California Wildfires Hit Home

What I Learned from the Wildfire

As I begin to write this newsletter from a desk that is not my own early this Sunday morning, I have a lot in mind. By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the wildfires raging through California over the last couple of weeks, and if I’m being honest it feels a little odd to report that they have affected me on a personal level.

Over the weekend I learned that the home I was living in–spent years tailoring to my tastes, created countless memories in–burned to the ground, taking most of my worldly possessions with it. Here’s a before and after just to give you a sense of the devastation.

It sounds cliche, but you never really think it will happen to you.

I can’t help but feel grateful to some extent…I still have a car, a laptop, an iPhone, and 4 t-shirts along with the clothes on my back, so I do still own more than much of the world.

Still, between the mass murder in Thousand Oaks that took place just minutes from my former home and touched many members of the local community and the inferno that has consumed entire towns in the area, it’s been a tough week to say the least.

For obvious reasons I’ve had a lot of occasion to think in the last few days, and here’s some of what I’ve come up with:

1) Let your clients know – be over-insured. Earthquake insurance, fire insurance, flood insurance, redundant policies, every piece of protection you can possibly afford. The period after a catastrophe is not the time you want to find out you’ve been paying out to a half-assed insurance company for inadequate coverage. Fortunately that’s not the case for me.

2) The government will not always protect you. Couldn’t if it wanted to. In a disaster of this scale, fire departments are so overwhelmed that the chance of them saving your home once it’s threatened are near-nil. When they’re trying to save entire cities, your particular 3 bedroom ranch-style home is not the top priority. That’s just the reality.

Even in more common scenarios such as a home invasion, the robber will be gone long before the cops come. Additionally, I choose not to own a gun although I certainly can’t fault anyone who does keep one, so I recognize that if I am ever confronted by an armed assailant I’ll just have to keep my wits about me and navigate the situation the best I can.

3) If you DO want to save your home from a wildfire, it’ll take boots on the ground–yours. It’s a choice that carries real risk too…at least two individuals died trying in the Malibu area. Nobody is going to come save you if you get caught in the flames trying to create a DIY fire break, which is why I made the tough decision to prioritize my life over my lifestyle.

4) Have your data backed up on the cloud. I lost a few hard drives’ worth of information in the fire, and that’s going to be the easiest thing to fix by far: it’s all saved in the cloud.

5) People do pull together in times like this. I went to a McDonalds nearby after I heard the news and tried to pay for a group of firefighters in appreciation of their heroic efforts.

Not only would they not let me, they said three other customers made them the same offer. In the end, the cashier passed on word from the manager that all our meals were on the house.

Airbnb hosts in the area are showing their community spirit as well. All over the affected area, hosts are offering free stays on their properties to displaced people and families. It’s cool to see how technology is empowering us all to assist. Sometimes it’s the little things that can help keep us afloat through trying moments…this is a big part of why I believe in our species.

In any event, the show must go on and work is my therapy – it’s cheaper than the real deal…customers need to be serviced, my employees need to be paid. Team Archway is here for me, I am here for them, and we are all here for any of our customers who have also been affected by any tragedy.

Best of luck to everyone this week and beyond,


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