It seems that storms are getting stronger, with more damage the past decade or so. Every year there are several places around the globe that get devastating damage. Superstorm Sandy has me thinking more than any other disaster. Maybe it is because I know people in New York and New Jersey, and know that area fairly well myself. Other disasters just didn't feel as real to me.
I live in Northeast Ohio, a distance away from Lake Erie. This area has few natural disasters. There is an occasional tornado, with occasional wind or hail damage, but nothing major in this area that I know of. We have occasional earthquakes, some of them of great enough magnitude to feel, especially if you are in a high-rise building. No earthquake damage around here that I ever heard about. No big floods, though some of the lower lying areas do get flooding now and again. No rampant wildfires, and the blizzards we get are enough to close schools for a day or two, but I still manage to get to my job at the hospital. But, still, there are no guarantees for the future.
Our Rabbi's sermon this past Shabbat (Sabbath) was about what you would take if you were given 10 minutes to evacuate. My first thought was my cat and my husband. Thankfully, his first thought was me and the cat. But beyond that, it isn't so easy. I would likely grab my box of medications, because it would likely be difficult to get them refilled. I would grab my purse,because it has all my ID's, keys, some money, etc.
I have a lot of art I have created, both original and prints. I would grab my favorite, a colored pencil drawing I did of my husband and youngest son when he was about 14. My husband always blessed each child every Shabbat, putting one hand on their head, the other under their chin. Jacob would always reach up and put his hands on his father's head the same way. After years of adoring this, I finally took photos of it and did the drawing. I would try to grab a few other originals, because they could never be replaced. I would also grab my laptop, because I take digital photos of all my work, and download them into Photoshop on the laptop.. That way, even if I could not save all the originals, at least I would have the photos of them.
Beyond these items, I don't know what I would want to grab, but I plan to think about it, maybe even wander around the apartment, looking at what we have, and make a list. When given a short time to grab things is not the best time to be trying to decide what to take. Most people I know have so many possessions, most of which is just background noise in our lives. We don't use them, or even look at them on a regular basis, they are just there. Most of our possessions are readily replaceable, or our lives would not change if they were gone. We all have some items, though, that we would really hate to lose.
It is good to think once in awhile about what is really important in your life. If you have chronic pain or illness, it might be difficult for you to gather your most prized possessions in a hurry. Look around your home. What is really important? Make a list of what you want to grab if you have to evacuate. This could also be an opportunity to simplify, to get rid of excess. You will have less to clean, less to take care of. A less cluttered environment is less stressful, less stress means less pain. I sure like the sound of that.