The dark clouds have rolled in, the wind is picking up and the sirens are sounding.
Could you decide in 10 minutes or less what your most valuable possessions are?
Most important, is everyone in your family accounted for?
This has been the reality for many people in the South and Midwest who have been the victim of recent violent storms. Many people have time to save only one possession in a sudden natural disaster: their life.
People across the Lowcountry said that family and pets were their top priority, with family photos and heirlooms next in line.
Mary Bos, a five-year Lowcountry Red Cross volunteer, and Barbara Melton, a 13-year volunteer, have seen firsthand the damage natural disasters can cause. When it comes to possessions, they agree that different people value different things.
"The things that were important to them were not so much material things, but things that were irreplaceable," said Melton, a Summerville resident.
Melton is a psychologist and was recently deployed to Tennessee and Mississippi to help flood victims cope with their losses.
She also helped victims of Hurricane Katrina and remembers a widower whose most valuable possession at the time was a rock his wife gave him emblazoned with the word "Faith."
She also remembers a woman who recently lost her daughter, an artist, to cancer and had no time to pack her daughter's paintings.
"To her that was everything," Melton said. "It was like she lost her daughter all over again."
Some people even endanger themselves to save their most valuable possessions.
"People are afraid to leave things behind. They want to take their personal items," said Bos, a North Charleston resident. "Things can be replaced, so don't wait too late before it's time to leave."