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Sonoma County residents shared the most random thing they grabbed while evacuating from wildfire

Since fires hit Sonoma County on Oct. 8, people’s nerves have been on edge. Thousands of residents have lost their homes, and even more have been evacuated.

Caught off guard, many locals only had a few minutes to grab the things that mattered most before fleeing their home. Common items included family photo albums, important documents, a few extra pairs of clothes, precious mementos, laptop computers and food.

And then there are the people that grabbed a few, well, unconventional items.

Shana Berger Van Cleave of Santa Rosa recently asked members of the Facebook group, Santa Rosa Firestorm Update, what the most random thing people grabbed when they evacuated. In 24 hours, her question amassed more than 2,000 answers, ranging from sort of weird to absolutely bizarre.

While there is nothing funny about evacuation or anyone losing their home, sometimes it helps to pause from the harsher parts of reality and enjoy some of the lighter sides.

Here are a few of the strange items evacuees said they grabbed before leaving home, in their own words:

Dog toys and somehow forgot underwear.

My 10 year old son packed a hole punch!

A yeti mug … in case we had nothing to drink from.

I grabbed the cat litter bin along with extra litter. On top of my school stuff. But forgot my wedding band.

My husband packed his hockey equipment (naturally) but when he was digging for his second pair of skates I had to step in and refocus him.

Jury duty notice paperwork for next day and clothes for work.

All my Harry Potter books. At first I just grabbed 2 (my favorite) but in the end I went back for the rest!

My GameCube.

My dirty laundry! Figured it was everything I’d worn in the last week, so at least I’d have some clothes I knew fit!

I broke down and put my entire cat tree in my car.

My daughter’s belly button stub that fell off after bring her home from the hospital 5 years ago.

Grabbed all my crystals and tarot cards but forgot checkbook and underwear.

My Winnie the Pooh fake pumpkin from Disney World!

My husband packed eight cans of tuna and a can opener, because apparently that’s how we’re going to survive.

Van Cleave’s question was mostly answered by people relieved to laugh a little in a time when so much uncertainty and loss exists.

“I posed this question to my fellow fire evacuees, initially because (as fate would have it) I was scheduled months ago to teach a lesson in church this week about emergency preparedness,” Van Cleave wrote. “I had just watched my 22-year-old son grab his combat-ready light sabers and I grabbed a toothbrush that could be replaced the second I walked into my planned evacuation shelter (my dental office), I made some nonsensical choices when panicked. I wanted to see if I was alone. Clearly, I was not.”

As this thread grew, Van Cleave shared her empathy for those who lost much more than others, stressing that this was one way to share a laugh in the midst of tragedy.

“This is a way to let it out,” she said, “It is NOT meant to be disrespectful or mean-spirited.”

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