When the house burned I got out with my old sneakers, a flamboyant night gown and my hoodie. The manthing fared slightly better as we were able to grab a couple drawers and a tote of winter clothes in addition to the outfit n shoes he had on. The only other items we were able to grab were the fire safe, chainsaws, guns, and tobacco (because we had just received an order to mix with our home grown and it was sitting by the door). There was nothing else left to be salvaged in the aftermath aside from a bit of cast iron cookware. Everything would need to be replaced.
Mind you, we are simple livin type folks. We didn't have tv's in every room, we didn't sleep on a conventional bed, furnishings were minimal and not suitable for most life styles, but worked for us. We didn't have a washer and dryer or other fancy gizmos n gadgets. Most everything we had pertained to maintaining our rather primitive life style. Even so, the list of stuff that had to, or has to be replaced, seems never ending and every bit of it costs money. Let's just say that in the last 6 weeks we have had to spend more than I made the entire year last year.
The first few days were spent replacing some clothes, basic necessities, and food. There was no way that we were going to spend the Red Cross money, our money or any other money on restaurant food. Sure the foods were in a can or box or could be thrown between a couple slices of bread, but it was food. We have not eaten a single meal out and through all of this have only stopped for a coffee refill three times. Once we had the food we remember we have no pans or eating utensils to eat the food. Once out of the hotel and back at the cabin we had more cooking options so we needed food that we are more accustomed to though still not the same.Then, of course, you need the pans to cook in and pot holders since you are cooking over fire. This crazy cycle of needs continues for the first
Somewhere toward the end of the first week, we got to go to the charity store where they give you an allowance for certain items. We got two towels, two washcloths, set of sheets, a couple forks, knives, plates and cups, pair of shoes, two sets of socks, couple shirts and couple pants. It was kind of odd as the store was closed and we were the only people there aside from volunteers who served as our personal shoppers. Was one of the oddest moments I can ever remember, truth be told. Treated like a wealthy person but yer in a place of charity.
The things we humans need to survive and attempt to thrive are innumerable. Many things you don't really even miss on a daily basis but when you do its terrible. For instance flies in the winter. It aint often you have them but when you do, not having a fly swatter can become a huge issue. It is these little things ya miss the most and just when you think you cant possibly need anything more to survive, you are rudely reminded that the pizza slicer was really handy and you use pens way more often than you think you do. And as minimalist as we are even though two pairs of socks or two plates seems feasible, it aint.
The list of stuff needed goes on and on; from the simple and mundane like toothpicks and toilet paper, to knives, pans, fly swatters and nail clippers, batteries, band-aids, tampons, aspirin, and salt to other needs of society today like lamps, ice (for refrigeration) bed covers, gas (to get back and forth to town 27 times a month), computers, phones, and of course electricity and shelter. Even though we have had a phone for over 20 years, the 3 week break in service meant we were new customers and had to begin all over on fees. To get power back it meant having a pole set in by an electrician, another expense. The biggest expense was getting shelter. Though we have the cabin, for various reasons there cannot be power lines or internet connections to it. As such we had to invest in something that could serve as an office, internet cafe and electric source when needed.
Some ask why we didn't leave. The answer is simple, there is no place like home. Secondly, we had critters. It would have meant getting rid of every one we had including the dogs. Rehoming a near eight year old dog just isn't right. Thirdly, we would then be commuting back and forth to the mountain causing wear and tear on a vehicle and costing money and time to do. Finally, we would have to rent which would then mean a big heap of money going out monthly plus initial fees when I have no idea when I will work again. Buying the
We are and will be replacing things and stuff for months, if not years, to come even though we now have most of the basics again. We will have future expenses if we decide to rebuild. Even if we don't rebuild we will need an outdoor kitchen, a dry storage area, larger water containment system and some sort of covering over the tin can. We still need the trash from the house hauled off, the dirt leveled out and driveway fixed. We still need to replace food preservation equipment like jars and lids, dehydrators (even home made, they cost money), meat grinders and grain grinders. I know, to most people these things sounds rather frivolous. To homesteaders they are tools and needed. Sure we could go back to the stone age and use a rock to grind everything with but from experience I can say it aint much fun and we aint got time for that.
When people ask what it is they can do to help, my suggestion is to give food, physical labor, gift cards to a local and useful to them store, or cash. To be frank, cash is by far the best choice in our opinion. While everything is appreciated these are what has proved the most helpful to us.
The canned foods have been a blessing for when we are just too tired or don't have time to cook. The fresh produce has helped us to keep a bit of normalcy and diet and for whatever reason helped my mental state (they are comforting and pretty i reckon). Gift cards and cash have allowed us to choose what the money is spent on and when. It gives us the freedom to decide what to apply them to and how. Ours have gone for food, insulation, propane, supplies to get the water system up, and new tools to name just a few things.The remainder will be used to help fund the other projects that must get done before harvest season comes again.
Everyone will have the expenses I have listed in the event of a fire, insured or not. It does not matter their lifestyle or the things and stuff that they will need to get back on their feet. They will need the very basics from underwear to toothpicks. Clothing is fairly easy to come by either free or very cheaply but we all still need food and shelter. In today's society, we also almost have to have power, heat, and internet in some way, shape, or form. Most people also have other bills and expenses all of which still need to be kept up to date in addition to the ones created by the fire. Cash allows them (us) to be able to do all of that when other options do not.