Prepare for Disaster – Backup Your Files

In 1951, I was 8 years old and at home recovering from the measles. I heard what sounded like someone knocking at the door so I called my mother and when she opened the door our yard was full of black smoke. The sound I heard were the flames crackling on our roof which was fully ablaze. We got out of the house with nothing more than the clothes we were wearing, feeling our way through the smoke to a neighbor’s house. My mom ran back to get our dog who was tied to a clothes line in the back yard and asked the neighbor to call our doctor to make sure I wasn’t still contagious. When she got the doctor on the line she excitedly exclaimed, “Their house is on fire and Mrs. Anderson wants to know if it’s OK for Jimmy to go outside.” I laughed so hard tears wear rolling down my cheeks. I told my mom about the call when she returned and she laughed too and we shared a long hug. In that moment of panic and fear I first discovered the amazing ability of laughter to relieve stress.

We were living in a rented farmhouse in a rural area of southern Indiana and even though the fire department had already been called by the time they arrived the house was completely in flames and nothing could be salvaged by the firemen as it burned to the ground. My father raced home from work the moment he heard what was happening and was relieved to find us both safe, but then the sense of loss settled in and we realized we would have to start over again from scratch. My brother who was married at the time came to help my dad go through the ashes as soon as it was safe to see if anything could be salvaged. A photo appeared on the front page of the Evansville Courier of my brother in the middle of the ruins holding a porcelain piggy bank that had been on top of the refrigerator which was now an unrecognizable pile of misshaped metal. It was the only thing anyone could find.

Over the next weeks and months I saw first hand the kindness and generosity of people when someone they know needs help. My father worked at the Chrysler plant in Evansville and was an officer in the local UAW union, so most of the workers there knew him and they took up collections of money, food and clothing. We received so much clothing and used furniture that my parents took what we could use and donated the rest to a local charity. The small country church we belonged to also had a gathering to present us with even more things that we needed. I remember they gave me a baseball, glove and bat. They also gave me a Bible which I still have and cherish.

For years after that we would look for a photo or memento and then remember it was lost in the fire. Even though it has been over sixty years since then, I still miss those irreplaceable photos of my grandparents and parents when they were young.

In this digital age in which we live my photos and important documents are all saved on my computer and I’m sure most of yours are too. No insurance can protect them from loss when our computer crashes, but we can avoid losing them by simply backing up our files safely. I use a backup service that is very inexpensive, but protects my files with military grade encryption so that only I can retrieve them whenever I want and from any devise I choose. I now have complete confidence that I will not experience that horrible sense of loss again.