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but then we heard trees cracking and power transformers popping every minute. We evacuated to our basement and stayed there until morning. We knew we’d lost power, but were stunned at the hundreds of trees that had been uprooted. A large park on the peninsula acted as a wind barrier, with the loss of 3,000 pine trees. It took nine days for our power to be restored.

“At the time, I was still an unpublished novelist. My computer files were safe as I always use a surge protector, and I’m fairly rabid about backing up files. However, I’ve never forgotten the impact of having no power for nine days, so when I did get my first publishing contract, I raised this as a Force Majeure issue in my contract. Plus, we’ve had three trees around our house hit by lightning, and one of those incidents almost caused a major house fire. “

On the other side of Canada, NINC member Barbara Dunlop is a Yukon resident. Barb experienced a power outage “when the temperature was about -20°. The power stayed out for about six hours. I was able to do some writing on my laptop until the battery died. I wasn’t on a tight deadline and didn’t need to get in touch with anyone in particular. We had plenty of candles, used a hand-crank radio to listen for news, cooked on the wood stove, used a wood-burning fireplace for heat and burned oil lamps. We live on a fairly self-contained, rural property. The only time we’d be likely to leave is a forest fire.”

NINC member Denise Agnew knows about wild fires. “My experience occurred in June 2011 when the Monument Fire started near my town of Sierra Vista, Arizona. The fire consumed about 30,000 acres and destroyed about 70 homes and businesses a few short miles from the city limits. Part way through that terrifying week, another fire started on Fort Huachuca (the Antelope Fire). Huge plumes of smoke quickly rose high above my neighborhood, which is right across the highway from the Fort. Air support fighting the Monument Fire flew overhead trying to put out this new fire as it raced across the fields toward several neighborhoods.

I made a quick decision to throw my ‘to go bag’ and my dog into my car and evacuate. I was able to return two hours later, after the fire was out. Luckily no houses were destroyed and mine wasn’t damaged. I discovered later that a mandatory evacuation was started a few minutes after I made my escape.”

Janis Susan May/Janis Patterson is a NINC member who lives in Texas. “I live in an enormous city where, last year, while The Husband was deployed to the Middle East, we had 14 separate tornadoes dancing around. Some of us only had wind. Other parts of the city were leveled. It was rather like being a small something on the ground while a heedless toddler stamped around, destroying this, sparing that, destroying this... A neighborhood not three miles from me was obliterated. We lost some leaves and a few shingles. But there was no way to predict that we would be spared, so I packed up the animals, my jewelry, my telephone, and my computer and barricaded us all in the safest room in the house, which is my closet.

“The area is being infected with new multi-family housing, which puts a strain on the power grid, sometimes resulting in a blackout. Luckily, these are generally brief—the longest I remember was post-another area tornado and was only 11 to 12 hours. And even more luckily, when the longer blackouts have occurred, I have not been on a tight deadline!” I was curious what the writers did to protect their work during Mother Nature’s destructive events, and what the writers recommend to their colleagues.

NINC member Ginger Chambers once lived along the Texas Gulf Coast, but “I moved into earthquake country. In a big way! I now live in the San Francisco Bay Area. With a hurricane, there are warnings usually for days ahead. An earthquake is immediate. No warning at all. The first thing a newcomer learns is to be prepared. Along with a backpack of supplies to live on, I now have a file box in which I keep all my contracts, book reversion letters, any current correspondence, and my important backlist self-publishing papers, as well as disks of current and past manuscripts. After a bad shake, if we have to grab the supply backpack and run, we’ll also grab the file box.

“I’d recommend to fellow writers the importance of being prepared. Investigate using the services of offsite data storage, or sending e-copies of your work and necessary papers to a trusted someone living outside of your immediate area.”

Sue-Ellen shares, “Losing half a deadline WIP to a lightning strike taught me to never trust that ‘tomorrow is good enough’ to save my work. Even when exhausted, it only takes a few minutes. I now have a wonderful external hard drive (Seagate-FreeAgent GoFlex 500GB External USB 2.0/3.0 Portable Hard    

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