Emergencies put priorities into focus

Nothing like an immediate evacuation notice to let you know what's really important to you.

We are materialists, you and I.

I don’t mean that in a negative sense: it’s simply a trait of ours. Whether it’s collecting the odd pebble on the beach or rare and hugely expensive paintings, we have “things” that we love, or at least enjoy.

Most of us don’t let it go too far. A few nick nacs, collector’s spoons, a closet full of fabric, a garage full of tools… And then there are hoarders, but that’s something else.

Over the weekend, many of our community members were faced with evacuation because of the Spatsum Creek fire. Some of them left and took the things that mattered to them; others stayed put but they still made up a mental inventory of what they would take if they had to leave right away.

It’s often enlightening what we decide to take with us and what to leave behind. And an emergency is often no time to make that decision, which is why Emergency Preparedness workers keep telling us to plan ahead – make grab ‘n go bags to leave in your car, make escape routes, etc. I received an email from an animal rights group on Sunday urging those facing evacuation to plan ahead for your pets. While I agree with the plan ahead part, the message came too late.

The last town I lived in up north was evacuated in 2001. Being part of the Municipal Emergency Plan committee, I knew about planning ahead, and did. The day of the evacuation, I was out of town. So much for plans of what I would take in an emergency.

My partner was the MEP co-ordinator for the town and left the house to find out what was happening before evacuation was ordered. It turned out well, and we all returned home that evening, but it makes you think about the things that are near and dear to you and what you’d be willing to risk your life to protect and save.

You never look at your posessions the same way again, knowing that you’d leave them to burn if you had to.

It’s different for all of us, but for me, my family is what matters most – both my two-legged and four-legged family members.

Wendy Coomber is editor of the Ashcroft-Cache Creek Journal

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