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When we first moved here, my husband and I attended a neighborhood picnic in our newly adopted community here in southern Oregon. While getting to know our neighbors in this semi-rural valley outside of town was great fun, the real highlight – and indeed a truly enlightening one – was an Emergency Preparedness presentation.

The scenario

A member of the County Search and Rescue team and a Fire District officer ran us through a scenario. Imagine shopping at Costco, which is about 36 miles away from our neighborhood, when a major earthquake strikes. As it turns out, there is evidence that a massive subduction-zone earthquake will happen somewhere along the West Coast anywhere from Northern California to British Columbia. It’s expected to have a force similar to 2004’s Indonesia earthquake and 2011’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan. We’re talking magnitude 9+. In our imaginary scenario, we are injury free (probably not likely in a real event), and all we want to do is get home. But how? Interstate 5, the main route that runs north and south, is not passable since all the over passes have collapsed. And, every other road is unavailable for the same reason. We also have to cross the Rogue River, which has a swift current and is very cold year-round. Walking may be our only way to get home. But that could take days, and we still don’t know how we will cross the river.

Uh-oh, unprepared in most ways

Wow. I must confess that I did not sleep very well that night. We were not prepared in any way, except for one thing. While we did not have an emergency Go-Kit for each of us and our two cats, non-perishable food for three to fourteen days, or hand-crank NOAA weather radios, we were already prepared in one way that is not listed in our emergency preparedness literature.

Thanks to my daily money manager (DMM) training, we do have all our financial, medical, and other vital, personal information in one place, ready to go.

As a DMM, I know all too well how important it is to have these documents organized in a Financial Grab-and-Go-Bag. I’ve assembled such packages for many of my clients over the years. This is due mostly for the simple reason that my elderly clients want all their information in one easy to access place for their loved ones. They know it’s just a matter of time when they’ll need someone to step in and take over. My father did this many years before it was needed. When his health deteriorated to the point when he required my help managing things, having all his information in one well organized briefcase was a godsend for me.

Grab-and-Go-Bag for vital documents

In preparation for our move from our urban home in California to semi-rural Oregon in mid-2018, I spent time assembling all our vital and important documents into a Portavault. While all our other belongs were transported via a moving van, my Portavault rode with me and my cats. Unfortunately Portavault is no longer being manufactured, but their website continues to offer copies of the forms that are in the binder type zippered case to help with collecting and organizing important documents. The website is also a treasure trove of great information; it also contains info about all aspects of emergency preparedness. Other great systems include MemoryBanc, developed by daily money manager and AADMM member Kay Bransford. The ”Grab N Go Essential Document Organizer” is available at many retailers including Walmart, Target, and Amazon.

Update regularly

I continue to update my information stored in the Portavault as we open or close accounts, update our trusts and wills, and otherwise move forward with our lives. But now, we do have emergency Go-Kits for everyone, including the cats. And lots of water, non-perishable food, and even a hand-crank NOAA weather radio. We aren’t finished with being fully prepared. I honestly wonder if anyone can ever be fully prepared. But we keep adding to our supplies. I just put a pair of good walking shoes in my car, just in case I have to walk home from Costco.


Alison Salisbury is the founder of Fiscally Fit, Inc. in San Francisco.

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