Sunday, October 2, 2022


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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In the Woods
2 years ago

We wouldn’t risk our laptops and external hard drive in the truck in temperature extremes, or in certain parking locales. And most often we don’t get to know our neighbors well enough to exchange phone numbers, but we do keep the campground emergency and office numbers with us and make sure the office has both of our cell numbers. We hide a key on the TV’s exterior “just in case.” And we have a very small (10x10x3) bug-out bag (with USB with scans of important items, a few checks and some cash, one week of meds, phone #s, spare keys, and such) that we often take with us when we leave the rig, depending on weather, terrain, length of time away, etc. The article is a reminder of the need to stay prepared, but a list would have been a great inclusion.

2 years ago

“ their” list could have been a nice ending.

tim palmer
2 years ago

On a trip to see the Biosphere in AZ it started pouring when we were inside touring. By the time we came out, the parking had water rushing through it about a foot deep. It washed out a culvert down the road and everybody had to wait for the road crew to come fill the road back in before we could get out.

2 years ago

We were once RVing up in Utah near Canyonlands National Park out of Monticello. We were exploring way back in the backcountry down probably 40 miles of dirt road, and though it was overcast, we saw no rain. However, it rained somewhere, and as we were returning, we got about 100 yards from the paved Hwy. 211 only to see the normally dry “dip” in the road we had to cross had turned into a raging torrent about 50 feet wide and several feet deep (similar to the bike photo above). We had two vehicles in our our group, and it was night time by then, so we just parked there with our flashers on in case someone came roaring up from behind and waited it out. Every once in a while, we’d toss a large rock into the “river” and see it “kaploosh” into deep water, and we’d look at each other and say “Nope!”. After a couple hours, the water got down to where we felt we could get through, and did, ten more miles and we were back at camp. We’ve always had 4×4 vehicles, so we weren’t too concerned.

Sink Jaxon
2 years ago
Reply to  C.Lee


Bob p
8 months ago
Reply to  Sink Jaxon

The smart thing is not going to those type of places without bright sunny skies and a weather forecast ahead of time.

John Koenig
8 months ago
Reply to  C.Lee

with USB with scans of important items, “
DON’T be surprised if NOBODY will plug your USB thumb drive in their computer. LOTS of USB thumb drives have malware on them. Said malware is written so that it loads onto any computer the thumb drive gets plugged into. You and your partner could simply use your phones to photograph both sides of said documents which would then be readily available for viewing.

2 years ago

When we leave for the day, we always hide the key incase we can’t get back to the cat…..we know ‘management’ and also have one friend at the park we could contact…..
When on the road in our 5r, ALL valuables travel in the truck….you only have to see 1 rv accident tot realize you don’t want to try and find anything left

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