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Colton residents share what they grabbed, what they forgot and how to make it easier next time

PMG PHOTO: CINDY FAMA - In the Colton area, the alert to evacuate during the Clackamas County wildfires was unexpected and imminent. We have all had a little time now to sit back and assess what changes we need to make if we ever again have to hit the road in evacuation mode. Personally, I learned to pick an escape place that is far enough away you won't get another ready, set, go, command within hours of settling in.

Wanting to know what others discovered, I posted a general question to social media: "What is the most important thing you learned during our recent evacuation and what would you do differently?"

The number one answer was to make a list of what is important and have it readily available to grab and go. The second most popular answer was to keep a full gas tank; don't put off the fill-up until tomorrow because the need might be today.

Also mentioned was to keep all important papers in one place so they are accessible (for some, trying to remember the combination to the safe in a stressful time was a key component of getting the paperwork). Some people said they are now gathering the pre-digital photos they want to save so they can be grabbed at a moment's notice.

Being sure you have all your medications together and planning in advance for animal safety were also popular and important answers.

There was so much that had to be done in such a short time — so yes, lists are important to make. We all realized there was something we should have grabbed before leaving.

When I got to my safe spot, my daughter asked me if I remembered Dad (meaning his ashes). There are things that are important to your family, too (like Dad), that should be added to the list — and no, I didn't forget him, but I did forget a coat.

"I learned to stop for a moment and think," Becky Bradfield wrote. "I walked out without my purse because I was carrying my husband's kit and without my wedding rings, because I'd taken them off to do therapy on my arm and didn't think to grab them, and without a couple of irreplaceable items it would have been easy to grab if I'd just taken a moment. I now have a list."

There were also the interesting and fun answers. In the Colton area the alert to evacuate was unexpected and imminent. So, it was hurry up and get out. Figure out where you are going and what you need, and leave now.

Jessica Craven said she learned, "Children can't be trusted to pack their own bags. One of mine didn't pack any underwear and the other packed like she was going to prom."

Another mom said her daughter packed five bags in the short amount of time, "She had everything!"

The item mentioned that was most often forgotten was socks, and it was noted to pack for more than three days (I didn't).

"I learned what was important," Sally Wood said, "and it wasn't a bunch of stuff."

"I seriously want to organize and de-clutter the things that don't matter," Rhonda Durham wrote. "It really forces you to realize what is and is not important. I don't want to dig through things that don't matter to try to find the things that do."

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