I'm thankful I have a moment to pause, reflect and write a blog post about our experience in having to evacuate from our home in 10 minutes due to fires in our neighborhood of Steiner Ranch, Austin, Texas. Our home is standing without damage just a bit of soot, though many of our friends and neighbors lost everything.
We knew there was a fire nearby, but had no idea of the BEAST it had become. My husband and I debated about if we'd go or stay, and talked about what we would need to take, and where we'd go. He had already packed the guns into this truck and I had taken my daughter's 5 year old goldfish, Happy, out of his tank and into a small to-go bowl, just in case.
We were standing in the dining room when I got a call entitled Emergency on caller ID. It was the Travis County Sheriff's Department, press 1 for a message... "evacuate NOW". Pause... don't cry.... deep breath.... MOVE! We didn't communicate verbally but went to work systematically grabbing what we could. I ran upstairs to tell our 8 year old daughter, Emma, it was time to go. Tears welled up in her eyes and she became a bit hysterical. "Go grab some toys," I told her calmly, trying not to cry myself. I knew if I had her focus she would do better.
I grabbed Happy the Goldfish, who wasn't really happy in a small bowl and got him wrapped up in a towel, plate, blanket contraption so he wouldn't jump out and would be safe on our journey. Grabbed files from our desk; social security file, birth cert file, wills file, auto titles file, insurance file, passports. Then unplugged the computer and grabbed the PC tower. In and out through the garage to my SUV while my husband was loading up his truck with what he thought was necessary. Jewelry box, address books, a change of clothing, tooth brushes and that was that. We were out the door in 10 minutes.
Our drive to my Mother-in-Laws home was longer as the main road across Mansfield Dam had been shut down. Those were the longest 25 minutes of my life as I was listening to a hysterical child cry, two yowling cats in different tones and a flipped out fish. My husband, in front of me, had total peace and quiet. How did that happen???
The next two days I tried to get as much information as I could about the fires, and luckily through social media was completely informed. Knowing I needed to do more, I've started a clothing collection point in the storage building behind my office. Starting tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m., I'll be accepting donations of all kinds for those families who lost everything. Additionally, I've contacted Austin Christian Fellowship and will be coordinating through them in getting the clothing, etc to those in need.
Whew... we are home and so blessed but so many others are not as fortunate and it breaks my heart knowing our friends, neighbors and Central Texans have lost everything. If you are in the local are and would like to donate, please drop off at the Bartlett Real Estate Group, 6816 N FM 620. We are next to the Boat House Grill in Four Points. If you'd like to help sort, come on over! If anything, please say a prayer for those affected and ask God for some much needed rain as well!