Disasters Affecting Our Homes and Possessions

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.

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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.

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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?



Save Your Photos Day Press Release

Save Your Photos Day Press Release

SaveYourPhotosDay Logo

Learn How to Protect Photos Before a Disaster Strikes
One Year after the 2013 Flood, Colorado Save Your Photo Alliance Members Host
Save Your Photos Day – Saturday, September 27th


For immediate release                                                                                                            August 19, 2014

Now that it is summer and the sun is shining, most people are not thinking about planning for the next disaster in Colorado. However, almost a year after the 1,000-Year Flood, it is a great time to consider how you can protect one of your most treasured assets: your photos, photo albums and other memorabilia.

SaveYourPhotosAlliance LogoIn honor of the one-year anniversary of the 2013 Colorado flood, the same organizations that came together to rescue more than 20,000 flood-damaged photos and over 240 videos & films, are now co-sponsoring Save Your Photos Day. We’re planning to help hundreds of thousands of people save their photos in one day! This international event is organized by the Save Your Photo Alliance, and will promote Save Your Photos Day events happening all over the world.  Events will include presentations and hands-on workshops on collecting, organizing, and safeguarding photos, documents, videos, and other memorabilia for current enjoyment, as well as for generations that follow. Presentations will also provide information on how to prepare for, and hopefully prevent, an unexpected loss from large and small accidents, fire, wind, and water.

Colorado members of the Save Your Photos Alliance will be hosting two events on Saturday, September 27th, one in Boulder and one in Lone Tree. The events will include free, educational workshops in morning and afternoon sessions shown below. FREE photo scanning (up to 25 loose prints per participant) is being offered on-site, 10:00 to 4:00 at both locations.

Each of the host organizations – Couragent, maker of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, Memories to Digital, DigiDeena Consulting and Picture This Organized – has extensive experience working with photos. Additionally, Gordon Nuttall, CEO of Couragent, Memories to Digital owner Gwen Scherer, and Deena Coutant of DigiDeena Consulting have experience with rescuing photos and other media in a disaster situation. The three business leaders worked together to organize a 6 location, 80+ volunteer photo rescue effort during the 2013 Colorado flood. Nuttall was also instrumental in helping rescue photos damaged in Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“The most important thing is to get the word out so people can take action to prepare their memories today before a disaster strikes,” says Gwen Scherer. “Many of these priceless items can be preserved with a little work in advance, and we’re here to help.” Deena Coutant adds, “The planning and organizing that goes into these preservation activities actually allows people to enjoy their photos and other memorabilia in the process of preparing the preservation plan—it’s a win-win.”

The two host locations of the Denver-area Save Your Photos Day events are:

  • Memories to Digital – Boulder: 2525 Arapahoe Ave in the Village Shopping Center near McGuckin Hardware
  • Memories to Digital – Lone Tree: 8481 S. Yosemite in the Home Depot shopping center


Both locations will offer the same, free presentations and workshops, with both morning and afternoon sessions:

  • 10:30a and 1:30p      Why Save Your Photos? (Save Your Photos Day intro)
  • 10:45a and 1:45p       Organizing Photos for Digitization
  • 11:00a and 2:00p      Storing & Preserving Photos
  • 11:15a and 2:15p        Scanning Options and Best Practices
  • 11:30a and 2:30p       Backing-Up and Cloud Storage Options
  • 11:45a and 2:45p       Emergency Readiness
  • 12:00p and 3:00p     Organizing Digital Images


FREE Scanning Offer:

FREE scanning of up to 25 loose prints per participant will be offered on-site at both locations on a first-come, first-served basis.


About the Save Your Photos Alliance

The Save Your Photos Alliance’s goal is to prevent the unforeseen loss of valued family photo treasures by educating people on what to do BEFORE a disaster strikes.  The Save Your Photos Alliance is committed to being the world’s premier organization for the SAFEGUARDING, RECOVERING, RESTORING, and REUNITING of photos and treasured memorabilia before and after disasters occur. It strives to accomplish this through a unique blending of individual professional service providers, associations, government and not-for-profit organizations whose common pursuit is to educate, reach out and serve.

About Couragent and the Flip-Pal mobile scanner

Couragent is a Colorado corporation based in Fort Collins, and maker of The Flip-Pal mobile scanner.  The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is the world’s original color flatbed scanner for photos, cherished memorabilia, and documents that does not require a computer to operate. The patented flip-and-scan technology allows scanning photos in place without removing them from an album or frame. The included EasyStitch software quickly and automatically reassembles multiple scans into their larger original.  For more information, visit

About Memories to Digital

Memories to Digital is a local, Colorado company dedicated to helping people enjoy, share and preserve their photo, video, film and audio memories in a digital format. Started in 2003, Memories to Digital has stores in Boulder and Lone Tree with a full-range of services to digitize photo, film, video & audio media or create custom-edited productions from the digital memories. Visit or find Memories to Digital on Facebook.

About DigiDeena Consulting

Deena Coutant is a professional genealogist who uses modern technology to facilitate successful search, storage and sharing strategies for family historians in the digital age.  Her company, DigiDeena Consulting, educates the community through group training sessions and individual coaching, conducts client research and review, and also offers services related to photo organization and digitization.

About Picture This Organized

Picture This Organized is a Denver Metro based business uniquely qualified to help families manage their photo collections.  Photos, memorabilia and home media are viewed as a cherished glimpse into each family’s history.  Picture This Organized offers premium services for organizing & digitizing print and digital media, backup and photo sharing solutions, and custom designed photo books and slideshows.  Owner and founder, Julie Kessler, is a certified member of the Association of Personal Photo Organizers and a board member of the Colorado chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. For more information, visit or look for us on Facebook.


The Save Your Photos Alliance Member contacts for these events are:

Gwen Scherer
Memories to Digital

Deena Coutant
DigiDeena Consulting

Gordon Nuttall
Couragent, Inc.

Julie Kessler
Picture This Organized