I’ve been watching the news of Hurricane Harvey just like everyone else and seeing its catastrophic effects on Texas with all the flooding and people losing their homes. I’ve also been warily watching the numerous forest fires that are plaguing Montana’s beautiful scenery and wondering if I have anything to fear, as some of them are pretty close to my location.
I’ve never had to face an evacuation and for the first time ever, I find myself pondering what exactly does an evacuation mean? When forced to leave your home, where do you go? Do the people telling you to leave just assume you have somewhere to stay? Are you expected to just have money laying aside for extended hotel stays until your house is deemed safe again? Or is shelter provided by someone in the form of a large building with cots set up like you see on TV shows in times of crisis? I’m sure someone out in reader land is laughing right now at my naïveté but I’m being totally serious here. Where the hell are you expected to go?
I have no local friends where I live. No family that the kids and I could “bunk with” for any time period. No spare money for hotel rooms just busting from my ever empty bank account. The thought of staying in some building, cotted up close to perfect strangers is terrifying to my very introverted self. I need my own bed. My own space. I also just read that most emergency shelters do not allow you to bring your pets with you, so what are you supposed to do with them? Just let them burn/drown because someone may be offended that you have furry family members?
It basically amounts to if you are poor, have animals and no friend/family nearby, the plan of action is for you to die. OK. Got it.
I cannot even imagine the horrors those poor families in Texas and even here in Montana are feeling right now. Displaced from their homes. Their belongings gone. Some irreplaceable. How do you cope with that? Especially while trying to figure out where you go from there.
It’s one thing to be forced out of your home by rising waters too deep to brave, especially if like me you cannot swim and in no way are you floatable. But, to be given an order to evacuate while your home is still standing, still dry, still, at least momentarily safe would be an impossibility for me. I could not simply obey and walk away from all my stuff. Sure, I know what you’re thinking. But it’s just possessions. It’s not as important as your life. I disagree. The baby pictures of my kids are not something I could ever take again. They’re from a time period before cloud storage and digital, where you could just reprint them all. No, these pictures would be well and truly lost if something were to ever happen. Only a time machine would bring them back. I could never just walk away from those. Nor the photos on my walls, of my children.
What of my other stuff as well? The items it took many years to finally accumulate because as a poor person you can’t just up and buy stuff all the time. I would want to save it all and I can promise you that by no stretch of the imagination, would it ever all fit inside my minivan along with 4 humans and 3 animals. Sure, I have renters insurance like most sane, responsible people do.
Trouble is I never really gave much thought as to what catastrophic events it actually covers until just recently and wouldn’t you know, I cannot find my policy anywhere. That’s just priceless! I tried looking online, but that only gave me my dollar amounts. Not a single mention of “Hey lady, that fire that’s burning its way toward you, isn’t covered in your policy. Guess you’re f**ked! Thanks for all the money you’ve paid in though!”
Disclaimer: In no way do I mean to neglect in mentioning the many other states and Canada that are facing out of control wildfires and evacuations. They are just as important and my thoughts and prayers go out to all the families affected in those places as well as Texas and Montana.