In the Sierra Nevada foothills sits the California town of Paradise.
As the name implies, it’s beautiful, and scenes from the movie Gone With The Wind were filmed there.
But the town is near a big canyon in the Sierra Nevada mountains that has strong gale-force winds.
And during the 2018 Camp Fire, the town of Paradise was decimated.
That’s because Paradise officials based their plans on past wildfires.
Normally, wildfires in the area burned to the edge of town but were stopped short by the Feather River.
In fact, for 50 years, no wildfire had crossed the Feather River.
So, when the Camp Fire moved toward town local leaders and residents didn’t evacuate.
But, as we now know, the Camp Fire was no ordinary fire…
It engulfed entire areas in a moment, and grew at a rapid rate of about 4,600 acres an hour – an unprecedented speed.
The town didn’t have adequate evacuation plans for when the entire town needed to leave.
The town’s evacuation plan was to stagger the evacuations by doing it one neighborhood at a time.
Paradise officials said they never envisioned a firestorm reaching the town.
“We trained on what was most probable,” said Paradise town engineer Marc M.
But the speed of the Camp Fire meant that everyone needed to flee at once.
In Paradise, the first order to evacuate came at 7:57 a.m.
The first report of a fire at the edge of town was only two minutes later.
The only four roads in and out of town clogged quickly. It only took one hour for traffic to come to a dead stop.
And within three hours, hundreds of residents were trapped in town, cut off by the wildfire.
People abandoned their cars and fled on foot. They took shelter in commercial buildings.
In the aftermath of the Camp Fire, 86 people died and more than 13,900 homes were destroyed.
Paradise was gone.
The town is an example of citizens being asked to evacuate without any notice.
And although the chances for you may be unlikely, what would you do if you had to leave within minutes?
What would you grab?
Here are a few things I would consider making a priority when there is no time left to prepare.
You need original documents of your birth certificate, etc. for certain things, so it’s important they’re secured in an emergency.
You should have them in a small fireproof safe or locked filing cabinet that you can get to quickly.
If you lose your home to a natural disaster, you will need to replace everything.
This might include banking information and other things you will need original documents to access.
If you’re forced to leave your home at a moment’s notice, you don’t want to leave behind any critical medication.
With the added stress, your body will be more likely to break down and possibly get sick.
Keep your medicine cabinet organized so you can walk in and grab what you need and leave.
Keep a plastic bag in the cabinet so you can put all the bottles in the bag and go.
Laptop and devices:
Your devices can store a lot of important information.
Plus, they can keep you aware of up-to-the-minute conditions such as evacuation routes.
Electronics aren’t on most bug-out lists, but the information they can provide could be a lifesaver.
So, if you are leaving your home throw them all in a backpack with the charging cables.
They could be useful if you have to leave everything else behind.
Take these items into consideration and add any items that are unique to your situation.
Of course, you should already have bug out bags ready to go and some plastic bins that you can grab and go with food, water, etc.
Bottom line, if the police knock on your door, saying you have five minutes to leave, you want to be able to move quickly.