Those were the words we were hoping not to hear on Monday evening March 6. We had never been told to leave our home during a crisis. The fires were burning west and north of 82nd Street near Hendricks and North and East of us near 82nd Street and Plum with 40-50 mile an hour winds blowing from the SW.
There were lots of warnings on TV so we decided to get some clothes and our meds and get them into suitcases. Once that was accomplished around 7:30 we checked the TV again to see what was going on with the fires around us.
Things were still the same but then I got two alerts on the cell phone to evacuate now. That puts you into a panic mode, the area to evacuate was from 30th (thought that was pretty extreme) to 95th Street or the Highlands and from Hendricks to Plum.
Our home is dead center of the evacuation area and so is our Blue Spruce addition. After the alerts we decided to drive around the edge of the addition, to see how close the fire was. We noticed everyone on the East and North streets of the addition that butted up against the open pasture were watering down their grass and some were watering the ditches across the street from their homes. There were quite a few of the residents in the area running their sprinklers.
It was a strange and eerie feeling to see the red glow surrounding the addition on the north and west and the north and east. There wasn’t a red glow from the SW nor from the SE, which was good with the wind in the SW.
With the rolling sand hills around us it was hard to tell just how close the fire was. I have seen film on TV of fires and the glow that is seen from a distance but it’s really awesome when you see it up close and personal. We just hoped that the wind didn’t change causing the fire to jump Plum or 82nd into the dry pastureland that surrounds our addition on two sides. That would have given it a quick and easy access to our homes only a mile away.
We came back home and loaded the car with the two suitcases full of clothes in case the sheriff came to the door to tell us we had to get out. We put our computers and chargers in their carrying cases and then into the cars. I made sure I had my zip drives; one with all my stories on it and one with the book about my home town safely tucked into my purse.
I also took the manuscript for the book so I didn’t have to print it again. I had been on hold to get in with the publisher, to take the book to them, but Tuesday I emailed them to see if I could get an appointment and hand over the book and manuscript.
Then once we had those things in the trunks of both of the cars we looked at each other and said “now what”? We could get some more things in the cars, but the next question was what do you take?
We decided we would take items that we couldn’t live without and that meant the most to us. So how do you make those choices? Do you take the things with monetary worth or what criteria do you use to decide.
Most of what I chose, besides my jewelry, was mementos. I grabbed the two photo albums of our two therapy dogs and their work. The album for each cocker is as big as or bigger than most kid’s albums. Then our personal photo albums went into the cars. We also loaded the two paintings of the cockers we had shared our lives with.
Then I chose some things that belonged to my Grandmother that you have heard so much about. I had to save a few of them (her bible, a handkerchief and an apron she had crossed stitched.) My husband had some things from his family that he didn’t want to lose and some things my parents gave us. All of theses items are priceless to us, but worth nothing to anyone else. These were next to go into the trunks and back seat of the cars.
Then I sat down and thought about what else I couldn’t live without. It was amazing that once we had the family mementos and other items that had no real monetary worth, but meant so much, there wasn’t much else that we couldn’t live without. You can replace the clothes and the stuff that fills the house but the mementos are irreplaceable.
Luckily things started to calm down around 10 and we could see the glow was less or was farther away from us which meant they must be getting a handle on the fires, and we decided not to leave. We left everything in the car just in case things changed and we needed to get out but stayed in our home that night.
So, if you ever have to decide what you want to take (which must fit into one or two cars) and be ready to leave your home in less than an hour, think about what you have that you could not live without. Hopefully you will never have to answer that or get a text message that says: evacuate now. To contact Sandy: [email protected]