Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Preparedness: Wildfire

Years ago, my parents made an honest assessment of their location, climate and topography and determined that wildfire was their biggest natural disaster threat.  Knowing they couldn't prepare for every eventuality, they chose to focus their natural disaster preparedness efforts on fireproofing (to the best of their abilities) their homestead.  Although there is no way to prevent wildfire there are a few things you can do in order to reduce your fire risk:

1.  REDUCE YOUR FIRELOAD:  Clear dead trees from your property, along with slash piles and brush piles.  Cut tall grasses with a field trimmer, swather or livestock.  Keep outbuildings and other structures free from debris and make sure they are accessible.  Every summer my parents cut down trees that are "standing dead", as well as dead branches and over-grown brush.  They are careful to position slash piles far away from any structures and only burn after a heavy rain.

2.  "FIREPROOF" STRUCTURES:  Although not many structures are truly fire-proof, there are a few things you can do to reduce the possibility of fire.  My parents built their home and all of their outbuildings utilizing metal roofing as siding.  Not only are their roofs metal, so are the exteriors of every building, including their home.  Falling embers and floating ash will not likely spark fires on any of their structures.  Not only did they use building materials that discouraged fire, they also built one truly fireproof structure - a "bat cave".  They dug out the side of a hill, placed a 20 foot steel container in the hole and covered it with dirt, leaving only the door accessible.  After they buried the container, they planted grass over the top and created an entry-way with huge boulders.  All of their basic necessities, food, water and medicine, along with blankets, etc. are stored in the "bat cave".  If everything else is lost, they have something to see them through.

3.  FIREFIGHTING EQUIPMENT:  In addition to other preparations, my parents have invested in equipment to fight fire.  They have a large dozer that can cut a fire-line in a matter of minutes and also a fire fighting trailer (formerly used on a logging job site) equipped with a 350 gallon water tank, trash pump (the trash pump allows them to draft from the creeks, of which they have two on their property, allowing them to fill the tank without any pressurized water supply) water pump and fire hose.  They keep the fire trailer accessible during the entire fire season, maintaining operational readiness by using the trailer to water their garden, thus ensuring well maintained motors and a familiarity of operation.

4.  PRE-PACKED BUG-OUT BAGS/ACCESSIBLE DOCUMENTS:  If all of the previously established fire prevention methods fail, my parents have bug-out bags at the ready, along with highly organized and accessible documents.  Their passports, birth certificates and other documents are stored in an easy-to-access folder in their safe.  There is no rummaging through drawers or sifting through piles in an attempt to locate important documents as a fire is bearing down on the house.  They have incorporated a "grab and go" system that is necessary when all other options fail.

There are no guarantees when preparing for natural disasters but there are steps that you can take to minimize your danger.  Thoughtfully determine what specific natural disasters are most likely to affect you and make preparations accordingly.  If you live in an area prone to tornados, prepare for tornados.  If you have a high probability of earthquake, plan for an earthquake.  If your greatest threat is wildfire, assess your situation and form a preparedness strategy.

Being prepared is much more than stocking up on food and waiting for TEOTWAWKI.  It is about assessing potential threats and taking steps to mitigate the damage.  Remember - preparedness is not rocket science, it's just good, old-fashioned common sense.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Prayers of the Saints Availeth Much

God has again parted the Red Sea, only this time it was a sea of fire rather than water.   Our Georgia Transplants had evacuated Thursday evening not knowing if they would ever see their home again, but with faith that God's will would be done, regardless of the outcome.  The firefighters had been unable to contain the fire and had called for fire planes to drop retardant directly onto structures, hoping to minimize losses.  Early Friday morning our Georgia Transplants crossed the fire line to view the devastation with their own eyes. As they crested the hill, they were met by a miracle.  Amidst the ashen devastation, shining in the smoky morning haze, was our dear friend's home.  Untouched.   The fire had roared to their fence-line, parted, and continued it's path of destruction, forming a circle around their home.  The fire had parted like the Red Sea, leaving their garden, their home, their shop, their yard, completely untouched.  The prayers of the saints availeth much!

We continue to fall upon our knees in prayer.  Roads too numerous to mention have been closed due to fire.  An entire town is being evacuated.  Fires have us hemmed in on every side.  An area to the south has lost 33 homes and over 70 outbuildings.  One woman has lost her life.  Wildland firefighters are risking their lives in an attempt to save other's lives and livelihoods.  No amount of money or preparation can or will save us - our refuge is in Christ alone.

Thank you for your prayers, but please, do not stop!  Your prayers move the very hand of GOD!  The prayers of the saints truly do availeth much.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

In the Line of Fire!!

As many of you know, a tremendous amount of the Redoubt is on fire.  Our family has been blessed to have escaped unscathed so far, however, my parents have been effectively surrounded.  Although their homestead is currently "safe", their pastor and his wife are literally in the "line of fire".  Our dear "Georgia Transplants" have been evacuated and have sought refuge at my parents home.  They were able to evacuate two trailer loads of belongings, but the majority of their worldly possessions are in immanent danger.

Fire in the distance last night
Tired and weary, hoarse from smoke and exhaustion, our Georgia Transplants are praising the Lord.  They are praising Him for His faithfulness.  They are praising Him for His Providence.  They are praising Him for His children that have surrounded them, upheld them and encouraged them.  They are praising Him for their brothers and sisters all over the country that are on their knees interceding on their behalf.  They are praising God in the midst of their storm.

Heading up the draw

Fire is almost to the front yard
I beseech you - please.  Pray for these dear people that we love.  Pray that God sends the rain.  Pray that God stays the fire.  Pray that these fires bring glory to God and point people to His majesty.  But most of all, pray.  And if you are in the middle of your own firestorm, I will pray.  I will pray that as the flames grow nearer, your faith grows stronger - and that you will praise the One that walked with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and delivered them from the fiery furnace unscathed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Long Overdue Hello

Please accept my humblest apologies for being absent from the blog for so long.  I really have no excuse.  I do have to admit that I have been on sensory overload.  It feels as though the world is coming apart at the seams and the more chaotic the world, the more I am compelled to live a quiet and peaceful life.  Folly, to be sure, but my reality nonetheless.

Our family has been busy.  We are tirelessly preparing, maintaining and managing.  As the daily news becomes more dire our efforts become more consistently focused on preparation.  We have been inventorying our supplies, rounding out our shopping lists and creating comprehensive location charts.  We have streamlined our preparedness stores, rotated our stock and filled emptying barrels.  We have been cleaning out and organizing all of our outbuildings to make them more usable and easily accessible.  These are jobs we do every summer, but this summer we are organizing, inventorying and cleaning with a quiet, but intensified anticipation.

The shelves are filling up with this year's harvest
Along with our cleaning and organizing, we have been canning - not as much as we'd like, but canning as much as we are able.  We have canned gallons of raspberry jam and raspberry orange conserve, as well as bread and butter pickles and many quarts of green beans.  The shelves are filling and the remaining shelves are cleaned and waiting for the tomato harvest, as well as deer and elk.

Freshly canned green beans and raspberry jam

Bread and butter pickles
As the hot summer days give way to cooler, late summer evenings, we have begun our yearly firewood harvest.  Master Hand Grenade and Miss Serenity have been sawing logs so that the rest of the family can split and stack the year's firewood.

And thus we continue our quest for a quiet and peaceful life.....while we are yet able.