Loss and disappointment

A woman who’s been evacuated from the Brisbane floods was just interviewed on television was asked to describe the range of emotions she has felt over the past few days.

She spoke of the excitement of the event, the anxiety at not knowing if he entire home had been submerged and also of course her fear of losing her belongings.  She said she felt upset that she hadn’t been able to salvage more prior to be evacuated.  Looking emotional for the first time, she added she was “disappointed that my home was so cluttered” (hence, identifying important items was difficult).

If there’s ever a reason to be a bit more organised, this type of situation is surely one of them.

I look around my apartment and I wonder what I would take (if I had the chance) and besides the cat and my computer, I honestly don’t know.  Photos albums seem cumbersome, memorabilia seems unimportant.  My passport, important papers and a snack might make it into my bag but I’m not sure what else.

What might you take if you had the chance?  Have you been affected by the floods or other natural disaster or accident?


11 responses to “Loss and disappointment

  1. Such a tragedy. Yes, better a few treasured possessions than a large number of items that are rarely used or looked at. Quality, not quantity.

    What would I take? My photo album of “before and after” photos of when I was decluttering :-). My cat, and stuff he needs (food, bowls, etc.) My (late) dog’s collar, as a memento. The “Footprints” prose stuck to the wall (the one that ends “it was then that I carried you”.) My bag, which contains tissues, mobile phone, address book, hairbrush, notebook, pens. USB keys (with computer backup files).

    It would depend on the situation – better to save your own life and help others in need than try to rescue too many material things – mostly they can be replaced, where a life cannot. And you will always have your memories.

  2. I was thinking the same yesterday while watching the interviews and quickly decided on my handbag (always has the essentials in it), my two cats, laptop computer and portable hard drive, water & a little food, underwear and a few clothes, photos (I have some in an old suitcase which is easily grabbed).

    Like you, after that list there was nothing that sprang to mind as especially important – maybe some expensive and hard to replace craft items but they’re not critically important – only if I had heaps of time.

    As a result I’ve just started purging & reorganising. I was 15 minutes into the purge when your email arrived.

  3. Amazing how such disasters always have us thinking about what we “need” to take and what we can “leave”.

    My thoughts lately have been about what information I would need to supply to help rebuild my life (eg insurance details) and perhaps I need to start to compile this information and save it into the ‘cloud’.

  4. After our recent Earthquake I had an overwhelming desire to completely downsize and minimise all our families belongings, it gave me an entire new perspective on our STUFF. Even though I also organise for a living it was a very cathartic and cleansing experience in a strange way.
    My heart goes out to everyone effected by the floods in Queensland and also I understand Victoria is having flooding as well. It will take a very long time to recover from the trauma of feeling your home is not the safe haven you have come to know it as, belongings and stuff can be replaced, lives cannot so keep safe.

  5. Also have some important stuff packed and ready to go in an emergency bag, as not all natural disasters can be foreseen and planned in advance, in the case of an earthquake you need to grab and go after the quake subsides until you know your home is safe.

  6. My family and I were evacuated for the Ash Wednesday bushfires when I was a kid (early high school). One of my most vivid memories was my mum arguing with the policeman at the door, (she didn’t want to go as she hadn’t done the dishes after dinner yet) and him saying “Airey’s Inlet is already gone, you have five minutes to get out.”


    So, I had literally two minutes to decide what to take and to pack it into the car. A little later (at the beach carpark where we were evacuated to: side note, how lucky we were to be on the coast, not the mountains!) mum started screaming at my sister and I because we didn’t have proper shoes on (she was pretty stressed, as much as anything because despite everything, dad had absolutely refused to go.)

    In the event my mum took the cash box (we ran a business from home) and the ‘papers’ she could find, and left the pet bird (which had my sister and I screaming at her), my sister took her walkman and some tapes, and I took the bible my grandmother gave me, and nothing else. I just couldn’t think of anything else that really seemed like it warranted the situation.

    Of course, what we all really wanted to take but didn’t was Dad.

    In the event, our house didn’t burn, and Dad was OK. (Dad nearly got himself killed up a ladder playing the hose over the roof in the height of the fire storm, but to this day maintains that he saved our house and several others on our street. And he may be right. But my husband and I have talked about this, and he knows that if the same thing happened to us we would all be gone and the house could burn for all I cared.)

  7. I have given this scenario quite a bit of thought since the black Saturday fires.
    I have created a VIP folder – very important paperwork. All my family know they need to grab that first. Inside there is original copies of wills, passports, marriage certifiacate, birth certificates etc also insurance and bank info.
    Also inside is a secondary list including jewelry and other special items that I would love to have saved.
    The most important is people and pets but the other items will help manage the drama that follows and give some comfort in the aftermath of a major disaster.

    • I love that you’ve organised some crucial items to retrieve – and that it extends to the secondary list (if time).

      You could easily add a couple of simple items like a bottle of water, a small amount of cash, a solar torch, that kind of thing. Hopefully, most of us will never have this kind of need but fortune favours the prepared mind!

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