#2: Fire Drill
“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
I had a wonderful Sunday with my daughter; we finished the weekend by getting take-out from our favorite local Mexican restaurant and discussed Halloween plans for the week. It was almost my first week on BiomeTech’s sprays and I was feeling pretty good. Around 2:30 in the morning an alert goes off on my phone, my daughter yells to me and I tell her that it’s nothing, a small fire by the Getty, miles away. We both go back to sleep. Five minutes later another alert. This time she crawls into my bed (which I love) and again, we go back to sleep. Then we both get another one and the phone starts ringing. I answer and it’s a reverse 911 call telling me to get ready to evacuate. Now I am awake. I go to my phone and see about 20 messages and local alerts as well as texts from friends asking if I’m OK and if I need a place to stay. I’m a little confused until I walk outside. While I cannot see flames, in the distance I can see a huge orange glow. I turn on the television and watch as my best friend’s neighborhood burns.
While we weren’t in a red Mandatory Evac zone we were blocks away with a voluntary warning and orders to pack for Ready, Set, Go! Which means that at any moment we would need to get out. I stood for a minute, took a few breaths (and a few sprays of Aqua Calm) and formed our plan. I packed a bag of valuables (drives, computers, passports, jewelry and anything else not easily replaced) I packed a small bag of clothes as did my daughter, I called a friend to secure a safe place to flee and checked the map for a few ways out if that became necessary. I told my daughter we should save the roads for people who were told to leave. Then I looked out my window and saw neighbor after neighbor fill their cars and take off. Normally, in the face of danger, I’m a freak out kind of person. But this seemed overkill. The wildfire was miles away and although an ember could easily fly over and start one in the canyon by us we would have time to get out. Was I just lazy? Tired? Or was it these pretty little bottles that I had been diligently spraying in mouth for almost a week?
I was still following my original protocol:
Whatever it was I was staying calm and focused under pressure.
Over the next few days we were basically on lockdown, schools closed for four days and we were still in that holding pattern of Ready, Set Go! Everything around us was closed, the kids were bored and started meeting in various houses talking about their experience (some were evacuated). They were helping each other. It was nice. Slowly my neighbors came back and we also joined up in each other’s houses sharing meals and stories. They were all impressed at my level headed calmness and how I wasn’t worried about my possessions. It did seem a bit strange to me as well since I’m a worrier but I decided that when I committed to finding my way, I was fully committed.
That week I did not forget to spray. I believe that maybe that was the reason that I remained as calm as I did during the longest fire drill this town has ever seen.