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Cathy's Been TELLING Me to Test My Disaster Recovery Plan! This Was a Good Time.


Funny story… my last blogging date zipped past and I missed my publish date. Ironic, because I actually had a topic to write on, I just hadn’t done the writing. Usually I am desperately trying to think of what is pertinent and timely.

The topic… disaster recovery plans. Yep. Perhaps a little too pertinent and timely.

That was Friday the 22nd. At the time there was a lot of news out here about the High Park fire up near Fort Collins, Colorado. Over 250 homes had been destroyed; it was the worst in Colorado history for structural damage.  It was a pretty big deal here.

Today I write from my home office in Colorado Springs, Colorado; the new record holder for the worst fire in Colorado history, destroying 347 homes with damage to many, many others.  The city is still very much on edge. As I write I hear a lightning strike and force myself to not go to the back deck to check on things. I hear a siren as a fire truck goes by and assure myself those two things are unrelated. I give up and turn the scanner back on, just because the reassuring voices of the firefighters have been calming my nerves for over a week and I am not ready to let them go.

My family knows I deal with worry and stress by planning. They’ve learned not to make too much fun of me over the years, but they’ve definitely given me some ribbing. A couple of weeks ago I dragged out an old evacuation plan I did the summer of the Hayman fire in 2002. It’s been shoved in the kitchen file for an emergency, but never used.  I decided updating would be in order. It’s a prioritized list of things to grab. It starts with the cats and ends with “grab more clothes if you have time”.

Because I am a fairly messy person the list was still on the kitchen counter with some edits and additions to enter on the 23rd. Our neighborhood was put on a pre-evacuation, then evacuation, notice and the family was able to reference that as we all moved through the house packing things.  It made the whole process more calm and allowed us to not think, just do.  

Fast forward two stressful days during which we refined our packing (no longer were photo albums and underwear mixed in a laundry bin, we got all fancy with boxes and suitcases!) and stored a fair amount of items at Jay’s office. We were happy that the only structure gone was a shed at a local camp, but continuing to live out of suitcases, because the weather forecast was showing some make or break days Monday and Tuesday. By Tuesday afternoon the fire was two ridges west.  During the 4:00 news conference the neighborhood to the west transitioned to mandatory evacuation. I realized we’d probably be moved up the list to pre-evacuation. We’d had some folks out of their homes for 3 days at this time, with nothing but smoke to contend with, so I was still pretty calm. I told my daughter to pack her things in her car before she left for work, because I thought we might get evacuated and it was just less for me to contend with, especially since we’d have one less vehicle to pack once she left.

I decided to go for a walk. I had wrapped up work for the day, I was a little stir crazy and stressed, but hanging in there.  A walk seemed like the perfect thing. There were a lot of folks on the street looking at the thick smoke rolling in. I chatted with Jay to let him know Peregrine is evacuating and I expected any moment that we will bump up to pre-evacuation.  

As I got to the park, about 6 houses down,  and see the fire has jumped a ridge and is now headed down into the residential area about 2 miles away.  I decided I didn’t care what kind of evacuation order we had; we were getting the heck out of there. By this time the wind had picked up, the smoke was growing exponentially and the girls and I kicked it into high gear. During what was a terrifying time, we were able to know exactly what to do. With minimal dithering and panic we packed up a ton of stuff into two cars and were ready to hit the road in about 20 or 30 minutes.  They’ll never tease me about my list again!

So what do you get? You get the pictures, the photo albums, and kids’ art projects, the things that hold memories and can’t be recreated. Every time I would start to get sidetracked I would just repeat “I can buy it on Amazon, I can buy it on Amazon” over and over again. Yes, the pitch raised and as the ashes fell it became a bit maniacal, but I kept reminding myself “You can buy it on AMAZON!!!”

What don’t you get? Well if you plan ahead, a whole lot! I did get laptops, iPad, and every charger I could grab. I didn’t need to worry about computers. Why? Because I know that everything I need is backed up on Mozy or stored on ACAConnect, Google Docs or in Dropbox. There’s so little data on my computer I had the luxury of not caring.

I didn’t have to get a post-it note with a bunch of passwords. Why? LastPass stores them all for me, in a password protected vault.  

I didn’t have to get a list of bookmarks for all the sites I use for work. Why? They are stored in Xmarks. So my bookmark tool bar looks the same on any computer any time. Even if I am at the library working I can log in and get to my bookmarks online.

Even before Tuesday, when we were still calm I didn’t have anything to get out of our filing cabinet. A lot of items are in a safe deposit box. But all the financial statements and info are all securely stored online. That is the joy of going paperless.  

To realize that my business and financial life were not being threatened while my memories were, was a huge relief and let me use what little sanity I had for the things that cannot be recreated. I encourage you to look around and think about what you would take? Or what would you lose if your house or office were destroyed in a fire or flood or other natural disaster.

There’s a great big “cloud” out there. Make sure you are using it!

You’ve got time now to plan for a disaster. Do it. Test it. And don’t worry about your family teasing you. They will thank you later.

1 comment



07-05-2012 03:09 PM

And, the one thing Arlene learned to put on her evauation list, right after grab the cats.... grab the kitty littler scoop!