Living at the beach it’s an inevitable question — what will you take with you when the tsunami comes?
It may seem like there should be obvious answers — food and supplies, children and other family members. But what about everything else? What if you had the opportunity to bring only one personal item with you, what would it be?
For everyone the reponse is completely different and as personal as the item they chose. And the items themselves aren’t what you’d expect. For most people, photo albums and physical personal records have been replaced by digital storage on an electronic device or in the virtual cloud. For some people, pets are an automatic inclusion, for others, they are a “bonus,” if they have the time and ability to transport them.
The responses presented here are just a small sampling of people from around the Peninsula, each with very different thoughts on a future tsunami and what would be something they couldn’t leave behind.
What: His cats, Mayo and Pshta
Why: “It was an instinct. I share a lot of love with them and they are defintely loved by everyone who comes to the farm. Every volunteer, every intern. They’re part of my life force.”
What: Her father’s sourdough starter
Why: “We grew up with my grandmother making all kinds of bread, and my dad continued the tradition. It’s a family tradition and it’s the one thing that can’t be replaced. Everything else now is backed up digitally, and I can live without some of the family clocks, jewelry. But that’s connected to my heritage. Probably parts of it are from his mom, so probably 109 years old. I’ve drug it all over the country with me. I’ve had it probably 35 years?”
What: His father’s ring
Why: “His sisters gave this to my father when he graduated high school, about 75 years ago. And it’s small — I can’t take all the paintings in the house. I wore it a lot before I was married. The image is Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and war.”
What: A small family photo album
Why: “This is small enough that I know it fits into whatever I’m carrying. It has specific memories for each photograph. I know I have copies of these somewhere, but I like that it’s physically with me. I like being able to hold them. It helps me to remember the stories. It’s with me all the time. I don’t want to say it’s a ‘prayer book’ — it’s not really — but it comforts me.”
What: Grandmother’s book from Latvia
Why: “It’s been in my family for many years, and travelled across the world. It’s significant because my great-grandmother chose to take this when they had just hours to pack up their belongings and kids, and she kept it with her all through their years in refugee camps during the war. Of my different backgrounds I feel closest to the Latvian side, and these patterns are for needle point, knitting.”
What: His Toyota Landcruiser
Why: “I already had safety stuff for surfing in there. But I got to thinking, ‘Well, what if there was a tsunami? What is our plan as a family? Where do we gotta go and how are we going to get out of here?’ Our plan is to go to the Chinook water plant, and this will get us there. No matter what, this thing will push stuff out of the way and keep going. I’ve gotta bunch of tools I keep in here, some food, water, machete, tow ropes. Just in case.”
What: Her iPhone
Why: “All my photos. My other thing was being able to contact my people. My big fear is that I won’t be able to contact my people. Those are my two big things, contact and photos.”
What: His grandfather’s scrimshaw
Why: “He travelled the world and did all these things that are amazing. He spent time in Africa, Japan and the Arctic Circle. This was something he purchased. The sad thing is I never got to know more about it. Most of our stuff we just don’t care about, and I know that there is no possible way that I could get another one of these.”
What: Her portable hard drives
Why: “I keep my documents on a flash drive. You won’t have time to haul everything with you. This way it’s nice to have it there. By doing it this way I have it in my flash drive, and out of area I have a safety deposit box with it all on another drive. If this gets lost or damaged I have a back up to a back up. They call me ‘tsunami mommy’ you know?”
What: His handmade copy of ‘The Lorax’
Why: “I don’t think of myself as someone who is sentimentally attached to much, but I remember when I got that from my daughter for Christmas, she was so happy with herself and it was really touching. I was touched by how much work she put into it.”
What: Her family’s Bible
Why: “I looked around the house and saw a lot of possessions that I’ve collected, but when I really thought about it, what would be the meaning after a tsunami? I thought about family and I’d want to know who I was. So I thought of this family Bible that has come down from my grandmother to my mother and now to me. It would lead me back to my roots.”
What: His dirt bike
Why: “I think if it came down the wire, if things were really bad, there could be downed trees, downed power lines. I think being able to jump on this and being to get where I need to go would be huge. In a fight-or-flight type of situation, this would be my personal item."
*NOTE: The idea for this piece was adapted from a similar photo series by photographer Martin Parr in 2011. You can view that series HERE