, it would be soooo easy to forget something.

      Thanks so much, Gale. This really helps.

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