It's been a week. Fires that started last Sunday continue to blaze away just a few minutes to the north. Everyone I know here has been affected in some way. The damage has been devastating.
For now, the focus is on supporting the firefighters and evacuees, collecting bottled water and clean socks, diapers and baby formula. Looking ahead, finding more permanent housing will be the next challenge, as our local high school gym reverts to being a gym instead of a makeshift hotel.
But, what kind of lessons can we take away from this so far? I've picked up a few, and more will probably pop up before it's over. Here's my initial top three list:
1. Have an emergency escape plan. Many evacuees had less than five minutes to get out of their homes, and left with nothing but the pajamas they were wearing. Their advice is to have a "go bag" in the car.
2. Check your insurance policy. Know what is covered and what isn't. After a disaster is not the best time to discover that your plan doesn't cover that type of problem. Having a copy of that policy in the "go bag" couldn't hurt, either.
3. Maintain defensible space around your home. Clear bushes and shrubs that can burn. Keep flammable materials away from the house.
Another lesson that I've taken away from this is how ephemeral our "things" are. They can be gone in an instant.
But, losing those things is devastating and so many people have lost so much this week. Our hearts are with them all.