This weekend, a hurricane is blowing through New England. Even though it was only a category 1 storm, it is a rare enough occurrence in these parts that everyone paid attention. The last hurricane to have a major impact in Massachusetts was Sandy back in 2012. In New York and New Jersey, Sandy was a terrifying monster that wrought death and destruction across a wide area. Our kids, however, remember Sandy as the storm that brought down giant trees in a park near our home outside of Boston.
Extreme weather events can create lasting memories in children. Growing up, do you remember floods, tornadoes, snow storms, heat waves, or wildfires? Sometimes these memories cross generations ... my dad, for instance, recalls his father getting stranded overnight in a firehouse during a major snowstorm outside of Buffalo. My grandfather was OK, but it must have been terrifying for my grandmother, who was probably worried that it was dark, her husband hadn't returned, and the snow was piling up outside.
When natural disasters occur and people are forced from their homes, we are often struck by the fact that in the frantic rush to evacuate, many choose to grab family photos and heirlooms. And no wonder: These are the items that provide a link to the past, and are impossible to replace.
If some disaster strikes in the future and we are forced to leave our home, we know what we'll throw in the back of the car: a small fireproof safe containing property deeds and birth certificates, some of our daughter's artwork, a box of family photos from the 1800s and 1900s, genealogy papers including handwritten family trees, and a family bible that dates from the 1850s and has many ancestors' names written in the back pages.