What to Pack for Evacuation

(With last month’s new fires in our city and state, last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire is on my mind. The article below was originally posted July 10, 2012.)

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With short notice and the fire a mile away, what should we pack for evacuation, assuming we may never return?

evacuating fire 5

evacuating fire 6

evacuating fire 7

evacuating fire 8

We tell our sons to bring only what is irreplaceable. I choose two out-of-print Bibles (one of which wears the Bible cover my husband leathercrafted for me) and a book full of handwritten notes for a writing project. I also pack a week’s worth of clothes and toiletries.

The fire gets close, and I think our house will surely burn down. It doesn’t. After about a week, officials lift our mandatory evacuation status, and we return home.

The day after, I check my Bible reading plan to see what to read next. Exodus 15–17. God had just parted the Red Sea so Moses and his people could cross on dry land. Then God closed the waters over the pursuing Egyptian army hot on their tails. The first thing Moses and the people do (how chapter 15 opens) is praise God. Miriam takes her timbrel, she dances, she sings. Seeing this, the other women likewise get their timbrels, sing the song, and shake a timbrel rhythm.

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them,

“Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.”

(Exodus 15:20-21)

Something in verse 20 jars and startles me. I go back to read it again.

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.

The women had timbrels.

The realization strikes (would I have noticed it if I had not just had an evacuation of my own?): these women had just permanently left their homes in Egypt, and they had their timbrels with them. They counted their timbrels among their most important possessions.

When these women packed for evacuation, they made sure to bring their instruments of praise.

During the Waldo Canyon fire, officials advise evacuees to bring “the P’s”:

People
Pets
Prescriptions
Papers (financial records, etc.)
Photos

…but, following Miriam and the women’s example, I would add another P:

Praise.

Awake, harp and lyre!
I will awaken the dawn.
I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
I will sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, higher than the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.
Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

(Psalm 108:2-5)

(Photos taken from our car as we drove away from home to evacuate.)

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