The Dreaded Knock on the Door

The phone rings in the middle of the night — an ungodly hour — that suddenly awakens you. Your heart and mind races as you try to calm and reason with yourself.
It’s probably just a wrong number dialed.Yet, you are instantly alert. Who could it be? Did something happen to someone you love or care about?With dread, you answer the insistent ringing.Hello?We all shudder at the thought. The call that could signal that something is drastically wrong. The fear that we could lose something dear to us.And yet, the one most disturbing event we hope to never experience is the dreaded knock on the front door from an emergency responder. As you rush to answer the door — There they stand and you are told to immediately evacuate your home. No time to hesitate. You must leave NOW.This frightening experience has happened to many these last number of weeks… to those who have been asked to leave their homes because of hurricanes or firestorms. The frequency of this is unnerving.

Are you prepared in case this might happen to you?I do not tend to be a doomsdayer, someone who is given to instilling fear, foreboding, or predictions of impending calamity. However, the natural disasters, along with the human caused destruction, has brought my awareness to one of preparedness.I had to ask myself, “Am I prepared if this was to happen to me?” And, my honest answer, is no.Here’s the crazy part — I have been through many natural disasters myself, experienced them first hand. Lived in areas with tornadoes. Was evacuated from my home because of a hurricane. Was evacuated from my church in the Oakland hills due to a firestorm. And, I was trapped on the 32nd floor of a high rise building during the big earthquake in ’89 in San Francisco.How, then, could I not be more prepared myself?It does beg me to ask that of you?BUT, what exactly would you pull together to insure you are prepared? What would you have at the ready in your ‘go-bag?’Let me just clarify — I am not an expert in all the areas you would be wise to prepare. However, the one area that I do wish to impart are what key personal and financial documents you would need to bring with you should you have to evacuate or leave your home.Ideally, you need to have these documents gathered in advance — stored in an airtight, fire-protected safe. You do not want to be hurriedly trying to gather these upon that knock on the door.

When asked to evacuate, your only priority is your safety. Do not delay evacuation trying to locate any document.Of course, this is only the personal and financial records you need to have at the ready. Other items to include, as suggested by those who have lost everything in a disaster, were photos, sentimental jewelry, and a laptop.One friend shared with me that she took her deceased husband’s t-shirt with her, a non-replaceable memorable keepsake.How about you? What would you have in your ‘go-bag’ at the ready?As to my own preparedness — even those of us who have come through disasters fairly unscathed, we too, put our heads in the sand. I realize that I have been complacent, assuming that I would not be the one who got the knock on the door.Seems time to use my own checklist!