Courtney here! I wanted to share a little story about SideDrawer and how useful it was during a recent stressful situation. “What is SideDrawer” you ask? Great question! SideDrawer is a secure, online storage and collaboration tool for important documents and information – think of it as a shared online filing cabinet – that we are using as our new client portal. In our line of work, sharing sensitive and private information is a daily occurrence, and we always want to ensure that we are doing so as securely as possible. Using SideDrawer will allow us to share and request information from you, our clients, in a way that is safe and easy. Read on to find out how I used my personal SideDrawer to help me prepare for possible evacuation!
As you've likely heard, we’ve been dealing with an unprecedented wildfire situation in Nova Scotia. There are a number of wildfires burning across the province, with the closest fire to us being in Tantallon. The Tantallon fire is currently holding at about 950 hectares in size, and while we are no longer in any immediate danger of it spreading, last week was a whole different story! Although evacuation orders have been lifted for some areas, my house is still within the Local State of Emergency zone, so I spent most of last week on high alert waiting to hear if my neighbourhood was next on the evacuation list. Thankfully, it started raining here on Friday and doesn’t show any signs of stopping anytime soon, so we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief!
I was very lucky and ended up not having to evacuate, but I was prepared and ready to leave if it came to that. Unfortunately, there are so many families nearby who did not get that chance. The fire in Tantallon grew very quickly, and many people who weren't home when it started did not have enough time to return for their pets or personal belongings. I cannot even begin to imagine the heartbreak and stress that those families are going through right now, and my heart goes out to everyone who's been affected by this tragedy.
This is the first major natural disaster that I've lived through as a homeowner, and the first time that I've had to try and wrap my head around the possibility of leaving my home and potentially losing everything. While it's been a truly terrifying and stressful time, it's also put into perspective what truly matters. As my partner and I walked through our home trying to decide what to pack into our emergency go-bags and what to leave behind, I realized that 1) I have way too much stuff, and 2) almost all of it is replaceable.
Aside from a few photos, cherished books and irreplaceable sentimental items, clothes/toiletries, and some emergency pet supplies, my partner and I were ready to grab the pets and leave everything else behind if we had been told to leave. We knew the rest would be covered by our homeowner's insurance and could be replaced. (Side note - review your homeowner’s insurance regularly to see what is/isn’t covered - you never know when you may need it!)
One thing that I'm glad we didn't have to worry about, is trying to sort through and pack up our important documents and paperwork in a hurry. Keeping our office paperwork organized is something I take great pride in, but I wish I could say the same for my personal paperwork! As I mentioned, I started using SideDrawer a while back to organize digital copies of my personal insurance documents, household paperwork, and any other miscellaneous files/records that we wanted to keep safe. While I still have paper copies of everything, my home filing system leaves something to be desired… When we received the first emergency alert, knowing that everything was saved and organized in my SideDrawer meant that I didn't have to worry about sorting through and packing up sensitive documents.
I also made sure to take photos of every room in the house and garage for insurance purposes and uploaded those photos to my SideDrawer for safe keeping. If anything happens to the house, I know that I'm at least prepared with everything needed for an insurance claim! I really hope it doesn’t ever come to that, but I'll be ready if it does. If you'd like to have access to your own SideDrawer so that you can be emergency-ready as well, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get you set up as soon as possible!
While some great progress has been made on the Tantallon fire, the larger fire in Barrington/Shelbourne continues to burn out of control, and we still have a long way to go before things are settled. Even once the fires are out, there will be a long road to recovery for many Nova Scotians. If you or your loved ones have been displaced or affected by the fires, know that your Black Star family is thinking of you and wishing for the best!
And to all our firefighters and first responders, there are not enough words in the dictionary to properly articulate how grateful we all are for your service and dedication, so I'll keep it simple - THANK YOU!