Late summer means fires to Californians and this year is no exception. Fire season is generally considered to be between August and December. Of course, wildfires don’t always adhere to this time frame but the combination of dry conditions and Santa Ana winds are prevalent in September and October.
Two years ago on an October morning, Mr. Boomer and I had just awakened and were on our first cup of java (so in other words, not really awake) when we heard a knock on the door. We had lived in our “new” home for about six weeks and had met only a couple of neighbors. It was one of those neighbors letting us know there was an evacuation order as she headed for safety.
We turned on the TV and found out that our community was on fire north and west of us. We woke up our son, grabbed important papers (okay, we grabbed the safe but that’s where the important papers reside), pets and clothing for a day or so and headed down to another son’s home where they graciously hosted us for three days. Fortunately, our home and my office (also in the evacuation zone) were spared but over 350 homes just in our neighborhood were lost.
1. Emergency alert registration. Reverse 911 had been used to notify residents when evacuation orders were given for their area. However, we didn’t receive a call. Why? Because we don’t have a land line AND hadn’t registerd our cell phones with the city’s alert system. We registered our cell numbers after the disaster and then again earlier this year when we got new numbers.
2. Prepare. Although we knew there was fire only a few miles away and it was extremely windy the previous night we did not take action. Next time, I will gather important papers, photos and supplies in a central area by the door or in the car. We had enough time to gather things this time but might not if there’s a next time. Also, I would take more clothing and supplies than we think we need. I never envisioned we’d be gone three days that morning we drove away from our home.
3. Gratitude. This experience made me grateful in so many ways. Grateful for our neighbor who thought about the new people next door and let us know to leave. Grateful that our home, my office and the homes of so many friends were all spared from the fire. Grateful for the generosity of my son and daughter-in-law for opening their home to us and our pets without a second thought.
Mr. Boomer and I hope to not have to repeat this experience, but in the face of the same type or another natural diaster we feel more prepared. Are you ready for a natural disaster be it hurricane, tornado, flood or fire?
Photo by Jon Sullivan
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