1-2-3 Go! Evacuating as an art form.
Last summer I looked out the cabin window and saw this:
That's smoke billowing up from a forest fire about 10 miles from the cabin.
I did what any sane person would do. Packed the car, booked the kennel for Carlos and left town.
About halfway to Denver, my friend that I was going to stay with called me. While I had asked her if I could come, I neglected to tell her I was actually on the way.
Fortunately she welcomed me with open arms.
I spent the night in Denver and had a lovely visit with my friend. The next morning I went to Colorado Springs and had lunch with another friend. Then I headed back to the cabin, after being reassured that the fire was being held at bay.
You know that saying "like mother, like daughter"?
Guess who got to evacuate last week?
Belle lives near West Palm Beach in Florida, which just happened to be where the weather prognosticators were betting on Hurricane Matthew to make landfall. (Well, one of the spots. I'd love to have the job security of a weather forecaster. Wrong half the time and still they keep their jobs.)
So basically she was looking out her window at this. Ok, looking at her TV....
The Grinch of Hurricanes
We had talked about evacuating over the previous weekend and, being a Texas girl experienced in hurricane hoopla, she had said "Nah! We're staying." Her room mate however had other ideas. Being a Colorado girl, totally NOT experienced in the ways of hurricanes, she was a nervous wreck.
Then the hurricane turned a bit, looking like it would actually hit Florida rather than the run up the side of it.
That sealed the deal. I told her if she was evacuating, to do it early. I've seen hurricane gridlock and it is neither pretty nor fun. Wednesday evening about 10:30pm she called me. Should we go? Um. I thought you were already on the road. Yes, go. If it isn't raining, go now.
The good thing about being a bartender is you tend to be a night owl. Those girls loaded up the car and headed out, driving all night. They called about 4:30am on Thursday from Tallahassee. After checking online and getting nowhere they did what any kid would do...call mom. I also checked online and then started calling the hotel 800 numbers. Florida is sold out. Georgia is sold out. All the coastal people are moving inland. How about Mobile, Alabama?
They decided on Montgomery, Alabama. It was only another 3 or 4 more hours. Even better, it was only about 4 more hours from the little sister.
I spoke to the nicest, nicest hotel reservation agent at the Hilton. Booked the Hilton Garden Inn in Montgomery at a discounted rate for the girls and the little dog. No dogs allowed at the hotel but because it was a special circumstance, they were making exceptions for the evacuees.
Friday morning they headed to Oxford, Mississippi to see Bunny at Ole Miss. It was a surprise. And thank goodness there was not a football game. Hotel rooms are hard to come by on a game weekend there. The Marriott accepted dogs but they were full. The Hampton had rooms but were not as agreeable about the dog. I guess two states away is a bit far to use the "evacuation" excuse for a break.
BUT! Someone suggested I call the Graduate Hotel in downtown Oxford as they accept dogs. It's also a darling little boutique hotel and I knew it was going to be more money than any of us wanted to spend. A few minutes on the phone with their front desk and I cannot say enough wonderful things. She was so understanding and gave the girls a discounted rate and waived the pet fee. Hallelujah!
So the sister was VERY surprised to have Belle, the room mate AND Dakota waiting for her in her dorm room.
They all stayed at the hotel for the night. The Graduate was declared adorable and so cute and everyone was so sweet. Everyone loved Dakota. There's just something about a tiny three legged dog....
One leg in front works.
He's a Tri-Pawed.
By Saturday morning Matthew had moved on out of Florida leaving relatively little damage. Girls and dog headed home. They made a stop in Orlando to visit with a friend and have dinner, then on to the house. 1:30am arrival. Belle's room mate drove the whole way back - she's a beast.
900 miles. Each way.
1800 miles in 72 hours.
O! To be young.
And their house? Nothing. No damage. No trees down. No alligators waiting in their beds. The electricity had gone out for a bit, nothing more.
This evacuation thing is getting to be a trend.
And just my two cents but here's two words....Global Warming.
I've lived sixty years without ever having to evacuate from any place. Now in less than six months two of the five people in this family have had to leave home. The forest fire was the result of a lightning strike and then fueled by dry weather and high winds. Hurricane Matthew was a Category 5 hurricane. That's as big as they get. Weather extremes are becoming more and more common.
What to do? I don't know.
But I think this is a trend.
Practice your packing.
What to pack if you need to evacuate:
Anything you can't bear to lose. (Belle was in a panic because she realized she left her prom dress. That dress has followed her everywhere. It hangs on display in her room. She would have been crushed if some alligator was wearing it now.)
Computers, chargers, laptops.
Clothes. The immediate stuff and the hard to replace stuff.
Files. At the cabin I have a plastic file case with bills, insurance papers, bank stuff. That came with me.
PASSPORT. BIRTH CERTIFICATE. SOCIAL SECURITY CARD. LEGAL DOCUMENTS.
Address book if it isn't in your phone. Or if, like mine, it has info that you don't keep in your phone.
THE PETS! Pet shot records. Pet food. Make sure pets are wearing collars with tags and phone numbers. Put your cell phone number on the tag, not the home number. You aren't going to be at home, remember? Microchip your animals.
Money. A little cash on hand can come in very handy.
Photos. Sentimental items.
For a more complete list, click here.
And probably the best bit of advice is to stop and think NOW what you would need/want to take if you had to leave your house tomorrow and possibly never return. You just never know when you might have to leave suddenly, so be a Boy Scout and Be Prepared!