What Would You Take?

People magazine cover — November 19, 2012
People — November 19, 2012
This is a guest post by Trevor Rumsey

A couple of weeks ago I was reading the November 19th, 2012 issue of People magazine. It talked about some of the stories of rescues and survival around the recent superstorm Sandy that hit the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

One article entitled “Found in the Wreckage” (pages 58-59) caught my attention. The article spotlighted eight different families whose homes were destroyed by the storm.

It showed each of them holding the possession they grabbed as they frantically abandoned their home to escape the storm and save their lives.

As I was reading the article I started to put myself in their place and to think about what would I take if I only had enough space and time to grab one or two things?

As I thought on this it didn’t take long to come up with the answer.

I would take as many family pictures as I possibly could.

I imagined what it was like for these people with the flood water coming in through the house and outside it is raining. Pictures that were taken outside probably got wet and damaged.

And as it turned out, four out of these eight families chose their family photographs as the item they grabbed.


Although I am only 38, I have a lot of memories collected in the way of family photos. I am still in the process of raising five children.

In my mind, the family photos are what I call the equity of my life. They hold the memories of bringing my children home from the hospital, seeing their first steps and recalling their early birthday parties. As I get older, these memories are what I cherish most.

Just last night we pulled out the old pictures and my kids had a great time seeing themselves when they were babies.

children looking at family photo albums on couch

children looking at family photo albums on couch

children looking at family photo albums on couch

At times it may seem like a daunting task to organize, back up, and store our old photos. We may even have the attitude of, “the likelihood of something happening to my photo collection is so slim.”

I have a tendency to think like this as well, however I have already had two house disasters in my lifetime.


The first one came in 1983 when I was only eight years old. Our house was right on the ocean in Southern California. There was a massive storm that heaved waves past their normal range and one of these waves crashed through our house filling the entire first floor with sea water.

two boys in front of beach house damaged by ocean wave
That's me holding the cookie up in the air out in front of our house in 1983. You can see the 2 x 4's holding up the front of the house so it doesn't fall forward. The water was 8 feet deep inside. There was so much force from the wave that it came through the house and blew the garage door off across the street!


Then the second instance happened just three years ago when a pan with cooking oil was accidentally turned on and ignited a kitchen fire!

Luckily my family was able to put it out before more than the kitchen was ruined, because it was only minutes away from fully engulfing the entire house. We had to move out of our house for a few days while a restoration company came in and cleaned everything and repainted.

In both cases I was lucky that our photo collections were not damaged.


A few months ago I came across ScanYourEntireLife.com. It has been really good for me to learn from Curtis a systematized way to scan and organize my old photos. He has given me the confidence that I can complete this project.


boy standing next to a stack of photo albums that need to be digitally scanned
You can see I have just a little bit of work ahead of me!

My ultimate goal is to have all of my photos digitally archived and backed up in a few different locations so that if (when) the next fire, storm, flood, earthquake, theft (you name it) happens I will know what I will take.

I will grab my external hard drive and head for the door, knowing that I have all of my physical memories saved.


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