This week, I can not stop thinking about what I would grab from my home if we were evacuated.

For the first time in 14 years, British Columbia has declared a state of emergency due to the 200+ wildfires across the province. My heart breaks thinking about the families who are forced to leave their homes and who have to decide within minutes what to bring with them. My stomach turns at the thought of having to leave our home.

I am privileged to have never really had to think about where I would go if Golden has to be evacuated. Our sweet little mountain town always seems safe. As I drove through Rogers Pass this weekend, I pictured burning forests and flames rolling over the mountains. I asked my colleague:

“What would you grab if we get evacuated?”

We both had a similar list of things; mine included photo hard drives, photo albums, my cameras, the dog, the cat, my dad’s old sweater. I even thought about bringing all of these things to work with me today, just in case an evacuation was issued and I wasn’t at home (except the cat, he would not have been impressed by this).

These are six out of the hundreds of things in our home, what makes them so meaningful that I would delay leaving a burning area to save them?

Well, the cat and dog are obvious because they are living creatures that I love. My dad’s old sweater is the one thing of his that I kept after he passed away. The hard drives and photo albums are full of memories, frozen moments in time that tell my story here in this life. They are so important that if my hometown, my house, my belongings are all destroyed, I would be thankful to be alive and to have my photos.

The more people I asked, the more it became clear that photographs are one of the first things people think they would grab in an emergency.  Chances are, your list is also very similar to mine: in an emergency, you would grab your keepsakes and your photographs. You would grab the photos that will forever preserve your memories and the people that you love.


Jena Lee Photographs is thinking of the 10 000 residents who have been forced from their homes and everyone who has been affected by the wildfires in British Columbia. I would like to take this opportunity to remember that it is the people around us that are most important in life and am wishing everyone a safe return to their loved ones and homes.

The Canadian Red Cross is accepting donations. You can text FIRES to 45678 to donate $10 to the Canadian Red Cross BC Fires Appeal.

About the Author jenaleelaroy

Family Photographer, Golden British Columbia, Canada

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