Disasters Affecting Our Homes and Possessions

Those who know me know that I am usually prepared.  Overprepared.

Whether it is showing up for my speaking engagements with every possible cord or adapter combination…or when working on a genealogy or photo project that has multiple redundancies of everything important saved offsite and in the cloud…I am usually the one with a plan.  And a back-up plan.

I recently listened to a presentation by The Family Curator on disaster preparedness.  It covered the usual perils like fires, floods, tornados and earthquakes–you know, things that wreak total havoc.  As I pondered the presentation, I made a mental checklist of everything I had backed up that could be recovered after a total loss and decided I was in pretty good shape.

But this week I experienced a new kind of unexpected disaster.  A micro-disaster in the grand scheme of things:  a ceiling collapse in my home.

IMG_4969   IMG_4974   IMG_4947

It is unfathomable how much damage can be done by a mere 5×5 foot section of drywall, or more precisely, the blown-in fiberglass insulation that came crashing down 20 feet from the attic along with the water-logged drywall.

Dust.  I hate dust.  But now my entire home is covered in a thick film of attic dust from the debris that catapulted into all of the living spaces in my second and main levels.  It makes breathing difficult.  It makes your skin and eyes dry and itchy.  And it is completely unsafe for kids and pets to walk on the floors or touch anything.

IMG_4972It makes me sad to see what I’d normally consider insignificant things–like the dogs’ favorite toys–now covered with debris.  Sure, the dog toys can easily be replaced for a few bucks, but it stirs a deep sentiment that was previously hidden under the surface of the subconscious:  a sense of loss.

Being displaced from your regular living space makes you think about things.  You can’t follow your normal routine, you can’t have a meal in your own home, and you certainly cannot access any of your treasured family photos or memorabilia.  Your office becomes a lawn chair on your front porch where you can at least breathe fresh air.

The clean-up efforts began today and will continue for several more days.  Next will come the restoration efforts that will take several weeks to patch, repair and repaint.  And then life will go on.

20150609_14170620150609_141654  20150609_141903

I now have a new appreciation for those who have gone through major disasters.  Although my family’s inconveniences are only temporary, life will eventually return to normal after a few weeks.

As I continue to ponder, I have some questions for you to consider:

  • When faced with the threat of a disaster, what would you grab and take with you if you only had a few moment’s notice?
  • If you must leave bulky items behind, how can you protect them from water or debris?
  • Do you have your most precious items stored in a location that is out of harm’s way, in appropriate containers to protect the items from common disasters?
  • Do you have supplies and tools on hand to immediately clean up a disaster or prevent further damage?
  • If you cannot access your originals, are backups readily available?

If you can’t immediately answer these questions, don’t you think it is time to put together your own disaster preparedness plan?

Please comment if you have ever experienced a loss of sentimental family photos, heirlooms, or other information, whether physical or digital.  What did you do to recover?