Organizing lessons From The Nashville Flood of 2010

my town May 2010

Many of you may have heard of the “great Nashville flood” we had in our area recently.  While I was personally very lucky (only lost some plants and had some water in the crawl space), there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people in Middle Tennessee that lost possessions, houses, and in some cases, their lives.

This community came out in force to help those affected by the flood – it shows what a great area this is and how good people really are.

Out of this tragedy, though, come a few lessons on organizing .  I’ve been thinking about this for a while, even before this happened, but this really clarified it.  I realized that if we had lost everything – would I be able to recreate my life fairly easily or would it be extremely difficult?  And the answer was, somewhere in between.  So in the interest of being able to recover from this sort of disastrous event, here’s some thoughts:

  • Back up everything digital in an offsite/cloud format.  I recommend using Carbonite for a full backup of your computer(s).  Carbonite regularly backs up to a secure location so if you lost your computer, you could recreate all of your data quickly and easily.  Another great way to store data is Dropbox.  This is a cloud storage as well that you can put pictures, documents and any other information out there so not only can you have it secure but you can access it at any time from any internet connection.
  • Secure your passwords to everything.  If all of your passwords are written down on a piece of paper and you have a flood or fire – how are you going to virtually access your bank accounts, online payments, etc?   Keep your passwords in a digital format and be able to access them through EvernoteDropbox or Carbonite or some other method.  If you need to keep things in a paper format, use a waterproof, fire safe or an off site safety deposit box.
  • Make sure your wills, power of attorney, social security cards, living wills, home inventory, etc. are up to date and secure.  Scan all of your documents and make them available digitally to those who need to have them or keep them in the secure off site storage.  For home inventory (all your physical stuff), consider Collectify (that’s what I use).  It also can’t hurt to have valuable items appraised.  In the Nashville area, contact Connie Sue Davenport, my favorite antiques and collectibles appraiser.  For scanning, I use Neat Company’s Neat Receipts Mobile Scanner.  Stores all of your information and will convert it to PDF.  Don’t forget about your credit cards, passports and keeping a list of important contacts somewhere you can access them if you lose your phone.
  • Consider having your photos scanned by Scan Digital.  Not only will they scan them for you, they will send them to you in a CD or DVD format and keep them on a server for you.  While most of our current photos are digital these days, it’s the older ones that worry me.  I realized that I have wedding photos, pictures of my early childhood and family that would have been destroyed if we had been flooded.  I have all of my photos packed up right now to send to Scan Digital this week.
  • If you had to leave your house in a hurry (think 5 minutes or under), could you easily grab the important stuff?  Do you know where it is – and do you know what is important?  Give this some thought and make a plan.  If I had to leave the house, here’s what I could take in under 5 minutes: 1 child, 3 cats, 1 dog, 4 chickens, my purse (wallet, iphone, camera, notepad & other misc. items) and my laptop.  All of my documents are backed up on my laptop and with Carbonite & Dropbox so even if I don’t have the originals, I can recreate with the backups.  If I had a few more minutes, I would grab all of the original artwork and family heirlooms we have and maybe my favorite boots.
  • On that note, take a serious look around your home at your possessions.  Could you actually determine what was the “good stuff”?  The stuff that would truly be worth saving.  Consider using that as a guide when deciding what to keep and what can be “de-cluttered”.  There’s always the stuff you need, like toilet paper and ziploc bags – but these are easily replaced.  It’s the baggage you’ve been carrying around for years that doesn’t enhance your life – just weighs you down.  When you look around your home – what are the things in it that really MAKE it a home – and what are the things that just fill it up?

Nashville flood May 2010

Having a plan is key but if you don’t prepare for an emergency, then you will be caught flat out when one happens.  The flood here taught me a good lesson – even though we were lucky this time – we may not be next time.  I’m spending this summer preparing – just in case.  Contact me if you have any questions about the services I reference OR if you have any other great ones to share.  This is not a definitive list by any means – but take the time to do what you need to so you can recover your life.