Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for this website—it’s more concise and relevant than most of the survival web sites I’ve come across. As far as your call for Eastern US survival information, something one should bear in mind is that the pro/cons here are almost completely different than in the west. High Sheeple and business numbers mean more assets to scavenge—not smash and grab looting, per se, but ten years into a TEOTWAWKI scenario, machine equipment & warehoused goods will be sitting idle with dead & gone owners. More doctors and engineers and technically qualified people are likely to be around urban areas based on probability alone, in all but the worst nuclear/bio warfare annihilation scenarios. The criminals associated with the larger cities are by and large less intelligent members of society and likely will not survive cold winters, disease and starvation.
With a city lot and good gardening skills, it is more than possible to feed a family.(ask the Russian families who survived the end of the cold war on garden plots of about 1000 square feet.) Planting potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, lambsquarters, and any other inconspicuous plants can keep random stragglers from stealing your food. And Mother Earth News style organic gardening can boost yields well beyond row cropping methods.
In urban/suburban areas, bugout is much less of an option, but is unnecessary if you can prepare a safe/panic room, or 1950’s style fallout shelter, or even a strong hole that you can shoot from. Be neighborly, so that when times are tough, you and those around you can look out for each other. Unfortunately in today's cities, that trait isn’t the most common. Cultivate it. Get a good map of your neighborhood, and just as suggested for rural areas, know who owns what.
Also consider instead of stockpiling bullets, booze, and bandaids: building a distillation setup and knowing how to use it, making sterile dressings from pressure cooked rags, reloading used brass…and perhaps even learning the necessary casting/moldmaking of brass ammunition and the chemical preparation of primers… Ever wonder what will happen to our grandchildren once all ten thousand rounds we have stored has been fired and reloaded half a dozen times?
If you absolutely must leave the confines of the ‘burbs, there are wilderness areas throughout the east coast. Within 100 miles of the dreaded New York would be either the Catskill Mountains, or the NJ Pine Barrens, home of Tom Brown’s Tracker School,(www.trackerschool.com) reputed to be one of the finest primitive skills survival courses around. But even directly on the outskirts of NYC there are thousands of acres of marshlands that are wade-able and extremely wildlife rich, e.g. Jamaica Bay and the NJ Meadowlands. At least for those intrepid enough to hop the concrete divider and leave the asphalt behind. And there’s plentiful freshwater, leaving NYC a lot better off than LA or other crowded western cities, IMHO. With a sea kayak and bugout bag the whole east coast is wide open.
The Carolinas and Virginia have what I believe the most wonderful gardening/farming climate on our planet, along with nearby wilderness and mountain areas, nearby military bases(a plus in certain scenarios) and a large Christian conservative population. But the old saying “Location, Location, Location” is not as important as the survival attitude, anywhere.
For those out there who are trying to survive in the suburbs on a limited budget--I’ve intuitively agreed with the survivalist mindset since I read my first copy of American Survival Guide at eleven, but at 28 I’ve grown out of a doom-and-gloom mindset into a more optimistic view that any coming SHTF may be a golden opportunity for all those who are careful and smart enough to make it through. I cannot reiterate enough how very wealthy you will be when SHTF and all the SUV driving McMansion dwellers run out of food. Have faith that ten dollars a week extra in canned goods and that garden of root crops is worth far more than big screen TVs and other consumer cr*p that the large corporations want you to buy. Sincerely, - Al in Durham, NC
JWR Replies: The statistical chances of surviving are slim when hunkering down in a full scale TEOTWAWKI long enough to ride out a major die-off on the east coast. Under those circumstances you will need a VERY secure retreat, at least a two year food and fuel supply, and either spring water or a shallow well. From an actuarial standpoint, it is far better to avoid high risk areas. (Areas with high population density/hig systems dependency, or anywhere that is within 250 miles--one tank of gas--of such an area.) That doesn't leave much that is anywhere east of the Mississippi River!) I've said it several times but it bears repeating: I strongly recommend that if they have the means to do so, that folks move to a lightly agricultural populated region in the west, such as the ones that I have been profiling in recent weeks. But for those of you that plan to "stick it out" in the east, may God Bless You! Stock up in ample supply (the "deep larder" concept) and pray hard.