Gosh! What a thing to happen. I am so sorry.
But, see, that's what that Dae person in the chat is doing. He has everything on his computer and backed up online. It's wide open to all kinds of mishaps.
I would really not want to be without my paper files. It took me too long and too much trouble to collect all the certificates and other documents to get rid of them.
However, I do have all the stuff in my paper files on my computer and backed up to CDs and flash drives. This way I feel like I have done abt all I can to save my research.
Yes, you have a lot of work ahead of you but, you have a good start. So, I wish you well. Advice: keep paper files no matter what else you do. And, back up your computer files in whatever way works for you.
Monica, in the chat tonite you said you needed to get all your piles of paper and stuff organized.
I got this tip early on when I began my family history research:
Get all the piles together in one place. Doesn't have to be in any order. Stack it all up. Start with the first paper. If it is a scrap or small piece, glue it to an 8 1/2 X11 so all the paper will be the same size. Believe me, you don't want little pieces of paper in your files.
Now start by making SURNAME piles (all people with same surname in one pile).
When that's separated, start making INDIVIDUAL piles out of the surname pile (say your g.grandfather: put everything pertaining to him in one pile and his brother or sister in another pile) Also, put what you have for his wife and his children (until they are married) in that pile also.
Now, you can make some file folders and put the individual's full name on the folder and put everything that pertains to him, his wife and children (until they are married) in that folder. Any married child should have his own folder.
File them in a file box or cabinet in alphabetical order.
For everything that doesn't pertain to an individual, file in a separate place with a folder that states what's in there: genealogy forms, maps, etc.
For my own system, I use my genealogy software and it creates MRINs (marriage record numbers) for each marriage and I file everything for each man and wife and their children (until the child has a marriage) under their MRIN in binders with the Surname on the outside of the binder and I have printed indexes of the MRINs. But, you could do the same thing in a file box or cabinet.
This is just a suggestion, if you don't have a better one. I hope it will help you. If I hadn't taken this suggestion seriously, I don't know how I would have ended up. I now have tons of paper that fills up my library but, it's organized and I can find stuff.
Good luck with your organization and your research. Dodie