My experience living through the Oklahoma wildfires of 2015, though scary as hell at the time, and still unsettling to think about, is nothing compared to the hell that Californians are going through now. I had my truck packed, my cat caddies and dog leashes ready, and time to get away. The ash fell on us, but my family lost nothing but sleep and security.
We can still see the scars around us, and the new homes of those who had insurance. Drought, high temps, wind, and human negligence caused the multiple fires. Droughts have gotten more frequent and more extreme here in the center of the continent, but the real apocalypse has started in California and Puerto Rico, along the Gulf coast of Texas and Mexico, in Indonesia and Japan, on the east coast of North America, in vulnerable places around the world.
As the man-made calamities gets more calamitous, I’ve come to realize the flaw in my ready-for-anything plan. I’m not.
Sure, I have stored food. I have a garden, canning skills, and chickens. I have a source of water and my beloved Big Berkey water filter. These things only work if I don’t have to evacuate. Or if I can take them with me.
I’ve devised all sorts of plans to stash canning supplies, jars of canned foods, and camping gear in a trailer if we have to evacuate. I have a bug-out bag. In fact, after reading Hatchet (by Gary Paulsen) with my fourth-grade reading lab boys, we all had bug-out bags, hatchets not included.
It’s time to come up with better bug-out plans. The first order of business is a plan to communicate with family, friends, and neighbors. It’s also time to let go, mentally, of things that aren’t important and to secure backup for the things—bank papers, account numbers, insurance information—that will make recovery easier once the people we love are accounted for.
Meanwhile, is there a resource on the west coast that could pair groups of us here with needy families there? Let’s make sure the people who have lost everything can rebuild. How can we help?