Winds shift unexpectedly; a wildfire is headed straight toward your home. You have 20 minutes to evacuate. What do you take with you? Would you be able to choose? Remarkably, most people do not dwell on the idea that everything materialistic could be taken away in a fiery instance. For some, this idea becomes a reality when faced with immediate evacuation in a natural disaster threat. What of those “materialistic” items have enough value to merit worthy of saving? The victims of the 2020 North American wildfires had to grapple with this genuine question.
“If I had only a few moments to choose my most valuable possessions from a fire, it would be a very difficult decision,” senior Mia Coppola said. “Assuming all my loved ones are already safe, I think my next choice would be the photo albums I have been making for years. These albums have pictures of almost every significant event, and important person in my life and they are something I would definitely want to save.”
Memories, although they can fade and alter over time, are something that can be taken with us anywhere. In a situation such as this, people tend to take things of value. But what is valuable differs from person to person. Some items are a pure necessity, such as medication, food, toiletries, and clothes, and some things have a sentimental significance that our hearts could not bear to live without.
“I would take my journals with me because they mean a lot to me,” junior Sydni Bazzle said. “I’m able to see growth within myself when I look back and read my journals. I would also take my Bible, which was specially painted for me by a friend of mine, and has helped me grow spiritually. The Bible is something that motivates me and keeps me going. It is very, very difficult for me to choose which items to bring, but if I absolutely had to, I would bring those items, along with my family, of course!”
What is left behind is at risk of being gone forever. Though there is not much time, there is a certainty that what means the most will not be forgotten.
“The first would be my puppy, Jace. Although there are many puppies of his breed in the world, he cannot be replaced,” junior Jasmine Moore-Marshall said. “I would take the gold necklace that lays on my nightstand, that my grandmother left to me; it is all I have left of her. The final thing I would grab is my scrapbook, it holds so many precious photos, letters, and captured moments that I have been collecting since seventh grade.”
While the peril of wildfires do not concern our area as much, we are no strangers to natural disasters. These are real situations that intimidate our lives; in 2020 alone the U.S. suffered 10 weather/climate disasters, exceeding one billion dollars in losses and damage. These threats cannot be taken lightly. Perhaps our encounters with hurricanes and flooding in the past five years have given us enough experience with devastation. These events have even prepared some for the possibility of future unforeseen disasters.
“This is an interesting situation. It reminds me of evacuating from my house with Harvey,” counselor Tammy Morrow said. “I took my kids with me, my two dogs, I quickly put a box of legal documents together, and I tried to gather as many family albums as I could. I took irreplaceable things. I regret not taking more, so the lesson I learned through my evacuation experience is to keep the things you will take with you in one place.”