“You have 30 minutes to evacuate,” read the text message from WAP Ambassador Ruth Ann Thompson.
The message wasn’t a surprise, but it still sent a bolt of adrenaline through me. My wife, Diane, and I set a timer for 30 minutes and prepared to leave most of our belongings behind.
The text message was part of our road association’s planned virtual evacuation drill. We moved quickly.
First, we grabbed our bulleted list of evac tasks from the fridge. Next, the list of contacts to leave on the kitchen counter. Now move, the clock is ticking.
Our camping gear, pet supplies, and go-bags are always packed and ready to go. Our work computers (a huge hassle not to have them) were next. We were running out of time.
Diane started pulling artwork from the walls. “No!” I say. “We don’t have time, they take up space, and we can live without them.” We closed windows, the valve on the propane tank, and attached the hose to the sprinkler.
Then, we realized that all of our important legal documents were in file cabinets and hadn’t been scanned, uploaded to the cloud, or ready to transport. We left them behind.
Lastly, we loaded our pets Abbey and Deso and pulled out of the driveway.
Eighteen minutes. Faster than we expected but if the evacuation were real those saved minutes could make an enormous difference in our future.
That evening, conversation at the association’s potluck dinner turned to the drill. Ruth Ann mentioned that she and her husband had forgotten food for their dog, Katie. Others said that “the experience was educational and well worth the exercise” and suggested that “it would be beneficial if each household member had their own tasks so tasks aren't duplicated or missed.” One of Diane’s tasks is to choose the personal possessions she can’t live without.
How about you? If a wildfire threatened your home, what couldn’t you live without?
—Dan Miller with contributions by WAP Ambassadors Diane Bush and Ruth Ann Thompson