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Paradise Lost

An entire city in northern California has been evacuated because of wildfire.  The City of Paradise, population 27,000, has been leveled by a late season fire.  Churches, hospital, shopping mall, and hundreds of homes are flattened by flames.  Six thousand firefighters and support personnel are on the scene while residents were evacuated to nearby cities and shelters.  Named the Camp Fire, because of the originating location, no one really knows how the fire started, and has (at this writing) covered nearly 110,000 acres in the last three days.

Dozens of heartbreaking videos of people racing to safety are posted on social media, documenting their panicked flight to get families out of harm’s way.  One survivor reported he only had time to grab his Bible and get out of his home.  Others offer a tear-filled commentary on the damage and loss.  At this time, 29 deaths are recorded in the northern California fire.

In February 2017, 120,000 people were evacuated from nearby the Oroville area when the Oroville Dam suffered a structural issue, threatening collapse.  During the Oroville evacuation, thousands were forced to simply leave with no destination in mind.  The term for that person is “refugee”.  Others took time to make hotel reservations while yet others went to friends and relatives.  Some with RVs simply found a place out of danger and set up camp until the all-clear was given.

This is a textbook example of the necessity of being prepared.  If your family has a plan in place, a bag prepared and a destination, then an orderly evacuation can take place in very little time and you’re way ahead of the crowds.  (And way less stress on the marriage, I might add.)   Keep your panic-level down as your kids take their cues from their parents.  When you freak out, they get panicked as well.  If you’re cool, calm and collected (as much as you can be) then your offspring will manage better overall.

I’m hearing on the news this fire was consuming, in extreme cases, one acre per second.  That’s sixty acres per minute! If a fire is moving that quickly, there is no time for second-guessing, indecision or trying to decide whether to take the blue shirt or the brown shirt.  Some of those decisions become very minor in importance when faced with a level three evacuation.

If you’re not living in the area of any disaster right at the moment, I want to challenge you to do three things:

  1. Say a prayer of thanks for keeping your family safe from some kind of major disaster.
  2. Say a prayer for those who have been endangered, displaced or suffered loss from wildfire.
  3. Gather your family around the table with a blank sheet of paper and make a plan.  A plan that may save their lives should, heaven forbid, any calamity come your way.

If you have no idea where to begin, send me an email and I will give you some resources to make the first steps.  But first, check out my blog at  Send your questions and comments to

Dave Robinson is an author, pastor and freelance writer.  His book, “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” is available on, and other online booksellers.