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Wildfires, Winds, and Emergency Funds

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Wildfires, Winds, and Emergency Funds

The Pacific Northwest is on fire right now. And so is my anxiety.

Extremely dry conditions and unusually strong winds have made for some unreal conditions. The closest fire to us is just 10 miles away (you can see the smoke in the right of this picture I took last night). We live in such a suburban and farming county, that I never dreamed it would be so close to home! The skies are smoky and orange all day, making you feel like someone forgot to turn off the sepia filter.

Putting the “Emergency” in Emergency Funds

Around here we all keep using 2020’s favorite word—unprecedented. And it’s making me look at our emergency funds with such gratitude. We still have that $8,000 in our emergency fund, plus our tax return that we’re reserving in case we have to shut down the business again.

There’s an evacuation center just up the street from us at a local school, and one of our employees had to evacuate in the middle of the night. This has all made me think about what you’d grab. What you’d lose. What pictures I’d have for the insurance company. Luckily, this nearby fire is now 50% contained (thank you, amazing fire fighters!). But entire towns are gone in our state, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to lose your home and your business at once.

Wind Damage

The wind has created a more immediate need for our emergency fund. When we first looked at this house, I cringed looking at some large trees on a slope behind the house. There’s an Alder that didn’t look unhealthy, but it just gave me the creeps. It could hit the house if it fell.

I researched arborists last week, figuring I could have someone come out and assess the trees and give us an estimate on removing that tree. It gives us privacy from the neighbors behind us, but I wanted to gather information. I felt like we had some time, though, because the tree seemed okay and most trees seem to fall around here in winter wind or ice storms.

Well, on Labor Day, we were up at my in-laws. We came home late that evening and the wind was craaaazy. I looked at that tree uneasily. I had the kids sleep in a room in the front of the house just in case.

The next morning, I got up and saw that some branches had fallen out of the tree. They were so close to the house behind us that we went up to check on them (that’s one way to get to know your neighbors…). Turns out those branches had fallen on their deck just a minute or two after one of them had walked inside. It scared them to death.

Luckily it didn’t do any damage to their property, but now things are urgent—that tree has got to go. I’ve reached out to an arborist. We don’t have an estimate yet but it’s going to be more expensive than I care to think about. But man, I’m grateful for emergency funds, especially during a year like 2020.


3 Comments

  • Reply Angie |

    I’m in a neighboring state and the wildfires are just terrible this year! We went camping over Labor Day and when we started driving home we saw a new wildfire that had started overnight. It ended up being only 10 miles away from where we were camping with no cell service and a mile away from where we had taken a hike the day before. Needless to say it is so scary to think about the what-ifs. I feel for anyone who gets caught off guard with a fire raging, they can grow and change paths so quickly.

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