“Counting Our Blessings” is the final chapter in the continuing story about the loss of our home in the San Diego Wildfires in 2007. To read previous posts in the series, click on the links at the end of this post.
Where do I start? Counting our blessings, that is? We have so many people to thank and so many blessings to count. I suppose that it’s equally worth noting that this post launches in November, the month where Americans take a few moments (days) and count their blessings.
For those of you that have been following our story, you know that I launched this series on October 21, 2012, the 5th anniversary of the start of the wildfires in San Diego County, known as the Witch Fire, that caused so much damage for so many people and families and brought this county (San Diego County) to its knees. Approximately 1,000,000 people were displaced as this crisis unfolded over several days and then finally, mercifully, our various governmental agencies declared it “contained” on October 31st. Ten days of continuing destruction.
We lost our home on October 22, 2007 and with many things on our side and opportunities presenting themselves left and right, we were able to rebuild and move home in 13 months time. I don’t know if that’s a record; what I do know is that five years later, many people who were victims of this wildfire have yet to “recover” and some may never “recover”.
I’m mentioning “recovery” because during the run of this series, Hurricane Sandy unleashed her forces on our East Coast neighbors wrecking havoc of biblical proportions. All over the news are stories of victims and survivors and talk of recovery and rebuilding. For those that have suffered minor losses, such as the flooding of a first floor or basement, the road to “recovery” is overwhelming and locating resources to help will be fraught with frustration and anxiety. For those that have suffered major catastrophic loss (such as the total destruction of their home), the road to “recovery” will be a long and winding one, full of many difficult moments and depending on their level of insurance coverage, also fraught with frustration, anxiety and overwhelming decisions to make. Whatever level of loss the Hurricane Sandy victims incur, it is too much. And, each of them will have significant challenges in their individual roads to “recovery.”
While our leaders say they are “with us every step of the way” during the recovery process, they don’t mean that in a literal way. The victims of Hurricane Sandy are on their own learning to navigate unfamiliar territory. But, I’m hopeful that family, friends, neighbors and co-workers will reach out to the victims and provide support on multiple levels as family, friends, neighbors and co-workers did for me and Charlie in 2007. The “kicker” to the Hurricane Sandy story is that many more people are “victims” than were “victims” in the San Diego County Witch Fire. Millions as opposed to a few thousand. That’s why I’m saying the Hurricane Sandy victims are “on their own”. Probably most of the people the Hurricane Sandy victims know are also victims themselves – whole towns were wiped out.
The only way I know how to help is to donate to disaster relief efforts, such as the American Red Cross. We live on opposite sides of the country and can’t physically help. I know that various government and private entities have sent relief workers into this disaster area to provide assistance and if you are one of those people, I thank you. I thank you for your willingness to drop everything and fly across country into an unknown situation.
In Chapter Sixteen, The Backup Plan, Chapter Seventeen, What’s in Your First Aid Kit, and Chapter Eighteen, Emergency Planning Checklist, I provide suggestions on emergency preparedness and planning. In Chapter Seventeen, What’s in Your First Aid Kit, I’ve provided a FREE printable checklist of suggested items to stock a first aid kit. In Chapter Eighteen, Emergency Planning Checklist, I’ve provided a FREE printable 12-page Emergency Planning Project Checklist to get you started on making headway in an arduous undertaking.
What I want to point out, though, is that even if you take all of the steps outlined in my suggestions, NOTHING can prepare you for a devastating, catastrophic loss. While you will have the things you took during the evacuation and you will have your family and your pets, and you will have anything that you are able to salvage after the loss, you will still be starting basically from scratch.
I’m not stating the obvious to discourage any of you from making an emergency plan and taking steps to lessen your loss. In fact, I encourage you to do it. Because if you do some of these projects, you will have the following (besides your family, pets and a few belongings):
- Project #7 – you will have copies of valuable papers with information that will make it easier for you to contact agencies, vendors, etc. (such as bank info, tax info, insurance info)
- Project #8 – you will have a household inventory list with pictures stored at a backup location, whether in your safety deposit box or on a “cloud” service
- Project #9 – you will have computer information and digital photos stored at a backup location or on a “cloud” service, even if you left your computer behind
All of these things will save you countless hours of research and frustration and help move you forward to recovery.
So, back to the “blessings” part of this post. In addition to being thankful for Charlie, our two families and our beautiful cat, Coco, I’m thankful for the following:
Firefighters and other emergency workers who put themselves in harms way every day to save people, animals, property, etc.
I’m thankful that I’m American and live in America. Even though we aren’t perfect (who is?), I still believe we live in the greatest country, with the greatest people in the world. I am grateful that my ancestors came here from Ireland (a beautiful country full of beautiful people) and laid down roots and that I was born here.
I’m thankful for my friends. I have so many friends it’s hard to count them! How lucky am I? And, I’m not going to list them in this post for fear I’ll leave someone out! Each of you knows who you are; each of you is important to me; and I love each of you and thank my lucky stars that you are a part of my life. Even though we don’t get together as often as we would like, because of time constraints in all of our “toot sweet” lives, I think of all of you often and am always sending “good vibrations” your way!
Even though natural disasters happen and seem to happen more frequently, I’m thankful for this beautiful planet that we live on and the various scenic wonders it holds as well as the many gifts it provides us.
While I am fascinated by history and love reading about history and reading historical novels, I’m thankful that I live NOW – in this century. We are so blessed with so many modern conveniences that make our lives better and more productive. Without computers and the internet, I would not be able to share our “fire” story with anyone interested in reading it and I would not be able to “spread the word” about emergency preparedness planning.
So, that’s my list – my list of thanks for the blessings I have. What are you thankful for?
(other posts in the fire series)
- Prologue – Any Way the Wind Blows
- Chapter One – The Valley That Time Forgot
- Chapter Two – Eye of the Storm
- Chapter Three – In the Blink of an Eye
- Chapter Three.One – Too Far From Home (Tiffany’s story)
- Chapter Four – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- Chapter Five – In a Blue Funk
- Chapter Six – Back to Square One
- Chapter Seven – One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
- Chapter Eight – Not Me, Why Me, Who Me, It’s Me!
- Chapter Nine – The Whole Kit and Caboodle
- Chapter Ten – Feathering the Nest
- Chapter Eleven – The Blind Leading the Blind
- Chapter Twelve – Apple Pie Order
- Chapter Thirteen – All Hands on Deck!
- Chapter Fourteen – In the Lap of Luxury
- Chapter Fifteen – Much of Muchness
- Chapter Sixteen – The Backup Plan
- Chapter Seventeen – What’s in Your First Aid Kit?
- Chapter Eighteen – Emergency Planning Checklist