The Irvine Fires

As I’m writing this, the fire is 5% contained and burning 12,000 acres of land. No structures have been destroyed, but 100,000 people have been evacuated from their homes. Our home has not been affected because, although we live along the same canyon, we are farther south from the blaze. We have not even been given an evacuation zone code, so there is no need to worry about us at this point.

Our dear family friends have not been so lucky. They and their four dogs live in a zone affected by mandatory evacuation. Therefore, facing fears of losing their home and possessions they hold dear, they have packed up and are safely staying with us… meaning us and our 11-week-old. Lord bless them for putting up with however often she is going to wake up during the night.

It is a pleasure and a joy to be available for our friends and chosen family. Sara and I have always believed that the more we share, the more we have. No better way to teach Ellie young than to welcome our friends into our home as early as Ellie’s 11 weeks. She loves the extra attention and being snuggled and held anyway. So this is a win for her.

As you can imagine, it’s a crazy stressful situation to pack up everything dear to them. They packed up bicycles, a wedding dress, game consoles, paintings and wall art, important papers, and as many clothes as they could. They were very fortunate that they were alerted early morning before 7am that they were in the warning zone of evacuation. Evacuation wasn’t mandatory until about 4pm that afternoon, so they really had time to ensure they could secure their items.

Like many people, it caused Sara and me to think about our evacuation plan. What would we bring with us if we needed to leave immediately? If we were given a day to plan and pack? How do we live according to these values? How do we live prepared just in case?

Sara reminded me that we had a similar situation when we experienced a slab leak in our kitchen two months before Ellie was born. Without running water, we packed up what we felt like we needed to live away from home and things we feel safer bringing with us. Please note that it’s not the same in that those things we left behind were not at risk of destruction, but the need to grab and go felt similar.

In our home, all of our important paperwork like legal documents and identification is in a centralized location. We packaged up our wedding album in a practical briefcase for protection and ease to grab out the door in case of fire. Of course, we would need to pack provisions for a small army now that we have Ellie and Coda to consider – diaper bag, Coda’s bag, food, formula, Ellie clothes, our clothes, simple toiletries (tough for me to narrow down, of course), and a book we’re reading … maybe?

That would probably be a full car for us. Baby stuff and a dog takes up a lot of space.

If we had time to pack up a full day, like yesterday’s scenario, we could take a car ride to someone’s house. Would I pack Sara’s sewing machine? Some of our favorite games from the game cupboard? My baby clothes my parents brought that I promised to pass on to my sister? Anything sentimental from Ellie’s room? Photos in our bedroom of us and our family? Ellie’s baby books we’re working on? What’s in the garage we’d want to keep safe? Probably nothing.

The time to decide this is NOT when the fire department says you are under emergency orders to leave. The time to decide that is while your head is clear. Now that we have Ellie to think of, it makes me want to spend some time on this:

  • Where to store all our vital records for easy access and departure?
  • Should we have a “go bag” ready to go with clothes and simple necessities?
  • What should we save vs what can be replaced by homeowner’s insurance?
  • How quickly could we evacuate if we needed to?

What do you think, Parental Squad? What would be on your list? And how has it changed since having human or fur children?

Published by @electrickduckdesigns

Eight days into motherhood, I needed a place to be myself again. Follow me as I grow into this new role.

One thought on “The Irvine Fires

  1. We had a similar experience when the fires were getting close to us in Oregon. I realized I had very few things that could not be replaced. Mostly photos and a few family heirlooms. Everything fit in one suitcase plus another for clothes and necessities.

    I’ve kept a box of momentos (cards, letters, photos, ticket stubs etc.) for years and have forced myself to keep it to a manageable size. Not everything can have equal sentimentality, if it did it wouldnt be special. So this has forced me to keep only the things that make the cut each time I go through it and really mean something to me. So that stuff was already ready to go.


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