Flooding in Colorado – Insights and Lessons Learned, Part One
No doubt you’ve heard of the flooding in Colorado just north of Denver. It has been raining for more than a week and many communities have been devastated. I recently returned from a business trip and had to drive through neighboring areas, so I was a witness to some of the trouble. And, as unusual as it is for me, I listened to some of the news reports as I drove home from the airport.
What I’d like to do is share a range of insights and lessons learned from this tragic event, at least from my perspective. My hope is that we can all learn something and put that knowledge to good use.
My intention is to discuss the matter a small piece at a time and provide bite-size portions for all of us to reflect upon and absorb. It is my hope that we might decide to update our thinking and planning for disasters like this, so we’re not among those taken by surprise when trouble decides to settle in around us.
Some Emergency Essentials are Made of Paper
As I drove north on I-25, I listened to an interview with a man who had to be rescued from the second floor of his home because flood waters had trapped him up there with his roommates, and a young child. His situation was perhaps quite typical of others, as he had been taken by surprise and didn’t have time to evacuate, nor to gather up anything useful before he was rescued…not that much could have been taken along with him. One of the things he mentioned was he didn’t have any money with which to even rent a motel room for the night. His comments started me thinking about what kind of small items might be useful in such turmoil, even things made of paper…like money. Let’s look at some examples to see how they might make a difference in an emergency situation.
Paper Money – when disasters strike and normal communications are wiped out, you won’t be able to buy anything with a credit card or check. If you don’t have cash, you won’t have many options. Cash is easy to carry in your pocket, so having some on hand would be a good idea. Even in a minor unforeseen circumstance like a power outage, cash will likely be accepted when the credit card reader is down.
Identification – many of us don’t think about identification except when driving our cars, nevertheless, it can be important. In the recent flooding in Colorado, there are reports of nearly 100 people missing. If you’re inquiring about the whereabouts of friends or family members, it might be necessary for you to substantiate that you’re an interested party, and identification can help you do just that. And, if you’re incapacitated, identification on your person could help get you reconnected with your family when you’re not able to do it on your own.
Contact Information – it’s likely that before we can get help, we’ll need to be in contact with others, so having essential contact information will be important. Consider phone numbers of friends and family, insurance contact information for home and vehicles, and contact information for your family doctor, pharmacy and bank.
Important Household Papers – if we think of what other paper resources we might want to have with us, it would probably be good to have documentation of ownership of our real property and vehicles, a record of our insurance policy numbers, and account information with respect to banking and credit cards. As a minimum, this might help us get near term assistance so we can find alternative accommodations and start to get our lives settled a bit. In the long haul, we’ll need this to file claims for losses.
Any of the items suggested above could be carried in a small space such as a purse, fanny pack, a money belt, or even a pocket. Instead of original documentation, I’d suggest copies.
Thinking Through a Possible Evacuation
There are many people out there who are prepared for disasters with what’s known as a Bug Out Bag. The idea is to have an assortment of resources for at least the first three days in the event that evacuation is necessary. In addition to what we might normally think of — food, water, clothing, flashlight, cell phone — let’s stop and think what kind of paper resources we might need as well. For those swept up in the flooding in Colorado, I suspect they’re wishing right now that they had given this area a bit more thought.
In my situation with the disasters I might face, I’m reluctant to evacuate, but it could become necessary. I don’t have a Bug Out Bag, but I’m certainly thinking through the idea of having something that is grab-and-go, and you can be sure it will have key paper resources in there to help me respond and recover from a disaster that I might have to endure.
Clair Schwan is a strong believer in planning and being prepared, although he doesn’t consider himself to be a prepper. For him, paying attention and looking ahead is just a normal part of his life.