Thursday, April 6, 2017

Evacuations

Lots of time sitting on I-26
Evacuations have never really been something I thought much about.  Sure, we have fire drills and the occasional bomb threat at work, and everyone has to leave the building.  And I was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, where there are sometimes mandatory evacuations for hurricanes, but we moved when I was four.  I have very vague memories of leaving once.  All I remember is that we went and stayed in a motel because of a storm.  I’m assuming we went inland because of a hurricane.

I grew up in the upstate of South Carolina, and now live in western North Carolina, so evacuations have never really been a part of my life.  Until last year.

Our vacation to Folly Beach last year coincided with Hurricane Matthew’s imminent arrival on the South Carolina coast.  We left a few hours ahead of the mandatory evacuation.  We found out on Tuesday evening that the mandatory evacuation would start late Wednesday afternoon, so made the decision to leave Wednesday morning.  We got in touch with the owner of the house, did what needed to be done to close the house up, packed up our things, and left for home.

The drive home took more than twice as long as it normally does.  Our average speed on the interstate was about 35 miles per hour.  We saw the National Guard convoys coming in, as well as the school buses from the upstate coming to bus people out.  We saw the east-bound (heading toward the coast) interstate being shut down so traffic could be reversed.

An example of how long it took to get anywhere
 It was bizarre to see all of that, but we talked about the fact that we were fortunate enough to be heading toward home. We had to end a vacation early.  We weren’t leaving behind our home and most of our possessions.  We didn’t have to wonder if our house would still be standing in a day or two. We counted ourselves fortunate that our experience with an evacuation was on vacation.

Then November came, and large parts of western North Carolina and the upstate of South Carolina burned for nearly the entire month.  We had several days of really bad smoke.  There was a mandatory evacuation for part of the county we live in.  We never had to leave our home, but it definitely put us in the frame of mind to plan, at least a little, for what we would do in the event of a mandatory evacuation.

Obviously, sometimes there’s no warning.  People simply have to leave as quickly as possible.  For the most part, with the fires near us, it seemed like people had at least a few hours, sometimes a day or two, before having to leave.  It made us wonder.  What do you take with you?  What do you choose to save when you have to leave your home, not knowing if it will be there when you get to come back?

Even Duke was ready to get home.
People and pets are obvious.  We did go out and buy another cat carrier.  We normally don’t take all of the cats anywhere at once, so have never had need for so many carriers.  When evacuation became a real possibility we thought it would be best to have as many carriers as we do cats.  Of course there’s medication for people and pets.  Clothing.  Important papers.  We decided that pictures wouldn’t make the list since all of ours are saved digitally, but both of our laptops would.  The mat that everyone signed (instead of a guest book) at our wedding.  A few Christmas ornaments that are particularly meaningful.  A few random things with a lot of sentimental value.  Beyond that, there really wouldn’t be much room in the cars.  

So what about you?  Have you ever had to leave your home as part of an evacuation?  What did/would you take with you in the event of an evacuation?

23 comments:

  1. This must have been quite an unsettling experience. I've personally never faced evacuation but I've had to get my parents out of their homes once when their area was hit badly by floods. Although they lived on the fourth floor of the building there were lot of issues when the floods damaged the electric units of the entire building. They had to wade through four feet of water to reach our house which was about five kilometers away. The whole experience remains fresh in my memory even today.

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  2. I have not had to evacuate, but years ago growing up, there was a wildfire close by. They were talking about where the evacuations might be. It was close to our area. I remember my mom starting to prepare things to be ready just in case. You do always wonder what you will take if in that situation.

    Betty

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  3. I haven't had to evacuate but have hidden in the closet several times! If I did have to leave, pictures would be top on the list! Enjoy your day and thank you for visiting my blog:) HUGS!

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  4. I am fortunate enough to live in a very safe area (Switzerland) where we don't have tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, flooding and the like, but a house may always burn down, so we have asked ourselves the question of "what to take" and while it's definitely tricky, (I wrote a post about it a couple of months ago) the situation may not leave much time to decide, so I may end up running and leaving pretty much everything behind.

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  5. I hope I never have to go through that. Computers, guitar, special items from a curio cabinet.

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  6. I've survived two tornadoes, but never had to evacuate.

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  7. Very scary! We went through Hurricane Juan back in 2003 (I think) but never had to leave our home. We were eight days with no electricity or water, not fun. Since then we have always had a generator.
    I too would try grab photos, my recipe box and my hubby!
    Take care and thanks for visiting my blog.

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  8. What a thoughtful question....what would I take. Since I have never had to make that choice but have wondered about it in case of a fire, what would I grab. I have things handed down through the family but that would require grabbing them from different areas of the home, maybe my computer and of course my laptop, my camera's, .....not really sure from that but I know the first thing I would grab would be Dakota, my dog! He above anything else would go with me! Thanks for the question, it makes a person stop and think. Also, thanks for coming to the blog to visit, please come back anytime.

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  9. What a frightening thought! Wow, I have never really thought about what I would grab. My pups for sure, and my purse. Other than that, I guess it depends on how much time I have to plan!

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  10. Burning fires crumbs, I'd be brave and put on a show for the women and kids sake, ahhh what the heck, you got me. I'd have to save my laptop first but no seriously people first.

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  11. Hello, you are brave to pack and up leave during an evacuation. It sounds frightening. It would be hard to decide what to take and what to leave. Coming home safely is what is important. Happy Thursday!, enjoy your day and the weekend ahead!

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  12. My journals!! I need to scan them. I've been faithfully keeping a journal for many years, so it would be a bit much for a quick evacuation.

    Your post made me think of a website where people post a photo of what they would take if their house caught fire. The photos are usually artistic, well-composed, and intriguing : theburninghouse.com

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  13. Scary stuff. We get wildfires in the area yearly, and are familiar with the smoke and ash in the area, but have never had to evacuate (don't live close enough to the wild areas). Sometimes you just have to grab the live critters and go from what I hear.

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  14. Thank you for visiting my blog, Danielle.

    The digital age has made it easier to save photos since we don't have to take tons of albums with us. Important papers would be a must, meds, pets, a change of clothes. People first always!

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  15. I am very thankful that we have never had to evacuate. We have a small RV, so most likely we would take it as we would have our little home on wheels. I do have a list for when we travel, but I would want to add items that would not be on that list that could not be replaced and are very important to us.

    Thank you so much for visiting my little space. It is nice to meet you.

    Hugs ♥ Teri

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  16. We haven't had to evacuate but my list of essentials would be very similar to yours. I'd have to purchase a few more cat carriers for my chickens.

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  17. Thankfully I've never had to evacuate. We have 5 cats and a dog and about 2 years ago we were without power for 5 days - that was horrible.
    Wishing you a lovely upcoming weekend.

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  18. I was woken up one morning to someone hammering on my door to tell me to get out of the building because of a fire. I threw enough clothes on that I was decent, grabbed my wallet and cellphone, and then turned my attention to making sure my pets were safe. Funny thing is, I never even stopped to put shoes on.

    If I had time to plan, I'd grab a couple of items I have that have sentimental value, the USB sticks I use to back up my files (one contains writing related stuff, the other photos and things like that) and my kindle and its charger, as well as the things I grabbed on the day of that fire (wallet, phone... This time with its charger... And pets. I'd make sure to grab some shoes when I left this time too...

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  19. having an extra cat carrier sounds like a good idea. just in case.

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  20. Thank you for posting this. I think of what I would take whenever the fires start, but have never actually made a list that includes the location of each item. Your post has started me thinking again.

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  21. Like you, I've never had to evacuate -- but I've thought about it a great deal. Lizzie would be first, then whatever photos are framed and easy to get; the computer and the box that carries the hard drive and flash drives where other photos have been downloaded; a handful of files from the cabinet -- mortgage, legal, that sort of thing. Then, it's whatever else room there is... some sentimental treasures? Enough clothing to get by? Anything seriously valuable that could be looted. In my house, that's not much! While there is much of sentiment there is little else that couldn't be replaced so long as we were very safe. It's a scary thought...

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  22. I worry about this now and again. I've been buying crates slowly (I have a huge herd) in case something happens. If it's a "leave now" it's just going to be me and the herd. I won't have time to grab anything else with how many I'd have to catch. Once they're out I'd grab my laptop, my photo albums and my financial grab and go bag.

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