It started with a flashback of the worst day of my life and ended less than an hour later when I locked myself out of the house.
The worst day of my life started like any other day. I didn’t really like the outfit I picked, but I was saving my favorite outfit and it was okay for a Tuesday. I was sitting in Physics class getting ready to take a semester test when the principal came to the door and called me out into the hall.
“Your parents called. Your house is on fire. We are taking your older sister home. Do you want to go home or stay here?”
I chose to stay and take the test. When I sat back down, Tim asked me what was up because I was NEVER called to the principal’s office.
“My house is on fire,” I calmly replied, and started on the test. I was in shock.
We lived in a small town of about 500 people and the fire chief was my uncle. When learning of smoke pouring out under the eaves, the entire town showed up. The fire was inside the walls and the smoke didn’t come into the house until they punched holes in the walls to get to it.
Those neighbors from Batavia emptied every closet, cupboard, and drawer on the first floor. They carried every stick of furniture outside and later moved them to the barn. A 17-year boy my dad had mentored, (who was playing hooky), unhooked the washer and carried it out by himself. Our next door neighbor, Linda, was the last one out of the house. She removed the drapes from the six windows in the living room and dining room.
They saved everything on the first floor, but not upstairs. I stayed after school and rode home with Carolyn. My brother and sisters had each been taken home by one of our aunts. They bought them a change of clothes and kept them overnight.
The furniture was in the barn and Dad was up on the roof with a few men putting a tarp over the hole the fire left. I went home with my friend, Pam. She was the best! We were the same size and she loaned me her favorite tee-shirt with her name on it and a pair of slacks to wear to school the next day.
Wednesday, they let us go upstairs to our former rooms for one minute. They instructed us to grab anything we wanted to keep. They had a door propped open to hold up the roof joists.
Everything was wet, melted, and black with smoke. I ripped some pictures out of my photo album and a few things out of my scrapbook. I made my bed that morning and my pillow was just wet. I took it and went back downstairs.
All I had left fit in an 8″ cookie tin. When I open that tin, I can still smell the smoke. I never got to wear that favorite outfit again, but I got an “A” on that Physics test!
Today I opened an email that triggered that memory. It was from everydaycheapskate.com. She was replying to a question about a family that lost everything in a flood. She recommended the free app knowyourstuff.org.
I didn’t even finish the email. I hit the link, set up an account, and downloaded the app to my phone. Then I started taking pictures. I didn’t clean up the house. There were dirty dishes in the sink. I threw up the covers on the bed and tucked them in and kept snapping.
I took pictures of every wall, inside of closets, and even opened drawers in the kitchen to record contents. I know it can all go up in smoke in a flash. I also know the agony of trying to remember what was in each drawer, how many tee shirts did I own?
When I finished inside the house, I took pictures inside the garage. Then I went outside and took pictures of every side of the house. That’s when I locked myself out!
This is not an ad for the app. I will not get any money from them. I am sharing my painful experience in hopes that it will go easier for you should you have a disaster.
- Don’t wait until you have time.
- Don’t clean the house.
- Just get the app and start snapping pictures.
You never know when all you have left will be held in a cookie tin.
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