Sep 072017

Back in 2011 I wrote this post right after the tidal waves and subsequent disasters in Japan.  With Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, and the recent disaster in Texas, it still has some relevance today.

How would you fair in a disaster such as an earthquake, hurricane, or other major upheaval of your life?  What if everything you owned was destroyed in a matter of minutes?  How quickly could you recover from something like that?  Would you be able to replace everything?

Here in the Keys we are one Cat. 4 storm away from such an event.  Every year we hold our breath as we watch one near miss after another.  Once in a while we get a slight hit.  Maybe a Cat. 1 or 2, a little flooding, some wind damage, a few trees come down.  Grab a bottle of rum, have a party, and it’s back to normal again.  As the finger waggers love to point out though, it’s all a matter of time, not if but when.  Sometimes I think they want a disaster to hit just so they can say “I told you so.”.

Monroe Co. prides itself on a well thought out evacuation plan for the Keys.  One of the reasons you have been putting up with the never ending construction project on the 18 mile stretch is so we can get off the islands faster in event of a storm or other cataclysmic event.  But have you ever stopped to think for a minute what you would take with you if you were forced to evacuate the Keys for some disaster?  And what would you leave behind?  At the moment you are told to get out you may have some hard choices to make.  This is where being a minimalist has a distinct advantage.

If you own property on the islands, a house, a condo, you can’t very well pack it up and load in the back of the suv.  It stays behind and is subject to whatever disaster befalls it.  Got insurance?  Yeah, good luck with that.  Katrina and Ike pretty much put an end to the idea that insurance companies are going to cover your losses.  Rebuild afterwards?  Are you kidding me?  With the tight restrictions on building in the county, don’t count on being able to sit out on your deck overlooking the bay and watch the sunset any time soon after your dream home is reduced to a concrete spot.

And what about all your other stuff?  Furniture, boats, big screen tv’s?  Gone.  And expensive to replace.  It all goes back to one simple idea:  The more you have, the more you have to lose.

I mentioned in earlier posts that I am down to the point where everything I own will fit in my vehicle.  Everything, with room to spare.  With 30 minutes notice, I could be packed up and headed north with everything that I care about, yes, including those 2 nervous cats, and not be worried about anything except fighting the traffic to get out.  I could be out of harms way in a few hours and be living life pretty much as normal except a few degrees further north than I would prefer.  In fact, if I did lose everything I could replace it all in a matter of a few days and for about $3000, except for the vehicle and the unreplaceable pussy cats.  (Like having kids only with more fur).  It’s not bragging…..ok it’s bragging a little…but it is a nice situation to be in.  If there is a Class VII Death Storm barreling for the Keys, it’s a lot less stressful knowing you can escape with no losses other than the location of where you prefer to be.  If you are stuck in a shelter some where you won’t be worrying if you will have a home to go back to.  When you don’t own property, you can find a home just about anywhere.

I have a priority list of stuff I will grab first in the event of an emergency.  Most of it of the computer nature as it is the most expensive.  Clothing, towels, linens, kitchen utensils, things of that nature are all disposable in an emergency.  All that can replaced with one trip to a department store of your choice.  Since virtually all my personal papers and keepsakes are kept online, if I did lose my computer, I can still access all that information on a new system.  Furniture?  Don’t own any.  TV?  Got rid of that monstrosity years ago.  I have very little material stuff to lose and it is a very liberating feeling to have.

All that could change down the road.  I am contemplating finding a nice sailboat and becoming a live aboard again.  (Guess what the name of the boat will be….go ahead, guess).  If I do that brings up a whole new set of challenges and issues but it is still doable from a minimalist point of view.  Remember, your level of minimalism is strictly up to you.

So what is your plan in an emergency.  When the Monroe Co. Sheriff’s Dept. comes through your neighborhood announcing on the loudspeaker that you have one hour to get the shit out of Dodge, what will you do?  What will you take and what will you leave behind?  Or will you be the brave idiot who stays behind to protect your property from the wrath of nature?  I believe you should have every right to do so.  Just notify your next of kin.  Remember, the less you have, the less you have to lose, the less you have to worry about.  Storm season is right around the corner.  Start making a plan.  Minimalize now instead of waiting for some outside force like a tornado or storm surge to do it for you.  Make an event like a storm an inconvenience, not a life changing event.

And don’t forget your pets.  High priority.

Today I am down to single bag, a laptop, phone, and some clothes.  If I lost everything I could replace it all in about 24 hours with minimal expense and inconvenience.  As bad as disasters like Irma are, as long as I am not in actual harms way, recovering is no big deal.

Can you say the same?  How fast can you recover if you lost everything?  Would it be a life changing event, or just a blip?  One of the keys of minimalism is to position oneself to be able to adapt and adjust to whatever life throws at you. The ability to not be stopped by some major event but to be able to side step said event and move on without losing anything.

I see too many people in the aftermath of some disaster, absolutely stunned by their losses of material goods.  They allowed themselves to be so dependent on things, possessions, and stuff it controls their life.  When it’s all gone, they are lost and unable to fathom life without all they have before.  It’s not how I want to live.  Sure, owning stuff can make life comfy and give a false sense of security.  But look at how easily it can all be taken away.

People wonder how I can live without so much stuff.

I wonder how they live with so much.

Stay safe everyone.

Capt. Fritter


  One Response to “Minimalism & Disasters, Part 2…”

  1. this post is a classic.
    it will never go out of date. i’m glad you ran it again. it always applies.
    though thinking of KC and Charley tugs hard at the heart strings.