Sunday, January 29, 2023


What if disaster strikes and you can’t get back to your RV?

By Barry Zander
The rains came. We didn’t think they would stop. Almost 11 inches hit the west face of Mt. Lemmon towering above Catalina State Park in Arizona. We were there.

When it did finally stop, we looked out and saw a 50-foot-wide river of rushing water between us and the exit road to the highway. Too deep and swift to drive or wade across. We were trapped, possibly along with pets in RVs of our fellow campers. What happens if a natural disaster occurs and you can’t return to your RV?

As full-timers, my wife and I were set with everything we needed for days of “mandatory isolation.” But what about those campers who were gone when the rains came down? Several were at the annual Tucson Gem & Mineral Show all day, returning to realize they couldn’t get back to their RVs. Not only didn’t they have food, medicine or a change of clothes, we recall that there were unattended pets left in RVs. It would be days before owners could get across the newly formed river.

Then there was our ferry ride to Labrador from Newfoundland (pets not allowed). Gone for a few hours, but what if our ferry went out of service? It probably doesn’t happen often, but it could happen to you.

When you leave your coach, do you consider “what if”?  Do you have contingency plans for your pet when you ride off to the grocery store? Do you have the phone number of neighbors in the campground? Is there a key to the rig hidden where a rescuer can get to it? Have an answer to these questions. In the case of the washout at Catalina S.P., many of us pitched in to help our neighbors.

We live on a mountain in Southern California. When we go “off the hill” to shop or for doctors’ appointments, the first things in the car are my computer and external hard drive. (Fred, the outside cat who adopted us, can take care of himself in any emergency.)

On an island with no way out

We have evacuated twice in recent years when fires threatened us, and we were cut off almost entirely a year ago when our two main access roads washed out and were closed for months. We strongly recommend an emergency checklist sorted from most important items down to the lesser vital needs if we have hours or days to prepare. It doesn’t take long to compile the list – it’s reassuring once it’s pinned in an easy-to-reach location.



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Martyn Price
17 days ago

The exact same thing happened for us a few years ago at the same location. We sat with fellow campers all day watching the big front end loaders remove the two feet or so of sand and gravel from the wash. The water level was slow to recede. I think one or two larger 4×4’s made it through that day. One truck with a cabover and a Jeep hard hitched on the back got stuck mid way. The owner had to wade out and start up the Jeep to help push the rig out.

Bill Semion
17 days ago

First bit of advice. Almost never cross a wash. You know what they look like: a dried up river bed. Sometimes you have to in areas such as baja mexico, where it’s actually part of a road. but if rain is around, watch out.

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