FEMA & Other Disaster Agencies Category

Thursday, March 20, 2014


As a retired (federal) law enforcement officer, I think JH's article was well written and presented a number of very good points. His comments about budget issues, the police tendency to grab so much free military surplus gear, and officer's dedication to the job was well done.

For better or worse, the police are often the layer between "the government" and the people. They must deal with extremely difficult situations in, often times, dangerous conditions. Most are well-meaning, and, yes, a few are over-the-top authoritarians.

I suppose what bothers me (as I have observed) is a tendency for officers to increasingly view themselves in a kind of a “war” between the police and the public they serve. By the very nature of a law enforcement career, police usually see themselves in competitive we/them relationship with the public. Moreover, after years of dealing with "bad guy's", there is a natural tendency toward suspicion and personal safety.

In my view, the challenging civil upheaval that our country faces is a given. It is coming. Again, the police will be the layer between the government and the people (unless it's martial law, in which case the military will be more center-stage). Personally, I wonder if the Department of Homeland Security isn't (quietly?) fanning the flames that make our police even more defensive, under the guise of professional preparedness.

JH: Good article.... - C.C.

o o o


Attached is an excerpt from "A Primer On Martial Law", as the subject is touched on in the article by J.H. as an "insider". The original “Martial Law” dissertation is eight pages long, so this "part of part 3" is intended to arouse, as a “teaser”, the reader to study deeper into a very important Constitutional question that could be in our near future. The term "martial law" is used willy-nilly in common discourse, without any allusion to the reality of what is meant. It is so common, yet it is not generally understood in a legal sense. I'm tempted to reply to the "Militarized Police" comments, especially as to the recent SCOTUS decision that SWAT teams can legally attack any home, day or night, without a warrant, if the home has any guns, legally-owned under the Second Amendment. Just kiss your Fourth Amendment good-bye! So, are we to trust the police? - E.C.

The essence of "martial law" in this third sense may be vague, but its constitutional effect is pellucid: Any attempt to impose "martial law" by force is nothing less than "Treason". The Constitution declares that "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort". And "if ['War'] be actually levied, that is, if a body of men be actually assembled, for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose, all those who perform any part, however minute, or however remote from the scene of action, and who are actually leagued in the general conspiracy, are to be considered as traitors". In operation, "martial law" proceeds by arraying men under arms in order to set aside or suspend the Constitution of the United States, in whole or in part, and to employ those arms against anyone who resists--without any constitutional or other lawful authority for doing so. Therefore, inasmuch as "the United States" exists only perforce and through application of the Constitution, "martial law" amounts to "levying War against the [United States]". And inasmuch as WE THE PEOPLE are the authors and beneficiaries of the Constitution, "martial law" amounts as well to "levying War against" THE PEOPLE themselves. It would be immaterial that those who attempted to impose "martial law" wore uniforms (even with United States flags as shoulder patches), or held military commissions, or acted pursuant to orders from supposed superiors. Even someone who commits "Treason" under a claim of "good faith" is entitled to no immunity. This principle is part of the modern Law of Nations: "[T]hat the [officer] acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior shall not free him from responsibility". And it subsists in American law of a far longer heritage.

In sum, "martial law" in the third sense of that term cannot exist in this country. It is a legal impossibility. Participation in it would constitute the most serious of all crimes. And it would supply just grounds for mass resistance among the citizenry aimed at overthrowing whatever purported governmental apparatus attempted to impose it. For, as the Declaration of Independence proclaims, under such circumstances "it is the [people's] right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security". And the Declaration of Independence is still very good law in America. (exerpt from 'A Primer on "Martial Law"' by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr.)

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

To respond to the recent letter about the fictional Blackout show:
I too was annoyed with the way they portrayed some of the people in the story but after thinking about it I am afraid that this is how a lot of the people will act. 
The prepper is the story obviously had no idea what he was doing.  I think they portrayed an arm-chair prepper with more resources than street smarts spot on.  First of all letting his young son patrol the perimeter in the middle of the night while he is nice and cozy in bed was the big mistake that lead into the rest of his mistakes.  As far as everyone else, that's how it will be.
The stupidity of how everyone acted in the show is precisely why we prepare.  Hopefully it was an eye opener for the sheeple because really our only hope of getting through something major is having everyone at least a little prepared. - Sean M.


Mr. Rawles,  
It sometimes causes me to wonder just how two people can look at something and come away with such different views.
You posted a message from a fellow in North Carolina who had very negative things to say about "American Blackout." I could only shake my head. He said that he "turned the television off in total disgust and went to bed," calling it "insidious propaganda." Really? Really?
He called the prepper father a man who was depicted as "gun toting, autocratic bully who bossed everyone and refused to act humanely by sharing all his wealth." What I saw was a no-nonsense, mission-oriented family man whose feet were firmly planted in reality. Indeed, his attitude was vindicated by the end of the program, at least from my perspective.
While he mentions that the young fellow was happy to live off someone else's largesse (as is the case with so many liberals), the writer described him as being depicted as the "compassionate one," as if this young man was somehow portrayed in the script as the ideal character in the program. What I saw was a young man who was depicted as being naive, and as one whose misguided inclinations brought the prepper family to the brink of tragedy. The "compassionate one" seems to have somewhat redeemed himself by the end of the program, apparently having seen, to some extent, the error of his ways.
His comment that the young woman who was attacked was shown as having "deserved" what happened to her reveals more about this writer than he might want to admit. Where did he get that? Regardless, what can be said about her character is that she does represent a certain defined class in our society who, literally and figuratively, live above the nitty gritty aspects of life that so many others experience. These people are usually totally unprepared for dealing with life if everything in their world does not work perfectly. So it was here.
His comment about the fact that the movie showed that we were all going to be saved by the government as our "fearless leader gravely assured us" is evidence of paranoia or of a political curmudgeon's perspective. The fact is that our political leaders routinely assure us that everything is being done, and will be done, and that order will be re-established. The fact that they say these things does not mean that they are true, however, and the fact that the producers included Obama's assurances from other crises only added to the cinema verité aspect of the movie. Should we depend on these assurances? Of course, not. Can we expect to hear them in the next major crisis? Of course, we can.
Why he calls this movie a "PC" version of who the good guys are and who the bad guys are is nonsensical.
I totally agree with him, however, that the program offered "an excellent opportunity to impress upon the average citizen that they need to be ready for bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances."
I think that the movie did so to a large extent, and that it will serve to change at least some peoples' attitudes about the need to prepare. The young woman's plaintiff cry, "Why is no one coming to help us?" may sink in with more people. Even the liberal young man who caused the prepper family's near disaster, ultimately came with a gun to aid of the prepper dad, saying to his assailants, "You guys wanted food? You should've prepared, okay?" Maybe more people will get that message now, too.
As for my criticisms, the movie did not show nearly enough of the violence that I believe would prevail after the grid was down for a few days. The manner in which the violence might have been depicted could have been handled in a way that was not so graphic as to offend the broad audience for whom the movie was intended. I would also preferred to have seen a portrayal that depicted the situation after, say, a month, not just for the first ten days. 
The writer ends by saying, "I think I'll just stick to SurvivalBlog." At least that's some good advice I won't dispute. - Howey

Monday, October 7, 2013

I lived in Jamestown Colorado until three weeks ago, and was prepared for various disasters, mostly fire, and I always expected a road system to exist.  Wrong-o!

I have a more keen sense of the Lord's blessings, and they are amazing. The outpouring of support from the various communities that I'm in has been amazing.   I am walking in abundance, but not everybody is. My life has had a hard reboot - I was in some middle-aged doldrums - no more! I anonymized my name and corporate affiliation in the narrative, otherwise, it's unedited, and reflects my understanding of the events at different times, as things unfolded.

This is a narrative of surviving a flood in a small mountain town of 350 persons in Boulder County, Colorado.  After several days of unusual rains, the situation was described as a 500 year flood event.    On Sept 11 I was having barbeque with a friend, and it started raining.   No big deal.  On Sept 12, I could not get to work, because of road flooding, the power was out, and I was prepared with radio, walkie talkies, electricity and food.  I thought we'd down for a couple days, or maybe a week.  On Friday, Sept 13, it became clear that we were cut off from the larger world, and that something extraordinary was occurring.  I was well prepared for the wildfires that come here, but not a flood. I always thought that the road system would exist - and that was the biggest gap in my planning!

Here's a stream-of-consciousness description of events, unedited.

Roger's Jamestown Flood Narrative #1 - Evacuation Sept 18 2013

The Bad:

Last Friday, Sept 13, a Chinook helicopter evacuated my wife and I from Jamestown, Colorado with 3 cats, a backpack each.

Even if the main road is open after weeks or months, my house in town on a minor dirt road was across a bridge. Bridges belong to the  town, as does the water system. Rebuilding Jamestown may occur at the earliest a year, or not at all, depending on FEMA. Given the damage in Lyons, Longmont and Boulder ... well, Jamestown,  with  300 people doesn't take  priority. On  Tuesday, Sept  24, I am mounting an expedition with a couple 4WD vehicles to winterize  the houses, and get 2 cars worth of possessions. Getting things out must be done on foot, over a makeshift bridge and ford with backpacks - even a wheelbarrow or wagon isn't  possible, and I'm hiring some younger friends that meet the inflexible  Sheriff's requirement of having a Jamestown drivers license. I am concerned about squatters and looters, but  the area's secure for a week or so.

There is no vehicle access to the town. Jamestown may not be rebuilt - we've all heard of a ghost town.

Some great  learning opportunities! Did I mention that FEMA forms are full of  questions that you need legal papers to answer? Did I mention that Hospice Thrift Shop is the best  in Boulder? Did I mention that learning to live without my own car is a challenge? Did I mention that learning to use the bus system (which is quite good here) will be a hoot?

The  Good: Really, I'm blessed. My friend Norm picked us up from the Chinook [CH-47 military helicopter] at Boulder airport, and let us stay in his spare bedroom.

Rental with 3 cats is difficult, but it turns out my friend had a tenant not pay rent on Sept 1, and he just had evicted him and the guy left the place  smelling of cat piddle - perfect for someone with three cats! No need to paint, re-carpet, or even put an ad out for a new tenant, it was all done on a handshake.

My wife and I dropped in to my job to do the admin work of setting up a new house. It  is  so good  to have  a place with phone, printer and internet to perform change  of address, phone  service, and so forth.

Someone from my work  offered to loan a spare car!

The future - I may  have lost a house, but may still have  a primitive cabin! My old house above  Jamestown  survived, and because it has a well (with water  that  is rust-colored) and is on the main road may become habitable if they rebuild the road.   Currently, accessibility is via  seasonal mountain dirt roads and the commute to Boulder is 3.5 hours.

How great  is it to have housing, transportation and work's understanding of the situation?

It's  a disaster, but not a tragedy.

Roger's Jamestown Flood Narrative #2 - from response to recovery Sept 22 2013

The initial disaster response is complete.  Immediate physical needs of housing, furniture and transportation are met.   Martha & Marc S. loaned me a Prius, and it's a blast to drive!  Not having internet really hurts, but will be done Thurs, Sept 26.    I'm ahead of the curve in the physical world, but behind in the infosphere, and that's okay.   I can spend way too much time on a computer. Last  week, my wife had an urgent care incident involving  a tiny nick on a finger that turned to a big infection requiring antibiotic injection.   If we had stayed in Jamestown, we would have been in real trouble. Wash your hands!

Weather permitting, I'll muster a team on Tues Sept 24 to recover valuables. This is done with backpacks across a footbridge, and the distance is only 1/2  mile across  a new stream, and up a steep hill.   Our cars are not accessible, and still no word on a temporary bridge to retrieve them. At least our buildings are intact, but they are now buildings, not homes or rental houses. We'll also perform winterization of cars and buildings (drain traps must have anti-freeze, empty water heaters, washing machines, etc). Greg, Rick,  and Nate are loaning 4WD trucks, and I look forward to using trained engineers as pack animals ;-) I also have a couple young volunteer firefighter friends.  I rent a house to one of 'em, and every time he did a call, I told him to take $50 off the rent, to show my appreciation of his public service.   Of course, he's eager to help too.  Karma works.

FEMA help is a mixed blessing.   They provide a lot of help, but are pretty nosy. I paid my taxes for 40 years, and getting some back would be soooo nice. FEMA is a road show - they may leave here this week, so coordinating their inspectors with my Jamestown expedition is challenging.    It  may require 4 trips to Jamestown. My wife is affected financially, as she was a landlord, and now has only a meager state pension, (in lieu of Social Security), and now has rent expenses as well as loss of income. She will be navigating state  and local government assistance, as well as  FEMA. Funny how our plans can change  - I thought I'd be trimming the trees and doing some fire mitigation this month.   That's  one pain in the neck that I don't have! (Later we see this wasn't true ! )

For  my geek friends,   this has been a life-reboot, and I've just gotten past POST, and am in that place where you're waiting and waiting for the OS to come up and display the logon screen.

I  have the understanding of my company management team at this time - folks I know do not have the work flexibility that I've been blessed with.  The outpouring of generosity from employees is noteworthy -  I asked for a  bed, and had 3 on Friday by noon.  I have better cookware  and cutlery that I had in Jamestown.    Physical goods are abundant,  and buying them doesn't make much sense - money's  a lot harder to come by than stuff.

That's all for now!

"It's a disaster, not a tragedy"


Roger's Flood Narrative Three Wednesday Sept 25 A backpack expedition:

On Tues, Sept 26, my wife and I went on an expedition to retrieve our belongings from our homes in Jamestown.

Recap:  The house is standing and undamaged, but after the flood, there's no longer a road  to get  there. The old road that took 30 minutes  to get to Boulder is gone, and some dirt roads must be used, but they're damaged, and the route takes 1.5 hours, and is downright hazardous. In winter it will be impossible to get from Boulder to Jamestown some of the time, and dangerous at all times.

We were able  to get to with 1/4 mile of the house, then we had to cross a makeshift foot  bridge, climb a mud path on a hill with a rope to stabilize yourself, and  backpack everything we wanted out.    Besides getting our things, we wanted to make a start on winterizing the houses - all the water must  be blown out from the  P-trap pipes on dishwashers, washers, sinks, bathtubs and toilets and replaced with antifreeze in order to have a drain system in the springtime.

We enlisted the aid of Nate VanDuine (software engineer), Victor Smith (firefighter), David Lindquist (firefighter), Chris Ryan (firefighter) and Rick Sutherland (painter).   Using  software engineers as pack animals is always an iffy proposition, but after some training, Nate did great.   Also,  Greg Walter graciously loaned the use his 4WD pickup, as did Nate.

It was a beautiful day, and our mission was pretty successful - we got  clothing and computers, but didn't get things like books, cookware, or furniture, obviously! Friends at work and in general, and the thrift stores have all provided  wonderful support.   On Friday, I put out a call for a bed on an employer-sponsored board, and had three offers by noon! People are incredibly generous, and work is incredibly supportive at the local and national level.

Dealing with FEMA  is  my next challenge.   Gathering paperwork is tedious, as is waiting in line, but all in all, I'm impressed with the FEMA response, and with the compassionate and helpful attitude of the workers.   The delivery of services isn't perfect, but the people are pleasant, and that makes a world of difference.  They really must have learned a lot from previous disasters, because my experience is pretty good. One big thing they learned from Katrina is  to let people bring pets on the helicopters. my wife and I have our 3 cats, and that's huge.

In order to get aid for our non-accessible houses, we need to be physically present for FEMA inspectors in Jamestown, and the only scheduling mechanism is telephone at the last minute.

The rumor yesterday was that a temporary road will be up within about a week, so that  we can retrieve our cars in Jamestown.   Not having access to your  car and house is frustrating - so  near yet so far! It's unlikely that the road system will be rebuilt before 1.5 years (two summers), and may not  get rebuilt at all. The water system is a different - because the main access road is a county road, it might get rebuilt. However, the water  system is from 1930s WPA work, and was rickety - it's owned by the town of  350 persons. Now that the distribution system is damaged, and the main plant will go unattended,  it strikes me as unlikely that we'll get the tax base together  to rebuild it to modern standards. A  well isn't an option due to state regulation.  So have a house that's  inaccessible at present, may be uninhabitable for at least a 1.5 years, and possibly forever. As mentioned in the first  narrative I may have a house in a ghost town, but it will make a great weekend getaway - the night sky will be very dark, and perfect for my 13"  Dobsonian reflector!

"It's a disaster, not a tragedy".

Roger's Flood Narrative Four Sunday Sept 29

The finish line for the sprint and start of the marathon, and a word of advice to the prudent.

Sunday Sept 29 2013

It's been 2 weeks since I was evacuated via Chinook helicopter from the Colorado flood.  I can finally use the Biblical and Epic as adjectives without hyperbole. Since then, I've seen an outpouring of generosity from the communities I'm in that's been incredible.  I never thought I'd have so much goodwill to manage!

A few bad things I've seen after the event:

The drunks in my town started "borrowing" bottles from their neighbors who were not home. Societal breakdown happens quickly, and normally honest people become criminals of opportunity. I also experienced a theft after the flood, and that stings. You can't let down your guard, and have to be vigilant when fatigued, and at the same time gracious to others who were affected. These events bring out criminals of opportunity and they hurt those on the margins the most. I've seen of the homeless and marginal members of society hurt a lot. The scene of a mentally ill person at the FEMA site harassing the guards and evacuees haunts me still.  He was eventually arrested.   I can't imagine how the security folks, police and FEMA workers maintain their civility and humor. I've seen scammers trying to game the system and swindle refugees, which is shameful. I've tried Korean toothpaste from the Red Cross and wow - they sure make a different-tasting product.  However, Red Cross will get my donations in the future - for feeding us at FEMA sites, and the general immediate assistance they provide.

In terms of life experience, I was in a rut, and the good news is that I'm not in a rut any more!

The finish line for the sprint: A temporary road has been built, and I'll retrieve the cars today. My FEMA administrative will be finished tomorrow. The time for disaster, new housing for my family, a psychological reboot and return to a semblance of normalcy has been two weeks of running on adrenaline.

Today, Sunday Sept 29, I'm going up for my final FEMA inspection. The drive there is grueling - it takes a couple hours up rutted dirt roads with a lot of traffic and breakdowns, and it will be worse in winter. The FEMA guy and I missed each other on 2 previous occasions. There isn't land line or cell phone there, and a commute of two hours and missing someone makes me depressed.   On the other hand, when God made time, He made lots of it, so I try to enjoy the aspens turning, and there's plenty of chores to do in Jamestown. At 60 years of age, I get a few joint aches doing this much physical work under a deadline, but I'm thankful that I'm in good enough shape to do it at all. JWR's advice about physical and spiritual fitness is to be taken seriously. I did, and now I'm glad for it.

Writing four narratives helped immensely, so that I have some understanding of my new situation, and to get help from folks.

The start of the marathon: Our buildings are undamaged, but uninhabitable due to lack of access and water.  You just can't drill a well, legally, and putting in a cistern and having water trucked may have legal as well as logistical challenges. I have yet to winterize the houses, but I'm hiring that out to locals. I need to complete a fire mitigation project that I was in the middle of, and will now hire that out too.   Expensive. Ouch. The time for a new road to looks like summer 2014. In that time, I hope to rebuild my home, but I have to consider living in an unfamiliar community - which is not a fate worse than death, despite my initial feelings about it ;-)   My bucolic lifestyle had it's downsides, and the ability to get a pizza delivered has some charm. Defending the old homestead from fire, looters, and squatters will be a challenge. I don't know if I'm up to being a combination fire and police department. Winterizing the houses so the pipes don't burst, and maintaining the septic systems is necessary until a water system is restored, and the FEMA funds are uncertain.  If a water system is funded, the time frame is unclear, and there's no guarantee it will be concurrent with a road, but you never know.     I realize more keenly now that homes require constant maintenance and use to keep them habitable. And there's changing building code and occupancy requirements by local government.   The folks relocated by fires in Boulder county found that only a few percent were able to rebuild to code. Insurance does not cover inaccessibility due to flooding, and I've noticed that things have become more expensive than when I was a lad. My best case scenario is re-occupying the house by fall, 2014. That's what I'm hoping for.

This is going to be an interesting engineering and planning exercise, and I'm up for it !

Here's advice in one word.


I had a disaster plan in place with a friend in a neighboring community. We discussed it in advance, and the plan had a list of procedures to follow. The plan was for a fire, but it adapted to a flood.

Laminating a plan brings it to a level of formality that's executable, and if it rains cats and dogs, you can still read it!

The Lord's blessings and lamination are a powerful combination!

Roger's Postscript and Debrief Sunday Oct 6

Situational awareness was key to taking the right course of action. During the rains, after the 2nd bridge washed out, those of us on one of the "islands" that now define Jamestown got together at the 1-room schoolhouse. Most folks didn't understand what was happening, and thought that we'd be back up and running in a week or two, and that between the individual preppers and the government, we'd be up and running in a couple weeks. I had a talk with a friend that I regard as bright, and he simply said "I was in Katrina, and I can tell you that Jamestown is done for a year." That sentence made my situational awareness change, and I could take appropriate action. Most folks didn't get it until a week after they were off the helicopters. I was able to set up a new household based on that one sentence, and I'm now helping others, and participating in small-town government plans to rebuild. Whether we can raise the money is unknown, but there's enough infrastructure left for it to be worth a try.

Some of JWR's readers will take issue with me using FEMA.  Don't judge me.   They are there with money, helicopters and housing. They were effective and compassionate. I suspect that a small town in Colorado can get different treatment than the nightmare that was Katrina, just on the basis of scale.  One of the things that they learned from Katrina is to let people bring pets - many folks had an attitude of "I won't leave without my pet", and they were able to make that a non-issue. I will let JWR know in a year whether I would have used FEMA in the aftermath again.

Families with children were easy to evacuate, older folks were harder. The older folks would not have fared well had they stayed. One had a suspected heart attack, and there was no way to get help to him. Don't be too attached to your home in a genuine disaster.

About 20 people remain in Jamestown.    Some of these have a good chance of over-wintering, and they are all deep preppers whose homes were not in the flood plain.   They are all in the 55 year and up age group, for some reason.  These are the folks who own backhoes and excavators, and there are 6 of them. They will get the rebuilding contracts. Another four are more granola oriented, and they  have experience from Peace Corps living in Third World countries, and they've lived off-grid lives of simplicity for years. They will get the house maintenance (winterize and watch my house during diaspora) contracts. One of the cannabis grow ops was well set up, and that family will thrive, barring crop failure. The others are drunks and young hippies, who appear self-reliant, but just happened to luck out.  I expect a cull of these folks.

I'll check back in a year and let you know my experience with FEMA and more.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mr Rawles,
You may already be aware of the devastating floods Alberta has experienced in the past 10 days, with some areas receiving up to an amazing 8-11 inches of rain and over 100,000 people evacuated. 

The flood has washed out dozens of highways and bridges, stranded campers in the Rocky Mountains, and saw lions from the zoo moved to city jail cells.  The hippos almost escaped into the river. 

In even more worrying news, police have confiscated firearms from flooded residences 'for safekeeping' much to the outrage of the citizens.  [JWR Adds: It is noteworthy that with Canada's system of gun registration, the police knew exactly which houses to search, for some categories of guns.]

Thanks to you and other preparedness advocates, many of us were able to avoid the shortages that followed.

Regards, - Al D.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Along with Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, leading conservative radio host Mark Levin reaches tens of millions of listeners weekly, and what he talked about recently on his nationally syndicated show has sent shivers down the spines of many of them.

A few years ago this was fringe theory, restricted only to the sphere of alternative (conspiracy) news.

Warnings of a massive economic collapse, government stockpiling of weaponry, and the idea that Americans could be broadly classified as terrorists and then detained indefinitely or killed often fell upon deaf ears.

Today, as more information ‘leaks’ into the mainstream, it is no longer just conspiracy theory. We now have some of the most influential journalists and commentators in the country alerting Americans to the possibility that everything the government has been preparing for the last several years may soon be realized.

I’m going to tell you what I think is going on.

I don’t think domestic insurrection. Law enforcement and national security agencies, they play out multiple scenarios. They simulate multiple scenarios.

I’ll tell you what I think they’re simulating.

The collapse of our financial system, the collapse of our society and the potential for widespread violence, looting, killing in the streets, because that’s what happens when an economy collapses.

I’m not talking about a recession. I’m talking about a collapse, when people are desperate, when they can’t get food or clothing, when they have no way of going from place to place, when they can’t protect themselves.

There aren’t enough police officers on the face of the earth to adequately handle a situation like that.

I suspect, that just in case our fiscal situation collapses, our monetary situation collapses, and following it the civil society collapses – that is the rule of law – that they want to be prepared.

There is no other explanation for this.

Sourced via Red Flag News

See the Mark Levin video clip HERE.

The Pentagon and military have been war-gaming large-scale economic collapse and civil unrest for nearly four years. Those within our government who understand the ramifications a massive breakdown in our systems of commerce, transportation and justice are preparing by stockpiling weapons and ammo, tens of millions of food rations, and even emergency shelters. They are spending hundreds of billions of dollars on continuity of government programs and exercises, preparing for what they know is coming.

Now why would the government be doing this if there wasn’t a reasonable chance that such events could come to pass?

We’ve urged our readers to prepare a well thought out contingency plan for the very scenarios our government is spending your hard earned tax dollars on.

So you’d better have your own reserves. For those who fail to prepare, it will be horrific. - Mac Slavo, SHTFPlan.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Let me first say thank you to all who have contributed to this blog for your columns and all your wisdom.  Without this site, my experience during the recent tornado would have been much different!

For some background info, I have only been prepping for about a year. I have been an Emergency Medicine physician for over 10 years.  I treated patients of the May 3, 1999 Moore, Oklahoma tornado during my training years and I was involved in door to door search and rescue for the recent May 20, 2013 tornado. While my house was not hit, it did strike about half a mile from us and we did lose power for about 20 hours. 

My goal for this article is to inspire those who have not prepared, to begin to do so.  To help take what we learn on this site and apply it to tornado disasters.  Lastly, to recognize the problems or holes this disaster caused in my plan and how to correct them thereby help others avoid the same pitfalls. 

Many previous articles have talked about reluctant spouses or family members who do not think preparation is important.  While we can debate the likelihood of certain disasters and calamities ahead, having a disaster plan for your family is the first step.  Part of the plan should be getting the family involved. This is where leadership comes in. It might be hard to convince my wife an EMP attack is eminent and we need a large Faraday cage, but it is not hard to convince her a tornado in Oklahoma will happen.  Basic prepping is a good idea regardless of the situation it will be used in.  

If you are new to this site, water, food, shelter, and protection are the basics. Almost immediately after the tornado went through, there was some concern about the local water supply. One issue was contamination, and the other was pump failure at the treatment plant. Having several cases on hand was such a comfort.  Same goes with food.  I was ready. Shelter may be destroyed, have alternate plans.  Maybe having a stash at another location would be wise with friends, family or a storage locker.  A lot has been said on protection.  We will not directly address that.  

During tornado season, we determined primary and secondary meeting points should our house be hit.  The first one was about a mile away and the second was about two.  This was to insure that if the house was hit and cars were damaged, walking would be a very easy option.  I would also recommend to consider problems with the rally point.  For a flood  it is obvious to choose higher ground, but what about a tornado?  One consideration for me was to choose a point north and west of my house.  Tornados in this part of the country tend to come west to east or SW to NE. This is to avoid both your house and rally point both being taken out.  RP #1 is northwest, and RP #2 is almost directly north.  Learn your region and apply it to your situation. 

My wife and I also carry walkie-talkies and cell phones during storms when we are apart.  As expected, cell phone use was not available for many hours after the disaster.  Text messaging seemed to works some, but it did not at ground zero.  Our wifi worked at the house so out of town family and friends could still text/email/social network us. The secondary plan was not carried out due to us all being ok, however it would have been nice to have while away. 

Because we had days notice that storms would pop up, I went and took the kids out of school early as soon as the radar began to light up.  Not as early as my wife wanted me to, but I will listen to her next time!  This delay meant I was away from the storm shelter when the storm hit.  Trying to avoid a tornado in a car is extremely dangerous!!  Trying to figure out exactly where the tornado will go is impossible.  Many in Oklahoma do this now, and I do not blame them one bit when the television tells us to get underground for this storm.  If you do not have a shelter, what other options do you have? This can and has worked for many, but being in a car when the tornado hits is almost certain death.  The cars we saw had every window broken, and one car had a 2x4 impaled directly into the passenger seat.  If you do decide to leave, do it early!

What worked for me was the kids monitored the texts from mother while I drove.  We also listened to local radio stations broadcast the wall to wall television feed to help pinpoint the danger areas.  The fact that I had a full tank of gas, and on an interstate, I just drove east.  If I had to go all the way to Arkansas, I could have done so to avoid the storm.  This worked well until the traffic stopped (This was a major problem in the May 31st storms!).  Bumper to bumper.  I was not going to be a sheep and just sit in line and risk injury to myself and kids.  I remembered a previous SurvivalBlog post about how to escape a mall shooting by looking official and going through the back hallways.  I pulled off on the shoulder and took the next exit heading more north and west.  Having a 4x4 truck, I considered going off road, but with several days of recent heavy rains, I did not want risk it if I did not have too.  I finally headed more west and found out the storm was past our house.  Now the challenge was getting home.  In a large long track tornado like this one, crossing the path is impossible even on interstates.  This was true for both north south highways in the Oklahoma City area.  Because I was familiar with many back roads, I was able to get home very easy and avoided all the sheep on the main highways.   

In the hours/days after, the interstates were reopened, but sometimes backed up 6 miles or more.  

After a few hours of door to door searches, I was back home and glad to have the generator going,  but now my house was a beacon of light among the dark houses.  I was able to turn off most of the lights, draw the blinds, and try to be just a regular house.  The one thing I could not cover was the noise of the generator. I was fortunate to have about three or four other neighbors close with the same hum or growl, and I hoped since my lights were off, I would blend in.  Be sure to check other things outside to turn off that are not needed.  I did walk around the house and remembered the fountain was running and shut that off.  

I could go on and on about the heroic efforts of Fire, EMS, Police, and medical responders.  They all did an excellent job!  Command posts were set up, ambulances were abundant, destroyed hospitals still set up triage areas, heavy equipment brought in, crowd control, all functioned well.  

Also excellent response was also done by churches, and even local retail stores.  One local big store even opened its doors and gave away whatever people needed that night! By the next AM, supplies were brought in by numerous individuals.  Some brought cash, some drove from other states just to donate a case or two of water! Others brought commercial grills and provided hamburgers free to anyone at a  local church!  Another local community brought two school buses packed full of supplies from water, to diapers, to work gloves to canned foods.  I was also impressed that local grocery stores had palate after palate of water, batteries and food moved up to the front of the store ready to go.  Did you notice all the references to God and prayer in the television interviews?  Not just words, but faith with action!

We did have a few looters in the days after, but I was glad to see a large police presence.  I did see one military person during my door to door searches who was openly carrying on his property.  I was also glad to see the police not even question him about it.  I asked one cop if he would have said anything if he had an AR slung over his back.  He said, "No.  His property, he can do whatever he wants."  When rumors swirled about forcing people out of slightly damaged portions of the neighborhoods, the police were knowledgeable and said they could not force people out unless martial law was enforced.  Most police said they would not force them out.  Many tornado survivors decided to put up tents and stay the night on their property to protect it.  Not sure what I would have done, but the smell of natural gas was significant and I am not sure how safe it was.  


As Rahm Emanuel once said, "Never let a crisis go to waste. " I know Mr. Emanuel meant this to push for more government, but I see this as a chance to learn and fine tune my plans. I was very thankful for the supplies I had, but discovered some problems.  

My water was adequate, but my backup plan of using the pool water was somewhat viable if I had to boil the water, but due to the large amount of debris thrown by the tornado into the pool, this would require a large scale filter of the water before even boiling.  Next step for me is going to be a water filter.  Grade of B- for water.  Food was not an issue. Grade A

Travel was A-.  I did well with getting the kids out early, not coming home, adjusting the plan on the fly, and having secondary routes planned out by local knowledge but this could have easily become a C or worse if I had waited longer, or been stuck in traffic.  I can not emphasize enough how travel is disrupted during these long track tornados. As stated in the previous article, both north/south interstates were blocked for hours.  Consider driving 10-20 miles parallel to the track and than consider crossing.  The length of this tornado caused 12 miles of blocked N/S roads!

Communication is a C.  Primary route of cell phone/text failed (somewhat expected) and the backup plan was not initiated.  My wife knew where I was, but wondered when I would be back.  CB radios may be added and carried.

House is a B+.  Generator worked flawlessly, but hiding the noise is a problem I do not know how to solve.

Community response. A+. This plan worked well for this disaster, but not sure how generous everyone will be when no one has water or food.  I do see the church as a great asset should Schumer happen, but I realize this is not likely to last long term either. 

Just a few other points.  I do know FEMA was there the next day, but they were already dwarfed by the community and other volunteers who can immediately step up and help.  The last thing is related to storm shelters.  If you live in tornado alley, you should have one or know someone who will let you in theirs.  Also each town has shelter registries, but I never saw one and it was not utilized.  When going door to door, we relied on neighbors knowing about shelters, where they were and if the homeowners were home or had fled.  I will add a hammer to my shelter so I can make some noise for the boots on the ground folks to hear me.  One of my LEO friends had a good idea to paint a tornado symbol or write "storm shelter" on the curb by the house number to help us look for folks. 

Lessons learned, don't rely on the government (obviously), talk to your neighbors so the know where shelters are, and begin with basic prepping NOW!

I welcome your comments! Thank you and God Bless! - TornadoDoc

P.S.  After the May 31st storms, many Okies did try to flee and this created massive traffic congestion.  This makes the recommendation to leave early all the more important.  I was on the road during this storm also (on the way to work).  Family wanted me to stay at home, but I left as the El Reno storm was touching down.  I choose the most eastern route north, and avoided the sheep. Had I waited later, I may have never made it to work.  This storm produced lots of flooding. Six inches at my house! Park in a safe place and wait a few hours. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

A couple friends and I recently talked about the state of ‘things’, and how ‘things’ seem to be getting worse, and how ‘things’ are so bad that ‘things’ simply cannot get better. You’ve had those conversations, right? My friend David is well aware of the sorry state of our political system, and we’ve discussed those ‘things’ several times in the past. However, he was not thinking in terms of societal collapse. David started thinking along those lines pretty quickly, once I pointed out some weaknesses of our system, like the fact that our power utilities are not adding capacity, but reducing capacity, all at the behest of our environmental protectors at the EPA. We’ve had some bad weather in this area over the last year, and the power outages heightened his concern.
My other friend, Steve, was already thinking preparedness, and related some stories about how he buys his grown kids long term storage food for Christmas! (“What? No socks this year?”) Steve has his ear to the financial side of the equation and is quite concerned about the deficit spending and national debt.
Both my friends are also seeing clearly the moral decay of our country, and realize that the fruit of that decay will only be destruction. Needless to say, like you and me, they are looking to prepare and protect their families in whatever eventualities arise.
Then I mentioned my notion of starting a prepper store, a retail outlet that would serve our region by selling preparedness supplies and offering classes. So we started talking that over, having several meetings over the next months. We identified a location for the store, our target market, how we wanted to help our customers, and how we would compete in an Amazon.com marketplace flooded with cheap Chinese goods. We are now open for business!
We’ve come up with some good ideas, one of them being offering classes on preparedness elements. Our initial class drew dozens of people and gave us some initial encouragement that there is a potential place for local preparedness supply outlets. We notice that the attendees at our classes are fully engaged, whether beginning or advanced preppers. After the formal part of each class ends, the folks hang out for sometimes an hour, chatting, networking, and sharing ideas. This was a bit of a surprise to me because I thought that all preppers were very private, OPSEC obsessed individuals who would only reveal their first names.
In our classes, we find a discussion format works well because everyone attending is working on some piece of the preparedness puzzle. Even between two experts in one area, each learns from the other. It’s pretty cool to see two ‘experts’ taking notes during a class he or she is teaching!
In the process of opening this prepper store, David, Steve and I have been so encouraged. Before, we were thinking that there were only a few other people thinking preparedness. But now we realize that there are many, many people thinking and starting to live this way, just in our area. Our ‘destination’ for preparedness is helping folks to focus and get more serious about prepping for the gigantic disaster that our government is bringing down on our heads.
Something else is interesting… In our meetings, we have little or no discussion of politics, religion, morality, or the decline of society and impending doom. Very little. It’s as if ordinary people are getting beyond that and concentrating on the important matters of surviving and thriving. We all know that the sun came up today, the grass is growing, and the government is wasting 8 billion dollars a day, 46% of which is borrowed! That’s just a matter of course in our discussions, and we don’t waste time on it.
We are instead focusing on community building. David, Steve and I came to the conclusion early on that if only 10% of us are prepared in our rural county that we all will still suffer greatly. Now it’s difficult to convince a liberal that his thinking is destroying America, but there are many conservative people in my area who already have awakened. It’s not hard to get them thinking about prepping. If we can raise that 10% to 20% or 30%, then we are making progress. Not all of us can move to the Redoubt, and if we all did JWR would likely move back east!
Community building is the process of restoring the community atmosphere and benefits that we had in America 100 years ago. In every community there was a storekeeper, cobbler, carpenter, brick mason, etc., and these people were interdependent. They were not co-dependent, with all the negative connotations that brings today, but they were more inter-independent. Our communities today consist of individuals or families who shop at the same supermarket, but never speak. A neighbor of mine was out of work for a year, and I did not know it! We shop at the same supermarket, but never talk, and that’s not enough to support a community.
When I watch people chatting at the end of our classes, I see community building in action. “Oh! You know about solar power? I was thinking about putting in a small system. Can you tell me about what you’ve done?” That’s what we need in our community -- people sharing their expertise and friendship toward a common, meaningful goal, something more than watching the Super Bowl or American Idol.
The classes we teach are sometimes involved, and comprise topics such as radio communication, canning, food packing, medical, etc. The people who attend generally have a career and are experts at what they do, though not at what we are teaching. It is heartening to see a 60 year old grandmother hitting the books to learn about radio antennas, or a 20 year old learning about safe and proper canning. I’m getting a boost just from being around these people, and I’m finding others who have skills I lack, so I’m building my community network at the same time.
How do you build community to ensure you not only survive, but thrive? You have to take a bit of an OPSEC risk and talk to people about preparedness. In our area, we’ve had some bad weather, as I mentioned. That’s a good place to start. As I was putting up flyers at a convenience store for one of our classes, some guy standing there told me that a week long power outage was not the worst of it, but that they had a two week "boil water" requirement from the local utility after the power came back on. That was the perfect entrée for me to note the wisdom of having water and food stored for emergency use. Get them thinking with comments like, “Makes me wonder what we would have done if the power had been off for a month!”
Without taking politics or the accursed Federal Reserve, you can start a conversation with a fellow prepper. Recommend a product to them like freeze dried food that was ‘unexpectedly tasty,’ or a water filter, or how you and your spouse met a friend at the shooting range the other day. I was chatting with a buddy I had known for years and the topic of guns came up. I found out that he is an expert marksman and had taken several advanced handgun classes, with his wife, too. Both are office workers and I would have never guessed that about them.
A neighbor just changed the license plate on his car to one of the Gadsden flag designs. That opens up an easy avenue of discussion that may just well lead to a prepping dialog.
Another idea is to just call a meeting at a local library about basic emergency preparedness. Invite someone from your local Red Cross chapter to speak for a few minutes. FEMA gives out free literature (well, we are over-paying for it), shipped to you for free (we are over-paying for that, too), and the pamphlets have some great advice for short term preparedness. That will give your meeting credibility, in case the local constabulary show up to take names. That’s the first batch of your community building effort, because most people there will be interested in long term preparedness, not just how to apply a band-aid or open a bottle of water. Branch out from there.
As we have been building community, I’ve been feeling better about my family’s decision to bug-in and stay put. We are in an east of the Mississippi state which is within a several hour drive of a couple heavily populated areas. Though our county is rural, it could suffer an influx of refugees, if they survive the ride up the interstate. I’m not about to move to Idaho due to family, climate, and age.
While the greater population density is a downside, it’s not if a bunch of those people are part of my community. Every person I can get on the preparedness track is a person I will not have to feed, but one who can help me in time of need, most likely with skills and expertise, and by sharing a community workload. Who cares if there are 1,000 people per square mile, as long as most are prepared?
Another advantage to community building is it becomes the basis for the next American government. It is the survivors who write the history books, and it is the survivors who will form the next government. America 1.0 is done, we know. But freedom is not done, nor is morality, or honor, or virtue, or courage. The survivors, over time will be people with those traits, and they will force their will on the government, hopefully adjusting the framework to prevent the next politician-greed driven crash. I’m participating in training the survivors today, my community.
These people are awesome. One fellow is building an alternative fuels business. Another is taking his home off grid. Several are learning about communications techniques. Many are learning safe and effective firearms practices. A single mother is raising livestock on her own small farm. People are finding ways of getting water out of their deep wells and thinking micro-hydro installations using scrap materials.
These are the people I want to share a country with. A John Galt in every community. It’s happening!
I encourage you to build your community, wherever you are. Only about half of Americans are wed to the government check. Many of the rest have the backbone to ride out the end to the new beginning and be the men and women of strength and courage we need to build a brighter future. Yes, store beans, band-aids and bullets, but don’t neglect your community, for by working together we can determine our own tomorrow for many years after the dependents have burned Washington, DC.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Hurricane Sandy tore through the northern eastern seaboard.  The hurricane combined with two other weather systems to create a Super storm (Some say).  The Hurricane or Super Storm created a destructive path that hasn’t been seen this far up north, ever.  Homes were damaged, properties were destroyed, and lives were lost.  This Hurricane had a lot to teach us.  A lot of us (Preppers) were prepared for this storm and tested our emergency plan for the first time, in real time.  We got to learn a lot about our emergency plan and some of us will patch the holes in our plans, if any.

What Happened:

Hurricane Sandy came through the Tri-State Area (New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut), Maryland, and Pennsylvania with a force that hasn’t been seen in over a hundred years.  Hurricane Sandy ripped through cities, towns, and neighborhoods without any prejudice.  Hurricane Sandy also sent storm surges to drown out these areas.  High winds tore through homes and properties.  People were killed, injured and left homeless.  The Jersey Shores, Coney Island, Long Island, and parts of New York City’s landscape were changed forever.  24 states were effect by the Super Storm Sandy, Canada, and the Caribbean islands.  Hurricane Sandy reached a recorded 980 miles in diameter.

The Problems:

Evacuation Routes:  Many evacuation routes were compromised during and after Hurricane Sandy. Some people waited too long to leave while others tried to stay and found out the hard way that, that wasn’t a good choice. Train tunnels floods as well as traffic tunnels.  Bridges were shut down due to high winds. Some tried to leave after the storm and found out they couldn’t leave.  Taking evacuation advice seriously is a must and not something to take lightly. For this reason having more than one evacuation route is very important and so is leaving early.

Flooding:  Many cities, towns, and neighborhoods along the northeastern seaboard took on more water than anticipated.  The water moved with a force ripping houses off their foundations and relocating others somewhere in the area.  Vehicles were floating down the street.  Entire boardwalks were ripped away from their foundations, swept into the ocean and in many cases found more than a mile inland.  The massive amounts of salt water destroyed homes, basements, businesses, emergency services facilities, medical facilities and vehicles.  People drown from the flooding as well.  Some people were caught in there basements as the water came into their homes trapping them.  Two kids were swept away by waves of water.  The floods were made of a perfect combination of high winds, high tide, and a full moon all happening simultaneously. The highest recorded surge was in Battery Park City, New York at 13.8ft.

High Wind Conditions:  Trees, power lines, homes, and a sky crane were damage by high-sustained winds.  The sustain winds were as high as 80 mph. The gust of winds reached 109 mph.  The winds were not expected to be as high in the first reports of the hurricane’s approach.  The high winds also helped the water surge onto land.  The high winds also killed people as it sent trees through homes and debris into the air.  High winds also knocked the face of a building off and shook many buildings.  The high wind caused roof of homes to be ripped off, windows blown out, and homes to collapse. 

Power Outages: 8.5 million people (roughly) lost power due to Hurricane Sandy.  This included a power station in New York City, which had an explosion causing 800,000 customers to lose power. The power was knocked out due to high winds, fallen trees and tidal flooding.  The Hurricane caused black outs that could be seen from space satellites.  Hospitals and Nursing Homes had to be evacuated due to power loss and flooding. “Customers” went days, weeks, or even months without power.  Businesses were destroyed due to power outage. Rotting food and loss of income put some businesses out of business, for good. Even now, some homes still do not have power (2/11/2013).  With the power outage came something most people didn’t know about. Waste management systems dumped its waste into the surrounding bays, channels, and rivers due to loss of power. So, the floodwaters were contaminated as well.

Property Damage:  There was an estimate of 71.4 billion of dollars in damages that spread across 24 states.  As we all saw, homes were displaced from their foundation by tidal flooding carrying the homes away.  In some cases, home were found in completely different neighborhoods from their original location. If homes weren’t carried away by the floodwaters, then the homes were just flooded, which caused mold to grow in the days to come.  Trees fell through home, completely destroying the structure. Tens of thousands of vehicles were totaled due to flooding and tree falling on them.  Fires ripped through homes as well, mixed with the high winds turned the fire into a blowtorch, destroying hundreds of homes.  Boardwalks were ripped from their century old foundations as some of you seen with the New Jersey Shore boardwalk in Seaside Heights.  Sand also played a roll in destroying home, vehicles, and business. Sand from the ocean floor and beaches were brought onto land by wind and water.

Complete Destruction Of Areas and Neighborhoods:  Areas and neighborhoods were completely destroyed due to Hurricane Sandy. Breezy Point in New York was destroyed due to wind, water, and fire.  Over a hundred home were destroyed by fire.  A few thousand homes were flooded.  Some homes had their roofs blown off.  A few homes were relocated to other nearby neighborhoods via water.  The New York Aquarium on Coney Island was partial destroyed due to floodwaters and power loss.  Most of New Jersey’s shores were destroyed.  Some of the boardwalks were completely destroyed and pushed further inland or dragged out to sea.

Looting and Robberies: Looting came as no surprise to anyone but a few guys did try and break into a bank during the height of the storm.  They try to use a pickup truck to get the job done but once they rammed through the glass doors. They had no plan of action after that. Need less to say, they got nothing.  Some of the big chain stores were looted during the storm but once the storm passed. The looting picked up in pace and locations in New York City, I am not sure if looting took place in other states.  The police did a good job ending the looting spree here in New York City.  There were reports of robberies in some areas of the city after the storm passed.  There was one report of people being robbed for their emergency disaster supplies that had been given to them by Red Cross (I only heard that once during a news broadcast.)  Burglaries also spiked in neighborhoods that were hit hard and had less people due to evacuations.

After The Storm:

There were a lot of issues that arose from the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Getting power back on for people. Logistics for disturbing food, water, and other necessary items for people became a problem.  Housing people who lost their homes became an issue too.  Lack of fuel was also an unforeseen problem.  A few deaths occurred from this storm as well. Some of these problems could have been avoided had the city had a better emergency preparation plan. 

Deaths: 118 people in the U.S. were killed due to Hurricane Sandy. 1 person in Canada and 69 people in Caribbean was also killed.  Some people were killed by floods, while others were killed by flying debris and falling trees.  Some people were even electrocuted.

Lack Of Supplies: There were huge problems with the distribution of food and water to those places that needed the help.  There was a breakdown in communication as to where and when food and water were going to be given out.  In Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York people showed up to the assigned time and place to receive their emergency provisions but instead the time would be changed to hours later.  Minor incidents broke out at these distribution locations.  Some fighting was reported but most were arguments that were reported by people who waited on line.  Some people had to resort to getting their water from open water hydrants and walk miles to get there food from neighborhoods that had power.  People in lower Manhattan had to walk north for food, which in some cases was better than a 5-mile walk.  Breezy Point, New York had the most help dedicated to them but even then Red Cross and FEMA dropped the ball.  Shelter became another issue for those that lost their homes.  People were taken to schools, armories, and churches after the storm.  The temporary occupants from a homeless shelter on Rockaway, New York trashed one school by urinating on the lunchroom floors, feces in the water fountain, and food discarded throughout the school.  The lack of logistics and communication breakdown made everything harder than it had to be.

Lack Of Fuel: The lack of fuel was a combination effect.  From gas stations having no power to retrieve the gas from the ground to refineries being shut down due to lack of power or terminals being destroyed due to floods, wind damage, and power loss.  Waterways for importing fuel were also closed due to debris blocking the waterway.  On top of all that 350,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled in the Arthur Kill Waterway in New Jersey, closing that waterway as well.  If gas stations would have had back up generators or emergency pump systems to retrieve the gas, that might of alleviated some of the gas problems. If refineries would of set their backup generators on higher ground like some of them could of done, then that would of cut down on the fuel shortage days.  Fights and arguments broke out on these gasoline lines, one guy got arrested for pulling a knife on another man just to skip the line.  There was free gasoline being given out at one point. Luckily I filled up my truck before the hurricane hit.  

What Didn’t Happen:

A stronger storm with the same conditions Hurricane Sandy had would have done far more damage.  If the winds were stronger way more trees, homes, and building would have been knocked down. More water would of reached further inland, flooding more homes and costing the states million dollars more.  More people would of died.  The recovery efforts would of taken a lot longer.  The fuel shortage would of taken months to recover.  Help from other states would have been minimal due to the fact that the storm might have been bigger in diameter and those neighboring states would have had to help themselves.  Now, just because Hurricane Sandy could have been stronger doesn’t mean that she would have been bigger but considering Sandy was a combination storm, she would’ve been bigger. Imagine if she would have been bigger in diameter.  Hurricane Sandy was 980 miles in diameter, that’s 560,000 square miles.

What I Learned:

I learned that I was more prepared than I original though.  For living in an apartment I had almost everything I needed for the storm.  I also learned that my wife could take care of herself.  I learned that she is actually paying more attention to me than I thought.  She took precautionary measure to assure our families’ safety while I was at work.

I should have had fuel canisters for extra fuel but I have nowhere to really store them in my apartment.  I was thinking at one point to store them on the fire escape but decide against it.  I need to get a battery-operated radio.  The hand crank radios are cool but only as a last resort.  Besides those two things I was pretty much squared away.

I also learned that water proofing most of your gear especially if you are going to keep your gear in the basement.  If you live in a flood zone and can only keep your gear in the basement.  You are going to have to finds a way to water proof all your gear if you want to keep it.  I heard of one prepper that lived in Breezy Point, lost everything due to flooding of his basement.

Bottom Line:

People need to be ready as our weather patterns are changing for the worst.  Having some stored foods and supplies will not break the bank.  Your family will thank you when the time comes.  You don’t have to prepare for the “end of the world” or an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack.  You should just be ready for things that are most likely going to happen such as bad weather emergencies.  There were people that haven’t recovered from Hurricane Irene and then get slammed with Hurricane Sandy.  Some people never even learned their lesson from Hurricane Irene. It is now time to take these lessons into consideration and take action into our own hands.


People need to keep calm and be ready.  Depending on someone to come and help you sucks as many people are finding out in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.  Be able to help yourself out and be ready. No one is saying to put a years worth of food away but you should have something put away for those bad days. 

The Total Numbers: (As of March 30, 2013)

  • Homes Destroyed From wind, fire, and water:  No exact number, yet
  • Damage Cost: Over 71.4 Billion Dollars
  • States Affected: 24
  • Countries Affected: 2
  • Loss Of Power: Over 6 million customers in 15 states
  • Injuries: Unknown
  • Deaths:  118 in the U.S., 2 in Canada, and 69 in the Caribbean.

Quick Tips:

  • 5/8 thick wood boards and cut to fit windows. If you have shutters use them instead.
  • Clear your gutters.
  • Remove all loose items from porches, terraces, and backyards i.e. Grills, Lawn chairs and kid’s toys.
  • Plan your evacuation route and then have a back up planned out as well.
  • Prepare your vehicle for a possible evacuation. Fill your tank and have your bug out bag at the ready.
  • Turn refrigerator to the coldest setting in case the power goes out and pack with plastic sheeting.
  • Freeze a few plastic water bottles to keep your food cold.
  • Test your generator.
  • Fill up the bathtub using the WaterBob.
  • Unplug all appliances and electronics t protect them from power surges and brown-outs.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Mr. Rawles: 
I run a health care facility in a particular state.  I’d prefer not to give away all details as I do have access to certain pharmaceutical supplies in the event of certain happenings due to my position in the local community.  But I’ll be as specific as I can be in this forum in the hopes of shedding some light on a recent disaster exercise. 

Local authorities from the state department of health teamed up with numerous statewide personnel from various agencies to conduct a disaster simulation recently that assumed an anthrax attack on the local populace.  It can be debated here as to whether simulating an anthrax attack is the most useful scenario to plan for, or if an EMP or some other event might be more useful in terms of what is most likely to occur.  But I can see where simulating an anthrax attack might also be similar to a significant pandemic event such as a strain of previously unknown flu/virus or a widespread outbreak of a known virus that may simply stop responding to traditional treatments. 

Nevertheless, anthrax is what was decided the simulation would cover.  Under the scenario, multiple health care facilities would receive supplies of the appropriate medications (cipro and doxycycline) and then distribute these to their employee’s and families.  Also a number of other distribution points would be set up for the general public to receive various doses of the drugs.  So, the simulation called for an attack to have taken place and then the main distribution point to be set up.  The volunteers then went through the lines and “meds” were distributed to them.  The simulation was fairly specific as forms were used by each volunteer and on each form was described the age of each family member, whether they could swallow pills, if anyone was under 90 pounds, etc.  The exercise also assumed that certain people would be only Spanish speaking and provisions were made for them.  Security was also a key aspect at the event.  I saw at least 6-8 armed officers there, though in a building as large as what was used, I’d recommend triple that in an actual scenario as people would be quite panicked in all likelihood.

I’ll list what I saw as highlights of what was done well and I’ll also list a few thoughts as to some potential problem areas:
First..what went well..it was fairly well organized, especially given the fact that at least a couple hundred people were involved.  Also, some very key players from around the state were there and brought a good bit of expertise to the table.  The information about anthrax and the medications seemed to be fairly well understood by most of the workers.  And everyone I interacted with was taking it seriously and trying to learn what they could learn. 

Potential drawbacks or problem areas: 
There are no guarantees that all of the ‘workers’ who would help staff such a distribution center would actually show up in a real scenario.  Many might decide to hunker down with families or evacuate the general area if they thought the attack wasn’t widespread.  Thus, what is the contingency for a lack of workers to help with distribution? 

As I mentioned, I thought security assumptions were on the low side.  They may simply have not had enough local resources free that day to send any more.  And their ‘real’ plan may include a much more robust security team, but I can only judge what was visible at the recent exercise. 

While I believe it is good to train and plan for various contingencies, I wonder at the regional/state/local level if the powers that be are doing dry runs of the more likely scenarios.  Is it likely that someone could spread weaponized anthrax over a large area and infect a high number of people?  I don’t know.  I tend to think that some of these agencies, even if aware of EMPs, may not plan for it because deep down they know that there isn’t much planning that can be done due to the likely communications issues, transportation issues, and a general and fast breakdown of all society. 

All in all, I’m glad to have some inside track knowledge of some of these planning strategies but as one observes a large scale exercise like this, it reminds you that it will be exceedingly different and difficult in an actual event and that we can’t be over-prepared in our personal plans at our home or retreat.   
As you recommend many times over, conducting your own training for your family/team/trusted friends related to what each can or may need to do in an actual event is very important.  Assuming you can read a book, article, blog, pamphlet, or watch a video and thus be prepared is very naïve.  I believe you have to shake the dust off and actually get up and around and practice drills, scenarios, and events.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Just a few notes about RC’s article about ARES/RACES and becoming the EC.   I’ve been an emergency services volunteer since 1986 and a ham since 2003.

Actually, Amateur Radio Emergency Services (ARES) is under the control of the ARRL.   RACES is the ham radio group that is activated by a government emergency person, usually the state’s governor.   In many small areas they are combined, but ARES can operate in an emergency without specific government authority.   RACES only acts in time of war or officially declared emergencies.  Unless a war is declared or martial law declared, you can help others using the radio all you want as a Ham.  Just don’t cause interference with any emergency traffic.

In most counties, the county/parish sheriff is the highest law enforcement official in that county and in my state is responsible for Search and Rescue also.  I suspect that Federal money is what keeps RC’s sheriff in a “Hands-off” position with the FEMA personnel.  I’ve served as AEC for my counties ARES/RACES team and we take the on-line course’s plus the NIMS 18 hour classes held at our local fire departments.

Long before I joined our local ARES/RACES team, it had been pushed into being part of the county SAR teams.    When I asked why asked ARES members who only operated the radios had to take ALL of the SAR classes (many weekends), I was ignored or told, “That’s the way it’s done here.”   I now volunteer with an adjoining counties ARES team and help folks by keeping my radio on at all hours (like the old REACT Channel 9 CB’ers did). - H.B.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I wanted to comment on my experience with my county LEPC. When I got my ham radio license in 2003 I was invited attend the sectional ARRL ARES/RACES meeting being held at the local court house. I jumped at the opportunity to meet my local ham brothers. For those who don't know ARES/RACES is the emergency response arm of ARRL. The idea is to provide amateur radio help to the local emergency response teams of the Government including FEMA. Sounds all well and good.
The county had a total population of under 25,000 at that point. It is still close to that. At this first meeting it was presented that my county was in need of an ARRL approved county Coordinator. So being the gung-ho kind of guy I am I immediately volunteered. Better to be part of the solution than part of the problem I thought.
The process of being ARRL approved and approved involves taking a slew of FEMA instruction courses. These are done on-line and I must say quite well done and very informative. There are tests and if you pass you a shiny new certificate to put on your wall. When you have passed all required courses  and the sectional Administrator for ARRL agrees you are appointed the Emergency Coordinator for your county. I was thrilled when I was appointed. I got a great name tag and was told to contact the county FEMA person to get started helping protect my fellow residents.
I contacted the County Government to find out who that person was. I was informed that it was a Sheriffs Deputy who's name no one knew. The county sheriff was and still is  is a good guy, I knew him personally and had voted for him several times. I went off to meet him at his cop shop. He made call and a deputy showed up. Introductions were made. We had a nice little chat. After a bit she told me that she was not interested in including me or any other ham radio person on her team because I was not a professional in public safety and she dismissed me. Later the sheriff told me that he really had no influence because she was FEMA funded. I cannot fully express my dismay. I held the EC position for a couple of years and never heard from the FEMA coordinator again. Lessons learned. - R.C.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Mr. Rawles,
Here is my take on the Local Emergency Planning Committee (LEPC) for my hometown.

At risk of preaching to the choir, the Government isn’t coming to help you. We all have seen the horrific images of hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and how the Government response is woefully inadequate to help people after these large scale disasters. And in many cases, our current government uses these disasters to further tread on our collective liberty. The quote “Never let a crisis go to waste” leaps to mind. It occurred to me that the government is really made up of people, and most people are not inherently evil, so there must be some reason for the responses being so bad or even counterproductive.

I decided I would investigate, and in the process of scratching around I became an infiltrator. In response to the Bhopal disaster in late 1984 Congress passed and President Reagan signed the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act of 1986. Included in this act was the formation of Local Emergency Planning Committees (LEPC). The committee is formed from:
• Elected state and local officials
• Police, fire, civil defense, and public health professionals
• Environment, transportation, and hospital officials
• Facility representatives
• Representatives from community groups and the media

I found the LEPC of my community in my searching for the “Emergency Response” searches in my local government. The committee had two vacant slots for representatives of community groups, and I decided to volunteer to fill one of them, representing my neighborhood. This was the first indication of one basic problem the government response has. I live in a fairly large city with more than enough people to staff this committee, but so very few civic minded people willing to volunteer about eight hours a year to attend a meeting.

I was voted in at the next meeting of the city council and attended the first of eight quarterly meetings in my two year term soon afterward. You have to keep in mind the LEPC was formed in response to a large chemical spill, so its’ focus is on hazardous materials (HAZMAT) accidents. The mileage of your LEPC may vary depending on the entities in your area, but mine was represented by:
•          A city councilman
•          The LEPC coordinator (City Employee)
•          The water / sewer company
•          A power plant
•          A railroad
•          Fire Department
•          Police Department
•          The hospital / health department
•          Two companies who deal with HAZMAT in their operation
•          A reporter for the local paper
•          Me

First a note on overall attendance, I attended all but one meeting when I happened to be away on a business trip. As one of the “Voting Members” I was provided minutes on the proceedings along with the attendance record for the meeting I missed. The city councilman made it to half of the meetings, the LEPC coordinator was present at all of them. The police and fire departments were represented at all the meetings while the other entities were present for six of the eight meetings. The reporter came to two meetings, and I was never joined by a second community representative.

I didn’t expect perfect attendance, but this told me a few things. The government people (with the exception of the councilman) were very dedicated and attended all the meetings with something to say to the group. The commercial entities attended the bare minimum (75%) of meetings they are mandated to attend. The reporter came twice; once to take a tour of a newly opened police headquarters building when we held a meeting there and the other time to grill one of the commercial entities about a chemical spill during the quarter. (It was properly contained, reported, and cleaned by the way) I was the only civilian citizen who bothered to attend any meeting. I took notes and asked questions, and passed my overarching views on the meetings to the editor of our neighborhood newsletter / web site, but was only mentioned once there in two years. The reporter ran the two stories about the new police HQ and the spill, without ever really mentioning the LEPC. My take away was the government is willing, the companies will do something with a gun to their head, but the community doesn’t care until their hair is on fire.

This LEPC doesn’t get together and game all the likely scenarios like flooding, hurricanes, or civic unrest except where those things may cause a HAZMAT issue. As far as I can tell, my local government doesn’t do that at all. We did speak about power outages and minor flooding from a few storms but it wasn’t very in-depth or detailed. In a flooding event, several cars (with people in them) were swept up in some rapidly rising water. Luckily there were no casualties but I discovered my police and fire departments don’t have a single boat for emergency response. It isn’t that they are stupid, they have requested boats for years. The community doesn’t want to spend the money on getting one, maintaining it and training people with it. But here were 10-15 people screaming for the fire / police to rescue them and all they could do was try to throw them a life ring on a line. After that, the city council managed to get a couple Zodiacs appropriated.

A big concern of the LEPC is evacuating an area in case of a bad spill. If you evacuate people you have to have vehicles, (We will use the school buses) policies, (Yes, you can bring your pets on leashes or in cages) and a place to put them. Our place(s) to put people are in the school gyms or community recreation centers. I found out not a single one of these places has backup generator power. The new recreation center had it in the plans at the request of the LEPC, but it was the first item that got cut when the budget started to get overrun. So if conditions are right, refugees could find themselves in a dark and uncomfortable place in an emergency.

Speaking of backup generators, the city hospital proudly announced they had finished installing theirs at the second meeting I attended. My first reaction was shock –they didn’t have one already? But I recovered enough to ask some very telling questions. Was it a full backup? “No, it covers the emergency room, ICU, and operating rooms but not the other rooms, waiting areas etc.” How much fuel supply do you have on hand? “Oh lots! 500 gallons I think.” How long can you run on that much fuel? -“Gee, I don’t know.” These folks try to run from the meeting now when I see them, because I haven’t gotten the answer yet and I don’t plan on letting up.

The water company chimed in that they had completed upgrading theirs after discovering it wasn’t up to snuff during a power outage they had. It seems the backup generator wasn’t large enough to maintain positive pressure between the clean water and the sewer water, so they had to close the valves and cut off water to the whole city until they got power back to keep from contaminating their drinking water. So I asked, how long will your fuel supply last? -“Gee, I don’t know.” These folks hate my returning questions too –but haven’t figured out testing it and getting my answer.

The police station has a generator that will keep the radios & phones working for three days. The fire station headquarters has the same, but none of the seven satellite stations do.

The police are borderline outgunned. My city is large but not especially violent; we had zero murders in 2012. The cops all carry Glock 22s and have a Remington 870 in their patrol cars, but the armory only has four Smith and Wesson M&P AR-15s, three Springfield M1As and two Remington 700 sniper rifles. These weapons are only issued when there is a call for them or signed out for range time.

The Fire Chief and a few other high ranking guys carry Glock 22s but they don’t have an armory or allow the firemen to carry on duty. The city eight fire stations and each has a mix of tanker, ladder and rescue vehicles and they have a great record for response time. But the prepper in me folds my arms and wonders what happens when multiple large fires break out due to civil unrest –hopefully the neighboring towns won’t have the same trouble and can lend a hand.

So my overall take on local government response is this: They do what they can, but they can’t do much. Every expense on people, equipment and training is scrutinized (rightly so) and kept down to respond to the everyday events. My police are great, they are visible and respond very quickly. The fire department is too. My government wants to be ready and respond to everything, but can’t justify the expense to the everyday taxpayer so many things get left undone. A single black swan event can completely overwhelm my city’s response capability. I am no proponent for the government trying to be all things to all people, so really their readiness is good given their budget. All I can do is try to help educate my fellow citizens to prepare themselves for these events and not to rely on the government. And by the way, I just signed up for another two year hitch on the LEPC.

Monday, December 10, 2012

This article bears special mention: Into the vault: the operation to rescue Manhattan's drowned internet Hurricane.

Steve [an acquaintance who is a telephone lineman] wrote to note:

"Having a cable vault under a central office flood is a major disaster in the telecom industry. One splice getting wet is a big job. Losing the entire office brings up comments like I didn’t want any days off this year. Having fixed splices like this that have gotten wet I have a good idea what is involved to fix this. It’s a lot of slow meticulous work. If the damage is only in the splice case and the copper is plastic insulated and not paper then drying and replacing the connectors may be all that’s needed (Two guys around the clock 2 or 3 days). If it’s paper insulated then it’s fish out each pair and replace it across the splice repeat 3,000 times (Two guys around the clock for 5 or 6 days per splice).

Most of these cables will have water under the sheath several feet from the opening which can’t be removed or blown out completely. Eventually this water will rot the plastic insulation on the copper and cause various problems, mostly static that will be intermittent. The only way to fix this is to open up the splices and dry those out. You then cut back on the sheath until you find dry cable or you hit the wall, that’s when you start replacing cable.

They describe replacing the copper lines with fibre optic cables in some of the pictures. The future of the telecom industry is fibre but this will require installing switches at all the customer addresses, no small job in itself. First you have to get a new cable into the building (anybody want to dig up the street in front of every customer because that is where the cable duct lines are). Then you have to find space in the building to place the switch. Building owners are being bombarded with requests for space from all the various telecom competitors for space under normal circumstances and they just don’t have space to spare which they aren’t being paid for. After that it’s time to provide power for these switches. Most of the time you need multiple dedicated circuits and UPS’s for these switches. By the way you think maybe all the electricians might be busy?

Bottom line they have a lot of work to do before they are back to normal. The cost for just this one office could easily reach millions of dollars and if somebody said $50 million I wouldn’t be surprised."

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I don't live anywhere near the affected area from Sandy, but now that we've had some firsthand accounts, I wanted to throw in my $.02 as an observer from afar:
When the storm hit, I defaulted to the main stream news channels and sites, which got old and repetitive quickly without being very informative.  To get a better feel for the local perspective, I resorted to my smart phone's 5-0 police radio app.  By bouncing around and listening in on the various police, fire, and EMS dispatch feeds from Northeast counties and cities, I was able to get a better feel for the ground truth around the region and was also able to learn how "the authorities" prioritized their response to various incidents.  

The first thing I will mention is that government at all levels is better prepared than most citizens.  They have survival plans so that they can maintain operation, but that does not mean they will maintain services to citizens.  This is probably obvious to most readers here, but I thought it was important to mention that the government is heavily invested in the survival business.  They just won't put it in those terms.

The second thing I noticed was that mobility was severely limited for everything but foot traffic.  Sometimes fire trucks could not respond to calls a few blocks away because of downed trees, water, and live power lines in the streets.  Later on, some response vehicles who were isolated from their stations were taken out of commission because they simply ran out of gas and could not get back to fill up the tank.

The third thing I noticed was that looters were the lowest priority during and immediately after the storm.  Responders called in suspicious characters from time to time, but most were too busy clearing roads, putting out fires, and fixing power line hazards to deal with looters.  This makes sense when you consider that loss of life from fires and downed power lines is more important than the theft of Mr. Jones' big screen television.

I did hear one interesting call:  I don't remember what city, but a fireman noticed three people walking in the storm wearing camouflage [uniforms].  I don't know who they were, but they were immediately considered a threat.  If they were preppers, they need to learn to blend in.  If they were looters, God bless them for putting a big police target on their own backs.

One final observation.  This was not WWIII, and it would take something much bigger and of longer duration for things to degrade to that point.  Many amateur preppers put a disproportionate emphasis on armaments, and then when disaster strikes, they lack basic creature comforts and have to go primitive or bug out.  After Hurricane Sandy, which would you rather have had: a $2,000 tricked-out battle rifle or a decent generator and 50 gallons of gas?  From what I've seen and read from afar, thanks to the lack of roving mobs, security during Sandy could be as easily maintained with a .38 Special revolver or even a baseball bat.  After all, what's the point of being prepared for the the zombie apocalypse if it means you suffer more during less severe disasters?
Thank you James for running a site where normal people can find and share reasonable, balanced information on preparedness.

God Bless, - Robert in Texas

I am a native New Yorker who has lived in the city for more than 30 years. As much as I would like to live elsewhere safer, I still very much love the city and have to remain here because of work and my mother. The recent devastation left by Sandy wreaked havoc in the city. You can read about plenty of details on the hurricane from the news and other posts so I'm just going to keep this post short based on some of the problems encountered that were unique to an urban environment. In addition to the basic necessities of being prepared, I would like to add some further precautions that can be utilized to help minimize some future problems that can occur in a highly populated city such as New York.

• Electronics/communications: Many people who were in downtown Manhattan had no power and these days, we are tied to our cell phones, laptops, etc. They had to travel uptown in desperation to charge their lifeline. Without a cell phone, there would be no way for many people to contact anyone. Having an extra external charger would've been handy along with another charger that utilizes AA batteries as part of their emergency kit will make a good last resort back up.
• Money: ATMs were down in certain places and because there was no power, restaurants and stores only accepted cash. If you had no cash and the ATM wasn't working or was empty, you weren't getting anything. Always have some cash on hand.
• Gas: This was a big problem since many people from surrounding areas had no gas due to power outages and so people from New Jersey, Long Island were driving to NYC to fill up. People waited more than 3 hours in line for gas. There was a lot of tension and anxiety caused by a gas shortage. Many gas stations were eventually closed when there was no gas left. My girlfriend had the foresight to remind me to fill up on gas before the storm hit so this should be a good lesson to fill up and stock up in advance of a possible disruption.
• Transportation: The lifeline of New York was cut off since trains were flooded along with extensive damage to the rails and tunnels. There was major traffic lasting hours since it created a bottleneck effect at the bridges that were open. There was also chaos at shuttle bus stops everywhere. Many buses were full and simply bypassed many passengers who were waiting for hours to get on and the city put restrictions by creating carpool lanes into Manhattan with a 3 passenger minimum. Any less and you would have been turned away. This turned what normally would have been a 30 minute commute into a three hour commute. Having a bike or being able to walk for long distances would eliminate the dependency on cars and public transportation.
• Of course, other typical events related to post disaster scenarios occurred (especially in poor neighborhoods like Coney Island) such as: food/water shortages and looting.

A great tragedy occurred in this great city. I hope that people here will start to wake up and become more self sufficient. Those who were spared have been given another chance to do better for themselves and their families in the future. For those who were directly affected, we all pray for your quick recovery. May peace be with you all - A.I.K.

Dear James,
Greetings from New Jersey and thank you for your fantastic blog. My power was not restored until Sunday after losing it one long week ago.

Survival preps, i.e. food, water definitely not a problem for me. Between frozen food,cans and home canned then long term food in Mylar and pails, I can go a year or more. This hurricane is a great "dry run" and those that endured devastation, my heart and prayers go out to them.

On the other hand, so many don't even have the simple things a day or too. Simple things like filling the car or truck fuel tank before the storm, or getting a few more batteries. As the storm hit, I sat back, having gotten my sick elderly mom from the New Jersey shore, made contact with friends and relatives to try and get out of harm's way. The power went out very early and within lays a comfort level knowing you can provide for you and your family.

Sitting around the table listening to the hand crank radio under the glow of the Coleman lantern. As the wind howled communications failed. Cell towers along the coast ceased. Roads closed throughout the state. Those with cell phones had no way to charge them if cell service was available.

As our procedure, the emergency two way radios were put into use. At midnight I heard the call signal and a brief verbal check in. We would monitor and contact every 8 hours. Communications are very important. Even someone's a quarter mile away might as well be in Europe during an emergency, without communication, and a source of immediate back up or help if needed.

As the storm hit us harder, we lost contact with friends and family throughout the night. Communications can not be stressed enough.

The next morning, reports of devastation along the coast, of millions of people without power, without water and food. I'm sure not everyone believes in prepping for a year or more, but please, some cannot even feed themselves for two days without demanding that Uncle Sam must help them.

Within the day, people realized that without gas, you can't drive or run generators. Without generators, no gas at the gas stations. Yes I personally saw lines at the few gas stations with gas and open over a mile long. Society was breaking down after just 24 hours.

Milk could not be delivered, no diesel for the trucks. Milk could not be picked up at the farms, again, no fuel. I ask, doesn't anyone prepare?

During the day Tuesday, I get a radio message, rumor has it there is some looting, and its time to lock and load. So be it.

During the frost two days, you would hear generators running day and night. I thought to myself they must have huge amounts of fuel. In order to conserve, I would run it for few hours, shut it off and run it again. One by one, you heard the generators go silent. By conserving, 50 gallons would last for a month or more.

As for eating, oh my, we ate terrifically. Long slow cooked meals and knowing, it would be a long time before we ran out. And yes, there would be lots of rice and beans in the future, but not yet.

As of today, sunday, there still is no fuel available. Food distribution is at a stand still.

What have I learned. Fuel s critical. If you don't have it, you won't get it.

Cell phones become useless when the power s down. Alternate communications are a must. With that a thought. If the government became abusive, how would you spread the word? How would you get pictures out so others can see? Internet was not available locally and can be shut down at will by the government.

Have backups. My transistor radio stopped working. The crank up took its place.

Be ready to move fast. New York City was locked down. Tunnels and bridges closed. Have a way to travel and avoid check points.

People have lost everything and many more are suffering. Learn what you can from these warnings.

God bless America and pray for out country on Tuesday. - Rich S.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Dear Editor:
I live in southeastern Connecticut. I am far from wealthy and I live in a section of town while certainly is not what one may consider a ghetto, neither is it in any way "nice". I would not label myself as a prepper nor a survivalist, instead I have common sense. I have a good stock of food and water, preparations and gear in case I have to leave, not for some cataclysmic disaster but because I live in a world that has hurricanes and natural disasters.

Our Governor here in Connecticut recommended that my area evacuate. I did not. Though I am on the coast, my apartment is at a higher elevation and sure enough I did not suffer any of the flooding many others are dealing with. I watched closely every weather channel report, internet weather and government report and I was fairly certain that I would be okay where I am and sure enough I was. I did lose power however, though only for a day.

The reason for writing this and passing it on is an observation of what preparing really is. I have a basement apartment. Because of it's construction I can hear most anything going on outside. The winds died down around 3 in the morning. At 4 a.m. I could hear multiple voices and footsteps in the leaves. the voices were hushed and the steps...hard to explain, gave me the impression of sneakiness. Before I continue I wish to point out I am Christian. While I believe in defending myself, my friends and family, I also believe in following Christ's footsteps in word and deed. Having said that, I went and got my shotgun and placed it out of sight but next to the door and my hand right beside it and calmly opened my door in time to see a twenty something male and four others round the corner and stop in surprise at my smiling face. We all looked at each other for a few seconds and very calmly and in a measured voice I asked them what they were up to. Their claim was that they were just checking out the damage. "While in the dark at four in the morning?" They didn't say anything. 

"Well you know, it would probably be best if you moved on, you're on private property here and I don't think it's safe for anyone." All with a tight smile and friendly voice. And my hand out of sight on my shotgun. 

"We don't want any trouble." 

I responded: "Neither do I."

At this point I let them see the shotgun. I didn't raise it, point it anyone, just swung it over to rest next to my leg. "Look, your in someone else's yard, in the dark after a major storm. Somebody might think you're looting and who wants that sort of nonsense, just go home before we are all in trouble."
"Sorry mister" and they were on their way. I watched them round the corner and as far as I could tell meandered down the road. I sat out on the porch until  sunrise with that gun across my lap.
I saw a policeman yesterday, an acquaintance. Around 6 a.m. on that same morning  of my little run in, a few streets over at the cop had a call. A man confronted a group of young men in his front yard. He came out of his house with a bat and took a swing. He got beaten pretty bad and sent to the hospital. I wonder if he just came flying out of his house set upon violence and such. 
Part of my common sense is that I go for walks in my neighborhood.  Have been since I had to move here. I make sure everyone see's my face, I often greet people with a smile and a hello. It is a rough neighborhood. A couple of streets over there are drug houses. I walk there too. I am easy to recognize. I am over a very large man both in strength and overweight (thus the walking). I figure people are less likely to mess with a friendly person they recognize. Plus I get to see who's around. 
I am pretty sure I recognized on e of those guys. the cop questioned me closely about it. I think I recognized him from walking the neighborhood. Probably said hi or waved at some point. 
"A soft answer turns away wrath" and I firmly believe that, I cant see Christ accosting someone in His yard with threat of violence. I cant see Him judging, in fact He made it clear for me that I should not judge. Yet He also gave me a brain. He gave me a temple of the Holy Spirit, my body, which I need to protect. He was once accosted by a mob, before it was his appointed time and the Bible says He walked through them and they could not touch Him. I do believe the Bible raises a clear admonition to defend oneself  So If my pretty smile and soft words did not diffuse the situation that shotgun had a buckshot in the chamber and the safety was off. I was fully prepared to pull that trigger. Yet I did not charge out on a warpath. Like I said common sense. But the soft answer did turn away wrath. Thank God.
We do in emergency what we do in practice. I have had the good fortune to have excellent teachers of self defense with my fists as well as with firearms. I also have rooted myself in His word and teachings. It pulled me through. I made sure that when the time came my skills were sufficient and I could rely on them. My faith was also strong enough that I could rely on Him. Some call that prepping, surviving. I say it's just common sense. 

I went to work the Monday of the hurricane as it wasn't going to hit us until late afternoon. My boss sent us home at noon time. Gas stations were packed, grocery stores were packed, there were even long lines at drive up fast food joints! Can you imagine? Training of our skills, and more importantly of our spirituality, can not be a last minute rush job. It needs to be done everyday day upon waking up and upon going to bed. It needs to be done with supplication and prayer. What we do in practice is what we do in danger. I've read that so many times. My teachers have drilled that into my head and now I truly know it. I wonder about the guy that got beat. Was he just scared that something bad was going to happen to him and his family? Was this just a result of fear? I do not know. I know I was not too worried about the hurricane. I had done my homework, had food, water, candles, books, ammo. I did not fear for my family or friends, I trusted that they were in Christ's loving hands. And while my adrenaline was pumping for sure during the moment I can't say I felt fear in the confrontation, though I admit afterwards my mind kept mulling over what could have happened, how badly it could have gotten. I would say I felt fear after. Okay, I admit, I had a shaky feeling all over for about an hour. But not in the moment. Was it God's strength? My preparedness? I think it was both and it makes me sad for all the people I see that get into these situations that lash out in anger brought on by fear.

I maintain I just use common sense. But common sense says to prepare, to train your body, your mind, and most importantly your spirit. So I guess I am a prepper. I prepare myself for life.
Christ be with you, - S.H.

A quick note to put my 2 cents in, if I may: I was a regular guy who thought a bit about prepping for years, but didn't really do much of it. After the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue took office, I began to develop a collection of firearms and ammo, with the belief that guys like him will actively seek to make such things harder to get. Then, I happened on the show "Doomsday Preppers" on television. I know the show seems a bit "Made-for-TV", if you will, but it did spur me to some action, including reading SurvivalBlog, daily. I can't get my wife and kids to drop everything and move to Idaho (yet), but I was able to sell them a bit on the notion that we could do some preparatory things and be smart, even if they weren't ready to start canning and burying supplies in the woods. In the last couple years, I've got them all shooting a bit, and we've made sure there's some food in the house for events like this. Then along comes Sandy.....

We live in Southern Ocean County, about a mile from the water, on a pretty good hill in a residential subdivision. I work as a public utility superintendent in a town in Western Monmouth County, central New Jersey, 45 miles north of home. I hate the notion that I could be at work in this type of event for several days, that far away from them. But it is what I have to do, for now. I have a small 12-volt battery setup with a solar charging system, useful, bought it because of what I've read and learned on SurvivalBlog. Also the tricks I've read about here- buying solar landscape pathways lights, stockpile flashlights and batteries, I bought a generator and some gas and made sure I taught my 13 year old son how to do everything in my absence. Gave Momma the keys to the gun safe, discussed safety and security with everyone, and went to work Sunday evening. Did not get home until Wednesday night.

Our house was without power for only 48 hours, and flooding was not an issue for our property. But it was enough to get them all on board, moving closer to accepting what Dad's been saying. Power is still out in large areas of New Jersey, and things are getting ugly- Looting and robbery in millionaire's neighborhoods as we speak (it's now Nov. 2nd, Friday night.) No phone, no power, no way to call the police....Sorry!!

Lessons Learned/Reinforced:
   1. Have food and water for as many as live in your house, plus the in-laws, plus your kid's friend who stayed for the entire event. What is happening now is everything is clear, stores are re-opening, but have no stock, shelves are still bare. And people are nuts- Fully stocked stores are only 50 miles away, and unprepared folks are panicking as if they're going to die in line at the grocery store, pulling guns on line at gas pumps, etc. So if you want to be prepared for a week-long emergency, you need 2 weeks’ worth of food. And gasoline for the generator, firewood, etc.
   2. Have bottled water- I work in the water utility business, and I'm telling you these systems are more fragile than you think, and are susceptible to all kinds of malfunctions even in normal times. Have at least a case for each person in the house at all times, so you can survive a week, brush teeth, make a pot of coffee, etc. I’m talking about minor stuff, not even nearly for TEOTWAWKI, for $25 you can get 5 cases of [bottled] water. Everyone needs to do this. No excuses.
   3. Maintain a secondary system of power, heat, etc....Generator, fireplace, whatever, have multiple options if possible. Right now in New Jersey, there are two kinds of people: prepared people, and miserable people.
   4. Security- You cannot call the cops, and they're not getting there anyway- You'd better be able to shoo away the vultures, so to speak. As I mentioned, there are gangs going door-to-door in very affluent neighborhoods, some of the wealthiest in America, simply kicking in doors and taking stuff- if you can't stop them, they're doing it. These are neighborhoods where people like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi live, where they never fear for anything, because “They don’t have those sorts of people there”. Roads and bridges washed out means no access to services- Hundred of homes have burned down while fire crews watched helplessly from across the washed out roads, and Coast Guard and NJ State Police are patrolling Long Beach Island as looters try to get there by boat under cover of darkness. Thieves are ingenious and crafty, and we must be as well.
   5. The big lesson of all 4 of those points is this- The government is a mess, and cannot help you. You must be prepared to sustain yourself and your loved ones. Even if, like me, all you have so far is a means of keeping everyone alive and relatively well for a week long power outage, it’s a start. We will learn and continue to build upon this small start, but my family was extremely happy that when the lights went out and Dad was gone, they had food, water, a generator, security, etc. Dad felt a lot better knowing when I could not call them, and could not get to them, they had supplies and were going to be ok.
In the big picture sense, the New Jersey and New York are NOT prepared for these events like the Carolinas and Florida. This will be a wake-up call for many, and it will ruin many others. I hope the riots aren’t too bad, but I do believe they’re coming. Thanks for SurvivalBlog, it is a tremendous help to many of us in lots of ways! - M.B.

Good morning. Here’s Storm Update #4 from Princeton and Atlantic City, New Jersey areas.
Saturday Morning. No power at our home in the Princeton area. Lost another neighbor yesterday. The one with the rental genny, family of five, they left for their mother’s home in Pennsylvania. Last night was cold, and I imagine dealing with one space heater in a bedroom was not comfortable, coupled with the shower situation. We are all on well water here. So, if the genny isn’t hard-wired into the system, no power for water. If I had to figure the circuit connection on the fly, I’m guessing I could MacGyver it - though it would obviously not pass inspection and there would be a risk factor – but they had other options and this is not Mad Max world. Again, my wife and I offered our home, but they politely declined. Another neighbor to text when our utilities are restored.
Yesterday, we gave both of our daughters a break. My wife initially planned to drive them to a horse stable about 10 miles way – this is where my youngest helps around the barn, mucks, cleans gear, and brushes/feeds/grooms the horses. In exchange, she gets to ride – though we do contribute small payments to the owner (a middle-aged woman who has managed horses her entire life), who more often than not refuses to take our money. After the stable, there would be a play date with another family – they were on the way back to our home. I had the discussion with my wife about gasoline for the SUV. I’ll take the hits here for having a guzzler, but when it comes to driving my most precious possessions in the Universe, I got my wife the biggest four wheel drive vehicle I could with height clearance, a massive engine and room to spare for all of us and the dog. To my surprise, my wife acknowledged the gas concern (over the years, she has an amused, but accepting tolerance for my prepping), but she felt the benefits outweighed the costs. I agreed, and noted that our use had already lowered the gas level so we would have to find a refill.
Back to the stable, with 20+ horses needing daily care, the owner had a back-up generator for water, but this was unnecessary as power was restored two days ago. Well, upon arrival, the owner informed us that the utility company had cut the power to restore other areas of priority. Her genny at the main farm building (a good distance away) was pulling water slowly, and the she was busy ferrying water in her pick-up truck and caring for the horses. The kids helped for a while, but no riding. When they arrived at our friend’s home, they were greeted by the sight of 34 trees on the front of the property (more than 15 wooded acres) blown over by Sandy. My theory is that a mini-twister must have touched down, but perhaps it just took hours of sustained high winds. Power was out there too, but they had a great time exploring the grounds. I should mention that the mom is a scientist who regularly spends months in the Amazon jungle. I trust her with my family.
While my wife was out, I rigged up power to our water softener system, and ran it through a regeneration cycle. Our well water is super hard – lots of minerals, but fine for drinking. The water softener has other effects for soap, laundry, the pipes, etc.  Next, I hopped into the garden, grabbed two leeks and an onion, dinner was going to be a stir fry. The genny also needed refueling. One issue, no matter how careful I am when pouring the gas/funnels, I cannot seem to shake the odor of gasoline. Yeah it would be nice to have a pump, and perhaps I will rig one up when I have spare time. For now, the family tolerates it, and after scrubbing, the aroma eventually fades. Aslan, our pooch, also got in a great run in our backyard with a neighbor’s dog. They were visiting their home across the street to check status, and then returning to their parents in a section of Princeton that has power.
My wife and kids returned, and I later reviewed pictures of the fallen trees. After raising the garage door for my wife (no power and it’s heavy even with the spring tension), I noted that the SUV’s gas gauge showed just over half full. I was also thinking about the empty gas cans from the genny usage. The report was that gas lines were still absurd. Our town was e-mailing updates and our friends in the area had formed a close network that was using Twitter to communicate open gas locations. The Airport was offering [AVGAS] gasoline for genny use only with (lead and other additives in the fuel) for $6.00 a gallon! Knowing that I might have to fill the SUV, I opted to stay with regular gas stations – for now.
My wife and I agreed that late tonight (Friday still) might provide a decent window for short lines, so long as the stations stayed open. Short story – I left the house at 10:00 pm and found one of our local stations, waited in line for an hour and twenty minutes. It was unreal, and so was the “look” of the people filling up. As I got closer, I could see folks pulling all manner of gas containers from their trunks – from one gallon grime-encased plastic to ten gallon suitcase sized plastic that was difficult to lift. I half expected to see milk jugs. When I finally got to the pump, I was told either the car or the gas cans, but not both. They were running low. I told the attendant to fill the SUV. In the interim, I removed four five gallon safety cans and one five gallon plastic container from the trunk, and got ready to fill them. He came back and looked on dubiously. I followed my gut. I said, “I’m a local, come here all the time. You must be part of Horhay’s extended family or a friend.” He nodded affirmatively and said, “Family.”  I continued, “Here’s money for the gas, we’ll round it up, you keep the rest. These cans are powering the genny for our home.” With that, I started filling, and he left for another customer – they had six pumps going. By the way, I paid $5.00 per gallon of regular. Free market economics at work: supply and demand. I peeled off $200.00 in twenties – these are the largest denomination that I keep on hand – this was for 25 gallons in the cans and 12 gallons in the SUV.
On the way home, I got a text from our neighbor friend April – she was looking for gas for her car but had bypassed the crazy long line at the same station I had just left. I advised her immediately – she’s young – I told her to get back in that line ASAP and wait it out. Back home, as I skimmed online news after midnight, I saw that the Governor has enacted gas rationing, aka Jimmy Carter style. Beginning today, there is now an odd/even license plate system for filling up. The last number in the plate has to match the odd or even of that day of the month in order to be serviced. That’s going to go over well. Forget commuting to work, and traveling up and down the state for family, unless you have enough gas to get back or can wait a few days for a reliable station.
Turning to the Jersey Shore, mom has gone dark. She was supposed to make her way from Pennsylvania to the hotel near our home in Margate, NJ. We have called her mobile phone and the house line several times with no response. I’m not worried yet, but this morning I will track down the hotel and see if she checked in. One of our local crew who lives in Ventnor City (shut down for infrastructure, but residents allowed back), the town next to Margate, described the area in a text message this way, “It’s the Twilight Zone down here.” He sent a picture of our garage – the waves had knocked the doors out and sand/seaweed/muck was piled high. No one was at the house, and he couldn’t get in to see the first floor or basement. He is going to visit our house again today and see if mom is around. On a separate note, I saw a post on Facebook from another Shore friend, stating that she reported potential looting. There was a private truck driving around her neighborhood and loading up with appliances and similar items at the curb. One Facebook commenter told her to relax, this was acceptable. She replied, “Yeah, but not at 11:00pm, and they were driving way too slow and using a flash light to shine in peoples’ yards.” She notified the police. I have not received an update on this yet.
One final comment for the preppers of the world: The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant confirmed near-total cooling pump failure, and power failure. The back-up diesels saved the day on the spent fuel pool. Salem I, which had the emergency steam release, has been quiet. No further news that I can find. In a real long-term grid down scenario… there are more than a hundred nuclear power plants/reactors in the US alone. And so I ask, with all seriousness, are we doomed under such circumstances regardless of our plans?
I understand that other parts of NJ and NY are in far worse shape than here, and that a Nor’easter might be approaching early next week. However, I keep thinking that things will change in the Princeton area with the flip of a switch, i.e., power restored. But until then, we are in crisis mode, and there are strange concerns occupying my mind while this lasts.
This is neither exciting, nor fun. But I will remain upbeat for my family. - Bill H.

Stories like these only help to illustrate the wide range of problems that come to the surface when the thin veneer of society is striped off due to an event like Superstorm Sandy.  The compression of people in high density population centers like metropolitan New York etc, is just asking for chaos and confusion when their normally well organized and managed structure of life is quickly changed for the worse. Our world is now comprised of what is known as the inverted technology pyramid.  When one side is  weakened in can quickly topple over and leave the entire structure out of commission.   This weather event is a wake up call for those nodding in and out between slumber and full consciousness.  If you have not figured it out by now, now is the time to wake up and realize the full potential for the absolute horror that can present itself from a major calamity or event unknown.  Luckily, this is an isolated event in one part of the nation.  What if it were an event that somehow involved our entire nation or hemisphere- then what?

Those who snooze lose!  If you are sitting on the fence about the concept of committing to  personal preparedness, now would be an excellent time to make your decision one way or the other.  If you will study human nature you can see that most of it is completely predictable.  One example is the New York woman who appears on a television report. She is  well dressed in a high rent district demanding that the Mayor visit her part of town.  What pray tell is he supposed to do for her I ask.  Pass a law, spread magic pixie dust around, or pat her on the head like some abused puppy? Our society has for the most part become so completely dependent upon "someone else fixing our problems" that people like this stand the best chance of extinction.  Being prepared and being self-reliant are essential to riding out a crisis and having the best chance to make a complete comeback after the dust has settled, the water retreats and the skies shine clear again.   Don't wait around for someone else, or an agency or a miracle.  Get motivated to think for yourselves before it is too late. - R.B.S.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Sound like an old cliche? “One for All, All for One”? A phrase from the past.
But it is as valid today as it has ever been. Togetherness, cooperation, teamwork, none of those match the totality of “One for all, All for One”.
Of course there is no substitute for preparedness. As a former EMT, a person who has taken CERT training in my community, and who, as much as I can given my limited financial resources, taken the threat, for any reason, of societal breakdown seriously, I can attest to this.

I remember my instructor many years ago in Red Cross Advanced First Aid. Dear Mrs. Young.  At the close of one training session, she grew introspective. She simply talked to us. Something she said has stuck with me all these years. “If you are ever needed to perform life-saving first aid, CPR, mouth-to-mouth, stopping bleeding, it’s a good bet that you are going be surrounded by total chaos. People screaming, maybe at night, complete hysteria. The methods I’m using to teach you will mentally snap you back to this classroom; you will do the right thing at the right time. Because you are prepared”.

Well, the same thing applies to the principle of banding together in times of crisis. No man or woman is an island and that also is as true today as it has ever been.  Given the results of forty years of the “it’s all about me” way of thinking in this country, even more so. Should, God forbid, calamity in the form of a massive earthquake on the San Andreas, or a total meltdown due to a cyber-attack on our hopelessly “all or nothing” system of communications, essential utilities, or food delivery occur, our world is going to shrink to a local level at appalling speed.

Local. Our horizons are going to contract. What is happening  twenty, two hundred, or two thousand miles away will be of little concern. Sporadic radio communications, if nothing else, will see to that. It is what could be happening in your immediate vicinity that will matter the most.

It is at this point that neighbors and community provide a powerful means of protection and deterrence. In fact, it is almost certain that this will be your only source of genuine protection. Because, as the former Los Angeles Fire Department instructor in my CERT course repeated so many times, “We (the Police and Fire) won’t be there”.
There truly is safety in numbers.

But just as we try to prepare by stockpiling, food, water, filtration, medical supplies, clothing, weapons and ammunition, so too must we prepare for communal defense and support.

And the only sure way to do that, to prepare so that critical time is not wasted when, not if, disaster arrives, is to get to know your neighbors beforehand. Now keep in mind that the things I’m talking about pertain to all people, no matter their location, but specifically to people living in the suburbs. Folks living in semi-rural or rural areas, or in tornado-prone regions for instance,  already have a “helping hand” mentality to a greater or lesser degree. But suburbs encourage anonymity. Suburbs encourage the “911” mentality. Less self-reliance, less neighborliness. It is this element that needs to be overcome. It does not need to be over-the-top; if there are like-minded people on your street you will discover this. Then maybe it truly is a good idea to have a specific meeting where things pertaining to mutual defense and assistance can be hashed out.

But it can just as easily be done through the old-fashioned American method of easy conversation.  Mention that you heard about a CPR class coming up which you intend to take. Or a web site that you found interesting; how to recharge batteries, how to do this or that. Broach the subject; you might be surprised at the willing response.
Especially today, in these times in which we live. In fact, the times in which we live are an advantage in a way they were not before. When everything was great. The whole point is to provide for an awareness that catastrophe can occur so that people are not cast adrift when it does. To build the foundation on which survival will depend.

When you talk to that neighbor of yours however do not  give away too much information. Not at first. Especially anything to do with food supplies or firearms. When the time comes, you and your neighbors can get into detail; Fred takes the 8:00 pm to midnight watch, this guy takes the midnight to 4:00 am watch and so on. The specifics can be gotten into then; what is important is that you and your neighbors have already contemplated it, already have it in mind. This means less time spent blundering about, trying to come up with immediate solutions on the fly and under pressure that could very well determine whether the group lives or dies. Like Jim Lovell said about the breakdown on Apollo 13; “We could’ve bounced off the walls for ten minutes but we would’ve still been in the same position as before”.

One of the most important things to remember when the time comes, when the people in your immediate vicinity are forced by circumstance to band together is this. Crisis brings everybody’s real personality to the surface. It is going to become evident who are the weak links in the chain, who are the dictators, who are the complainers, who is in it for themselves, and who are the most steady and dependable. Somebody has to take charge, but tyrannical attitudes do not get it done. They do not increase security, they increase danger by, if nothing else, encouraging turncoats.

Whoever is going to lead has to be a combination of steel and patience, insure that resources and talents possessed by your group are spread throughout the group for the benefit of the group.  And a leader must insure that those things needed to be done are done. There may be gruesome but necessary decisions that have to be made right from the start. In the event of a major earthquake, there may be fatalities. Those who have been killed have to be dealt with, there is no choice, it will do no good whatsoever to leave bodies unburied to possibly bring down biological unpleasantness on the survivors if nobody can bring themselves to dig the grave and place the unfortunate person or persons in it. Injured people must be treated and made as comfortable as the conditions permit. There can be no debate about this. How a group treats it’s weakest, most helpless, and yes, most clueless members is a predictor of how that group will fare.

A contingent of Australian SAS recruits were sent on a five-day survival course but issued with  just one 24-hour ration pack per man to last for the entire period out in the bush. Some of the men immediately began to dig in, to consume too much of their food while others conserved from the beginning. As the exercise progressed, those who had unwisely eaten most or all of their rations proved to be a drag on the group as a whole. The instructors watched carefully; those who shared their rations to make sure everybody got at least something to eat, in spite of their comrade’s foolishness, were the ones who passed the test.

We, the people who have taken seriously the warning signs, who have tried to use the time to be ready, as much as possible, for what may well be the worst times we will ever face, must also be ready to confront our fellow citizen’s foolishness. The people who deny that our comfortable life is in any jeopardy. The people who do not want to believe that this fabulous but appallingly fragile system can ever break down. The people who, faced with the disintegration of most, or all, of their assumptions, will reveal their true characters in a mad struggle to put food in their mouths, a blanket around their shoulders, and a roof of any kind over their heads. The people who will resort to any cruelty or atrocity to save themselves.  The people who, in spite of a blithe and carefree attitude that endangers their children and themselves, will rely upon the preparedness of others to make up for it.

When one is attempting to prevent someone from going over a cliff, one may finally have to let go if that someone is going to take you with them. We may be faced with horrendous decisions that will haunt us for the rest of our lives.  Which, I might add, may be short, for all our care and preparation. Nonetheless, I for one am prepared to make those decisions. I cannot fight off every starving or rapacious person or group that descends upon me on my own. I intend to have allies. Allies on whom I can depend, and who can depend on me. Allies with whom I have already taken the first steps.  Forbearance, mercy, and kindness will be present in my actions to the extent that I can afford them. But in the end, when all is said and done, I will most definitely fall back on “One for All, and All for One”.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Most of the citizenry in the United States has seen at least one of the movie theater box office hits “Armageddon,” “Deep Impact,” or “The Day After Tomorrow.”  Those are just movies, but the human brain not in touch with reality doesn’t entertain the thought of these scenarios actually happening in this day and age.  But one day, one or several of the things displayed in those movies will. Experts say that so many apocalyptic events we preppers expect have a very low chance of happening; but nothing is a 100% certain, anything could happen at any moment.  Experts set out percentages about the possibilities of nuclear war, massive solar flares supervolcanoes, super-earthquakes, EMPs, failure of our nation’s infrastructure, pandemics, asteroids hitting us, etc. and we are always led to believe they are unlikely to occur.  But we know for certain that all of the naturally caused ones are 100% certain to occur at some time in the future, we just don’t know when; because they’ve all occurred at many points in the past and the forces that made them happen are just as in motion now as they were then.  We must prepare for our friends and family.  Most Americans believe that since we survived the “Ice Age” that we can learn from the survivors’ mistakes and the ‘do’s and don’ts’ they made. But do we really have that inner strength to adapt to such harsh conditions for years to come?  Modern technology has spoiled us with cell phones, internet giving us access to news and information, and also through television and radio. Not to mention air conditioning and heat to keep us comfortable; as James Wesley, Rawles mentions in his book “How to Survive the End of the World as we Know it”,”  the concept of" "The Big Machine" meaning the everyday things we all take for granted in life.  Grocery Stores, Law Enforcement, Distribution Centers, Hospitals, and Electricity, he asked the one simple question that fuels the whole idea of ‘prepping:’ “What will happen if the big machine is missing pieces?”  Pure chaos of people running down the streets killing others in cold blood for the little food they might have on them.

One thing many government officials and even experts are always reluctant to face is the idea of just how quickly things might happen.  Assume that a disaster occurs that leaves “The Big Machine” broken.  Most people probably will flock to the supermarkets to get the same things they do right before a known big storm is about to hit any city, and clear the shelves just as fast (typically hours).  For those individuals that have waited until that moment to think about their survival through the chaos; they, if they’re lucky, might have expanded the typical one to two week supply of food they may already have in their homes to three weeks.  With water however, most people rely on municipal water or well-water which both require electricity to operate and would be non-existent if “The Big Machine” stalled.  Whatever water they could get from a store or might otherwise have on hand if they typically drink bottled water might give a family of four a couple of weeks at best.  Look at Hurricane Katrina and how quickly society and survival rates devolved over just a few days.  The average person will die after three days of water.  What you can readily see is that having prepared enough to be able to stay in your homes with the doors bolted and making it appear as though no one is home for three weeks would put any family at a major advantage.  They would at least be able to ride-out the initial chaos.  After those initial three weeks raiding of other homes by the few that have survived would increase and people would be salvaging for supplies.  If we consider the possibility that an un-prepared individual is able to use what they already had in their kitchen and got in their rush to the grocery store and then to raid surrounding houses effectively and steal from others to the point of being able to replenish their stock-pile, they might be able to extend their survival to six weeks.  So imagine, if you can simply be able to stock-pile enough water and food, and the ability to defend those supplies, to last you six weeks you will likely out-live the vast majority of the population.  By two months, you will likely find yourself looking for other people that are still alive.  We like to believe that our government would eventually get enough resources together to help rebuild, but if a disaster is widespread enough (it took over a week for FEMA or the National Guard to get to some areas affected by Hurricane Katrina), the government will be so depleted in its own personnel and had to deal with its own basic survival that a truly widespread Hurricane Katrina level or higher disaster would leave us on our own for at least two months.  Just think, 6-8 weeks of survival supplies and skills can get you through the initial chaos and into the phases where communities might be able to have consolidated enough supplies for the survivors so that true re-building and putting society back together can begin.  Just be realistic with yourself about how quickly you would run out of supplies and others would as well, how quickly others would start invading other homes looking for supplies, and how long it would take society to recover from something as simple as a loss of electricity.  Two months is optimistic, but every week past that you can prepare increases your family’s chances of survival many-times over.

 As humans who have had way more expansion and growing of new technologies more than any other decade, we’re too comfortable with our heated blankets and express cappuccino machines during a cold winter’s night.  Its small luxuries like that this country and much of the world knows, things being so easy and so carefree with life.  People believe that they ‘need’ luxuries like these, they have become so dependent on them.  What they need is food, water, and shelter.  People in this country don’t have to go out and hunt their own food, process and cook from start to finish; most wouldn’t know where to start when it comes to field dressing an animal you just killed to feed your family for the week.  It’s the vulnerability like this that makes this country so unprepared for the tragic scenarios that could face us in the future.  When a Global Financial Crisis, EMP, or Pandemic comes into play, average everyday civilians will have no clue what to do or where to start to further provide for their families. When the thought of your children going hungry starts to sink in, that’s when preppers like us become endangered.   For those of us who know the survival tricks and tactics from dedicating our time and passion into preparing, we will be the first targets for attacks.  As prepper’s, in order to save our own lives, we have to help save others before a global crisis happens.
There are 2 steps to getting your friends and family who may be skeptical of the whole idea of “Prepping”.  Getting informed and then getting prepared.

 A highly recommended resource to get friends and families thinking about the “What If’s?” is the fantastic book I mentioned earlier by James Wesley, Rawles.  “How to Survive the End of the World As We Know It”.  This book is a great resource for not only information about any crises that may come to our cities, but it also includes very helpful tips about water filtration, food storage, and medical advice. This book could very well save your and your family and friends lives. It is very important your friends and family have a hard copy of this book, because of course if something were to happen; chances are we won’t have electricity to plug in our Kindles or Ipads to look up survival tips. Calling community meetings and talking to friends and family about the possible situations is one step in the right direction to get a larger group of people informed.  The more our people are exposed to this information mentioned in Rawles book, the more they’re minds will start to wonder about the real possibility of these catastrophes happening.  They will do one of two things, decide they don’t care and not want to be around for the chaos to happen, or two, they will decided to protect their families and do whatever it takes to get ready.  The more information they know about prepping, the better.  Not just for them, but for you as well.  One more neighboring family that knows how to take care of itself is one less family that you have to fear (and one more potential ally) in a survival situation.

Getting prepared the right and successful way is easier said than done. We want to encourage people, not intimidate them with a thousand dollar stock room of dry goods.  Encourage a small “Emergency food” kit, just as most American’s have an Emergency First Aid kit hidden somewhere in their home or car. Something is better than nothing.  20 dollars here, 10 dollars there is a good place to start, slowly building little by little so they can feel comfortable and confident being on their own for a week or two after their pantry runs low. If your budget won’t allow hundreds of dollars for #10 cans of dehydrated food, you’re not doomed for starvation. An easy much less expensive way is to dehydrate your own food and store them in ‘Mylar bags’ since they will help keep your dehydrated food stay fresh for up to 25 years, if done properly.  It is a pretty good investment that isn’t very expensive at all! After getting your dehydrator, which they are readily available for around $40 on Amazon.com (no need to spend $1,000 if you can’t afford it) plan a trip to the grocery store and plan to spend 20 dollars. On your shopping list should be boxed dinners like ‘mac-and-cheese’, ‘Pasta Roni ,’ and canned fruits and veggies. $20 dollars spent on 58 cent ‘mac-and-cheese’ and $1.48 pasta packets should get you quite a few dinners to make ahead. This way when you get home, you can pre-make these easy inexpensive meals and dehydrate them, this way they are already sauced and mixed! Not only will it be faster and easier to reconstitute when it comes time to break open the package, but it will cut down on your cooking time because your meal is already sauced and mixed, so you will save on your fuel that needs to be conserved as much as possible.

One thing people do not want to do is get too ambitious in a short amount of time. Don’t start off by having a goal of a years’ worth of food, that is a great goal but it can also get very overwhelming very fast. Start with a small goal.  Tell yourself you would like to have a weeks’ worth of food, then when you have conquered that goal, do it again. Water is the most important item to have in your prep kit since you can only survive three days without water, the meals you have are no good if you have no water to drink or to reconstitute and heat them. When it’s convenient with your finances buy an extra pack or two of water and store it away. If you work little by little, you’re prep stockpile will grow before your eyes in just a matter of a few weeks.  Along with a stockpile of bottled and jug water, a purification system as a back-up can very well save your life if you happen to run out of water.  With a water filtration system you can drink water anywhere there is a supply that you can get to.

Weapons are a very ideal thing to have (and you need to be sure you know how to use them); if you put all this time, money, and work into building your disaster preparation kit for your family, the last thing you want is to be attacked and taken over by a riot or gang desperate for food.  You have to be able to protect your family and your chance of survival: your water and food.  If you can’t afford to buy a gun, a less expensive alternative is an electric Taser; but, compared to firearms, these are not ideal because of the close proximity needed to do damage.  Also, if someone is attacking your house and you tase them (assuming they're alone, if they’re not then a Taser will leave you defenseless in a hurry), even if you manage to drag the spasming body miles away the person will recover with the knowledge of where you live and that you have something to protect and he can just come back with some of his survival-mates.  The price of an electric stun gun can range from $15 to $80 (and a Taser can cost $400 to $550), so it is a good alternative along with knives if you have nothing else but hand combat.  Remember though, having a knife or firearm that can actually threaten someone else’s life is useless if you do not physically prepare yourself with the knowledge and mettle to use them.

If you’re a new prepper, these trips should help you get on track on the things you need to do, and if you’re a veteran to prepping maybe a few alternatives and ideas were helpful and more cost effective if you’re on a tight budget.  Of course we’re all hoping these unfortunate events won’t happen, but we have to be prepared to survive, and rebuild society when the time is right. My hope for the future is that together, we can inform more people so they can prepare and be safe. If you get one person to start prepping, you may have just saved lives. Let that drive you to inform and save as many as you can. Every person saved is a stronger community when the tough times start. Good luck and God bless.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

I'd like to recommend a great web site: Listening to Katrina. The author weaves his personal Katrina story together with fresh and different survivalist advice in a page-by-page format. He gives advice that I don't believe I'd seen before. As a survivalist for years before the event, he explains the mistakes made and lessons learned.

His section on protecting your wealth is outstanding. For example, if you had a regional disaster and needed to bug out/relocate within 60 seconds, would you have your resume, education certificates and references updated and ready to grab, so that you could start a job elsewhere? I hadn't thought of that.

Neither had he; he tells the sad tale of arriving ahead of everyone else in Houston, immediately opening the classifieds to find the same job he'd been performing for the past 20 years, with a $20k pay increase! He'd be the first in line to apply! Only, since he lacked credentials and references, he wouldn't be able to apply.

WARNING: The Listening to Katrina site has rude language. He also says there's nudity. I hadn't seen it yet, though I am only 1/3rd the way through the pages. Probably bodies from Katrina.

- C.D.V.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

I will begin with a brief introduction. I have been an avid reader of SurvivalBlog for a few years. I have never found a better collection of tips, ideas, and information. Every time I view the blog I learn something new. I was born and raised in the south, spending most of my time outdoors or in church. I grew up hunting, fishing, camping, and learning the value of a hard days work. I had believed that growing up as I did would provide me advantages in disaster situations without really making any in-depth preparations other than the occasional power outage. In my early twenties, I joined the Army. That is when I woke up and began to see the need for long term preparations. I started paying more attention to news reports and world events and realized I would not survive long on only good intentions when TSHTF.

I knew I needed to be better prepared, but I had no idea where to begin with such an enormous task. One of the soldiers in my unit suggested that I read the novel Patriots by James Wesley, Rawles. It was as if someone turned the light on. I now had a place to begin, a plan. I started out getting a bug out bag together and a small kit that is kept in my vehicle. I then moved on to food stores and other necessary tools. After I built up about six months worth of supplies I began to slow down. I had no real reason to slow down, I knew I still needed to have a larger stock of goods.

My continued efforts to increase my stores were given a new life and faster pace after April 2010. At the time of the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak I was serving in the Alabama National Guard and living in north Alabama. My Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) was Military Police, so as soon as I heard of the storm system heading our way I knew the probability of my unit being called up was high. The day seemed as if it would never end, the devastation was awe inspiring to say the least. One of the many tornados that touched down that day cut a path nearly a mile wide just a few short miles from a nuclear power plant which was less than an hour from my house. By God’s grace alone, the tornado left the power plant itself unharmed. This served as my first wake-up call, I hadn’t yet prepared for any kind of a nuclear disaster and hadn’t thought of a natural disaster effecting the nuclear power plant. Although the tornado missed the power plant, it did not miss the transmission lines supplying most of north Alabama with power. The few small hydroelectric dams in the area simply did not have the strength to cover the demand. Even if they could compensate for the loss of the nuclear plant the physical line damages would have prevented power coming back on line soon. From the Tuscaloosa and Birmingham areas north to the Tennessee state line, nearly half the state of Alabama, was dark and would stay that way for a week or more in most locations. Let me tell you first hand, it is one thing to hear someone say with the loss or damage to a supply chain or basic utilities we are only three days from total chaos, quite another to live it.

As I believed, my unit was called up within 24 hours to aid our fellow residents. We loaded up and headed to a city in the area that had been directly hit by an F-5 tornado. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw upon our first arrival. More than half the town had been erased. Many had lost their lives in the storm and many more had been injured, lost their homes, or were missing. It was like rolling up to a live combat zone. We handed out nearly every scrap of food and water we had with us within just hours of our arrival. We continued to provide medical care and any other aid we could until other agencies arrived. Needless to say it was a long day for all involved.

In the coming days our role shifted to providing security for the area. After the initial shock wore off problems began to arise. We found that most people were completely unprepared for anything like this to happen. Most people didn’t even have any cash on hand, relying only on their debit or credit cards to buy anything they could from the few places that were able to quickly reopen. The problem with this was with a lack of power and phone service to authorize payments stores were only accepting cash. To make matters more stressful to people trying to snatch up any items left many stores, in an effort to prevent fights and theft, were only allowing customers accompanied by an employee in the store for a specified time limit. Many of the stores were even putting limits on how many items you could buy. The lines at the few grocery stores and gas stations quickly stretched to several miles long full of panicking people desperate for supplies. The grocery stores were full of empty shelves within hours. There was only one gas station that was able to sell gas at first due to the owner’s foresight to have a back up generator. Due to the lack of an operational power grid the fuel at other stations sat in the tanks with no way to operate the pumps. This too sold out in just hours.

There were a few small fights here and there usually occurring over the last of an item, bags of ice, or people cutting in front of others in lines. There were a few reports of people being robbed in parking lots after leaving a store, thankfully no one was harmed in these attempts but could have been easily. At this point power and distribution had only been interrupted for two days. People were becoming very desperate and in turn much more willing to take any step they thought necessary to get what they needed. The third day things started to improve overall. Many resupply trucks had rolled in to restock the open stores. Most of the larger chain stores and gas stations had brought in large generators to operate refrigeration systems allowing for cold items such as milk to be sold for the first time since the tornados. The generators also allowed the power needed to begin to process credit card payments. The next few days followed similar patterns with stores being resupplied in the mornings and empty at night. Stores still had incredibly long lines to purchase anything with waits ranging from 30 minutes to several hours. It seemed that the ability to purchase goods again and credit card systems back online provided enough of a sense of normality to keep most people from steeling or escalating to violence despite an operational power grid in many locations. From conversations with my family back at home I learned that things had followed a similar pattern. There were no large areas of destruction in my city other than trees down and a few houses missing roofs from trees falling on them. It was simply the loss of power that seemed to get everyone all riled up.

If there is only one thing that you take away from my experience here I would hope that it is the need to sit down and think of every possible thing that could occur in your area. As I stated above, I had not given much thought to a nuclear power plant being in my area simply because it would not be a likely target for a terrorist attack because of its location. I really hadn’t given much thought to something like a tornado hitting it directly, although looking back now it seems like such an obvious possibility. I guess that’s why they say hindsight is 20/20. I have now provided the necessary provisions for this possibility. Another area I would like to touch on is probably widely realized already by most survival blog readers but I feel the need to mention it anyway. As prepared individuals, we should never rely on the government or any other organization to provide us any aid in times of disasters or attacks. For our own safety we should never be in a position where we might have to give up our freedom or other rights in return for assistance, as in the case of many FEMA camps and shelters where once you enter you may not be allowed to leave until officially released.

One other topic I would like to discuss here is one that I have had difficulties with from time to time, tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can be problematic when making preparations. It can be very easy to focus too much on one aspect of survival needs and allow another area to fall behind. To put it another way, what good is it to have a two-year supply of food if you have failed to provide everything necessary to cook your stores or do not have the knowledge needed to properly utilize your stores. What would happen if someone showed up trying to take all that you have, would you have the necessary gear and training? One thing I have noticed in my own extended family is a family member would go out and buy a tool, no matter if it’s a rifle water filter or other survival tool, and feel like they were covered in that aspect. If you do not have the skills and knowledge to use the item then you might as well not have it. It is very important that you follow up the purchase of something with whatever training is necessary to make you proficient in its use. Take for example a rifle. This is a very important and useful tool if used properly. To use it properly you need training of some type on the safe operation of the rifle as well as fundamental marksmanship skills. Beyond the initial training it is crucial that you continue training with your rifle. Keep your skills sharp, shoot as often as your time and finances allow.

Getting back to the tunnel vision issue, having a military background I tend to lean heavily towards the tactical aspects of prepping because it is what I am most comfortable and familiar with. I have to constantly remind myself to take a step back and look at the big picture. I encourage all of you to also take a step back and look at the big picture. May God bless you and keep you safe in your prepping adventure. I leave you with a verse to look up, one of my favorites Romans 8:28.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dear Jim,
We have already seen how the largely bankrupt USA has dealt with the Hurricane Katrina disaster. New Orleans remains partially empty and its population is much lower. Those who had any money left when the hurricane was announced to hit. If they returned, it was to recover a few belongings and collect their insurance checks before ceding the property/ruin back to the FedGov/State. Surrounding areas where the Hurricane spent its fury have been abandoned. The wrecked 9th Ward of New Orleans was not rebuilt. Someday it will flood again, and this time with few people to complain, it will probably turn into a swamp and spin doctors will make it sound like this was a happy accident. The sad fact that the USA doesn't have the money to keep rebuilding poor people's homes when they get flattened by natural disasters is the NWO of our DMGS (Dreaded Multi-Generational Scenario).
Someday the New Madrid Fault will break again near Memphis, and the Midwest will be largely flattened like it would have been back in 1805, had it been built up like it is today. The aftershocks will rattle the Midwest for the following 80 years, since that's how long they had aftershocks Last time. There were earthquakes during the Civil War that were direct aftershocks following the New Madrid quakes. Stone/masonry tends to fall apart in quakes, depending on luck and positioning. There are places where the shaking is worse than others, and places where it is not as bad. This is complicated by lots of factors so luck determines who gets hit or missed. At least the Midwest has food to eat.
Someday the Big One will hit California. If it hits Los Angeles, the damage to the infrastructure and water supply will cost a Trillion Dollars to repair. California insurance companies cannot afford this. Neither can the State government, as the budget is not organized such things. [Some conjecture deleted, for brevity.]
If the Big One hits the San Francisco Bay region, the damages are likely to be worse and more expensive than in Los Angeles, since the San Francisco Bay Area is more expensive, more valuable, and more established in a smaller area. The bay itself has been landfilled in various places, and homes and buildings placed on that. These are expected to fail in a strong enough quake. Many did in the 1989 quake. Entire elevated freeways were destroyed by the shaking, and bridges damaged. And that was only a 7.0. The Big One is in the 8.6-9.0 range, much stronger. Imagine all the water, sewer, natural gas, and electrical power being torn up by the ground waves. That's trillions to repair, and years to repair it. The population can't wait that long. Many of the places hit would not have the money to pay for repairs, so most of the area would be abandoned, much of the old buildings bulldozed as unsafe, even if they go through the shaking somewhat intact, just because they have no public utilities. Nobody talks about costs in Hollywood disaster movies, or that those costs are so huge to rebuild that it stops making sense. The East is likely to announce that the disaster areas are mandatory evacuation zones, and all civilians are required to leave. This is about money.
Because we live in a time where money is largely concentrating in the 1%, and jobs are all going to China, massive unemployment means no tax revenue. Even if there's no lives lost in a disaster, there's no money to pay for rebuilding. With many mortgages underwater, walking away is the smart move, financially. The above scenarios are likely at some point in the future, inevitable really, just as Hurricanes keep pounding the Gulf and Atlantic coasts, and tornados rip up midwestern towns. At some point, people will be choosing between insane tax rates or leaving, and most will pack up a U-Haul with their surviving material possessions and go somewhere not ruined yet. When the Big One hits California, taxes for the state should go so high that it will probably be a good time to flee. Leave Big Agriculture to keep growing the food we eat. Just go somewhere else.
Your job is to recognize when the place you live stops making sense and to leave while the leaving is good. - InyoKern

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Southern California, September 8, 2011, 3:45 p.m.: Crud, my computer just shut down. It had been an uneventful day at the ranch studio to this point. I was finishing the day’s work on a project and looking forward to riding my horse before it got dark; now my computer flat-lines. Great…, what next?

Hit the television power switch on the remote, nothing... Power light on the plotter is off too, Huh? Went to the main breaker to see if the circuit to the studio had tripped. Nope, the wheel-of-debt inside the meter was not turning so the solution was not going to be “just the flip of a breaker away”. The problem just ratcheted up a notch.
Called San Diego Gas and Electric (SDGE) but could not get through, circuits were overloaded. Living in a rural area it is not unusual for the power to go out from time to time and take it in stride. We also have those raging Santa Ana wildfires  every year, but a quick scan of eastern mountains showed no hint of smoke and living near the airport where the tankers stage, I didn't hear or see any tanker or helicopter activity.

Walked out to my truck and turned on the radio but no information about any power outage. Strange, must be a local power outage, or maybe just the transformer to my place.
Using my iPhone, I called a couple of neighbors. One not home, the other had no power either. The ratchet turns another notch.

Ok, so this is starting to look a little more serious than a tripped breaker.
Called my wife, who works in a corporate office downtown, and their power is out too. With no backup power, everyone was told to go home. A few minutes later, she calls back to say the security gates to the underground parking garage have no backup power so all the cars are trapped inside with no way out. Great...this situation is escalating from mere inconvenience to a "what next" event.

Cell phone rings, wife says a few of her co-workers with cars trapped in the garage had decided to stay in the building (being a biotech company they have good security), overnight if necessary, until someone could get the security gates open to the underground garage (or I come to pick her up). I reminded her that she had her Get Home Bag (GHB), just in case. Whenever we travel beyond our rural community each vehicle has a pack loaded with gear so we can hike back home (dreaded EMP event) and hers was in her truck. That meant she had MREs, water, first aid, hiking boots, sleeping bag, change of clothes, etc.

Now I am hearing sirens in town (a mile away). Even though I do not let my diesel tank get below the half way mark, I thought I would run into town to see what was going on and top off my tank anyway. What a shocker when I got to Main Street, to see the stoplights not working and lines already spilling out of the service stations into the street. There are only six stoplights in town and with none of them working the main street (small town and we really do have a Main Street) was a complete parking lot with stopped cars.

The parking lots for the two grocery stores in town were filling up too. I later heard that transactions could only be made in cash as the computers were out and they only had battery back-up lights. My ‘alert flag’ colors are starting to change.

Having been through the wildfire drill quite a few times, but well along in the Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids (BBB) departments I was comfortable as I drove back to my ranch watching others scramble to get in line at the few gas stations and two markets. The gas station lines were particularly futile since the pumps had no power anyway. Waiting in line was for the desperate people that were so low on fuel they had no choice but to park and wait.

Wife calls before I get back to the ranch to say someone managed to get the security gates open but now she is stuck in the gridlock of everyone trying to get home and every single stop light was out. What normally is a 40-minute commute turned into over a four-hour stop and go nightmare.
I now hear on my truck radio that the power outage extends beyond my small town and into other areas of San Diego, as well as east and north of the downtown area. However, no news on where or how it started the extent of coverage or estimate of when it will be back on. Fog-of-war starts to set in.

The radio newscaster talks in general terms about the power outage, but again no specific or useful information, just as it always is during the wildfires. During those, I did not evacuate and stayed to protect my property (yes, we did have looters). During those fires, one of the most frustrating things was the useless news coverage. Then, while watching the television news coverage (when the television had power), the smoke outside was sometimes so thick I could not see ten feet let alone down to my horse corals. I needed specific information (street names would have been nice) on where the fire was in real time to make go-no go decisions. Instead, the news broadcasters spoke of the fire only in general terms. Kind of like tornado news coverage on Fox News about a tornado in Oklahoma. Nice to know about as you casually watch television, however, a bit lacking if you are living the event and need information to make critical decisions, fast. Local news needs to do a better job at this.

After the last two Santa Ana fire experiences, I realized that Beans, Bullets, and Band-Aids did not address what I consider another critical category- Communications (comms). Consequently, I went down the ham radio road to fix that deficiency. I have my General license, which gives me access to High Frequency (HF) bands not available to a Technician license, a two band handheld radio, plus a HF mobile rig that will really reach out and touch somebody on HF bands. My son has the exact same license and gear and we routinely communicate with our dipole antennas (aimed at each other) from southern California to where he lives north of Los Angeles, without the use of repeaters, or computers. This met our comms goal of not having to rely on anyone to “help” us with our comms. All we need is our gear and a 12 volt DC battery.

Now it is getting closer to sunset. Check on horses to be sure they have water and feed. Filled extra water barrels for horses since during the last big Santa Ana fire the local water department generators stopped working. Set out flashlights throughout the house and studio. Also, set out candles and several kerosene lanterns just in case.
It is a warm evening so decided to set up comm center outside on the deck where I had a view of the surrounding area. Lit the kerosene lantern. Grabbed my handheld ham radio, car top magnetic antenna and a cookie bake sheet. The magnetic antenna centered on the bake sheet acts like the roof of the vehicle, which provides much better reception than the standard rubber-duck antenna. This way I can set up my UHF/VHF station remote from my vehicle. Added a writing tablet and pens, several flashlights, snacks, comfortable director’s chair and switched on the radio to see what was really going on.

As it gets darker, the reality of the situation starts to set in. Being a rural area, when it gets dark, it is not like being in the city, it is a lot darker. We also have dark-sky restrictions for outdoor lighting because of our proximity to the Mount Palomar Observatory, and with the power out everywhere, tonight, dark has become pitch black; the occasional vehicle on the road is the only light I see. I hear a few generators running and now see a few dim lights in the distance.
Scanning my programmed repeater frequencies, I find that someone has set up an unofficial network ("Net") where, finally, some useful information is being provided. I quickly learn that the power outage extends beyond the San Diego area, into Mexico, east to Arizona, and up to the southern part of Los Angeles. The cause is still under investigation. Time to get the grid back up, unknown. Not good. Wife is still in traffic so using the “Find My iPhone” app, I monitor her progress in real time on the map display of my iPhone.

Listening to my handheld, I check FaceBook on my iPhone and see many postings about the outage, mostly questions and speculative assumptions being posted compared to the verified info I hear on my FT-60 radio.

The fellow acting as Net Control is doing a good job of fielding questions and passing information. Requests are coming in for ham operators to help out at a hospital; someone needs a prescription delivered to their house; is the local CVS pharmacy still open for prescriptions, can anyone stop by such and such an address to check on an elderly couple; water is needed for the volunteers directing traffic at the stop light locations.

A local emergency assistance group (ham operators) break out their generators and lights and set them up at the stop light intersections so those directing traffic are more visible.

The Net traffic is increasing and one of the owners of the repeater keys up her mike to say she is monitoring this frequency and eventually steps in as the Net control to give the first fellow a well-deserved break. A question is asked about the backup generator for the repeater and she tells everyone that it would run for at least a week with no problem. Later, things ratchet up another notch as she is replaced by a fellow who takes over as Net control and announces that this frequency will be restricted to essential communications only. At this point, we are very close to the repeater being commandeered for official emergency communications only.

As new information is transmitted, there was the recurring questions of “where did you hear this?” What is your source? Can you confirm, etc. Because it is the nature of ham radio operators to be precise in relaying accurate communications the information being passed was specific and useful, not at all like the local news. So having been monitoring Face Book while listening to the ham, I started posting information I thought useful to Face Book. Before I know it, I have quite a few Facebook friends posting that I am their source for useful and reliable information.

My wife finally drives up and describes the traffic nightmare she just went through. She sits and listens to the ham radio traffic for a short while then goes to bed. It has been a long commute home for her.

I stayed up monitoring the radio until after midnight. By then the radio traffic had slowed and there was still no information on the cause of the outage or when the grid would be back up. Nothing left to do but get some rest and see what a new day brings.
As we all know the power started being restored in the early morning and everything pretty much returned to normal by the end of the next day.

After Action notes for this short-term event:

  • Keep the fuel in your vehicle over half full at all times. Spare fuel cans are a plus.
  • Work on your BBB supplies. You can never have enough.
  • Have a Get Home Bag (GHB) in your vehicle. You never know when you will need it to get home. My wife is the only person at her workplace that had all the gear she needed to either stay at the workplace or make the trek home if it came to that.
  • Get a ham license, some basic gear and familiarize yourself with how this valuable asset works.

While this did not turn into a BBB event, having those preps adequately covered made this much less stressful.
I later heard that the grocery stores sold out of water and ice faster than anything else did but other shelves were starting to look bare as the night wore on.
On another note, a friend of a friend who owns a precision gun store in another city (AR and high-end sniper rifles) had to call the police because of attempted break-in attempts during this grid down episode. Were just these opportunistic thieves or more desperate types looking longer-term at the situation and opportunity?

This event was just a hiccup. It lasted less than 12 hours. It took everyone completely by surprise and happened as people were getting off work. Those that were prepared were able to focus on important tasks, those that were not prepared stood in line. Having BBB is fine. Having comms provided invaluable real time information about the situation.
There are three stages humans go through to make decisions in stressful situations: Denial, Deliberation, and Decision (DDD). How long a person lingers in the (Denial) “this can’t be happening to me” stages depends on many factors. Spending too much time in this stage can lead to bad consequences. Once they realize it is really happening to them, people will naturally Deliberate on how serious, long term, threatening their situation is. Timely and accurate information is critical at this stage. Do not let the ‘Paralysis of Analysis’ tendency creep in at this point. Get reliable information since it is important to get to stage three quick. Like stage one, Denial, the faster you get though the Deliberation stage, the faster you get to the most important stage. Now it is time to make a Decision. Good or bad, this is where the rubber meets the road; go-no go, bug-in, bug-out. Not having real time, accurate information can lead to wasting too much time going through the first two of the DDD stages or worse yet, not making any, or making the wrong Decision based on completely inaccurate, or out of date, information.

If you are reading this, someone thinks you have some interest and understanding of the need to be prepared. Regardless of where you are in your journey, have your basic BBBs covered. Consider though, how important it is to also have comms so you go through the DDD process faster, and make the correct Decision in phase 3. We all know knowledge is power. Good comms could be that knowledge that saves you or your loved ones life. Just ask any leadership military person about command and control.
Consider budgeting some time and money and get your ham license and some gear. I see more and more articles appearing in the blogs about ham radio. There are good reasons for this. I have never regretted going down that road and having the fourth leg of my prepping table supported by good comms. A four-legged table is a lot sturdier to stand on than a three-legged stool (Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, + comms). Hope for the best, but plan for the worst!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good Morning,
I was reading the post regarding Baltimore evac signs which kicked off a thought. The author states that the signs end at the city limits and the goal is to just get people out of the city. It appears to me that there are all sorts or articles as of late regarding zombies, even television shows about viral masses of folks wandering around the country. Is the presence of these articles and shows part of a larger PSYOP program?

A television show recently aired showing the bombing of an American city,with the goal of kill off the infected. As the story line progressed there were occasions where one or two of these "zombies" were wandering the rural countryside and groups in neighbor hoods (sub-divisions). The future will not have zombies of course, but there will be people wandering the countryside looking for food, shelter. Their primal instincts will take over and what was once a college-educated banker will become a parasite. These people will not know how to take care of themselves and will take from those who have prepared. Worse yet is that it won't be just one or two people. It will be hundreds, even thousands.

The economy in such dire straights, jobs being moved off shore, corruption running rampant in D.C. The appearance is that those who are supposed to be in charge are losing control or even worse have already lost control. Only the appearance...What is happening behind the scenes is better orchestrated.

I have so many thoughts bouncing around that I need to take the time to process it all to be more coherent. I am in the middle of reading John Locke's Two Treatises on Government and that book sends me into some wild thought patterns. So much is happening, but what is interesting is that none of it is new. All of this has gone down before. Anyway, I have read both of your books. Very interesting and potentially useful knowledge hidden in plain site. Regards, - Ron in Vermont

Monday, November 21, 2011

Dear Jim:
I am writing in response to the recent posting entitled: Urban Evacuation--When The Plan is No Plan At All.

Several years ago when driving North out of Baltimore City, I noticed some blue and white signs which said:  "Emergency Evacuation Route"  They had a big blue arrow pointing North and nothing else.  The next time we were in the City I began looking for the signs.  I found them and began following them all the way.  They ran for miles out of the heart of the City and then just stopped ... somewhere near the City line.  But, the one thing I notice for sure is that they were pointing directly toward my area.

So, I've looked up Baltimore's Emergency Plan.

Here it is:  "Where do the evacuation signs posted in the City lead? The evacuation signs will lead you out of the city - They do not lead to bomb shelters."  The web site is now almost 10 years old.  The link to Maryland Office of Domestic Preparedness is not working.  As far as I am able to tell, the "plan" is to send Baltimore's residents out into the surrounding counties ... and nothing else.  Now, there were approximately 621,000 people in Baltimore City for the 2010 Census.  There are only two counties that surround Baltimore City - Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County.  The Chesapeake Bay is to the east.

So, Baltimore City is planning to send a large portion of those gentle, refined city folk to my quiet neighborhood.  The funny thing is that people from this area are for the most part unaware of the signs - after all, for the most part, we avoid going into the City.  Should a significant disaster occur that warranted City evacuation, we in the suburbs would definitely be in trouble.  I was worried about two extra places at the table for Thanksgiving dinner.  Just where am I going to put that approximate 150,000 uninvited guests? - Grace

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hi, Jim,
I had a very interesting conversation earlier this week in which I learned that Arizona emergency planners are no longer planning any type of evacuation for the city of Phoenix.  It is simply an impossible task.  Where on earth do you put some four million people (greater Phoenix area population) and how do you get them there?  I wonder what other cities/municipalities have officials who have made the same decision? 

It would behoove all survival minded people to take a very hard and honest look at their own cities and towns and put themselves in the place of emergency planners.  If your own logic and observations tell you that there's no way out, those planners have likely come to the same conclusion.

Kind Regards, - Lisa Bedford, Editor, TheSurvivalMom.com

Friday, November 11, 2011

Mr Rawles:
I had to send along the link to the news article about the failure of the nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) with the observation that I would have bet this wasn't going to work.
I say that as a retired Air Force avionics technician whose job was maintaining and flying as a crew member on the EC-135A, C, G, H, and L model Airborne Command Post Aircraft.  As well as in an advisory capacity for five years when the job was passed over to the Navy E6B in 1998.  Even on our best days with everyone doing the absolute best they could we would have to work around something.  That was with multiple communication options.
I knew the odds of everything being interoperable were going to be slim to none, and I wasn't disappointed.
Keep up the great work your site has really been a "go to" for me and my friends. Respectfully, - Bill T.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hi Jim,
Thank you for all you do and provide to us readers so selflessly.  May you always have dry powder, socks and a multitude of blessings.  I'm guessing you will probably get quite a few responses to M.K.'s article of State Defense Forces.  I had mixed reactions to it. 
First, let me state; I have always had the highest regard for the Military and the servicemen therein.  Our family has had someone in the Military in every generation going back before The Revolution and still do.  We even had a number that served in the early Militias.  So my argument is not with the Military, Militias, SDF, Reserves or any of the other various forms of Service.  It is with their bosses and our elected officials.  I couldn't help but feel that MK needed to do some more research.
Although there might be Federal laws now pertaining to what and where the SDF's serve and that they can resign easily....all that can go out the window fairly quickly if TSHTF.  All you have to do is go to the FEMA, Homeland Security and Government web sites and really read some of what is in there.  So may new laws, acts, executive orders, etc have been enacted recently that have loosely worded clauses in them that would do away with many of the previous laws in the case of an emergency.
Heck, even the definition of "emergency" has become so misconstrued that it makes it hard to know what constitutes an emergency anymore.  Or who the "enemy" is anymore.  Almost all of them have this fun little clause hidden in them to the effect of..."or deemed by officials...".  This leaves the gate wide open.  I think in the case of an "emergency" many in these services or medical fields or other "necessary fields" may find themselves co-opted in the name of "National Security".  I believe it is somewhere in the Patriot Act that lists all the professions and services that will come under the command of their new big dog in charge.  Read the official stuff they have on line about Continuity of Government, 10 FEMA regions, Patriot Act and Emergency Contingency plans.  All that we know and believe can go out the window in a heart beat.  I can't remember the Executive Order Obama signed in Aug/Sept but it gave him a tremendous amount of power and ability to suspend the known Government.  Don't assume what is law now will be the law when the TSHTF.
I also believe it is a little naive to think that there is an "ingrained unwillingness of most people to initiate hostilities with an apparently organized, uniformed, armed, military force moving through their environs".  While I do not believe many would "initiate hostilities"  I do believe there could be a big mistrust of the above mentioned.  Me personally, if I see those guys coming to town I'm going to be heading the other way fast.  Not because I have anything to hide or have ever been in trouble with the law but because I no longer trust those guys.  I don't care what your official badge or credentials are.  You can thank the TSA, rogue cops/swat teams and government fear mongering for that.  It seems that citizens are now guilty until proven innocent.  There are too many instances of innocent citizens losing their rights and civil liberties in the name of "National Security" to ignore this threat.  No thanks!  I don't want to be corralled into one of their imagined "safe places".  Sorry, but I believe in the old adage of if someone shows up and says "We're from the Government and we're here to help", then run!
In the last couple of years I too had looked at the invaluable training that the various service organization provide and seriously considered it.  Bottom line was that I did not want to get "locked" into the organizations.  Even if you only have Advanced First Aid your services can be demanded in the case of an "emergency".  It's a registered certification and the government has the list. 
My nephew served in Iraq and is career Army.  He is now back in the states and I've quizzed him about some of all this.  Even he has an alternate BOB and contingency plan and has advised all in our family to do likewise.  I do believe their are a lot of honorable good guys in the various services and I want to trust them.  Unfortunately, they are obligated to follow orders.  I no longer have a lot of trust in the head honchos giving the orders.
Take care, do lots of research, use your own critical thinking and don't assume all is well in the World.  There are lots of little clauses out there that can make anything or anyone fair game ...."if deemed necessary" by the powers that be....or to be. - Skylar

Sunday, October 30, 2011

I advocate that you seriously consider incorporating state organized militia service as a key element of a developing or ongoing personal preparedness strategy.  At this time, twenty-two states have some form of active state sanctioned/sponsored militia organization, all of which are incorporated into each of those states’ military organization.  Generally, these state organized militias are collectively referred to as State Defense Forces (SDFs), though the various states refer to their organizations within a narrow range of naming conventions.  Some examples include, the Texas State Guard, Virginia State Defense Force, Ohio Military Reserve, etc. Though state defense forces are official elements of state militaries, they cannot be called up for federal service, may not be deployed outside of their state (unless the members volunteer in some unique circumstances), and may not be deployed outside the United States under any circumstance.  The military formations are prohibited by law from serving under direct federal military command and cannot be activated into federal service.  Individual service members with potential federal service obligations may be called into federal service, though the issue is moot as they would already be called into service regardless of membership or not in state defense forces. 

Each of these state defense forces are legitimate military formations recognized under the United States Constitution, the State Constitutions of the various states, and relevant laws at both the state and federal levels.  Their missions generally focus on disaster response, emergency management, and/or homeland security.  I am a member of the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard.  The Texas Maritime Regiment trains and operates with the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (man-tracking and boat patrols on Texas rivers and lakes); the Texas Forestry Service (heavy equipment operations for wildfire containment and natural/man-made disaster support); the United States Coast Guard (homeland security waterborne patrolling and natural/manmade disaster waterborne response).  Each state defense force will have missions that lean heavily toward disaster response or emergency management, the nature of which will be dependent on the unique nature of the state’s environment and needs.  Regardless, in most cases, state defense force training, experiences, resources and associations can be advantageous to those preparing to thrive after a disastrous or catastrophic event.

Advantage - Training

Some SDF programs are more robust and developed than others, so, depending on the training standards and program quality of a particular state defense force, the value of service based training can vary broadly.  However, from a preparedness standpoint, service in your State Defense Force may offer multiple advantages for the individual seeking development of new skills or retention of known skills.  Since disaster preparedness on an individual basis shares a common theme with disaster preparedness on a community basis, there are skill-sets, knowledge bases, and resources that are equally valuable in both circumstances.  Some examples include emergency medical training and equipment access, communication training and equipment access, map-reading and land navigation, survival skills, tactical skills, weapons training, etc.  Based on discussions I’ve had with members of other SDFs and reviews of various sources, the quality and nature of training can be fairly divergent from unit to unit within a state defense force, and also from state to state.

As a rule, to become proficient, those who do not already have such skills from prior federal service or other experiences have to spend money on obtaining such training, as well as develop and dedicate resources on practical skill maintenance.  The quality of privately obtained training or individually developed experience may not always provide adequate value for the expense.  In general, relevant training in these and other skills are part and parcel of state defense force service at no, or minimal, out-of-pocket expense. 

Some, though not all, of otherwise expensive training presented throughout my ongoing service in the Texas Maritime Regiment at minimal cost, if any, to me include: land navigation, first aid, advanced first aid, CPR and AED, combat medic, ASP baton, scuba diving, Taser, active-shooter (ALERRT), emergency response base camp establishment and operation, human tracking, boat operation, tactical employment, personal security detachment operations, vehicle licensure for federal military vehicles (various), military emergency management specialist courses, Ham radio certification, rappelling and rope work, swift water rescue familiarization training, etc.  Much of this was complementary to my prior federal service in the USMC. In some cases, it simply allows me to keep relatively current on some skills, while some were completely new for me. 

Naturally, as in most things, you get out of it what you put in.  For those who hit the ground running with the expectation of taking advantage of every opportunity to develop themselves, the training should be available somewhere.  In some cases, there are expensive training options wholly paid by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).  An example is the instructor course for Incident Response to Terrorist Bombing, a four day course in New Mexico for which DHS pays for round-trip air fare, car rental, course tuition, lodging, and a meal stipend.  For this and other such courses, I know I like to feel like some of my tax dollars are directly benefiting me in a positive way.  There are other examples that are pretty much closed to those who are not part of law enforcement, emergency first responders, or part of the Homeland Security infrastructure.  For some examples of courses available to state defense force personnel, go to www.ruraltraining.org. My view on this is that I have already spent the money in the form of taxation, now its time to get back some of what I already paid out.

Advantage – Experiences

Due to the nature of the missions of SDFs as most significantly applicable to natural disasters or large scale emergencies, SDF activation is most likely under those or similar circumstances.  In the states along the Gulf of Mexico our most frequent full activations are associated with hurricanes.  Operating in areas devastated by hurricanes with no running water, no electricity, no retail fuel sources, no retail food stores, no restaurants, etc., gives one an increased appreciation for some of what may be faced in a full grid-down environment.  There is literally no amount of simulation that can compare to operating in such an environment for an extended period.  Rather than trying to strain your brain to guess what might be faced and what the best responses are, reality is all around you to absorb and store as personal experience.  Recent events with large scale wildfires that have destroyed thousands of homes and disrupted the lives of thousands of Texans also provide us with the opportunity to experience some of what might be faced at various times.  Additionally, we gain experience with oil and chemical spills on those unfortunate occasions when Man’s plans don’t mesh well with God’s reality. 

Since we are not simply spectators from afar in these disasters and emergencies, we gain critical experience in how to respond in these situations, what equipment, resources, training, and techniques are most useful.  Essentially, state defense force personnel operate in the realm of hard reality in disaster areas, the value of which cannot be realistically substituted.  Though I have no experience with other states’ forces, my best guess is that every state with an SDF has some sort of practical operational application that will provide real world added value experience, be it tornados, earthquakes, flooding, etc.

Advantage – Resources

In some cases the state provides access to resources that would otherwise be unavailable or prohibitively expensive.  The first thing that comes to mind is bottled water and MREs.  During activation for disaster response, we are provided practically unlimited access to MREs, both for our use and distribution to impacted civilians.  At the conclusion of the disaster or emergency response, state officials have always indicated a preference for total distribution of these meals, as the effort to return them to storage represents additional and needless expense, particularly as these are provided by the federal government as part of the emergency management process.  As a lifelong taxpayer whose experience has seen money flowing one way, away from my pocket, I consider this legal and authorized retention of provided resources a reasonable partial return on prior payments.

Another element that might be seen as valuable to some is the first line access to vaccinations for pandemics for state military forces personnel and our nuclear family members.  Because of reported issues of major side-effects from vaccinations, I recognize everyone may not want one, but for those who do, we are provided first access as emergency response personnel. 

Some of the other advantages are federal income tax deductions for service associated equipment purchases such as gear, ammunition, uniform clothing, etc.  This, in and of itself, has a direct value for those who are still developing or deepening their preparedness resources.  In Texas there are some providers, vendors, or retailers who offer military discounts on non-military items.  Though there are many others, one example is the McDonald’s restaurant chain.  While this might not seem immediately relevant to a prepper, my perspective is that every dollar I don’t spend elsewhere is one more dollar that can be focused on preparedness needs and saving where possible is another element to improving one’s overall position.  Along this vein, we have college tuition reimbursement programs, discounts for various state or other government services, free vehicle registration, etc.  All these can pile up and represent a fairly tidy sum to apply toward your own disaster preparedness program.

Another resource consideration not to be overlooked is early access to critical decision-making information.  I was at one time assigned to the intelligence section of our unit, during which time I joined the National Military Intelligence Association which provides a regular open source compilation of daily news that might be of interest in improving situational awareness.  Also, because the state defense forces are integrated at the top levels with the national military and emergency management structure, to be effective in responding to a developing situation the personnel must be “brought on line” before an event reaches a critical point.  In the event a grid down collapse develops as opposed to occurs suddenly (such as a CME or nuclear incident), military personnel will receive warning orders or pre-activation notification.  Such information may provide sufficient lead time to activate your personal program, getting you and/or your family away from the immediate threat area if possible.  What I’m picturing is getting your family, friends, constituents, or group members rolling to a bug-out location immediately on receipt of such a notice, beating mass evacuations and/or roadblocks not yet set up.

Advantage – Association

While this is a bit intangible with pretty wide opportunities for success or failure, in my case it is directly responsible for being invited into an existing retreat plan.  As one inevitably discusses issues and events with those closest to you, there is a very good chance of interacting with like minded people who may have an interest in developing a closer association.  In my case, gaining access to a working ranch with an ongoing and relatively well developed program represents an immediate savings of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and may ultimately save the lives of me and my family.  While I don’t expect everyone to experience the same process exactly, I hope the value of interacting with military personnel with the same or similar understanding of threat probabilities is apparent to everyone.

Advantage – Legitimacy

Without getting into discussion of the Constitutional merits of independent non-aligned militias, my view is there are particular values relative to the legitimate exercise of authority in disaster environments through membership in a state sponsored militia.  The value of bearing a state issued and officially recognized military identification when moving in a developing threat environment can be extraordinarily high.  Military identification allows one to move legitimately in areas and along routes that are otherwise denied to the population at large.  This in and of itself has value in that during evacuation, if one were to be caught up in one, travel along otherwise restricted roadways greatly enhances the speed at which one can reach a particular location.  In my experience, approaching a roadblock in uniform with orders and ID in hand results in the removal of the roadblock before even coming to a full stop.  As a member of the state military forces, you are seen to be part of the legitimate response structure because you are a legitimate part of that structure.  All of the elements are designed to operate together to improve the overall response so, just as we might be manning a roadblock and move it aside for a law enforcement officer, a truck full of firemen, etc., the same benefit accrues to the SDF member.

An additional benefit to being a credentialed member of a state defense force in a post-collapse environment is there is naturally an ingrained unwillingness of most people to initiate hostilities with an apparently organized, uniformed, armed, military force moving through their environs.  While it is likely this would not always be the case, an increase in probability one can avoid conflict is an increase in the probability of eventual success in getting wherever it is you might be trying to go.  Secondly, in the likely event there are problematic persons or groups in an area you may be in, there is an increased probability legitimately credentialed military personnel could expect and receive greater assistance from an otherwise non-aligned populace.  In other words, people would be more prone to help out in forming a posse to crush some roaming gang if the request were to come from Gunnery Sergeant Smith and troops of the State Military Forces, than from Bob Smith, the guy who lives in the farm down the road with his friends and cousins.  Questions of authority and competence will likely be reduced in the first instance, whereas one can imagine folks wondering who in the heck this Bob guy thinks he is to come around trying to form a posse or whatever.

Furthermore, short-term post-collapse society may still include those do not grasp the extent of changes and whose prior positions and responsibilities in law-enforcement drive them to consider arresting openly armed persons.  In such a circumstance, were one to be traveling or operating with or without a group, being well-armed, uniformed, and credentialed should alleviate most concerns such a former law-enforcement individual might have.  My consideration is that SDF personnel are more likely to be welcomed as potential help, or even viewed as an opportunity to enlist into an apparently functional remnant of social stability, than be viewed as a potential threat justifying attempting an arrest.

Because most folks I speak to are more interested in thriving over the long-haul versus barely surviving, and recognize there are clear advantages to working as part of a community to achieve those aims, the likelihood of success is enhanced by an effective armed organization that can serve as the basis for community defense.  As in most things of a preparedness nature, early beats too late.  Joining your State Defense Force as soon as one reasonably can will provide the opportunities to gain from the advantages previously discussed.  Space limitations prevent me from expanding this discussion further, though in reality the advantages are extensive for preparedness minded folks.

Advantage – Oath Keeping and Honor Maintenance

One of my rules in life, but particularly regarding preparedness, is that most actions or decisions should have multiple justifications.  Service in state defense forces should not be simply to improve one’s preparedness posture, but also to serve our fellow citizens and work to improve society.  It is in our nature as decent people to help others in need and do our part in protecting what is great and positive in our nation and among our people.  We take oaths to do so, and desire to serve with honor and distinction.  The potential exists, however, that conflicts might arise regarding one’s duty to God, to self, to family, or to the state and fellow citizens.  One example that comes to mind is a need to focus on family in the event of a serious long-term illness.  Thankfully, most if not all state defense force services have an avenue should such an instance develop.

In general, the laws governing state defense forces provide personnel the option of resigning prior to completion of an enlistment period.  As a rule, enlistments are “open-ended” in that there is no cut-off date at which one must re-enlist to maintain active status, so when one is ready to discharge from a state defense force a resignation is performed – essentially a request for honorable discharge.  My research suggests past practice is, barring criminal activity or some heinous violation of the state code of military justice, honorable discharges are essentially immediately in effect upon resignation and officially granted as the paperwork gets processed.  By providing this option of resignation, a personal mechanism of control for the maintenance and assurance of personal honor and sense of duty exists that federal service members lack.  Federal forces do not have that luxury, but must generally fulfill their full terms of enlistment.

Disadvantages – Expense

State Defense Forces are usually not paid for training, and what they are paid for periods of activation are normally not much.  Because the budgets for state active service in militia units is fairly small, organizations that want to have an aggressive training program need to be inventive and willing to explore training opportunities both internally and from “non-traditional” training sources.  Fire departments may provide rappelling training, local police departments may offer training in SWAT tactics, Army National Guard units might help with land navigation, while an Air National Guard unit provides communication training.  The point is, unlike federally subsidized military forces with training bases, budgets, and large cadres of trainers and instructors, state forces frequently have to be more adaptive to practically non-existent training budgets to develop useful skill-sets and knowledge bases in their personnel.

Though there may be slots in the state budget for uniforms and gear, the reality is that most, if not all, of the necessary military uniforms and equipment must be privately purchased.  One of the mechanisms found to help mitigate the personal impact on this is creating a non-profit that accepts tax deductible donations from businesses to help defray large expenses.  This can be particularly helpful in areas that strongly support state defense forces.  Regardless, ideally everything purchased for service should be dual use as part of a personal disaster response plan, so the expenses are what one would already be spending anyway on preparedness supplies. 

Finally, many employers do not support their employees with paid time off for state military service, though my understanding is that in Texas there are laws that provides the same level of job protection as that afforded to personnel in federal or National Guard service.  On the other hand, some employers provide full pay and benefits while attending training or on active service deployments.  That would definitely be something to explore prior to joining a state defense force.


In my view based on my experience in the Texas Maritime Regiment of the Texas State Guard, from the standpoint of value in enhancing a personal preparedness strategy, the advantages of membership in a state defense force far outweigh the few disadvantages of cost.  I strongly encourage those who have state defense forces active in their states to seriously consider membership as a means of dramatically enhancing their preparedness posture.  For those in Texas who might wish to explore this further, please go to http://1bntmar.weebly.com/.  If you reside in a different state, Wikipedia has a complete list of states with active state defense forces, most with links to discover more from the official web sites.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I too went and saw "Contagion" with my wife.  It has been interesting to read the various posts about this film, but again I have a different take.  The photography was good, the cast excellent, the script okay, the pro-government and big pharma propaganda was outstanding!  What we came away with was the understanding that the CDC can solve anything (except AIDS of course) and the big pharma can then come to rescue at any time.
Yes the movie did a good job portraying would probably happen during this type of event in terms of clearing out the stores, etc., and they did a good job of reinforcing the idea that perhaps going to the store to get supplies with all your friendly sick neighbors, was not the best idea.
I did hear a couple comment and say that they are just trying to scare us and that “they” (basically FEMA or some other government agency) would provide.  Personally, I thought they got a vaccine way too fast and the situation would actually be a lot worse than was portrayed. I give it 3 out of 5 stars.  - Energized

Greetings Mr. Rawles,
I am e-mailing you today because I disagree with the Tuesday (9/13) reviews of the movie "Contagion".  I saw the movie and felt that it was a utter disappointment to anyone who thought they could use this movie to ether glean inspiration from, Learn from, or be used as a tool to warn others to prepare.  This movie failed on all three counts.  Indeed after the surprisingly utility of the movie, "The Road" I was hopeful that Hollywood had started to cater to our ilk. 

To counter the points made by the letters that spurred me to action, I will address the mistakes made by those in favor of the movie.  The first is Bill L.'s points on the witnessed events by the first character pointed out.  At each of these events there are real life examples on you tube that are far more accurate, and far less child friendly as the movie portrayed.  Indeed the perception given from this movie is that while looting is going on, you can calmly  walk into a grocery store, take what ever you want, and leave.  After all a simple shout is good enough to scare away the looters trying to steal your SUV parked around back.  

Bill later pointed out about Operational Security and the ransacking of the head of the CDC's home.  Let me point out that in the movie these, "desperate people" did not hurt the wife, did not trash the place, and did nothing more than scare her while dirtying the place with scattered bits of paper and such.  Indeed this is another case of Hollywood trying to portray us as kooks by pointing out that should a pandemic happen, "Things won't be that bad"

While Mama J. May have enjoyed the loose plot, multitude of characters, the constant reminders to wash your hands both verbally and pictorially with the constant pauses on places where people touch, and through a female character nagging male characters to stop touching their face and wash their hands.

I am not trying to be rude to Bill & Mama J, but this movie does more harm with no good, and should be avoided at all costs.

Kindly, - Braden A.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

So, you think you're prepared? So did I. Until Hurricane Irene destroyed the infrastructure around here. The roads were blocked to all the local towns, all three routes out of here. If it wasn't trees down, it was flooded, or power lines and poles leaned over the road in the 'maybe' zone (maybe you would hit them and maybe not, but why take a chance on thousands of volts? If not those, it was pieces of somebody's house across the road. And this was only a Cat 1 storm? Sigh.
Before she hit, I, being confident that we were 'prepped up', started rummaging around to get out the generator and put it in the 'ready' position in the carport. It had been started LAST YEAR, and had fuel stabilizer in the gas, with the gas valve cut off and I had ran it 'bowl dry', so it should be no problem eh? Yeah right. We had an extra 6 gallon can that we had filled up that morning, no problem, we can run the generator an hour or so every 4 hours, to keep the freezer and fridge 'charged up', or so I thought. We had lots of canned food on top of the long term stuff, hadn't paid it any mind for a year or more and had been using it here and there, but as the economy gets worse, and our money got tighter, rotating the stuff became a battle, so it just sat there on the shelf in the pantry...going bad in the heat over the last couple years, since, we quit running the central air to save money. No problem, we have a thousand dollars worth of food in the chest type deep freezer. Uh huh.
We had a camp stove, and lots of fuel, but it hadn't been used in years, no problem right? I mean, what could go wrong with a camp stove, right? Uh huh.
We had kerosene lamps and lots of lamp oil, no problemo, Kimosabe? Uh huh.
We had batteries, for flashlights, had just bought 'em, didn't really matter that much.

Now, the S[chumer] as they say, hit the fan, literally, and civilization all went poof about 6 a.m. on Saturday morning amidst all the snap crackle pop of trees and power lines coming down all around us. But never fear; Prep Man is here!  So I went out to crank up the genny in a driving hurricane. That's when the fun began.
The day before Irene hit, I asked did you remember to get some extra chicken food, and goat food? No? Oops, have to let the chickens out to forage on their own, the goats can eat grass. (Note; there are good reasons farm animals are kept in pens and behind electric fences.)
As well as the generator, we had a solar operated battery system with inverter; did you check the batteries lately? No? Good luck with that, especially if the batteries are a few years old. Did you happen to have any distilled water on hand? No? Uh huh. (Even though there was plenty of 'distilled' water pouring off the roof, there was no Sun, and it takes 8 hours at least to get it up to charge. In my opinion solar sucks, even before the hurricane. If you don't have lots of money for a full blown large scale system, with a wind generator for those sunless days, don't waste your money. Being an ex-engineer type, I think I have come up with a good solution, a system I call H.O.E.M. gas. We shall see. The point is, power available 24/7 or bust.
The first thing I noticed besides the sideways rain, was that the goats and chickens had taken up in the carport. Goats and chickens love to climb, and goats jump up and down on things. One of the things they decided was a fun toy was the generator sitting under the carport, ready to go. It was sitting next to the deep freezer, a tempting target for fun and games. It was also the only semi dry, out of the wind place around, also, the chickens thought it was a wonderful roost off the flooded ground...
As I chased the chickens off, the goats and chickens became a mini tornado of fur and feathers in a small space, that was fun all on its own, and I didn't notice the smell of gas in the air. So I dragged the generator out and started to plug it up to the various necessaries...and went to crank it...pull, no crank, pull, no crank. Switch on? Choke set?, fuel valve open? Yup, pull, no crank. Arrgh!, now what? This thing was always running by the second pull. (One pull; switch off to prime it, then switch on.) I had maintained it well I thought, changed the oil, cleaned the carb just the year before. I looked, no gas in the tank. Huh?  Ok, I poured the gas into it from the new can and as I reached down to pull, gas was pouring out the bottom of the tank soaking everything, including my already soaked shoe. Whaaaat? The plastic tank, had been cracked around the middle...goats playing...then I noticed, the carport was soaked in water and gas. You know, those little colored rainbows that you can see when oil products mix with water? This was not good, why is it always the little things?
Seeing no way to fix the tank with the immediate supplies at hand, I duct taped it and tried tipping the gen on an angle. This stopped the flow, and allowed it to retain what was left, less than half a tank, good for about 4 hours, maybe, if I prayed real hard. That wasn't going to work if the power stayed off for any length of time, especially since there was no gas to be had...(We found out, from texting sister in town, no power no gas. Texting was encouraged to save power.) The power company said they would try to have everything back on before 'the end of the week'. But by then, all the food in the deep freeze would be thawed out, and either grilled or thrown out. But the immediate problem was eating. The generator problem I had to get back to later. The smell hadn't sunk into my animal addled mind to start with, so it was a good thing that it didn't start, there are Angels, believe it. Still having water pressure, I added to the runoff by hosing it all down, didn't want that catching fire in the middle of a hurricane. Little things can add up to big things.
The kerosene lamps, had rusted, the little wheel that raises the wicks, broke off, didn't work anymore...made in china?, bust.
Time to eat, so I went to crank up the camp stove. But, wonder of wonders, the little pump on the white gas tank, wouldn't pump up anymore; it had sat out in the barn, and rusted and dried into an unusable state. Bust. Then I announced to anybody around... that the electric operated can opener wouldn't work without electricity, another of those 'compromises' with the lifestyle queen. Rummaging around for the old manual can opener, revealed a forgotten rusted piece of crap I wouldn't use. So another one of those 'little things' you tend to forget when you live under a 'Normalcy Bias'. I got out my trusty Swiss army knife, with can opener. No problemo...and grabbed a can of ravioli off the shelf. Hmm…Expiration date 2006? Wow, maybe it would be okay, I mean, those expiration dates are just to get you to buy constantly, right? I had thought canned food would last almost forever? Right? No. Not if kept in a house at room temperature, that is pretty high, because you're saving money on air conditioning, and the can's sit there in the heat and bake...the red ravioli looked brown, and smelled awful...but, what the heck, it didn't smell bad...so I tried some...eeeyech...I fed it to the dogs, they wouldn't even eat it all. So much for all that canned food.  
Getting dark, no electricity, no hot food, with flashlights and afraid to open the refrigerator or deep freeze, we were stuck because as long as they were shut, they would stay frozen longer. We were really starting to suffer the consequences of non preppers, and I was really beside myself, for being so lax, always too busy making money to pay bills. I mean the preps had been purchased in better times, so we would be okay? Right? Uh huh. It was a choice between breaking into the long-term storage, rice and beans or peanut butter sandwiches or get some power going so we could break into the freezers. I pulled out some jerky sticks, and that was supper. The wife was starting to get ... upset at me, and I blamed her. Round and round it goes, and with supper in hand...wind and rain dying out, I decided to go outside away from the heat inside.
So I went back to work on the generator. Three hours later, not being a pro mechanic type, I figured out we had gas to the carb, but no arky sparky...gas and spark, all you need to know about small engines. Since my problem before, when I bought the generator, was the carb, the previous owner had sold it to me cheap, saying it wouldn't run. I go to work thinking the same problem; something had gotten trash in the carb. Nope. Fuel filter wasn't plugged, plenty of gas in the bowl, no restrictions in the venturi tube.  So the air filter and carb went back together, with great distress that the magneto had failed. Wrong, its always the little things.

After tearing the pull cover off the old Briggs and Stratton, I got out my new checker kit. You know, the little screwdriver looking things that check continuity, low voltage and spark voltage, for a car? Just little light bulbs in a screwdriver really. So I go to hook it up to the spark cable, and sprong!, the whole thing flies apart, pieces everywhere. "CHEAP CHINESE C**P!", I yell. Wow, now what? So I get lucky, and a chicken feather fell out of the start switch. It’s always the little things; remember Occam’s razor, the simplest thing, is usually the cause of the problem. Thank you Lord. Note to self, no more tools; 'Made in China'.
So Plan A initially went down the toilet, but the generator finally started. "Yeah! We're back from the 18th century!" And the freezers and fridge and microwave works, and the TV, but we still can't get to town to replace the gas... So, during the reassembly process, which I was doing 'hot' because it was running....the exhaust pipe came into contact with my left arm, yup, a very bad burn, and, I snatched my arm back which contacted the one ragged edge of metal of the gen cover standing to the side. When was the last time I had a tetanus shot? 1999? The first aid kit was a shambles, but we still had water and some silver solution, so at least that hasn't gotten infected. Its always the little things. Murphy lives, thank God for the Angels. We just went to bed when it got dark, I was exhausted from stress and frustration.
The next morning, the generator wouldn't crank, had to drop it down off the angle, duh, and after all this blood sweat and tears, pain, anguish and strife, there goes the power company truck, and an hour later, the power came back on.... just wonderfully anticlimactic. But, you never know when the Big Things will come back to life, since you're so caught up with the Little Things. If I hadn't gotten the generator started, the power would still be off, I'm convinced the Universe just KNOWS.  Thank God and the utility company; we still have people who care about doing their jobs. But by this time, I was almost out of my mind with frustration, and I was screaming at the wife. I told her, she and her lifestyle could take a hike, I wasn't doing it anymore, and she was cowed into finally, listening instead of talking. Like I had told friends before, macro economics is composed of millions of micro economic stories, this is but one. I sympathize with those who just give up. What's the old saying? Life’s hard, then you die.
I now have to throw out a bunch of old food, not going to take the chance. If dogs won't eat it, it’s bad enough to throw away. The real positive outcome to all of this was the Conversion of the wife and attached family, to a real prepper/survivalist mindset and Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). Prior to this, my main problem was fighting the age-old battle between current lifestyle and future survival lifestyle. The wife is always the other half of the equation; those who are married know what I mean. When you have someone who thinks you are 'full of c**p', and fights you at every turn, for every extra dollar available, you are going to lose in the end. When I wanted to buy a package of JB-Weld epoxy to put in my tools, she objected, she wanted to go to the new Harry Potter movie that she just couldn't live without seeing. That would have fixed the gas tank, or at least better than duct tape. When I wanted to buy the nice new battery operated lamp and radio, she wanted to go out for a pizza. When I wanted, whatever, it was a current lifestyle vs. future survival decision, where the cycling of preps was a battle over a dollar for an extra can of soup. She wouldn't even buy the things she liked, because she disagreed with my whole 'survival nonsense'. She, and her whole family, was a classic case of DGI, Don't Get It. (Don't care, don't want to, don't talk about it 'cause "this is America, everything will be alright".)
Now, she understands, and asked just yesterday when she could finally get to town, "They have some left over battery lanterns and batteries on sale, do we need to stock up for the next hurricane?" "Yup" says I. Smile. Which brings me to the Plan, all the gold in the safe, did us no good. I couldn't eat a single coin. Trust me, even with hot sauce; it would still not do anything but cause pain at the other end of the digestion process. Buying it in the beginning of this journey in 2005, at a whopping $425/oz, was a battle royal. I was called every kind of idiot in the book, and even had the rest of her family beating up on me for being 'so dumb'. It didn't matter that is was the only retirement money I was likely to ever see since my old company was bought out and looted.  I was told, in no uncertain terms, that I needed to plop it down into some 'safe' mutual fund. My protests that a 'Financial Hurricane' was coming, was met with the classic sound of crickets...and then a changed subject. My admonitions that they needed to keep the pantry full, and get a gun, were met with laughter, and the classic sound of progressives who "didn't like guns in the house, that's why we pay police". They all, to a person, suffered the slings and arrows of Mother Nature this Hurricane, with the grocery store emptied out. Peanut butter became the meal du jour, as they all, all, had to throw out good food. (Being too stupid & selfish to just have a neighborhood barbeque, and eat it all.) One, tried to get to my house, knowing where 'the goods' were, but was turned back by the sheriff. (Flooded roads, laugh out loud funny. It would have been even funnier if they had gotten here...)

What we have, now and in the future, my wife assures me, will be kept a secret, like I tried to tell her all along. OPSEC is now a word that has meaning to her. Since even she, didn't want her whiny niece and her whiny kids here eating our food. I told her to tell them all, that we threw it all out because it had gone bad because of the generator. Almost true, forgive me Lord. Gone are the old days, I hope, of her telling them everything, and it being a family joke, now, I'm her hero again, and her family is suspect. Hard times bring out the worst in everybody, trust me. I told her, this is only a small sampling of what a true SHTF situation would be like, since she knows our primary option is to just hide in the woods out back and pretend to be an empty house (after getting everything worth anything out.) She had joked about it, now she asks if I still think that would be necessary. "I hope not, but that's why you plan for the worst, and hope for the best..." 

I quit talking to anybody about anything prepwise in 2008, one can only take so much abuse. At $1,000 gold, they were saying it was just a bubble, I just smiled and told them the dollar was being destroyed by the politicians. They would just laugh and say the dollar was "as good as gold". My only response to them was "that is illogical, since nothing else is gold."  Now, I'm told, some of them have cashed out their 'safe' investments, losing their collective tail ends, since they never learn, that when it comes to investing, you can't act on emotions because by then its usually too late, and they sold at the bottoms. Good move guys. Now they are seeing $1,800-1,900/oz gold and my greater than 300% gains, the news is now catching up to where I told them we would be, and they are now asking me where I bought my coins. I told them: "You might need to invest in food and a good gun first, and the waiting lists for coins are in months." Their eyebrows went up, but amazingly, they are now all listening, and they are all scared, I see it in their eyes. They have all lost faith in the Hope and Change mantra, and the S&P downgrade affected them badly. I told them, "Outside of investing, fear is a good thing, it is natures way of keeping you alive. Listen to your fear, but learn to shoot, before you need it, and get your food pantry first, then gold and silver, and then pay attention to the little things".  I still have my 'coin collection', and hope to keep it, but I might just sacrifice a little, to get a little bit better prepared. (Previously mentioned homemade hybrid gas I'm working on, requires money. Everything requires money.)

The primary purpose of this article, is to impress on your readers the necessity of families pulling together in common purpose and singular mindset, cooperation and harmony, the maintenance of preps, and lists. Do you have the little things to repair the big things? The little thing to open the big things you need to eat out of? Do you have the discipline to write down the little things you need, when you need them, or think about them? Do you have a list hanging somewhere handy, like on a refrigerator magnet? Do you have a hurricane check list? Do you have a standard prep list of 'top off's, when, if, you hear that dollar crashing sound because China and the rest of the world has decided, enough madness, and to dump us into the 18th Century? Do you eat your preps, as they come due or before, and replace at least one can at a time? Do you buy the things you like, so it will be easy? Sure, buying a lot of peanut butter, rice and beans will keep you alive, but you won't be living. You will survive bodily, but will your marriage survive? Will your relationships suffer if family members are pulling in different directions? Have you learned to shut up yet? Have you learned who to cut loose and who to bring in? Have you got your group together? Have you paid attention to the Little Things?

Which reminds me, note to fridge, toilet paper and vitamins, lots of toilet paper and vitamins, also check on the ammo in storage. What is that latest government threat? Oh yeah, Codex Alimentarious, that will make vitamins illegal or hard to get. Ever heard of Scurvy? Rice and beans don't have Vitamin C. Do I need a root cellar? Something to check on. Hurricane Katia? A Russian name? That sounds wonderful.  Here we go again, but this time, we'll be in a lot better shape, trust me.  Some of her family are coming out next week for shooting and zeroing lessons. "You mean you can't just pick up a gun and shoot it?" "Nope, without training you might shoot yourself or your daughter." "By the way, what happened to your arm?" says Sister in Law, "The little things, its always the little things that get you". - D.M.L. in the boonies of Eastern North Carolina

I thought I'd share with you some thoughts and experience I've had with Hurricane [later Tropical Storm] Irene. I live in southwest Connecticut in a city slightly less than 100,000 population.  We are about 50-65 miles from New York City. As of this evening, I am still running my generator five days after being hit by Tropical Storm Irene on Saturday evening.  As of this evening, the power company said they will restore power "by middle of next week".  If that ends up happening, we will be without power for around 10 days.  We shall see. 

A few details about our setup.  I think it's pretty typical for around here.

  • Well with 1/2 HP 220 VAC submersible pump.  The well is approximately 250 feet deep.
  • Septic tank
  • Oil heat boiler
  • Oil hot water heater
  • Generator - 6,500 Watt gasoline unit converted to propane many years ago. 

Overall the wind could have been much worse.  I've read some recent articles that said the hurricane was over-hyped by the media.   Although there is probably some truth to this, most of the articles don't mention how vast the power outages are in Connecticut.   Connecticut ended up having a record number of power outages from this storm (50-60% homes just  after the storm).    Parts of upstate Connecticut, New York and Vermont were hit with very heavy rain and flooding.  Some covered bridges which stood for over 130 years were washed away.  Sounds like it wasn't hyped too much to me!

I converted my generator to propane years ago for less than $200.  Its a rather simple setup which I can remove and run with gasoline without much work. I have 50 lbs tanks which hold holds 12gallons of propane.  I also have a few 20lbs grill tanks which hold 4.7 gallons each.  One thing you have to be careful with regarding small propane tanks is that they don't allow the propane to turn to gas quick enough to supply the generator with enough gas.This also depends on the size of the generator.  I find that the grill tanks never empty because about half way through, they start to frost on the outside.  Obviously, this is a bigger problem in the winter when it's cold outside.  This is why I use the bigger tanks because they have more surface area of liquid propane to convert to gas.  With the 50lb tanks, I can get them close to empty with my genny.  Also, a 50 lb tank is about 72 lbs full.   Anything larger than this for me is harder to move around and handle.   

I get about 12-to-24 hours off a 50 lb tank.  This depends on my electrical load and how often I turn it off to save fuel.   I have two tanks, so every morning I head down to the propane dealer to fill up the empty one.  The system isn't great but it works.   I asked the propane dealer and they said their filling station is run on a generator so it should be available.    A majority of people have gas generators so in theory I should have an easier time to get fuel. Another surprising observation is that the oil in the genny doesn't get dirty.   I have about 100 hrs on the oil and it still looks new.   Propane burns so clean that there is no carbon deposited in the oil   I'm not sure if the oil still breaks down and I should change the oil regardless of what color it is.  I plan to research this. 

Some of my friend who were also hit hard in Eastern Connecticut coast said that a few days after Irene hit, it was very difficult to find gas.   Long lines at stations and/or driving far away was required to get gas.   I didn't wait in any line.  Most of the time, I was the only person there filling my propane.

Generators were darn near impossible to get around here the day after Irene hit.  It was also very difficult to get extension cords and plastic gas cans.   Everyone was sold out.  Thankfully, I had everything I needed and got to listen to everyone complain.  It's nice knowing I had prepared my family long ago for days like this.  Sure does give me options.

My wife and I saw a lot of people jumping for bottled water at Wal-Mart as the worked rolled out bottled water on carts from the back.  The carts were emptied in minutes.    Grocery shelves were still empty in a Target store, four days after. I've read about these situations before, but it sure hits home to see it in person.  God forbid something big ever happens some day.   Grocery stores will be empty in no time.  After seeing this weekend, I really believe this now.  Scary stuff.

A 6,500 watt generator does everything you need to live comfortably.   I can't run my central AC but who cares.  I saved a window AC unit in the attic for days like this.  We can cool one room with window unit with no problem for the Genny.  I have no problem running my well, oil blower, hot water heater, refrigerator, lights, attic fan to keep attic cool.    In a similar situation in the winter, I can also run the blower on my oil boiler to heat the house.  One problem with my genny is that it runs pretty much full out all the time.  If you are only running a refrigerator at the time, it consumes a lot of fuel to keep it running.     I plan to look at the Honda Inverters to just run the refrigerator so that I can shut down the 6,500 watt unit for large portions of the day.  I could turn it on only at dinner time or bath time for the kids.  It doesn't take long before the drone the generator will drive you crazy.   I would shut the thing off once in a while just to relax.   The white noise really does wear on you.   Also, everyone on the street knows you have one because it is so loud.  

The biggest problem for me with power is the well.   You start to respect how much power they consume to when you have to "provide" it instead of the local power plant.   I'd love to find a way to consume less power to get water to flush toilets etc.   Still research to do here. 

The other thing you'll learn really fast is how inefficient generators are compared to buying electricity.   I figure my house typically cost $3 per day in electricity.   When I have to make my own power, it costs me $30-60 per day in propane!   Another reason to investigate the Honda Inverters because of their efficiency. 

People should plan on hosting friends and families with them.   Even in our case, we had friend living with us who were evacuated from a house on the river.   I am grateful we could help them but one should plan on extra supplies and time to have others join your safe haven.  It doesn't take long for the word to get out who has a generator, gas cans, power cords, chain saws etc. 

One more thing:  Cell phones have been terribly unreliable.   I guess some towers went down due to the outages or they are overloaded because no one has wired phones anymore at home.  When the power goes out, all their wireless phones don't work!    Text got through but regular phone calls were very hard to place for days.

Overall, it has  gone well because I read your site and was prepared.   My wife is very grateful that we and our friends have a safe comfortable place to stay.    She is now interested in getting a wood stove because if this had happened in the winter, we would burn even more fuel to keep the boiler running.   If I had a wood stove and stored wood, all I would need electricity for is the refrigerator and well.  This would make a big difference and make us even more independent.

Thanks for what you do. - Joe from Connecticut


Dear JWR:
I really enjoy your blog. I’m fairly new to the whole “survivalist” thing, I look at it as more of a “common sense” thing. I’m in central Massachusetts and we knew we were really in for it with Irene. I’m a weather nut and I know what to look for and what sources to follow. We are always fairly well prepared for anything and my wife is just as much a “be prepared” person as I am. We always have batteries and such on hand so that was not an issue. Battery powered radio? Check! Lots of bottles of water frozen in the freezer? All set thanks to my wife! I went the additional step of filling the bathtub full of water to flush toilets in case we lost power. Despite having no supply of MREs we had plenty of food ready to go. My biggest concern was my basement flooding and us losing power. My generator is only a 2,400 watt model but it’s enough to handle my sump pump. It was ready to go with a 220 capable extension cord running to the house right to where the cord for the pump plugs in. The generator is kept in my 20’x12’ shed 120 feet from the house. Later the afternoon before the storm the cashier at the general store up the road and I had a good laugh at all the people panicking buying milk, bread, batteries and anything else not clamped down. One guy bought seven huge bags of ice and we wondered aloud what he was going to do with all that ice.
That night I set my alarm for 6 a.m. and went to bed knowing I was ready. I woke up at 6am to it raining cats, dogs, and bears. My sump pump was already firing off every 25 seconds. As the storm got closer this increased to a maximum of every 15 seconds before it started going down as the morning progressed. The lights flickered 4 or 5 times but the power never went out. You see, there was a reason for that. We survived the ice storm of December 2008. With temps never above 20 degrees we roughed it out for seven long days without power. The night of the storm my generator died and my wife and I bailed that sump pump well for 8 hours straight before we finally gave up but we saved our furnace and hot water heater. I went through 2 face cords of wood that week but we stayed in the house and it never got below 54 degrees. The trees and branches that came down during that incredibly devastating storm saved us during Irene. Earlier this year National Grid came through and took out any of the dying or bad trees along the power lines. All of this saved us from losing power. Many other towns in Massachusetts were not as lucky, but as I remind them, at least it’s not December.
Next step is to stock up on MREs and more importantly get an auto-standby generator to replace my small one, which will run off my propane tanks that power my furnace and other things. Thanks for all the tips and looking forward to following your blog. - P.R.C. in Massachusetts

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mr. Rawles,
I am in northwest N.J. I wasn't affected as badly by the hurricane as others were, but I did learn a few lessons about my preparedness.

1. Inspect your gear on a regular basis. I live on a dead-end street, and the road goes over a country stream, which flows underneath through a 2-foot culvert with a paved berm built over the top of it. Yesterday, that country stream became a 40-foot wide river about 10 inches deep and flowing rapidly over the road surface. To get across that, I got out my waders -- and discovered that mice had chewed some holes in them. They were still usable for getting through that water, but I can never use them again to go fishing. P.S.: inspect one's bug-out bag regularly; also inspect food storage containers, including the back side and the bottom, to ensure they haven't been compromised. I plan on doing this once a month going forward.

2. Mindset change: don't skimp on temporary arrangements. I have lots of supplies for preparedness, but when the situation is going to be temporary -- for example, power will be out for 6 or 8 hours, instead of multiple days -- one thinks, "I don't really want to drag out (gear, supplies, etc.) to set up, only to have to clean and put away everything tomorrow." Wrong attitude. If you need light, set yourself up to have plenty of light. If you need an alternative cooking arrangement, set it up. Not only does it fix your mindset, but it gives you good opportunities to (a) train in "actual" survival, (b) test/inventory your stuff, and (c) train yourself in expedient setup/breakdown of your gear.

3. You never have enough light. Have a candle (safe to burn unattended) or other light in each room you'll be using, multiple lights in any room or space where you'll be spending most of your time or doing any kind of work, and always have a light source that you can carry with you at all times. For the last, I like a Petzl headband lamp. If it's too uncomfortable to wear continuously, it fits easily in your pocket.

4. A fully charged laptop is a great tool to recharge your cell phone or smart phone during power outages. More: I got (and was able to give) lots of information with a smart phone during an extended power outage.

5. Perform (or augment) your preps at least two seasons ahead of time. Start stocking up winter items during the summer and vice versa. Not only will you be more prepared, but you're likely to find better prices.

6. Change your fuel. I have a 2-gallon gas can that I use only for my chainsaw. When I was getting ready for the hurricane, I realized that the gas in the can had been in there for 2 or 3 years, so I had to get rid of it (my mechanic took it) and get some fresh gas. New rule I've implemented: first weekend of the month, I will empty the gas can into my car and refill it with fresh gas. Not only does it keep the gas fresh, but it ensures that I have 40-50 miles of emergency driving stored in a can in my garage.

7. Use your batteries. How many people stock up on batteries, rarely use them ... and then discover, when the batteries are needed, that the expiration date was 6 years ago? In my experience, such batteries still work but have a markedly decreased useful life.

8. Set up some supplies/gear explicitly for temporary, "expected" emergencies. For example, if you know from past experience that you will always see at least one summer power outage lasting for 3 days, set up a specific section of gear for that situation. That way, you don't have to go through everything -- in the dark, no less -- saying, "I need (this) from the pantry, and (this) from the downstairs gear locker, and (this) from my under bed storage." Have one shelf set aside for "summer power outage" in this example

9. Do training scenarios to review your preparedness. Say to yourself "There's a hurricane forecast for 4 days from now" or "Forecasters are seeing a blizzard occurring 3 days from now." Where am I deficient? What supplies do I need to restock? What outdoor preps (clean gutters, clear dead tree limbs, secure gear from wind, etc.) do I need to accomplish prior to that emergency? Not only is this good training -- but if you write it down, you author a prep manual to which you can refer and that you can use to instruct others.

10. Charge anything that can be charged the night before. Cell/smart phones are handy for emergency communication (presuming the comm networks aren't knocked out). Laptops enable you to do some work. A portable car starter battery can be used for its intended purpose or it can run an inverter. If everything's charged before the emergency hits, your peace of mind is a little better. I've made this a mandatory "day-before-the-emergency" prep.

11. Get more money. This one is presenting difficulty for me. Like many readers of your blog, I have been struggling financially for several years -- you probably remember that I've commented a couple of times on this topic. I've done, I think, a pretty good job of preparing on a very limited budget. But there are some things, pricier preps, on which you can't skimp: you either pony up or you do without. For example, I'm in a pretty good position on food and water but deficient on quality hand tools, fuels, and durable clothing (and I'd love to have one of those Berkey filters!). I can't magically make the prices go down, so my only option is to generate more cash and then purchase as wisely as my budget permits. Have to explore this further, as I'm already working two jobs, 7 days a week, just to survive.

One positive reflection: someone asked me a few days ago, "What are you doing to prepare for the hurricane?" Other than gassing up the car, cleaning the gutters, and filling the aforementioned gas can, I didn't need to do or purchase anything.

One other note for preppers: don't ever let anyone get away with calling you a "hoarder." There is an important distinction: Preppers stock up 12 weeks or 12 months before an emergency; but people who stock up just 12 hours before the situation are the hoarders.

Best, - J.C.


Living on the east coast, Hurricane Irene was a concern. However, I wanted to share the wonderful sense of already being prepared (much thanks to your wonderful site). I called the wife and asked what I needed to pick up, she said: "nothing." It was truly heartening to be able to drive past the crowded parking lots as the hordes swamped the supermarkets as the week progressed. Naturally I filled the fuel tank and extra gasoline cans. We had
minimal damage, trees and limbs down, and the power stayed on. My thoughts and prayers go out to those who were not so fortunate. - Ken


Good Day JWR,
I live and work in the people’s socialist republic of Neu Jersey, in the Central Region less than five miles from the Atlantic Ocean (the way the crow flies).  Being a prepper and working in the law enforcement field at a major penitentiary, I was in tune to what was going on from the initial projections.  Thursday and Friday before Hurricane Irene hit we were in statewide video conference after video conference.  All the figure heads were running around like a chicken without a head.  Each time one of them would ask me a stupid question; I would smirk and say something smart like “had you been paying attention to me over the last four years, we wouldn’t be in this situation now”.  To make a long story short, a smaller correctional facility in the Southern Region had to evacuate all 1,500 inmates – because they were housed in trailers.  Obviously that wouldn’t stand up to well to the more than 75mph winds.  In the end, all were successfully transported out with much fanfare, then returned with no bells and whistles today.  But, all department resources were dedicated to that effort – meaning the other dozen or so institutions were on our own.
We moved over 100 minimum security inmates out of our outlying camp and into the main facility Visiting Hall because they were housed in trailers.  We moved two of our medium security housing unit dormitories (another 100 inmates) inside the main complex to the Gymnasium due to the flooding.  Thankfully our food service staff had stockpiled approximately half a week’s worth of food and water and our maintenance staff was on site fixing damages that could be repaired in the storm.  Uniformed custody staff were held over (most volunteering due to the shortage of overtime in the last two years under Governor Christie) and the institution was run on an abbreviated schedule with no mishaps or problems other than a temporary power loss from outside the facility; which was counter acted by our in house generators.
On the personal front, I was dismayed at the Governor declaring a state of emergency on Thursday at noon.  Friday the major highways were shut down and nobody allowed South bound of certain points.  This was not due to a reverse lanes evacuation strategy.  Christie was on television over and over telling everyone and anyone it was a “mandatory evacuation” and that they better leave now.  Local police and fire and emergency medical services all went on abbreviated response postures.  Most followed FEMA guidelines that more than a 40 mph sustained wind equaled no emergency response.  Some municipalities established curfews.  Some emergency services ignored the FEMA response guidelines and ‘eyeballed’ the current conditions before determining if they would respond immediately or wait for better weather.  Regardless, the call volume significantly curtailed once the real storm front came into play.
During the tropical storm, there were/are many areas without power.  The typical areas subject to regular flooding are of course flooded.  Other areas not usually flooded had also experienced flooding.  We lost our cable service, thus no television, telephone, or Internet/E-Mail was working for about 24 hours.  Supposedly our telephone had battery backup for just such an instance, but that obviously was not the case.  Security problems would not have been an issue for us, but an actual serious fire or medical emergency would have been a problem.  Our cellular telephones never lost service, but had it gone on for a few days we would have been up the creek without a paddle.  Note to self: maintain at least ‘old fashioned’ Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) with at least one handset in the home for just such occasions.  If electrical power goes down, POTS still works.
My wife finally decided on Friday evening to go to the supermarket to pick up last minute things.  Surprise, surprise, the shelves were bare.  She works for a grocery store chain and came home Wednesday and Thursday and again on Friday stating this store and that store were closing and canceling deliveries.  Some are still closed as of this Monday evening due to no power.  While I have some food stores squirreled away and wasn’t really concerned, she most certainly was.  I used the moment as a teaching aid and informed her that this is the reason why I have been preaching regularly adding to the cupboards and pantry whenever non-perishable items are on sale.  Of course she never took me up on it, stating ‘yeah, right’ and the like.  So now I told her that she and the kids would not go hungry as I had plenty of MREs available and that now perhaps she would heed my suggestions.  She was praying this would get over quickly as MREs were not looking very appetizing to her.  Bottom line, store shelves were bare and were not getting restocked anytime soon.

Nursing Homes and group homes were evacuated in Southern New Jersey.  They sent them up to the Central and Northern Regions.  Rutgers University in New Brunswick put over 400 residents in two gymnasiums and the Mennen Arena in Morris County housed another 500 or so residents.  These were all moved by about 50 ambulances from Pennsylvania in on mutual aid compacts.  Likewise, the New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Teams was already deployed to North Carolina and the New Jersey EMS Task Force was deploying 100 ambulances to Virginia.  Apparently under FEMA edict, state resources cannot deploy to their own state in a disaster?  That sounded odd, but that's what I was told.  The problem was there was not enough medical staff to go around, and the few who traveled with the 'convoys' were "not allowed" to assist other homes' patients.  I am filing these little tidbits as well into my memory just in case I ever have to put a relative in a nursing or group home.  It was great that they were evacuated, but what was to be their fate upon reaching the evacuation center?
Locally, my town suffered numerous power outages killing street lights and snarling traffic after the storm.  Many homes were flooded and had to be evacuated.  Many stores and houses still do not have power, a friend only six blocks away was told they’ll be lucky to have power back by the next weekend.  The fire department is running around to numerous building foundation collapse calls.  Public Works is cutting down felled trees and big branches are being removed.  Sanitation is back on a normal schedule.  The police must be working beau coup overtime because most major intersections have officers directing traffic as the street lights were out.  We had battened down our hatches and secured all outside furniture and toys and the like on Friday so we had no major concerns other than perhaps some water leakage into the basement.  We didn’t even have that.  Other than our cable issue, we never lost power and had no other problems to speak of.  Being a prepper had us well ahead of the learning curve both at home and work.  While everyone was scrambling around like crazy, I was sitting back smoking a cigar and drinking a scotch.
Keep up the great work you do in keeping us informed and providing thought provoking topics to read and learn.
Sincerely, - The Last N.J. Conservative

Mr Rawles,
I'm not sure if you heard this news out of Pennsylvania but the Cabela's at Hamburg was discounting generators by $180 due to public need.  I could be sinister and think they made more off sales from survival supplies to make up the difference, but they did go ahead and ship all available generators from across the country to the east coast.  I think this is a stand up company and they will get more of my business.
Thank you for your time. - Bradley A.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Just like everybody else, I am unique. In the disaster prepper field I am unique in that I am both a diehard personal prepper and a college trained emergency management professional.  I did not become one because of the other; my personal preparedness mindset comes from my parents, as well as my internal system of ethics and belief structure.  My career path grew out of my military and correction background.  However, even though they are separate, I find that my skills in one translate to the other even though the goals of the two are not always identical.

I would like to take a few moments and describe how you can take government emergency management doctrine and personalize it as well as scale it to your needs.

The first thing I grabbed from my training manuals to apply to my personal emergency plan is the all hazards approach.  I have seen people jump into panic mode over single issue events like Y2K, 2012, the New Madrid Fault, CME, or whatever is going to kill us all on exactly 12 p.m. Sunday whatever.  These people then run around and throw money at their fear, and then feel taken when whatever disaster failed to occur.  But just like government evacuation orders – If they call for an evacuation, and people leave, but nothing happens, the next time nobody wants to evacuate.  In the case of Y2K so many people that prepped for it, that once it did not happen they now have a bad taste in their mouths about prepping and won’t “fall for that again”.  With an all hazards approach, rather than spend all your energy prepping for a specific event, you build capabilities that help with any event.  As I tell my students, When your doing CPR on me, I don’t care if my heart stopped because I was electrocuted, was shot, or ate too many hamburgers with too little exercise – I just want you to keep pumping…

The next thing I took was the cyclical nature of disaster and the 5 phases of emergency management.  You have a planning phase where perform a risk assessment and then make plans based upon your threats and hazards.  Once you begin planning, you move into the preparedness phase where the planning takes shape – you take training to better prepare.  The lists you wrote in the planning phase become deep larders and tangible goods.  Along with preparedness and planning you need to worry about mitigation.  What can you do to make the disaster either less likely or less disruptive?  Personally I have to plan for the New Madrid Earthquake, so I make sure my water heater is strapped down, and my shelves of glass mason jars are secured so that the jars cannot fall off and break.  Appropriate amounts of insurance are a mitigation step we all can get.  When disaster strikes (We don’t know what or when it will happen, but rest assured you will have an emergency at some point in your life) you enter the response phase where you have to deal with your incident priorities of

  1. Life Safety (Pull the people from the burning building)
  2. Incident Stabilization (Keep the fire from getting worse and spreading)
  3. Property Conservation (Put the fire out and save as much of the building as possible)
  4. Environmental Conservation (Keep the runoff of water from polluting the creek)

Once the emergency phase is over, recovery mode begins.  At some point you have to get back to normal.  Even if it’s a catastrophic event that ends in TEOTWAWKI, you have to create a new normal.  It’s critical to understand that these phases blend into each other and the lessons learned from one disaster turn into the planning phase to improve your plan.  But keeping the cyclical nature in mind, as you create a plan of action based upon your most reasonable estimate of your hazards you need to test and refine, then retest and refine some more.  The more you sweat now, the less you bleed later.

Mutual Aid Agreements and Memorandums of Understandings are common among government jurisdictions and agencies.  During a disaster everybody wants to help, but knowing who is responsible for what and what their capabilities are is very helpful.  Its also important to spell out how damaged or used equipment gets replaced.  Two weeks into a multi year grid down disaster is not the time to get into a fight with your neighbor over who gets to use the tractor first.  Of course OPSEC is a priority, but no man is an island.  The time to network is now.

Have a plan, but be willing to scrap the plan if it does not work.  I tell my students that before you can think outside the box, you better understand everything about the box.  The very act of planning helps with response.  The more you think about your capabilities and what you would do in situations the better prepared your brain is to react flexibly to a situation.  Your mind is a wonderful creation, but you have to program it to work.  If you’re worried about disasters your program it by creating disaster response plans.

The last concept of emergency management I will share today is incident command.  This system came out of the California wildfires in the 1970s.  Military vets turned fire jumpers created a management system called fire scope to deal with the rapidly changing fire situations.  After the attacks on 9/11 the lack of communication, coordination, and chain of command was identified as areas we needed improvement on.  The Incident Command System (ICS) was then adopted as the national standard and all responders in all disciplines were mandated to be trained to a basic level.  Free training in the incident command system is available online at the FEMA training website.  The ICS system is a flexible system geared toward emergency events.  This flexibility is derived from a few essential concepts:

  • There is only one overall commander. [The military "Unity of Command" concept.]
  • The incident commander is responsible for everything, but can delegate roles to qualified staff based upon incident complexity and size
  • Span of control for optimal leadership is 5-7 individuals under a supervisor.
  • Everybody reports to only one supervisor, and everyone knows who their supervisor is.

Obviously there is more to the system, but it allows anyone trained in incident command to rapidly integrate themselves into the command structure because it has clear roles and responsibilities.  Knowledge of this system is important because every responder has been trained in this system and it will provide the basis of any response.  It does not matter if your dealing with a volunteer fireman or a military civil support team, any agency with a role in emergency response has to have this training to receive federal funding.   While I don’t agree with the mandate, I have seen this system work several times, and the disasters I have worked that were not as successful as others also deviated from the plan more than the others. 

The more you understand about the ICS system the more you will know what to expect from the government.  The other reason you should learn about this system is that it works if you apply the fundamentals.  It does not matter if you’re working in a government agency, a local neighborhood preparedness group, or a family these concepts are timeless and reduce confusion.

Besides concepts and theory on emergency management FEMA has also created many courses in disaster preparedness.  Many of these are geared to first responders, but at this time, most of them are available free of charge to civilians.  If you visit the FEMA training website the Emergency Management Institute (EMI) has a distant study program, and has classes in Radiological Response, Hazardous Materials, Guides to Disaster Assistance, Active Shooters, Dam Failure – literally almost any aspect of interest to Federal emergency officials.  I have personally taken several hundred hours worth of their courses and while distance education is not as good as hands on with a qualified instructor, the materials are a very handy and inexpensive resource to put back in your binder.

For neighborhood organization and home preparedness, don’t overlook the Citizens Emergency Response Teams (CERTs). I wish this program would have caught on in more areas, but you can download the training materials for free without any sort of login or identification. 

Right now I am working on using the Citizen Corps materials to help gradually introduce my community into the need for prepping without being labeled with a pejorative term.  My personal situation does not allow me to move to the American Redoubt States (even though I would love to), and my urban homesteading has set me apart from my neighbors, so I feel like my best option is to co-opt a government program as its less threatening to someone that does not understand the needs and causes for the prepper lifestyle.

Knowledge is power, and by taking the concepts our federal government has spent billions developing and testing in real life incidents in both large and small scale will give you a head start in creating and employing your own personal preparedness plan.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jim --
Thanks for all that you do and the many able contributors to your site.  This evening, Sunday, 05/22/2011, I am listening to the "live audio feed" of the Jasper County and Joplin, Missouri, law enforcement scanner traffic.  As I am listening, the various agencies are dealing with the aftermath of a deadly tornado that hit Joplin.  As a former police officer I have been through this sort of event. However, listening to their radio traffic is eye-opening, even for me.  I am getting a new perspective on many of the nuances of dealing with a catastrophe of this sort.  They are dealing with gas leaks, trapped individuals, medical emergencies, numerous deceased victims and numbers of newly homeless folks. 

By the way, I am very impressed with the officers and emergency responders that I am listening to.  My hat is off to them.  Your readers may be too late to listen to these events in Missouri that are unfolding but many of them might like to listen in on the next disaster.  Believe me, just listening will help them consolidate survival plans of their own.  Once people from around the country hear of some local disaster, they can go to RadioReference.com and see if they can locate a nearby emergency services agency whose radio traffic is available as a "live audio feed" and listen in. - S. in Kansas

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

I’ve been in law enforcement for the past 18 years.  I have attended a variety of training over those years.  During the 1990s, most training I attended was community-oriented, sponsored by local agencies or private companies specializing in police training.  Themes common to training of the past included topics such as Constitutional rights, community partnerships, youth-oriented programs and problem-oriented policing.

During the past several years, I have witnessed a dramatic shift in the focus of law enforcement training.  Law enforcement courses have moved away from a local community focus to a federally dominated model of complete social control.  Most training I have attended over the past two years have been sponsored by Department of Homeland Security (DHS), namely the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

No matter what topic the training session concerns, every DHS sponsored course I have attended over the past few years never fails to branch off into warnings about potential domestic terrorists in the community.  While this may sound like a valid officer and community safety issue, you may be disturbed to learn how our Federal government describes a typical domestic terrorist.

These federal trainers describe the dangers of “extremists” and “militia groups” roaming the community and hiding in plain sight, ready to attack.  Officers are instructed how to recognize these domestic terrorists by their behavior, views and common characteristics.  State data bases are kept to track suspected domestic terrorists and officers are instructed on reporting procedures to state and federal agencies.  The state I work in, like many others, have what is known as a “fusion center” that compiles a watch list of suspicious people.

So how does a person qualify as a potential domestic terrorist?  Based on the training I have attended, here are characteristics that qualify:

  • Expressions of libertarian philosophies (statements, bumper stickers)
  • Second Amendment-oriented views (NRA or gun club membership, holding a CCW permit)
  • Survivalist literature (fictional books such as "Patriots" and "One Second After" are mentioned by name)
  • Self-sufficiency (stockpiling food, ammo, hand tools, medical supplies)
  • Fear of economic collapse (buying gold and barter items)
  • Religious views concerning the book of Revelation (apocalypse, anti-Christ)
  • Expressed fears of Big Brother or big government
  • Homeschooling
  • Declarations of Constitutional rights and civil liberties
  • Belief in a New World Order conspiracy

A recent training session I attended encouraged law enforcement agencies to work with business owners to alert police when customers appear to be stockpiling items.  An example was given that a federal agent was monitoring customers at a well known hunting and fishing retail outlet and noting who was purchasing certain items.  This is something to remember the next time you purchase a case of ammo at one of these popular outdoor sports retail stores.

Methods of developing evidence of terrorist activity from virtually any search have also been discussed.  Various common materials which may be associated with homemade explosives are listed, such as lengths of pipe, gunpowder, matches, flammable liquids and fireworks.  Officers are told when these items are found, they can be listed as “bomb making materials”.  The training even goes so far as to instruct officers that the items are cleverly disguised as legitimate, such as gasoline stored near a lawn mower, pipes stored in a shop building or gunpowder stored with reloading materials.

One course I attended used the example of a person employed as a plumber being the target of a search warrant.  In this example, the officers were told how to use his employment as a plumber as further evidence of terrorism.  The suspect’s employment would be described as an elaborate scheme to justify possessing pipes and chemicals so as to have bomb making materials readily available.  Based on this example, all plumbers are potential pipe bomb makers.  All gun dealers are plotting to provide arms to gangs or terrorists.  All pest control companies are preparing mass poisonings.  By using this logic, simply having the ability to do something criminal automatically makes the person guilty of plotting the crime.  With all the various methods of manufacturing methamphetamine, it would also be easy to claim that a disassembled clandestine drug lab was located during the search.   In other words, it is easy to frame anyone for possessing bomb making materials (or other crimes) if the officer knows what items to list in the report and how to link these items to terrorism.

Another common tactic used in DHS sponsored training is the slander of certain ideologies by linking an erroneous characteristic to a particular group. Here are some examples:

  • These groups hold the anniversaries of certain dates as significant such a Ruby Ridge, Waco and Hitler’s birthday
  • They oppose abortion, support gun rights and are affiliated with the Ku Klux Klan
  • They are fearful of big government, espouse support for the Constitution and want to kill police officers
  • These groups collect firearms, survivalist books and explosives
  • These extremists read books such as Patriots, One Second After and The Anarchist Cookbook
  • They are religious zealots, reading the book of Revelation, speak of the second coming of Christ and plan mass murders to summon the end of the world
  • These people grow their own food, raise livestock and plot attacks on commercial food production facilities

Do you see how this tactic works?  List common characteristics of libertarian/conservative minded people, then throw in a slanderous accusation.  If A and B apply, then you should automatically presume C applies as well.  If they were disturbed by the incidents at Ruby Ridge and Waco, then obviously they must celebrate Hitler’s birthday.  Officers are being conditioned to assume criminal and terroristic views when politically-incorrect views are observed.  As simple-minded and ridiculous as this line of thinking is, there are some officers who unfortunately buy into this.

Another training session I attended two years ago discussed the dangerous of people who have strong views of the U.S. Constitution.  One trainer made the statement that “these people actually believe the Second Amendment gives them the personal right to own a gun.”  Of course, the trainer failed to mention that our Founding Fathers, as well as recent Supreme Court rulings, verify this view as being completely accurate.  The obvious attempt here was to suggest to officers that the Second Amendment does not apply to individual gun ownership and to be suspicious of anyone who holds such a view.  It was also stressed to be cautious of anyone who quotes the Constitution and even worse, actually possesses a copy of this radical document.  Incredibly, in the United States of America today belief in our founding legal principles is now grounds for being labeled a domestic terrorism.  Imagine how they would respond to some of the known statements of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry or George Mason concerning the issue of individual liberty and limited government.  It is true that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.

There are several things that we, the patriotic, self-sufficient defenders of liberty can do to counter this effort.  First, get involved in local elections.  Elect county sheriffs who will not fall for such propaganda nor go along with oppressive federal agendas.  Elect city council members who will not tolerate such behavior by their city police department.  Elect state representatives who will hold state agencies accountable for participating in such tactics.  Bring these issues up during elections, demand a public statement on their position on such propaganda and a promise to stand against these efforts while in office.

Second, get to know your local law enforcement officers.  It is much more difficult for DHS to brainwash officers against people they personally know.  When you are viewed as a neighbor, friend or fellow Christian, these officers are far less likely to submit your name to a terrorist watch list or view you as a potential terrorist.  We want local officers to be personally offended when they hear members of their community slandered in such ways.

Third, always be friendly and courteous when speaking to your local officers.  Even if that officer has fallen for this propaganda, be sure not to resemble the negative stereotypes labeled to us.  After the fifth, sixth or maybe tenth time he deals with one of us, he or she may come to realize we are of no threat to law enforcement or anyone for that matter.  Eventually, the officer may attend one of these training sessions, hear the propaganda and say to himself, “This isn’t true, I’ve dealt with many people like this, they are God-fearing, liberty loving Americans, they are not the enemy!”

I hope you find this information useful.  Please remember that there are many people in law enforcement that have not, and will never, fall for DHS propaganda.  Some of the most patriotic defenders of liberty and believers in self-sufficiency can be found in law enforcement.  Officers like me will continue to do our part to fight tyranny from within while the general public can do its part by electing liberty-minded candidates to office and educating their friends and neighbors about issues important to all of us.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Let’s be honest. Thinking about the end of the world is kind of fun. If it weren’t, there wouldn’t be so many post-apocalyptic novels, movies and television shows. Preparing for a relatively slow-moving Armageddon like a civil war or pandemic demands a lot of shopping which is an enjoyable pastime.

However, as the grieving citizens of Christchurch, New Zealand attest, the most likely threats are also the most sudden, the least glamorous, and not fun at all. TEOTWAWKI may or may not happen in our lifetimes, but almost everyone has to deal with a natural disaster at one time or another.

While all natural disasters can be intensely destructive, none gives less warning than the mighty earthquake. Even such terrifying Acts of God as tornadoes and volcanoes give some signs of their impending arrival; earthquakes do not. According to a friend at a local university’s Geology department, the most sensitive seismic instruments currently in use give no more than five minutes of warning of a major earthquake: enough time for the Geology department to seek cover, but not enough for them to warn anybody else.

Like most people who live on “the coasts” of North America, I live in an earthquake zone. In my city, it’s not a matter of “if” an earthquake hits, but “when.” Troublingly, we’re actually several decades overdue for a major quake. Under normal circumstances, it’s easy to marginalize this threat, but the devastation in Christchurch underscores just how vulnerable those of us in metropolitan areas are to a severe seismic event.

Based on what happened in New Zealand (which, unlike Haiti, had fully developed, modern infrastructure), I have attempted to glean as many useful lessons as possible about the realities of urban earthquakes, and to factor those lessons into my overall disaster preparedness planning. Since an earthquake represents somewhat of a worst-case scenario, I believe that my conclusions would be useful for anyone interested in preparing for a situation that might leave him or her cold, wet, hungry, thirsty, injured or in the dark.

First, a disclaimer: I am not a veteran survivalist. I’ve lived through a major hurricane and its aftermath, and I’m highly motivated to do everything I can to ensure that my loved ones and I are at least in a better-than-average position when the next unpleasant event happen. But, when it comes right down to it, I am a moderately well-informed, largely untrained, middle-class, city-boy, living with a wife, two (soon to be three) kids, a dog and two cats in a 900 square foot home. I don’t have the cash, space or know-how to implement much of what is suggested by preparedness experts. I’m learning fast, but I’m not there yet. Therefore, since I have no reason to believe that the Schumer will wait until I’m ready before flinging itself at me, I have developed a somewhat unorthodox approach to preparedness. I don’t claim that it’s better than anyone else’s system, only that it works for me, and that it might work well for some others. More about that in a moment.

First, let’s look at the bad things that happen during a severe (Richter scale 6 or higher) earthquake:

- Collapse of numerous buildings, roads and bridges, as a result of shaking and liquefaction (soil with poor drainage can basically turn into soft mud during an earthquake);

- Multi-car accidents, bus crashes, etc.;

- Immediate spread of uncontrolled fires, as a result of damage to electrical and natural gas lines;

- Severe flooding caused by tidal waves and cracked water/sewer pipes;

- Large dust clouds from destroyed buildings.

During the actual quake, there’s not much you can do, aside from try to get under a table or doorframe if you’re inside. [JWR Adds: Tables get squashed. As my friend Paul pointed out, the current advice is that the best survival location is to lay next to a non-compressible object. Stacks of paper or books are good--anything that is truly solid.] Or pull your car over, if you’re on the road. The host of “Man vs. Wild,” when asked for advice on earthquake survival was quoted as saying “The truth is, a lot of it is luck.”

The worst-case scenario would be that this would happen in a coastal city, during a weekday, in winter, at high tide. It is especially important to teach your school-age children to ignore a fire alarm, and get under their desks until the initial quake ends. Getting detention is better than being crushed in a collapsing stairwell because some idiot pulled a fire alarm.

The immediate after-effects of a major quake would be as follows:

- Loss of utilities: water, sanitation, electricity, possibly telephone;

- Stranded and separated family members stuck at work, school, etc.;

- People buried or pinned in rubble;

- People with concussions, fractures and crush injuries;

- People beginning to experience hypothermia;

- People in respiratory distress from smoke and dust.

In this scenario, you and your loved ones would likely not be together, and you might not be able to reach them, either physically or by phone. Furthermore, unless you happened to be near wherever your emergency supplies are stored (and they weren’t buried under a collapsed building), you would only have access to whatever you had on or near your person.

Now, if you survive the initial quake, and you’re not trapped, you need to get outside before the aftershocks hit, preferably to some open area with solid ground where nothing is going to collapse on you, and you’re not going to fall into a fissure. To me, that sounds like the middle of the nearest parking lot.

Of course, it goes without saying that any type of medical/emergency response knowledge is wonderful, if you have it. One doctor in Christchurch saved a pinned man by performing a double leg amputation, using only a Leatherman and a hacksaw.

The training question has been well covered by other writers, so I’m not going to get into all the many things we should all learn how to do, except to mention that, in Christchurch, 14 people escaped from a high rise building with a collapsed stairwell because one of their number happened to be a mountaineer, and happened to have enough rope on hand to belay his compatriots the 60 feet to safety. Belaying isn’t usually high on the list of survival skills, but you can learn it in a day, and if you have the opportunity to take a class at your local park or climbing gym, it’s definitely worth it.

Once the earth stops moving, the aftermath begins. Almost immediately, burglary and looting will begin, including by criminals posing as government employees. As if this weren’t bad enough, the following 24-48 hours will add the following risks:

- Dehydration from lack of potable water;

- Onset of shock from injuries;

- Disease from spilled sewage, garbage, and flood water;

- Infection of wounds;

- Premature births and heart attacks;

- Hypothermia/frostbite;

- Overloaded or triaged police, fire and medical services.

During the initial 24-48 hour window, your first priority must be to secure your own safety. If you’re bleeding heavily or otherwise walking wounded, you’re not going to be much help to anyone else. Crush injuries are particularly dangerous, because they can easily become infected, shattered bones need surgery to repair, and bone fragments can migrate to other parts of the body and cause additional problems. If you’re seriously hurt, you need to realize that this is the kind of situation in which you might actually die. Don’t be a hero; you need to drag yourself to the nearest hospital. Even though you might be standing outside for several hours, it’s your best chance at surviving.

If you’ve patched yourself up, and you have a family, your next priority must be to locate and rendezvous with your loved ones. Based on the geography, distance, road condition, and people involved, this may mean walking (running) or using a bicycle to get where you’re going. Having an established meeting place already decided on is a good idea. If you have young children, you may want to plan on meeting your spouse at the kids’ school, since that’s where you’ll both probably head anyway!

Speaking of spouses, I think it’s important to make preparedness accessible for family members who may not be particularly interested in it. Packing a small emergency kit for a spouse and putting it in the trunk of his or her car “just in case” is neither invasive nor pushy, and if you are separated from each other by a disaster, it will give you piece of mind to know that they won’t be completely unprepared.

At this point, I’d like to introduce my general approach to kit preparation, which is threefold: first, I apply the Pareto Principle; second, I categorize supplies by priority level rather than by type; and  third, I minimize redundancy.

1) The Pareto Principle. Also known as the “80-20 Rule,” this pops up in all sorts of unlikely places. In 1906, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population, and that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. Since that time, the ratio of 80:20 has been applied to every imaginable relationship, with varying degrees of success.

In my case, I estimate that approximately 80% of the time, I only use 20% of my gear. To put it another way, the classical approach to “being prepared” is to prepare for every possible situation; my approach is to prepare for only the most probable situations, with the understanding that what I lose in potential preparedness, I gain in mobility and compliance. I simply cannot carry around everything I would need to survive every conceivable disaster. I can, however, keep a small Ziploc bag of high-priority supplies in my satchel, along with my papers, laptop, etc. The farther afield I’m going, the more supplies I carry, but in every circumstance, I’m taking only what I am most likely to need.

2) Grouping Supplies By Priority Invariably, emergency supply lists are broken down into categories like “medical” and “tools.” That’s fine for shopping, but it doesn’t work so well when it comes time to actually pack things into kits to carry around.

So, I’ve made lists that I call: Level 1 (everyday carry); Level 2 (day trips); Level 3 (overnight trips); Level 4 (camping/established emergencies); and Level 5 (home storage - the only level at which I separate the list into “medical supplies” and “non-medical supplies” for the sake of clarity).

As an example, the Level 1 kit lives in the bag that I usually carry with me wherever I go. Level 2 stays in the trunk of my car. If I’m taking the kids to the park, I’ll throw the Level 1 bag and the Level 2 bag into a backpack and carry it around with me. If I have to stay overnight somewhere for work, I’ll put the Level 1, 2 and 3 bags into a duffel bag, and I’m almost entirely packed. If we’re going camping, I pack the 1, 2, 3 bags into a large backpack, along with the Level 4 supplies. If we were to G.O.O.D., then the Level 4 would be my bugout bag, and I would load as much of Level 5 into my car as I could.

3) Redundancy is great in theory, and a real hassle in practice. Not only is it expensive to have duplicate sets of gear in various places, it’s difficult to keep track of what’s where, what’s missing, etc. Therefore, my kits are modular: Level 2 does not include anything that is in Level 1, Level 3 does not include anything that is in Level 2, and so on. Is it a little scary to have all my eggs in one basket? Yes, but it’s a calculated risk. I’d rather know exactly what I have and where it is than have a disorganized mess with too much of what I don’t need, and not enough of what I do. (I speak from experience here: when I went to organize my existing kits into my new system, I discovered that I had 30 reusable Ace bandages and 1 bottle of water. Less than optimal.) Of course, I do have duplicate items, I just put them in separate kits. So, for example, my wife drives around with a small bag in the trunk of her car that contains a Level 1 and Level 2 kit, and my sister-in-law has a Level 1 kit in her backpack along with her college textbooks. That way, if my family is separated when something bad happens (say, my sister-in-law is watching the kids while I’m out of town for work and my wife is out with a friend), we all have the items we’re most likely to need, right then and there.

Without further ado, here are my lists, as they stand now.  Please note that these lists are in a continual state of flux. I add, subtract and move items around as I gain experience and knowledge, so by no means should these be taken as anything other than a point of departure for your own efforts. I hope that they will be useful to you, whether you live in an earthquake zone or not, and I welcome any feedback or constructive criticism.

Modular Packing Lists

Based on the premise that 80% of the time, you only use 20% of the gear you’re carrying, I’ve come up with these lists for modular groups of supplies. This list bears little resemblance to typical “emergency” lists, because those lists try to take into account every possible situation, and are generally sorted by type (e.g. clothes, toiletries). These only take into account the most probable situations, and are sorted by levels of portability/importance. Furthermore, I think it’s important to use the same kind of stuff during emergencies as you do normally, so that everything is familiar to you.

Level 1 – Daily carry. These items (aside from the water bottle) can easily fit into a ziploc bag, which can be transferred from briefcase to backpack to coat pocket, as the situation warrants. This will suffice for most issues that arise in day-to-day situations. If traveling by commercial aircraft, omit “contraband” items, such as the pocket knife. Otherwise, this small packet will give you everything you’re likely to need to get through a situation that leaves you moderately (but not severely) cold, wet, dark, hungry, thirsty or hurt. Bottle of water Snack bar/granola/beef jerky Flashlight (LED bulb) Pocket knife/multi-tool Cash (approx. $100) Band-aids, assorted sizes Antibacterial ointment (Polysporin, Bacitracin, etc.) (small tube) Athletic (“Ace”) bandage with velcro closure Hand sanitizer (small bottle) Wet wipes (individually wrapped in plastic, not paper) Napkins/paper towels Matches (small box in a ziploc bag) Folding poncho Emergency “Space” blanket Dust mask Deodorant (Why is this on my Level 1 list? Because realizing you forgot to put deodorant on definitely could constitute an emergency.) Individual needs: e.g. sanitary products, prescription medicine

Level 2 – Day pack These items can easily fit into a light backpack. This will suffice for trips to the beach, day hikes and hunting trips, etc., as well as for urban/suburban stranded-overnight scenarios. If you are responsible for others (e.g. children), adjust accordingly. Additional Water Sunscreen (small tube of SPF 30 or higher.) Bug spray (small, non-aerosol container.) Calendula ointment (for stings or burns) Light sticks More snacks Dry pair of socks and underwear in ziploc bag Hat Camp Towel Rolled gauze Cohesive bandage Athletic tape Israeli Battle Dressing (“IBD”) Vinyl “exam” gloves Small bag for trash

Level 2B – Car Kit If traveling by car, you may wish to pack the following items: Jumper cables Can of “Fix-A-Flat” Extra pair of work boots/hiking shoes Cooler containing: ? 5-10 lbs of ice ? Bottled water ? Bottled/boxed juice ? Fruit (berries, sliced apples, etc.) ? Hard-boiled eggs ? Sandwiches

Level 3 – Overnight Travel Aside from the clothes, these items can easily fit into a ziploc bag or standard “toiletry” kit bag. Toothbrush Toothpaste (travel-size tube) Mouthwash (travel-size bottle) Dental Floss (small canister) Soap (Ivory, 1 bar) Shampoo (travel-sized bottle) Razor with extra blade Talcum powder (small bottle) Complete change of clothes (1 set) ? Underpants ? Socks ? T-shirt ? Long-sleeved pullover ? Hooded sweatshirt ? Jeans Sleep clothes (1 set)

Level 4 – Camping/Short-Term Emergency These items can be packed into a plastic tub or large backpack. Again, items are not duplicated, so you would also pack the Levels 1, 2 and 3 kits. Tent (ultralight, or “pup” style) Sleeping bag or blanket Toilet paper (biodegradable) Mess kit Canned/dried food Water Folding “Sterno”-style camp stove with fuel Disposable plates, cups, cutlery Roll of paper towels Handgun with ammunition Duct tape Hatchet Large trash bags

In addition to portable kits, it is advisable to prepare two larger kits for storage at home.

Level 5A. Medical Supplies Lots of band-aids Steri-strips Hydrogen Peroxide Antibacterial ointment (Neosporin, etc.) Alcohol swabs Disposable vinyl “exam” gloves (several boxes) Extra-strength Advil/Tylenol Children’s Advil/Tylenol Antibiotics Gauze (lots) Alcohol Wipes Cohesive bandages Israeli Battle Dressings (IBD compression bandages) Medical Manual (Merck Manual or equivalent)

Level 5B. Non-Medical Supplies Cash money Canned food/emergency rations Candles & Matches in waterproof bag Heavy duty flashlights with extra batteries Gasoline (approx. 5 gallons) Laundry soap More Water More bar soap More wet wipes More light sticks More trash bags Portable toilet (toilet-seat-bucket lid, etc.) More biodegradable toilet paper Basic hand tools Folding shovel Chainsaw Shotgun with ammunition Handgun with ammunition Rifle with ammunition Passport Gold/silver bullion coins

Monday, February 21, 2011

Here on the Oregon coast we have included precautions for a Tsunami in our emergency preparations.  This last spring while on vacation on the north shore of Oahu we experienced some valuable lessons when the Tsunami alert was raised after the earthquake in Chile.  This experience has helped us and hopefully will provide food for thought for others.

We have family living on the north shore of Oahu, in Laie that we were staying with during our trip.  About 4am in the morning as I was sleeping on the porch, a woman knocked on the door to inform the family of the earthquake in Chile, and that a Tsunami warning had been issued for the islands.  Very few details were known, and no information on when the wave might arrive.  No alarms in the town were sounded, and most of the community didn’t hear any word.  Most communication was received word-of-mouth, since very few were listening to the media that morning.  Our family was notified by a friend from church whose husband worked for BYU-Hawaii. 

At first, the family was a little confused as to what to do.  Food and water were on hand, but no one knew if we would be allowed to drive to higher ground, or if we would be required to walk.  Our decision on what to take with us would have changed dramatically if we had to walk and carry our gear.  Higher ground was about 400 yards away, but with the jungle and farmland around, most of Laie would be concentrated a few areas.  The family’s original plan was to drive ~10 miles to a camp they frequented, so we quickly woke up their 5 children, loaded food and water into the family’s truck, made contact with friends and the 6 college students living in the first floor of the house, and were ready to leave in 20 minutes.  Having 4 adults to help with the readiness made a big difference.  Not being familiar with where the family stored their supplies made it a bit more difficult, but since my wife and I were visiting, we were already packed with our necessities.  We simply had to refill our water bottles, double-check our gear, and help with the little ones.

Now we were ready to leave by 4:30 a.m., however we also took the time to contact reliable sources of information to confirm details.  We didn’t want to run off in the dark without more of the story.  Internet and all communications were available, so we quickly got enough information to feel safe about staying home until about 7:30 a.m., when it would be light out.  This gave us a lot of time to review our status, notify friends and neighbors, and also to let family back home on the mainland that we were okay and that we had a plan.  We gave them all details to our plans.

By 7:30, there was more activity in the neighborhood, and most everyone in the community was notified.  Official media reports were publishing details, and at 8 a.m. the first community alarm went off.  We really appreciated the fact that personal networks notified us 4 hours before the first ‘public’ warning came in a form that everyone would know of.

Finally, we were off to higher ground.  The morning was beautiful and clear – already warm for us mainlanders.  As we were leaving town, we noticed a few police cars making patrols, and talked with neighbors who had already seen and reported some looting and mischief.  The roads were not busy, and many of the locals had reported to others that they were staying home to stick it out.  They didn’t want to leave their home.  A long line of about 12-15 cars had formed at the only local gas station.  There was no real indicator that anything abnormal was going on in paradise.  We were very glad we had more than half a tank of gas and that we wouldn’t be traveling far.

The main highways around Oahu all run on the periphery of the island.  Beautiful to drive along the water’s edge, but as we made our way to higher ground, we realized if a wave does much damage to that same waterfront highway, getting home again might be impossible for days.  Before we went far from home, we pulled over, thought it through, and decided on a new location – less than a mile from home.  This was one of the most important learning’s from our experience.  Bugging out must take into account getting back.

Our new location took us to a large ranch owned by a local church that the family was familiar with.  The grounds keeper had already opened up the property for the community to gather in and we easily found a good spot in an open field with 80 other vehicles and families.  It was a big, open field safely in the hills with a lookout to the ocean about 500 yards up the hill.

After parking we setup camp.  Our three most valuable items (besides food and water) were our canopy, lawn chairs, and board games.  The tropical weather quickly turned hot, and without the shade of the canopy, we would have been miserable.  Others without cover ducked under shade trees, or joined the bigger groups who were assembling large party canopies.  Even with shade, we went through water quickly.  The open field was great for playing catch and wandering around.  All the teenagers were busy texting and calling friends – without the phones the boredom would have been difficult.

First real emergency – the teenagers needed a bathroom.  For the boys, this wasn’t an issue with all of the trees and brush around the field.  For the women, it was a bigger concern.  The four of them went into the woods together and eventually found a spot secluded “enough” to be comfortable.  They reported many small groups and individuals roaming the trees looking for that elusive seclusion.  A small popup latrine or some other facility to provide privacy would have been very valuable to the group.  The hand wipes became very valuable at this point too – and are worth mentioning. After about an hour, most of the men were either asleep or were antsy to go back into town to get more stuff.  It was about 11am at this point, and all media reports were that we should expect the wave(s) to hit at 1pm.  We felt we had enough time and the risk was low that we decided to give it a go.  We took the pickup the three miles back into Laie, and loaded up lawn chairs, a full-size propane barbeque grill, and lots of food for dinner out of the freezer.  Extra water and toilet paper were also gathered.  It was interesting that more police patrol cars were in the neighborhoods, and many residents slowly going about their day.  We made several stops to pickup stuff for friends and neighbors, and to make sure surf boards, bikes, and other stuff was up on the second floor porches of all the homes we visited.  We were back on higher ground with the grill hot by 11:30 a.m.

The grill was a big hit, but quickly brought dozens of hungry kids and teenagers around, so we turned it off before cooking any food to avoid any disturbances.  We didn’t have nearly enough food to go around, and in the local culture it would have been rude not to invite even casual acquaintances to eat with us.  So we stuck to snacks we had on hand, and loaned out the grill to another large family group to use.

Here’s an interesting side-story regarding first aid.  About a dozen of the local boys, about 9 years old, spent their free-time catching scorpions.  They showed us a small water bottle with three of them inside.  A great diversion for the boys, but my thought was: “what if one of the boys was stung?”  The parents would have their hands full with a miserable child and little way to assist.  Having a remedy for bee or scorpion stings would be a valuable ingredient in an emergency first aid pack. Finally, as 1 pm came closer everyone made their way to a lookout point to watch for the wave.  It was hot now, and water was soon used up.  At least 150 of us sat around a single radio waiting for updates and passing the latest rumors.  The media had less information than many of the locals with families on the Big Island, where the wave was to hit first.  The public media was not much help.  Nothing was seen of note down in the ocean, other than a couple folks out surfing near Turtle Cove. 

Finally, when 1:30 p.m. came without any noticeable change in the seas, the media reported that 2 p.m. was the likely time.  Hilo on the Big Island hadn’t seen any significant wave show up, and many folks around us were ready to head home.

The men of our group loaded up the heavy gear and headed down to home by 1:45 p.m.  After unloading, about 2 p.m. the police gave us an “all clear” and we let the women know to bring the children down [from the heights]. We were all very glad that nothing significant had happened.  We had a great day in the hills with very little inconvenience.  The barbeque was the most disappointing part of the day.  The women had planned to spend the day at the Aloha Stadium Market and were disappointed they missed out on that, but we husbands figured the tsunami saved us several hundreds of dollars in canceling that plan.  We all learned some valuable lessons – including the younger children, and it was a great opportunity to better prepare for the next event.  In terms of gear, the only additional items we would recommend for a short “bug out” like this would be handheld [MURS or GMRS] radios, some form of privacy (tent, tarp, etc), and more to read. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

I’m a neurosurgeon, and I had the opportunity to spend a couple weeks in Port Au Prince, Haiti last year, arriving just two weeks after the earthquake in February. This was a great opportunity to serve people in need, but I also benefited from seeing WTSHTF firsthand. I brought in a team of three doctors and two nurses , along with one former Marine turned pastor (for security).

When a missionary flight company said: “We can get you in if you can be here day after tomorrow, but we can’t guarantee you a flight out,” a wiser person might have said “no, thanks.”  But I said “We’ll be there.”  The flight in was on a private jet, donated for use by a NASCAR driver. On board, we had pizza and propped our feet up in the leather recliners. We knew the party was over as we approached Port Au Prince. Not only could we see the smoke from the burning bodies piled up in one location, and the harbor full of warships and one massive hospital ship, but we could also see the planes landing before and behind us. As we taxied off the runway there was already another plane touched down at the far end of the strip, and two others behind him making an approach. The US Air Force was controlling traffic and they didn’t have one accident despite the incredibly high traffic volume. The airport was absolutely packed with containers, cartons and bags of supplies.  Most of them were unsorted and useless. The pilot handed us a case of water bottles as we got off the plane.

I’m sure most soldiers have seen as many guns, tanks and helicopters as I did in Port Au Prince, but I had never seen so many people openly armed before. U.N. and U.S. forces predominated, but there were also Haitian police and other forces I couldn’t identify. Nobody carried just a handgun. Traffic was snarled, and there were wrecked cars and debris in most streets. In some areas of town there were still unburied bodies. The last few survivors were dug out while I was there. There was no power but there was pretty good cell phone service, which was great as I was able to use the internet to look up some of the odd diseases I was treating.  AT&T provided free Internet/text service to subscribers, which was most helpful.

We had coordinated with a large local church, and were able to set up camp in the walled yard behind the church itself. The area was guarded 24/7 by the church youth group (older teens) who were not armed but wore military type uniforms. US troops made regular patrols, and one patrol gave us some water bottles and additional MREs. I have a great photo of me and my girlfriends: a couple of female lieutenants armed with M4 Carbines. All I had was a scalpel and a multi tool. I recommend stocking up on weaponry now in case we find ourselves in a similar situation in America. That multi tool looked pretty small compared to the carbines everybody else had.

The biggest issue in coordinating response to this disaster was a total lack of leadership and organization. Sadly, we had the same problem in the U.S. after Hurricane Katrina (I live and work about 350 miles from New Orleans, so was involved in the refugee management also).  We spent our first afternoon in a Haitian hospital. Conditions were miserable. No power, no clean sheets, very limited medical supplies. No one was in charge. The French were snapping orders to everyone, but getting little done. A team of EMTs from Utah was trying to help, but didn’t know what to do. There were some US surgeons doing amputations and abdominal explorations but they were so overworked they couldn’t leave the operating room to see what was going on in the wards. There were supplies, but no one knew what was available or where it was. People were dying there from lack of care. I decided we would be better off setting up a community clinic as I didn’t think conditions were conducive to neurosurgery, and the massive crowd of people outside the hospital compound suggested that there were lots of others needing attention.

A team of Brazilian disaster response specialists were also staying in the church yard with us. Brazil has a network of primary responders, including doctors, nurses, EMTs and even an architect to inspect the buildings for safety. They rotate the teams every two weeks, overlapping the departure of the members so that the new team can be adequately briefed. They have standard supplies (pre-packed bug out bags) and equipment. Some of the individuals staying with us had also been to Indonesia after the tsunami. They made us look bad!

We flew in with our “bug out bags” and as many medical supplies as we could carry. I brought a backpack with two scrub sets, 5 changes of underwear and socks, 3 t shirts to wear underneath the scrubs, a hat, a silk mummy bag (very light), tent, 10 complete MREs, a bag of mixed granola and dried fruit, instant coffee sticks, propal sticks, several 16 oz water bottles, water bottle with filter,  flashlight, matches, multitool, bug spray, and basic toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, small towel, nail cutter, saline for contacts).  I also carried a compact video camera. Please note I didn’t have any of the fancy equipment recommended in some survival literature, though we did have a couple hours access to a generator at the church each night, which I used to charge my phone. I didn’t miss much, but if I was packing again now, I would add an inflatable pad (I did inherit one when one of the Brazilians left, but that ground was pretty hard before that), an extra set of scrubs, a couple more t shirts and some laundry soap! We had a group set of walkie-talkies, but they were useless out in the city and failed us on several occasions. The rest of my backpack and a bag were filled with pre-sterilized surgical kits, dressing supplies and medications, mostly antibiotics and pain medications.

Between the Brazilians and the very organized church we were staying at, we managed to set up some good quality clinics with one running daily in the church yard and another in different refugee camps. We did some wound management, but most of the problems we were seeing were related to poor sanitation and lack of clean water on the streets.

Just our group of six saw more than 1,200 patients. We had translators and nurses from the community. The translator I worked with the most was an attorney, volunteering his time. He and his wife and their two small children were living in the backyard of their house because it had not been checked for structural safety. Despite that disruption, he cheerfully sat next to me for hours each day, translating patient complaints and my responses.  Order was key to our success, as we had hundreds of patients responding at each site daily. People were easily angered, and we had near riots at one camp over the medical line, and several times over water distribution as the church was also running an industrial sized water filter and distributing water. One of these was stopped only by the pastor, who went chest to chest with the loudest of the agitators and backed him down. Survivalist books that tell you that attitude is everything are correct, as that pastor had no weapons, just his authority (though I’m sure God’s protection was helping as well).

As this was not Haiti’s first disruption, most people were used to living without power and had generators or candles. All the houses in town had high walls, topped with broken glass or barbed wire. Windows were covered with iron bars or heavy shutters. Houses had heavy iron gates (usually solid), and the vehicles pulled up inside the gates before the occupants would get out.  We were cautioned to remain very alert when traveling in town and never to leave the vehicles. The vehicles did not stop in the back streets to avoid traps. The back streets were dirt, and homeowners often added cement bumps in front of their houses to slow traffic. We mostly traveled in the back of two pickups. One of them always had to be parked on a hill and rolled to start. The other had no headlights, but someone in the front seat would carry a flashlight and shine it out in front as we approached intersections at night. We did travel at night several times to the pastor’s house to shower (generator and cistern), and he would call ahead so someone would be ready to open the gate and we would not stop in the street. He said a car had been attacked nearby when stopping to open a house gate, and the occupants killed.

We had not brought all the medications we needed, as we didn’t expect to see so many kids with parasites and fevers, and ladies with vaginal diseases. Most of this was from poor living conditions and bathing in unfiltered water. There isn’t much worse than giving calcium tablets to sick kids because that is all you have. I took the former Marine, and went to the University of Miami hospital which was set up at the airport to see if we could get some supplies. Disorder reigned there also, though it was certainly better than the Haitian hospital. Despite the stacks of supplies, we couldn’t get anyone to agree to let us have some. After talking to several people, we got permission to get “a couple” bottles of children’s Tylenol, which was better than nothing. Visiting the supply tent, we talked the teenage volunteer out of a case of Tylenol which was put to good use. We then tried the US Army without success, but we were referred to a warehouse run by the World Health Organization. After we made it past the armed guards, the first clerk told us we needed an account there, and even if we had one the supply delivery would take a week. Happily we found a sympathetic supply officer, who listened to our story and asked how many patients we were seeing, and then twisted our story slightly and wrote that we were from Miami Hospital on the form. After all, we had just come from there. He told us to come back that afternoon. I was crushed that we couldn’t find a ride that afternoon, but the next morning he loaded us up with antifungals, parasite treatments, and even medications for high blood pressure and diabetes.  It was like striking gold! God bless that guy that bent the rules to get the supplies out to the people.

Psychological preparedness in the responders was very important. One of the doctors with us was convinced she would get sick if she drank anything but bottled water. When the bottles ran out, we all began drinking the filtered water from the church. Sure enough, she got sick (and even fainted). The rest of us did not. On the other hand, the former Marine and I were able to liberate supplies, because we went in unwilling to take no for an answer (when Miami wouldn’t give me what I needed, I said sweetly “How about a couple bottles of children’s Tylenol, at least?” and got a yes).  I found it was very difficult to manage even the small group I brought with me once they were all under stress. If you plan to face TEOTWAWKI with a group, make sure you get to know each other well before the event, and establish a clear chain of authority.

Water containers were at a premium, both large to get water from filtration sites and small bottles for drinking and refilling. Tarps were also like gold. People were building shelters from rags and sticks. Thanks to the international response, there was plenty of food, but distribution sites were crazy and there was rioting, so going to get it was pretty risky. It would have been better to have stocks at home. Homes in Haiti were already fortified before the quake, so for those that didn’t lose their houses security was already set up. Because the power wasn’t reliable before the quake, most middle class people had generators at home, as well as rainwater collection systems and cisterns. If you live in a city and plan to stay in case of an American economic collapse, I would strongly consider you figure out how you are going to collect and store water. Even if some public services remain, water delivery may not be reliable.

There were two principles that I observed in this disaster. First, people in this situation behaved in one of two ways. Some rose to the occasion, volunteered to help others, shared what they had and remained calm. Others sunk to crime, anger and violence. I was amazed by the church members who remained faithful and were praising God right through this disaster. Many of them spend hundreds of hours helping us in clinics, passing out food and water and risking their own lives. Second, organizational and leadership skills are absolutely critical in disaster response. The U.S. Air Force took charge of traffic control at the airport, and as a result it was flawless. In the hospitals and streets, however, no one was in charge. Many people with wounds went without antibiotics, while crates of them sat unopened at the airport.  Though there were plenty of doctors around, it was very hard for individuals with wounds to reach them. I saw a completely unset leg fracture three weeks after the earthquake in the clinic behind the church. She couldn’t get through the crowd outside the hospitals! People couldn’t get medications for their chronic diseases, like high blood pressure and diabetes, and there was little available at the hospitals (but the WHO warehouse had a stock). 

Tarps were selling like gold. Food was available, but it was dangerous to go get it. People were washing in contaminated water and spreading disease. Having someone in charge would have made a huge difference, but the Haitian government was not prepared and with the large international response everyone was doing their own thing.

As we face “rolling power outages” here in Texas this week, due to freezing weather and snow storms, I am amazed more people don’t realize how close we are to the edge. Preparedness, both practical and psychological, should be a priority for all Americans at this point. I was able to fly out of Haiti, thanks to the U.S. Air Force, but if it happens here, there won’t be a midnight flight out.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Regarding your question, WBT is one of the 30 or so stations being added to the Emergency Alert System (EAS) Primary Entry Point (PEP) network by the end of this year. Under the EAS's older sibling, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), 33 stations served as PEP stations. These stations could receive an emergency message from the president and relay it to the other stations in its area. The PEP stations were generally the old 50,000 watt AM powerhouses because of their wide reach. The requirements for a PEP station are as follows;

- Diesel backup generator with fuel sufficient for 30 days of continuous broadcasting without commercial power - Land line, satellite, and HF radio connectivity to FEMA Operation Centers - Special EAS Encoder/Decoders (ENDECs) with unique EAS codes - Generally located just outside of major city area for survivability - Fallout shelter, on-site food, and special lightning protection (the new PEP's don't have to have a fallout shelter.) - The station must be kept on-air at all times - even through changes in ownership or bankruptcy

WWL is a great example of this setup in action. It alone remained on air during and after hurricane Katrina, and its signal was simulcast over other frequencies in the area until the other stations could get back up and running.

I have a list of the original 33 stations, but a list of the new ones evades me (heaven forbid an informed populace, although I suppose you could start with WBT.) At night most of these stations can be heard over several states. In addition, many of these stations employ a directional signal at night that could be overridden if needed to really get a message out. One station, WLW, has the ability to broadcast with 500,000 watts (!) and used some of that power to send messages to the troops in Europe during WWII, and to Cuba during the cold war.

In the interest of information, here are the original PEP stations, their frequency, city of license, and broadcasting power. All except a couple of these are AM.

  • KALL 700 Herriman UT (50,000 W day/1000 W night)
  • KBOI 670 Kuna ID (50,000 W)
  • KCBS 740 Novato CA (50,000 W)
  • KERR 750 Polson MT (50,000 day/1000 night) KFLT 830 Tucson AZ (50,000 day/1000 night)
  • KFQD 750 Anchorage AK (50,000 W)
  • KFWB 980 Los Angeles CA (5000 W)
  • KFYR 550 Meneken ND (5000 W)
  • KIRO 710 Vashon WA (50,000 W)
  • KKOB 770 Albuquerque NM (50,000 W)
  • KKOH 780 Reno NV (50,000 W)
  • KOA 850 Parker CO (50,000 W)
  • KTRH 740 Dayton TX (50,000 W)
  • KTWO 1030 Casper WY (50,000 W)
  • WABC 770 New York NY (50,000 W)
  • WBAP 820 Mansfield TX (50,000 W)
  • WBAL 1090 Baltimore MD (50,000 W)
  • WBZ 1030 Boston MA (50,000 W)
  • WCCO 830 Minneapolis/St Paul MN (50,000 W)
  • WCOS FM 97.5 Columbia SC (100,000 W)
  • WHAM 1180 Rochester NY (50,000 W)
  • WHB 810 Kansas City KS (50,000 day/5000 night)
  • WKAQ 580 Catano PR (10,000 W)
  • WLS 890 Chicago IL (50,000 W)
  • WLW 700 Cincinnati OH (50,000 W)
  • WMAC 940 Macon GA (50,000 day/10,000 night)
  • WQDR FM 94.7 Raleigh NC (100,000 W)
  • WRXL FM 102.1 Richmond VA (20,000 W)
  • WSM 650 Nashville TN (50,000 W)
  • WSTA 1340 St Thomas VI (1000 W)
  • WTAM 1100 Cleveland OH (50,000 W)
  • WWL 870 New Orleans LA (50,000 W)
  • WYGM 740 Clermont FL (50,000 W)

Regards, - Dan. L

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I have been meaning for some time to write a short article about State Defense Forces. These forces are an excellent way to train and learn. I have served seven years in my state guard.

There are federal laws that allow a state to maintain a state guard or state defense force. These are forces available to the governor of the state when the national guard is on duty somewhere else, or if the emergency is a huge one the state defense force can actually be activated on paid mandatory duty. If a state wants to have such a force the state legislature passes state laws to authorize the organization and the adjutant generals office sets it up as an independent military organization. You serve only in your state unless the governor of another state requests state guard help from the governor in a neighboring state. One state even sent state troops to assist in New York City after the 9/11 attack. They all volunteered to go and paid their own expenses.

There is no pay and there are no benefits as in federal or national guard service. You are serving because you want to be ready in a time of emergency to assist the people in your state. Such a force is the organized militia of a state but the word militia is never used due to negative connotations that have arisen in recent years. You are a volunteer so you don’t have to go to every drill but you are expected to make most drills. The more you put into your service the more you get out of it. Normally the state guard does not serve under arms. Some states give weapons training to the state guard in case TSHTF but others do not. There is a lot of variation from state to state depending on what the governor and adjutant general what to do.

You can join if you have some minor problem that would physically disqualify you from federal or national guard units. Most of our troops are veterans but not all, some have “no prior service”. We have army, air force, marine, and navy vets in our local unit.

What training have I had ?

  • First aid/CPR
  • Land navigation /compass course
  • Physical security
  • Patrols
  • Search and rescue
  • Field training exercises
  • Coordination of supplies arriving into the state after a major hurricane
  • Alert drills
  • Red Cross damage assessment

What missions have we had ?

  • Search for a lost Alzheimer's patient
  • Provide communications in an area of a chemical spill
  • Set up road blocks around an evacuated town to prevent non residents from entering and looting
  • Assist in crowd control during a major 10k race
  • Make damage assessment in a neighborhood after a tornado came through.

About half the states currently have a state guard or state defense force. If you join yours, you will meet and serve with some good people. You will learn a lot and possibly be of service in a time of emergency to protect the people and their property in your state. In my state we are subject to hurricanes so that is the most likely thing that would occur to bring us into the field, but actually we don’t know what our next mission is going to be. We are required to keep a Go Bag and be ready to respond on a few hours notice. Note: it takes time and paperwork to activate the national guard but the state guard can be called out on a moments notice by one phone call. We are proud of that !

If your state has a state defense force then check it out. Find out what training is available and where your local unit drills. Give it a chance if you are so inclined. By the way I have met a few preppers in my unit.

God Bless the United States of America and the Constitution. - MVJ

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mr. Rawles,
I read with much interest the article on community planning for a societal collapse. It mirrors my own thinking on the subject and it is an issue I've given a lot of thought to lately. The reality of my situation is that I live in a small town (about 1200-1300 population) that lies on one major line of drift and two minor ones. The major line of drift is a major east-west interstate between two medium-sized cities and the two minor lines of drift are a state route that parallels the interstate (on the opposite end of town from the interstate) and a north-south state route that runs through the center of town. Here I am. I cannot afford to move to the boonies and set up well stocked retreat. I also have few options in bugging out. I am enough of a realist to know that if I tried bugging out, that I would merely turn my wife, two young daughters, and myself into refugees (albeit heavily armed refugees). My opinion is that J.I.R.'s outline is the most workable I seen or read yet. Its not that I am a socialist, or that I want to see people lose their property in confiscations (I have a fairly well stocked food storage room) but I realize in my present situation, my survival, and that of my family, depends on the survival of the small town we live in. I also know that I would not last long defending my house from hungry neighbors, or the golden horde off of the interstate. My town's only option to survive is to work together.

I would ask the naysayers and "indignants" out there how long they could last on their own? No man is an island and no one person can store or grow everything needful for life in enough quantity to last for long. How long can you guard your gardens and fields? How long can you guard your livestock? Just my two cents, - Barry A. in Ohio


Mr Rawles:
I was truly surprised to read the comments about the original article. Do you guys really think the looters/army won't get to you eventually?

Communist, socialist, statist? Do you really think those words will matter WTSHTF?

"[A]rmed gangs who pillage food and fuel stores to control them for their own purposes."
If the mayor/town official is not locking down the food and fuel that is exactly what you will have.

Do you really think the looters will respect property rights in the first few months? If you have less than 10 well armed men guarding your farm/cattle/pigs you will be overrun by the hoard eventually, be they looters or military. Where can you get those 10 men? Hmmm, too bad we didn't try to save the town... Those 10 men they shot for looting the Piggly Wiggly could be guarding your herd overnight.

I'm surprised, simply amazed.

I'm not a community gal myself, but sure hope somebody is doing the things that were advised in town when it happens, otherwise there won't be anything but scorched earth by the time I come in to resupply.

Would you rather have the town standing and making a go of it or not? If you would you better hope the local government can make at least a few of the of listed items happen.

If you would rather have the town destroyed, good luck going-it-alone out on your farm when three hundred starving people band together and show up in the middle of the night. I'm sure you can get 50 to 100 of them with your firepower before they get you. It sure would be nice to have those townspeople to help you now...

At least I learned something. I was hoping any people who made it past the first few months would be coming together for mutual protection. Now it is clear that I will need to stay away for ALL folks from outside my network forever. Must likely all of you "ism"-haters will be out to hang me.

Hopefully my preparations and network of friends and family will be enough to keep me and my boys alive.

Oh, and by the way, most of the list was standard military occupation stuff, the kind of stuff your army is doing in Iraq right now. Don't be surprised when they do it to you. - Paris


Mr. Editor:
As I read it, he is advocating the view that a mayor or some de-facto ‘leader’ of a city should organize a posse and have them ‘under color of authority’ go out and steal from everyone else. This seems to border on the insane. What makes him think people would in any way even consider cooperation under such a scheme?

Having asked that question, I believe the only ‘followers’ he would have would be those that have not taken the opportunity to prepare, you know, members of the golden horde. As we have taken the time to assess our potential needs, we have acquired, and in some instances plan to acquire, the tools, foodstuffs, medicines, seeds, and manual pump and such that we think we may need in a long-term ‘lights out’ scenario. J.I.R. and those of his ilk seem bent on becoming some sort of controller of a segment of the golden horde than a potential long term survivor. If the mayor hasn’t prepared in advance to work in a vacuum of power, food and fuel, it is not likely that he would have the wherewithal to survive a long term event. Plus even as his resource acquisition teams started going door to door confiscating other peoples lives, in the form of food, water, and medicine, I think people would immediately fight back and start taking out his people. It is human nature, and as Americans we have the right to defend our property.

If, on the other hand, he is pushing for us to pressure our cities and states to start planning for a prolonged lights-out scenario, he should know that each area would have to tax each person a few hundred dollars per year to build up and rotate stocks regularly to begin to have a viable system in place. Plus, it is my belief that even if they should start today that they would be far from having much more than a short term supply on hand when things go bad.

A better scheme, in my opinion, would be to do something like a mobilization done during the earlier world wars. Start a campaign to regularly point out to the general population that, while we have no major issues at this time, we have seen the effects of regional disasters and we, as a nation, need to prepare for unforeseen natural and manmade catastrophe. When I was a kid, in the 1950s and 1960s, some people made fallout shelters and storage food, etc.. Now, we see the potential for large hurricanes to take out large parts of our oil refinement infrastructure, which could lead to food and fuel shortages. We have seen ice storms cut off power in areas for days, and in some cases weeks at a time. If we rely solely on the government to ‘see to our needs’, then we will lose that spirit of independence that our grandparents and forefathers had. Instead, planning a program to educate people on what they should have to fend for themselves in a disaster situation, what foods to store, how much water to have, how to dispose of human waste, and what not to do, that may increase the chance of serious diseases, this seems like a better solution.

If everyone had a three month supply of food, a method / plan to acquire water and purify it, and the tools and means to cook without access to the grid, we should expect to see less panic when a crises erupts. I would recommend having much more, but it is a good start. We need to know that, in a widespread crisis, there is no one we can count on more than ourselves. The government, despite the trillions of dollars spent and the trillions of debt, will not be able to help more than a small percentage of the population. Here we are, years after Katrina, and we still see people dependent on government aid. No, we can’t (and should not) depend on the government, we have to take care of ourselves.

This makes more sense than going out and trying to confiscate what other people were wise enough to work and save for. Many of those that prepared for lean times, also prepared to defend themselves and their families. It seems to me, being prepared makes you part of the solution, while being unprepared makes you part of the problem. - C. M


Hello Mr. Rawles,
This is in response to the article regarding planning on a community level for crises response. I was impressed with the level of detailed analysis of the problems facing communities in a large scale disaster and even more impressed with the rational solutions he proposes. I was further impressed, or perhaps I should say surprised at the number of angry responses to his ideas. In my reading of his work he does not advocate taking/stealing/appropriating the pigs or grain from a farm, merely he suggests that this is an issues that will have to be dealt with, with community by-in and support. While I am a staunch defender of individual property rights and sovereignty his proposed solutions and ideas to the very real problems a community or town would face are the best (and some of the only) I have encountered yet. I would like to hear from some of those opposed to the original author their ideas for dealing with these issues, short of holing up in their fortresses and waiting for the rest to die off. In the meantime, the original article seems a fine starting place for ensuring the survival of as many as possible while avoiding the worst outcomes and consequences of dictatorial socialism and promoting the re-emergence of a free market as quickly as possible.

With respect, and special appreciation to JWR for hosting this blog and forum for such important issues, - Lumberjack


I read SurvivalBlog every day and really enjoy most of the articles. I have been a prepper longer than most people have been around,but it's still great to see that other people are waking up to the fact that things are not going as well as the MSM would have us believe.The article on community preparedness really got my attention because it is something that I recently dealt with, or tried to deal with in this area. I live in a small rural Northern California community in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in a county with a population of 35,000, most of it centered in the county seat area, and a good portion of the population counted being inmates from the three prisons located here, two state and one federal. The town is accessed by two main highways, both of which travel through numerous larger cities before passing through or by here,and a county road leading from a major highway 20 miles away, also coming from a much larger city. Numerous dirt roads may allow access/egress depending on the time of year, but I don't know that traveling them would be a good idea, if one considers the "golden hordes." We are basically 100 miles from the nearest anything that could provide any type of support for us. A possible plus is the fact that a railroad runs through this area.

The town has a single grocery store, three mini mart/gas stations a restaurant and a pizza parlor and a bar, and a small hardware store, nothing more, and to boot, the grocery store is nothing to brag about, buying and stocking on a need basis, and not having anything in abundance.It rarely has over a weeks supply of anything. There are larger markets in cities 10 and 21 miles away, respectively, but getting to and from could be a big problem. We have no specific infra structure in this town: A community services board that deals with water and sewer issues and maintains the volunteer fire department, a single resident deputy, no medical or dental services and a sometimes ambulance service. The only "government/county" facility here is a road maintenance shop with some equipment and possibly 10 employees. You would think that people living in an area such as this would be aware of the fragile nature of their lot and would take pains to insure their continued existence.This is not the case at all. With the collapse of the economy and the demise of the lumber industry, many of the people in this town have entered the ranks of the unemployed, and are dependent on unemployment benefits or welfare. They seem to be happy with their lot and live on a day to day/week to week basis. They have the attitude that "someone will take care of me/us," and I believe that to be true, but not in the way they think.

Some time back, I made the acquaintance of the head of the community service department. He and his three employees were expressing their fears that this country was in dire straits and was heading for even rougher times. They were talking of a collapse politically, financially and morally, and they were in the process of "getting ready" They had already come to the realization that they were well behind the curve. Beans, bullets and band aids were on the agenda, along with training and education, as well as trying to wake other people up and making plans to aid this community in the event of a collapse. Their desires and motives were admirable. Survivalblog was recommended to them, as well as other sites, and Gerald Celente was a regular part of their day. I was thrilled at finding other people in this area that were "enlightened," and made regular contact with them, as my job as a deputy allowed me some degree of flexibility in making contacts. Other than these three persons, I had known of only one other serious prepper in this area and he was also introduced to the "community service" group.

The preparations of this group went on for less than a month. My first clue that their attitude was changing came when they started complaining about the cost of "things" and the amount of time and space that was required to get ready. Then their "main battery" was traded away for more "practical" lever arms and semi autos because they were more fun. At least they kept something. After trying,without success, to get their minds back in the game,I distanced myself from them. My biggest regret and fear was the fact that these "community leaders" now knew that I was a preparedness person, along with my friend. Who else did they tell? And they were aware of the fact that this community was, for all intents and purposes, out in the cold and on it's own as far as the county government was concerned. I know this to be a fact because I am a part of the county government, and I know that there are no plans or preparations to deal with any emergency or contingency other than a snow storm or minor flooding. All the County resources, such as they are, are centered in the area of the County seat and are doled out from there. We are near the end of the line when it comes to getting anything, and this is not just from the County. It also applies to the State and Federal governments.They all want to be seen and heard in areas where they can get press coverage. (By the way, I was not totally truthful when I said the County had no preparations for "survival." They did purchase several 5 gallon plastic survival buckets/toilets, 14 person I believe, which they strategically placed in various locations in various county offices. I don't believe there is a "prepper or survivalist" among them. Great idea) I know for a fact that the County, and the Sheriff is the head of the County Office of Emergency Services, has nothing in the way of stored food-medical supplies-sanitation equipment. Their "preparedness equipment is 20 deputies, the road maintenance equipment, and a great dependence and faith in the bigger government. The powers that be in this county, and I'm sure in most others in California, are myopic, and truly believe that they will get the help they need from a larger government when the help is needed. They have made no plans beyond calling someone for the time when the SHTF. This thought doesn't make me sleep better at night. JIR is totally correct when stating that most communities will perish in a crisis situation. I do not plan on being one of those that perish, but you never know. Bugging out was never really in my thoughts, but now bugging in may not be a good idea. In any case, great blog, great letters, keep up the good work. - Gray Fox in Northern California


I am enjoying the debate on Community Crisis planning. While I understand David D.’s point that “the best protection isn't owning 30 guns; it's having 30 people who care about you." I would suggest that having 30 people with 30 guns who care about you would be the best of all. - Eric S.


I read this article, and all of the response letters, with great interest. However, I took away something different than most of the responses posted. I see J.I.R.’s article not only as a “how to”, but also as a warning. When a TEOTWAWKI event occurs, most of J.I.R.’s points in this article will be suggested by someone in power in your local community, or they will be brought up as “helpful suggestions”. If we disagree with J.I.R.’s proposed plans, then we must be prepared to offer counter suggestions and arguments to persuade our community leaders to stay true to our values, and not to just throw them out the window.

We, as preppers, have an advantage in this discussion: we have already considered the arguments, courses of action, and can persuade our community to act differently. When these conversations first come up, we have 3 choices. We can choose to offer up , meaning offer different choices that will work just as well, but do not stray from our values; We can shut up , and go along with the plan, or we can button up , go back to our residence / retreat, and refuse to be any part of it.

Shutting up is not an option for most of us. We would rather walk away than to betray our values. However, most people, caught unprepared, will be willing and eager to go along with seizing food, land, crops, and anything else of value. Furthermore, by shutting up, we put ourselves in danger, because someone will eventually bring up checking all houses in case anyone is hoarding. To not object in the beginning, then to object later on, will only bring dangerous scrutiny to ourselves, our families, and to our residences.

Buttoning up would seem like an attractive option, but I caution against it. It is human nature to pick the low hanging fruit first – this includes grocery stores, big box stores, general stores, etc. Anything that is not guarded or owned by a person who is physically present will be the first to be confiscated. However, as time progresses, and as the situation clearly becomes a long term one, all available potential resources will be investigated by those in power. This includes your house.

As stated in numerous previous articles, if you button up, the first contact you may have with the outside world is Priest or Sheriff, who has been appointed by the Mayor to check houses for hoarding. You would be hard pressed to turn them away, though you could fight if need be. However, since any community security force would greatly outnumber yours, the only viable options would be to slip away, leaving all of your food, weapons, ammo, tools, and such to the security forces; or, to stand and fight until either you die, or they give up. The problem is, they will not give up easily, and the more of them that you kill or wound, the more aggressive they will become.

If you lived miles away from everyone, truly out in the middle of nowhere, then you may be able to escape detection, or, they may decide it is not worth their time to go that far out for something that may or may not be there. I believe that this is unlikely, unless you live at least 20 miles outside of town in a very hard to reach spot. More than likely, they will send someone out to look around your house. If you resist, they’ll send even more out, only this time, they’ll be looking for blood.

Regardless if you are willing to take your chances of buttoning up, you’ll still want to establish contact one day – though it may be 5 years in the future, for no purpose other than curiosity or trade. Any sort of conflict between you and the nearest community will prevent that from happening. In addition, should you decide to sever all contact with this community, you can’t count on help that you may need later.

Thus, I believe that the only true way to prevent this from happening is to offer up suggestions that will work just as well as J.I.R.’s plan. We shouldn’t just withdraw from a community unless there is no other option, and we shouldn’t compromise our values either. As much as I disagree with J.I.R.’s plan, I thank him for writing it – even when I disagree with something, I still learn from it.

Thank you for your blog, and all the time and effort you put into it. Sincerely, - SLDV

Friday, August 27, 2010

Some of the arguments made against J.I.R.’s article reminds me of a scene in Gone With the Wind, in which the southern gentry are talking of coming war and Rhett Butler steps in and tells everybody that the North is better equipped for war; and that all they, the southerners, have is “…cotton and dreams of victory.” Obviously this was met with indignation, but Rhett Butler was right. As preppers we are our own group who thinks we are better equipped for “war” and can also be blinded by our own arrogance. Even amongst the prepper/survivalist groups we must remind ourselves that we will not necessarily be the Leader of the Retreat, or be able to fend off gangs and hordes with all our bullets and band-aids, as has been addressed on this site before, regarding the myths and realities of TEOTWAWKI.

While I am not a Kumbaya Community-is-the-answer-to-everything survivalist, and I love Ayn Rand, we must be humble enough to consider the real possibility that we will need both the individualism and the community effort during different phases of post-TEOTWAWKI living to make it.

Capitalism is not a world or society without government. It is a society with little government, but there is still government. JIR is right, we need some authority. As Ben Franklin said (essentially) “laws are made for the weak more than the strong.” We might consider ourselves strong, but we all have a breaking point. And the strong won’t be the only survivors.

I don’t think JIR was saying anything that wasn’t portrayed in the excellent book “One Second After”. In that book the same small-government/redistribution/community efforts were portrayed and to many who have read this book it all made sense at the time. And one of the leaders in the story who made it all a success was a man with military experience. Let’s not demonize the very people who have seen the effects of socialism and anarchy more than most of American society; probably even more than most of us survivalists who get our view of socialism mostly from history books and the evening news.

I would also like to point out the account of Joseph in Egypt in the Holy Bible. Joseph was put in charge by Pharaoh to prepare the land for seven years of famine. Joseph did, and when the famine hit there was a system of how the food was distributed to the people when their own resources ran out. First the people paid for or earned food. Then land was sold to Pharaoh in exchange for food, then some families were relocated, and a percentage of crops went to Pharaoh. Some might read this and think Pharaoh took advantage of his people. Some might read this and see a righteous leader (Joseph) who saved an entire nation and retained the dignity of the people by having them purchase the food and gave them seeds to work the land. All this was possible because Joseph/the Lord/Pharaoh controlled it.

Perhaps the real point is: Do you trust your leaders? Are your leaders those who would be successful like in "One Second After"? Are they righteous men like Joseph? Or are they socialists?

The Mormons and some other churches have what they call The Law of Consecration or something similar. On paper it might look like communism but is meant to follow the example of Joseph. Food is to be gathered from the members and distributed by religious leaders whom they know and trust, much like the LDS Church’s food cannery and welfare system works today. They know it works because they’ve been doing it for decades, but so far the food has come from the church. There will be a day when the members will be called upon to provide it.

In the book “One Second After” citizens made individual efforts to feed their families, and a soup kitchen was also provided by the community. Some shared a kill; some ate their pets at home. Bottom line, I hope that whichever system is used that I am given the choice. I’ll die fighting for my right to chose. - Rebekah A.


Mr. Rawles:
Nobody has yet mentioned that community leaders might simply ask for donations and assistance or offer payment or barter of some sort from those that had excess, rather than demanding. That might not work with major corporations (like Wal-Mart), headquartered elsewhere, but certainly private citizens and local businesses might respond. Even the local Wal-Mart manager has a certain amount of authority to donate items.

Then, hopefully, local authorities could equitably distribute the donated items. We might take a lesson from those 33 Chilean miners who subsisted on two day’s rations for seventeen days having no idea when or even if they might be rescued. There must have been some unified decision making there and it seems that some type of leadership in these situations would be better than every man for himself. Order might eventually break down but at least an effort would have been made to see that as many as possible had their needs met for as long as possible. - Karen Y.


First let me say I totally disagree with JIR on his idea of taking anything from someone else by force for the better good. I never sided with anyone who took something that wasn't theirs' -it's called stealing, plan and simple if it's not yours don't mess with it. and more people today should get their hind ends kicked for doing just that- messing with other people's stuff.

Second, David D. said basically that people with guns will fail in the end and why. personally I don't think he's correct or logical in his thinking- he talks about community and I am on his side with that - everyone in the groups (the community) has to carry their own water! people who use drugs, or have issues taking care of them selves will die after TEOTWAWKI - people who can't take care of themselves aren't going to make it. it's a fact of life the entitlements people have today have led to soft living, and when that ends people who can't adapt to a hard life aren't going to survive.

But people who are armed in my opinion are going to be the only free people left.

I would say after reading a new book called Resistance to Tyranny (by Joseph P. Martino Ph.D.) that even as he points to other information in his book as a reference the basic idea is you stop being free if your coerced out of your freedoms, and giving up your right to self defense you are asking to be killed. His book in the first pages paints a really grim picture of true history, the kind of things that schools don't teach about anymore

He states: "The evidence is clear. Genocide is impossible when the victims are armed and able to resist. Disarming the population is always the first step to genocide. Gun registration is always the first step to gun confiscation. Moreover, the experience of Germany and Cambodia shows that the government that does the disarming may not be the government that commits the genocide. Once a 'decent' government has disarmed the people, on whatever pretext, the way is open for a tyrannical government to oppress them. The Hitlers and the Pol Pots succeed only because the people have previously been disarmed." Later, he states: "Even if you survive under tyranny, you lose your freedom. Freedom is ultimately the most important thing. No matter what your personal or political objectives are, from animal rights to vegetarianism, you can't accomplish them if you lose your freedom. Freedom is the prerequisite for any other economic, political or social activity, from rearing your children to holding a job to providing for your own spiritual welfare. "

As Joseph Story wrote, "One of the ordinary modes, by which tyrants accomplish their purposes with out resistance, is by disarming the people, and making it an offense to keep arms." History bears him out.

I want to say to David D. I respect your position on gun ownership. As a man you have every right to never touch a gun as long as you lives. By your own choice, but don't ask me to give up my freedom to defend my self or others to some how make you feel a little better about the world...if anything you should be worried more people will give up guns and history will repeat it self and the genocidal cycle will happen again here in America. You all have to know people that lived in the places it did happen all said it couldn't ever happen there, to them, either! - Fitzy in NEPA

Hoping for a godly response by the citizenry for as long as possible.


I read the article with interest but must note what I consider a major flaw or so in almost every bit written on societal crash. Everyone assumes that government will simply go away and that the folk will be free to flee to their well prepared retreats in the country. I think both ideas are off. First, the only organized folk with guns in most communities are the police and they are just as likely as anyone else to band together to provide for their families and friends. In addition, every retreat idea I have read of seems to think that the thousands fleeing from wherever will bi-pass the perfectly good place retreatists have set up so as to keep them pristine for their owners. Worse, some seem to think they will have magic warning of the disaster/attack/crisis that everyone else does not get, sort of like the heads up found in the novel Alas, Babylon.

I disagree. I think folk who plan will get no more notice than anyone else, will be in their homes when TSHTF and will be part of the thousands trying to get out of town. I suspect most will arrive at their well prepared retreat and find it already occupied by some other family who found it first.

What do you do then? How do you deal with local authority acting as thugs and looting as they need?

In short, what do you do when your plans go down the toilet. Perhaps planning for situations where ones pans have gone to hell and ones retreat is occupied might be in order.

I also spent a good bit of my military career planning for war or natural disaster. The biggest problem encountered was logistics, the second unrealistic plans involving logistics. If you need a head start to the retreat, it will not happen...plan for that as well. If you have a place to go, have a plan to take it back from squatters. If you plan to defend yourself from starving bikers or societal parasites, also plan to deal with remnants of local government. Jim V. in southern Idaho

I believe that J.I.R.’s article “Community Crisis Planning” was an excellent article and has caused some superb discussion on what is a very sensitive issue and something we should continue to discuss and explore in depth. Stop pillorying J.I.R.! Instead, thank him for his thought provoking article because if things go bad in the future, you WILL SEE his model in operation. Why do I say that?

CPT Rawles:
As an Army officer of 22 years, my first read of J.I.R.’s article just sounded like basic common sense; I am in command and my mission is to preserve law and order…and then save lives. This is exactly what we do when we show up in Haiti , Somalia or the Messedupistan of your choice. This is what we (the Army) do and it works well; clean up the streets and get things working (often at gunpoint). Remember, we’re used to working in an extremely hostile environment with very limited resources…and a blank check.

Now fast forward to TEOTWAWKI when things are a mess. Do you expect key leaders to use critical thinking skills under a high stress situation to come up with the perfect innovative solution for a working economy and strong security? No! We’re not economists or lawyers! We will default to what is “tried and true” and as a simple as possible to implement. Focus will be on short term solutions rather than long term consequences.

So we’re back to the “fix Messedupistan” model that J.I.R. laid out for us. You don’t have to like it, but it works and I guarantee that you will see it. (Yes, you will “fight to the death” to defend your property rights, but unfortunately you are expendable since there will be many people and not enough food.) More importantly, this system may start working in very close proximity to your location and might start eye-balling your well stocked farm with fuel, food, etc. So no one is going to be standing on their own for very long.

Soooooo I suggest that we continue to contemplate/develop/critique social models to set up a successful community that maximizes personal freedoms (and property) while still being able to get things done and respond to the outside threat of a totalitarian/socialist/militaristic organization that will come rolling down the road to your town. Forstchen’s novel “One Second After” gave some great examples of setting up a community council, but a lot of things need to be worked before a crisis. How do we set up a ration book system when fiat money is worthless? (How will we print it? Who approves it?) What laws will be implemented during an emergency and what laws will be suspended? For how long? What rules will be needed for the community council? What are the checks and balances on power? It would help all of us if we had an SOP or “hand book” to get the community started on the right foot with the 80% solution the day after TEOTWAWKI. Thank you J.I.R., JWR, and all the comments to improve our knowledge on this subject. - Conn in “The Death-Zone-Suburbs-Near-Washington”

Mr. Rawles,
I am relieved to finally read your comments on the J.I.R. article. After reading the article you posted earlier, I was alarmed that it might have represented your viewpoints. Suffice it to say that the organized armed "police" that J.I.R. suggested to commander resources for their own, as well as "community," use were no more than armed brigands. Moreover, his idea of assuming the authority to impose whippings, etc., as punishment for disobedience to his rule violates all principles of free men. I would much prefer to fall as a free man resisting such people and rule, rather than become a subservient subject under them. Sincerely, - Gene C.

It looks like I hit some people in the "hot button" with this article. They are absolutely right on all points. This plan really stinks. I just don't see any other way to maintain the level of cohesion a small community is going to require to survive the tribulations they are going to face. I am still hoping to hear some rebuttal from someone with an alternate solution. Yeah, I don't like socialism either, but show me an alternative.

1. When the larger towns start doing "food sweeps", your community is going to have to fight as a team or it will die as individuals.

2. Somebody has to have the authority to get things done. You need to stop refugees at the border or the community may be doomed. Someone needs to organize labor to help the farmers, repair machinery and do a thousand other things. Someone or something has to provide central organization. As much as we hate to admit it, government provides some useful services. Sanitation, information exchange, law enforcement, water and a stable currency are just examples. It provides a framework for everything else that you need to happen. Without police enforcement, everyone is on their own. Some of your readers might like that, but I have seen it up close and I don't like it at all.

3. Without any way to pay for services, the town employees are going to quit reporting for work and your local government will dissolve. My ideas for reestablishing a local economy are radical, but I don't see any other way to pay for services. Does anyone have an alternative? Or are we advocating anarchy instead?

4. Anarchy is not stable. Someone is going to take power. Without some kind of functional government, whoever is strongest will take whatever they want. Look at somalia and ask yourself what would prevent that from happening here. Would you rather have an elected town mayor doing business as I outlined or would you rather have a warlord who takes what he wants and kills dissenters?

I think a lot of the folks who responded negatively are very distrustful of government. What they are missing is that this is a democracy and they are the government. They are the community! They need to get involved and take charge of it. That's their police force and their rules that are being enforced. I am not advocating an armed take-over. I am advocating the only solution that I see to prevent one. - J.I.R.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

As the author of the article being discussed, I would like to address the concerns expressed by "Rocky in the Midwest"

This is a good example of the kind of reactions you will undoubtedly run into if you attempt to confiscate someone's property. He is exactly right and justified in being indignant. He has worked hard and accumulated his property lawfully and has every right to use it as he wishes. Morals aside, confiscating privately owned property not only causes anger and resentment, it's just a bad idea on many levels. Doing so will destroy your local economy. I suspect that Rocky is a pillar of his community and will be instrumental in rebuilding the economy after a crash. He is exactly the type of person who will probably hire locals and begin to rebuild.

One of the most important things you must do is get consensus from your community. If the majority of the people think, like Rocky, that the Wal-Mart and other corporations still have property rights and their property is off limits, then you probably cannot proceed with the course I outlined. You have to convince your town that confiscation and redistribution of goods is in their best interest. You also need to get a consensus on which goods to confiscate and work out how you will compensate people for what you take and use.

The thing you must get across is this: Without some kind of redistribution of scarce resources and a working police department, nobody's property is off limits. Most of the people in the community are going to be hungry very fast. Nobody just sits down and starves to death. They are going to attempt to find food or whatever their family needs. Hungry people loot. I believe this is inevitable. Without someone guarding it, Wal-Mart is going to be looted. When people get hungry enough they will try to take Rocky's cattle themselves. I believe it' better to attempt to maintain order and community cohesion, even if it requires extreme measures. "Let them eat cake" sounds like a recipe for anarchy and mass starvation. Just my two cents. - J.I.R.


I agree with "Rocky in the Midwest". There will need to be leadership in the communities that develop after TEOTWAWKI, but that leadership needs to be democratically decided or you will end up with a dictatorship. The original author is proposing Socialism. As for my "preps", I have prepared for "Charitable Giving" as required by my God, but will eliminate the first man who confiscates (without my consent) anything in my possession because those items are needed for my family's survival.

Mental preparation is as much or more important than physical preparedness and those who have not prepared mentally will be a great burden for all that they come in contact with. I agree that performing triage for refugees might ideally be performed by someone with medical background, but medical personnel deal with hurt people and most refugees, being able-bodied, will need to be triaged in an entirely different manner - based on the need(s) of the local community and the refugee's ability to value add. That type of triage takes an entirely different type of leader than a nurse. Probably someone like Rocky in the Midwest that is prepared to defend his own. - Mel in Texas


Dear Editor:
J.I.R. plans on conscripting the police force and able-bodied men into armed gangs who pillage food and fuel stores to control them for their own purposes. He probably should have included plans for a secure fortress from which to issue his edicts because it is likely that after he sets the terms of engagement, property owners will respond in like manner. When his gang eats the stolen food and everyone else goes hungry, the rough stuff will begin in earnest. Let his plans be a warning to everybody. Especially if you live in a small town, petty tyrants must be put down. Once they begin stealing at the point of a gun, there is only one way to answer: get rid of them or get away. Property owners who respect the rights of others can rebuild. Thugs can only destroy, consuming your resources. Protection of life and property is a cost, but we who produce will choose whether to outsource the cost, and if so, to whom we will outsource it. We will not outsource it to those who would commandeer our resources and use them to rule over us. - John D.


I read and reread this posting several times. This man suggested a crisis response that sounds like communism under Joseph Stalin. He thinks the small town mayor should go out into the countryside and confiscate all of the livestock, feed, grain and seed, gas and diesel, and heavy equipment. He states that the highest priority for this is to maintain the power of the city government and allow the city cops to maintain their patrols. He later gets around to talking about farming and raising food, but mostly he talks about small gardens. I believe this author has always bought his food in the store and he does not know beans about farming.

He specifically talks about taking all the grain stored on the farms and all the livestock held in confinement buildings. I would love to see the mayor and a bunch of city folks confiscate and then herd 1,000 feeder pigs down the road and into town. Where does he plan to pen them up? Just who is going to butcher them? And how are you going to preserve the meat?

The reason that farmers keep several hundred gallon of fuel on site, is because they need it to plant and harvest. Taking away their fuel will leave the field unplanted or the standing crops unharvested. You also need grain trucks and the fuel to transport it. And just where is this small town going to store 20,000 bu (1.2 million pounds) of grain they might get from one small farm. Now try that from the entire county. Unless they have a local elevator they would have to dump it in the middle of the street.

The answer to this conundrum is quite easy, the grain, the fuel, and the livestock belongs on the farm and so do the people. The unemployed people from the small town need to move out onto the active farms in the area. The farms will need the additional labor and the extra folks with guns to protect the food. Those larger farms with substantial grain bins should be selected as primary storage areas for the community. You do not attempt to farm by hand or using horses, but you farm using diesel tractors and all available fuel goes to farming. You prepare for this possibility by building a local plant for processing of soybeans into biodiesel.

I am certain that growing, storing, and transporting food is more important than keeping a bunch of fat cops in patrol cars. The socialistic, almost communistic type centralized command and control this author suggest would ensure a famine in the breadbasket of the world. Frankly, I find his point of view absolutely terrifying.

This is one of the most thought provoking postings I have even read, thanks. - Hick

This piece (and the largely warm response to it so far) deeply undermines theories of survival based on individualism and reliant on guns, fortresses, and hoarding. Though I can imagine certain kinds of short-term crises where a guns, fortresses, and hoarding strategy might work, a years-long collapse is certain to lead to the kinds of issues raised by J.I.R.

I completely agree with J.I.R.: Long term, communities (a dirty word to radical individualists) must organize and work together. And so all of a sudden on a survivalist web site like yours, someone has gotten real and is talking about community, the dangers of anarchy, the rule of law, justice, the protection of the weak, and even redistribution of property. In other words, government, the very thing most survivalists demonize the most. This is unavoidable. No guns-based, hyper-individualistic strategy could ever work for long.

That's why I'm a left-wing survivalist. To me, the key is cooperation and production. Though the old self-reliant American lifestyle was fading when I was a child in the 1950s, the infrastructure and social fabric that supported community-based self-reliance had not yet decayed. I understand pretty well how it all worked, because I saw my relatives living that way on their family farms, and I did my share of the kind of farm work appropriate to children. I grew up and moved away, and I lived in the city for many years (San Francisco, the city most hated by guns, fortresses, and hoarding types). But when I saw what is all too likely to happen, I moved back to remote farming country where people still have fields, pastures, barns, farming equipment, and skills. This community-based strategy is based on getting to know, and trust, your neighbors. It's all about planning, based on your own location, for the kinds of issues raised by J.I.R.

Those who are not in love with their guns, and who find heroic, Ayn Rand notions of individualism laughable, find these realities easier to see.

I recommend a rather funny essay by Charles Hugh Smith on why gun-worshiping hoarders are bound to fail. The essence of it is this: "Because the best protection isn't owning 30 guns; it's having 30 people who care about you." - David D.


Dear J.W.R.:
J.I.R., the author of the "Community Crisis" article, is apparently a statist. He believes that confiscating people's belongings is appropriate in an emergency.

Theft of another's property is never appropriate! Period! It's called looting among right-thinking people. The author of this piece says that some people own too much stuff. Because of that, some of their stuff should be stolen and given to others who don't have enough stuff. This idea is called socialism.

He also says that "anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language and should be avoided at all costs." Anarchy has many definitions. The most important one is Society Without Government, which is not at all a dirty word, or an evil definition. It means free-market capitalism, a system which the author of this piece believes cannot work without proper controls put in place -- in other words, the establishment of not-free-market, non-capitalism.

[A brief flame snipped, for the sake of civility,]

The same author used exactly the same line about anarchy in a column in January 2010. True anarchists believe in the ability of humans to get along without the assistance (or interference) of government. It is true democracy -- with the codicil that if you are better armed, you have a better chance of living undisturbed by those who seek to control you. No, that's not a complete encapsulation of the term's meanings, but it's more than enough to respond to this unwise scheme. - Daniel C.

JWR Replies: I am strongly in the camp of defending property rights. History has shown that socialism is a slippery slope. Once it starts, it is hard to halt. Although J.I.R is well-intentioned, the distinction between 100 cases of canned chili that is owned by Wal-Mart corporation and a Butler silo full of wheat that is owned by an individual land-owning farmer is likely to be lost, in the midst of a crisis. Once they begin redistributing assets, "The Committee", or "The Town Council"--or whatever they call themselves--will inevitably start eyeing smaller and smaller increments of foodstuffs or land as worthy of confiscation and redistribution. Recent examples of this excessive collectivist zeal have been embodied by Chairman Mao in China, Pol Pot in Cambodia, Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe, and Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Recognizing human nature and the excesses that total power inevitably engenders , I believe that is preferable to be absolutist in defending property rights. Once the "taking" begins, then who has the power to stop it? Lord Acton said it best: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

I must also reemphasize that charity ceases to be charity when it is directed under brute force or coercion. Conservative Christians are among the most charitable people on the planet. But don't force us to give. That is just plain theft, and many of us will fight to our deaths to stop it. If I ever have to choose between quasi-anarchous individualism and socialism, then I'll take the former, not the latter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

I read the article on Community Crisis Planning for Societal Collapse, by J.I.R. and was reminded by an incident that was related to me by several individuals involved, discussed in the local papers, and is well known .

In the weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the State of Illinois sent a convoy of trucks and equipment down to help the citizens in New Orleans. This convoy consisted of dump trucks and low-boys carrying backhoes, bulldozers, boats, generators, etc. The convoy also had a half dozen or so tanker trucks full of fuel. The boats were to be used for search and rescue by the approximately 20 Conservation Police Officers (CPO) in their convoy. (To their undying shame, many of these CPOs later participated in the confiscation of firearms from peaceful civilians transiting the waterways of the area.) Somewhere in Louisiana where traffic had slowed to a crawl, the tankers were suddenly noticed and surrounded by local police and sheriff’s deputies who pronounce that the fuel was being confiscated. The drivers at first conversed with the officers and then refused to comply and locked themselves in the trucks. The local authorities were enraged by this defiance to their authority and they tried to open the doors of the tankers and take over the trucks.

They were not persuaded by the fact that this was a convoy from another state sending aid to Louisiana or the fact that there were 20 armed CPOs in the convoy. The CPOs were out of their jurisdiction (this is Louisiana!), they needed the fuel and didn’t care who or what it was for. Apparently, the saving grace was when several Illinois State Troopers escorting the convoy were called onto the scene. The locals were persuaded by their demeanor and Smokey the Bear style hats, that they might actually mean it that the fuel was not being confiscated, that the fuel was the property of the State of Illinois and “somebody” might get hurt if they tried.

I would assume that it occurred to the locals that a shootout over fuel between properly identified officers is never a career enhancing move, no matter what the situation, and the locals eventually left without the tank trucks. If I remember correctly the State of Illinois did fill up their police cars which amounted to less than 100 gallons of fuel as some kind of show of camaraderie.

It just goes to show you how irrational and chaotic the situation can become in America even between individuals sworn to uphold the law. - A.T.


Allow me to start by saying that the article was fantastic. It covered so much ground in a clear and concise manner. It gives (I estimate) some great advice. There's a few things I'd like to add to it:

The author was absolutely correct to say that turning away refugees is very taxing on a person. I would suggest looking for somebody who has experience with medical triage. People who have volunteered with Doctors Without Borders and the like, they have likely seen people turned away to go and die before. So they understand the necessity.

About your opinion on pets. It bears stressing that in any society where food is stored in a centralized location, cats are your best friend. Mice and rats will eat the cereal from your granary, go number two and stay there asleep until you've got fleas in your food as well. Even the most domesticated cat can turn expert mouser in a very short period of time. Dogs too kill vermin and people will want to keep them around as watchdogs to protect what little they have left.

And as a last note: thank you recognizing scientists as a valuable resource. (Beware though of the ego trippers amongst us :p)
If you intend to get some good results out of them, be sure to protect sources of laboratory equipment and chemicals. Every other kid knows how to build smoke bombs and crude explosives from high school lab chemicals, others may set out to get drug manufacture precursors. Protecting every lab and pharmacy will be a daunting task, I'd suggest allowing a scientific panel to raid all labs and do-it-yourself stores for difficult to acquire chemicals, and let them store them. Certain chemicals should not be stored in each others vicinity, let somebody with knowledge on the subject handle that.

Great article! - Michael H.


Hi Jim,
Good advice in that piece on Community Crisis Planning, I'd like to add on observation though, from the history books. Community solutions become less and less efficient as the size of the community increases. A small town may do well at the application but a city? Forget it.

A study of the collapse of complex civilizations shows that the big cites of the past were all but abandoned in favor of rural living. Our cities will become a living h*ll. I believe and I advise everyone to make plans to move out to smaller communities in the coming years. I know many in the survivalist community online will not actually sell up and move house. but they can at least travel to small towns. They might find one that looks suitable and make acquaintances there, spend time there at social events etc. In this way if they are still in the city and unprepared when the collapse comes they will at least have a place to go that is safe and where they know folk.
Just my 2 cents, mate. All the best Jim. - Frank Downunder in Oz


Dear James,
Regarding the letter by J.I.R., it sounds as if he is campaigning for dictator. And though he seems to be knowledgeable about logistics, he also seems to be lacking in "people skills" and morality. "Redistribution" of the supplies at the local Wal-Mart ? Huh? "About 4/5ths of your town will need food and most of the town's food will be owned by a very few individuals or controlled by a store manager. If you allow the market to "work itself out", these few individuals will suddenly control all the wealth and be able to charge people anything they see fit...or withhold critical resources as the whim takes them". - He proposes to control them himself, without rightful ownership.

This reminds me of the people who plan to "redistribute" cattle and crops they see on other people's farms. He better not try to redistribute my family's goods, lest he find himself redistributed. Perhaps he should set up some sort of charitable food bank now, with personal donations from his family to seed it with. Indignantly yours, - Rocky in the Midwest

Monday, August 23, 2010

I believe that in a severe crisis, most of the problems are going to have to be solved at the local level. State and federal government are too big and dependent on technology to survive a severe crisis once the grid drops and all services start to erode. Local governments, too, are ill prepared to assume this crushing responsibility, but they are much more resilient because their scope of control is smaller. Most of them have never even considered what they would do.

This article is a discussion piece to stimulate thought on the subject of small community recovery after TEOTWAWKI. I hope it will also be useful as a rough blueprint or checklist for local community leaders, or at least a starting point for a comprehensive plan. I wrote it from the perspective of a fictional town mayor. Most of the issues I mention apply to many levels of local government and law enforcement. I realize that A mayor never acts alone or has absolute power. They have a lot of people helping and advising them. I am hoping you will help yours make and implement the right decisions and that this paper will help in some small way.

Before I start spouting off about what I think will occur, I need to tell you who I am. I am a retired Army Electronic Warfare and Signals Intelligence Warrant Officer. I spent over a decade working on Army planning staffs at various levels, and was a professional action officer on the USAREUR DCSINT planning staff for more than four years. I got the rare opportunity to see many failed states and regional crisis and how people, communities and economies react. But I have never held any office in local government. Also, unfortunately, I am not a wizard who can see into the future. The following are my own conclusions and suggestions drawn from my own experiences. I may be wildly wrong, or overlooking factors that seem obvious to you, especially if you have a lot of experience in local government. So, take this for what it's worth. Hopefully, it will provide a basis for discussion and planning and generate a dialog. I am hoping to hear corrections and other ideas. I am never insulted by disagreement, so if you see things differently, I would be very happy to hear it.

First, we need to define what kind of crisis I am talking about. I am talking about a large scale disaster of some kind that effects a huge geographical region and forces local communities to solve their own problems and precludes getting help from outside. I am talking about an event that would cause a complete failure of basic services such as finance (banking) or the electrical grid and prevent the Government from repairing it quickly enough to prevent a general cascading breakdown of other services. I will use a major EMP event as my example because that would be just about a worst case event. Some of what I say will be applicable to regional or short term events, but some of it won't.

I believe that most communities are doomed. Many American and European communities are artificial constructs entirely dependent on modern society to keep them running. You can tell if your town cannot survive by looking at the population density, arable land, water supplies and other resources. If your community is in a desert and trucks in all their water, you can't possibly survive long term. If your whole population is suburban or urban and you have no working farms or farmable land, then you are doomed. Sorry. If you live in a doomed community, I don't know what to tell you. For this article, I am assuming a smallish town with a good water supply and a lot of working farms that don't require electric irrigation. Even a perfectly situated town will have huge problems and may not survive a major EMP event. Anything less than perfection is going to require superhuman effort, no mistakes and a large touch of luck.

Somebody has to take charge quickly:
Anarchy is the dirtiest word in the English language and should be avoided at all costs. Whenever I see some teenager wearing a T-shirt espousing anarchy, I get a strong urge to show him a little anarchy by beating him up and ripping it off his back..and then ask him if he still thinks Anarchy is "cool". I have seen chaos and virtual anarchy up close and I was frankly astonished at the depravity of mankind. Without law and order of some kind, the strong will take from the weak. The cruel will torture and kill wantonly. Rule of law is essential to any progress or recovery. I am writing this in the firm belief that when our society crashes, some communities will maintain order and some vestige of humanity. That's going to require a delicate balancing act because the two concepts are not mutually reinforcing and can be at odds with each other. Communities are going to have to make some very hard choices if they are to maintain order and survive. Lets hope they can maintain their humanity and Christian values while they are doing this.

Let's imagine that you are the mayor of a small town when this horrible event occurs. The lights go out, most cars don't work, and personal battery powered electronics malfunction. How quickly would most small town mayors realize it was EMP? I am guessing that most of them will figure it out within minutes or hours. There are enough smart folks around to advise them even if they are not knowledgeable. So what are your actions going to be?

What are your resources? The town owns some land and some buildings, some vehicles and maybe some utility equipment. But by far, your biggest asset is a limited amount of capital in the form of authority and good will. You represent a body of voters, which gives you more legal legitimacy than anyone else. You have a police force of some kind and the authority to spend money on behalf of the government...sort of. Your authority is real, but it's based on some fairly fragile cornerstones. Some of them may not exist anymore. The monetary system may be completely wrecked. You may not be able to pay anyone for anything. The Federal and State Governments are both out of communications and may not exist anymore. Any indecision or misstep on your part could destroy your authority, leaving nothing in it's place.

What, exactly is your authority? Where does it overlap with county or other governments? What gives you the authority to maintain order? Impose martial law? Appoint armed deputies, Set up roadblocks? Commandeer fuel and food stocks? The Army NCO academy teaches that there are five types of power that an individual can wield. You will need to use all of them.

a. Legal: You have limited direct "Command authority" in a military sense. Unless you have a body of laws to back you up, you can't lean on your command authority too much. Check on this, but your town is unlikely to have bylaws giving you much power in an emergency. Instead, you have to assume that you possess Delegated authority. You are the representative of both State and Federal government and have to assume their roles and responsibilities until you can re-establish a chain of command. In the absence of orders or directives, you are free to "assume" responsibility and authority. At least that's a good legal theory and may be enough. If this were ever tested in court, it might not be upheld, but by that time, the crisis will be over, right? Everything you do is "Legal" until you are overruled by a court...or ousted by a mob of your constituents. Your real authority is your mandate from the people. It rests on your ability to make sound decisions and convince others that you are doing all the right things. That buys you more authority in a crisis than all the documents ever printed.

b. Coercive: Unfortunately, brute force is always a factor. As long as you maintain control over the police force or sheriff's department, you have authority. You must gain firm control of your police and public employees first, before you try to do anything else. Without them, your authority can be dissolved by a few hot-heads with weapons. You are going to be forced to make some very unpopular decisions and part of your community is going to be extremely angry with you. Get your troops in place first or you won't keep your authority long. You must also be very careful not to abuse this authority or let your troops abuse it. A good way to do this is to immediately beef up your police force with out of work, solid citizens. You can take on a fairly large number of deputies from the community. That gives the community a sense of ownership in the police and helps prevent excesses.

c. Reward: You will initially have almost no ability to reward anyone. If the finance system is gone, you have nothing to trade for goods and services. You will need to change this immediately by setting up some kind of economy for your town. (This topic is covered below). If you don't lick this problem immediately, your police and city employees are going to stop showing up for work very quickly. They have to feed and protect their families somehow.

d. Charisma: Unfortunately, (or fortunately perhaps) personal charisma and magnetism are much more important than we like to admit. If you can sway a crowd or argue persuasively, it doesn't matter if you are right or wrong. This sword cuts both ways, of course. You are going to have to face very charismatic personalities around town and persuade them to go along with you, or at least stay neutral. You need to gain the immediate support of community and church leaders. Figure out who can cause you political trouble and approach them to get them on your side or otherwise neutralize them, or you will be facing a "minority party" that will eventually oust you.

A good tool for dealing with dissension is to trap your opponents into stating a preferred way to resolve some problem and then enlist them to oversee it. There are a lot of ways to "skin a cat". Let them try their way if it can work. Pull them into your administration. Remember, you are all on the same team at some level. Find that level and stay on it. I believe that in a crisis, everyone has a tendency to follow anyone with a firm voice and the appearance of a plan. Just be sure you have a good plan and you will keep dissension to a minimum.

e. Expert: Knowledge is power. Anyone with unique and useful knowledge has value and power. It's much easier to sway an audience if you have a degree in the topic or an acknowledged expert in your corner. You should surround yourself with experts. When a new problem arises and an expert or two are identified, pull them into your circle of advisers. Doing this not only makes you a better leader with better decisions, it gives all of your followers the sense that you are open to suggestions and good ideas from any quarter.

So, you take charge quickly and start issuing orders. What are those orders?You have a lot of things to worry about, and all of them are urgent and critically important. The following is my list of issues that you need to address immediately and some suggestions on how to address them. Local conditions, laws, resources and public opinions are variables that effect how you must react. Think it out in the context of your local conditions and try to at least have a tentative plan to put forward immediately. The venue for putting forth your agenda should be as transparent as possible, either a public meeting or a written decree or order. That way, everyone not only knows your decisions, they know the reasoning behind them. If you can get consensus from a town meeting before you put out an emergency decree, you will have less trouble,but some of these issues require immediate action.

1. Communications:
Without communications, you are powerless. You must be able to communicate with your police department and other public service folks, the people of the town, the county seat, the State, and lots of others. Unfortunately, a big EMP event will wipe out electronic communications in a blink and leave you isolated, just when you need to be at the center of activity. There are a couple of things you can do to mitigate this if you plan ahead, but you are still going to have to somehow establish some kind of communications with your neighboring towns and other polities...and hopefully higher echelons of government.

If you can store some short range radio equipment and maybe some old-school TA-312 or TA-1 type telephones in a Faraday cage, they will be worth their weight in gold. Even a few old telephones (and wire) can enable you to keep in touch with the town down the road, or your own guard posts. Another thing to add to your Faraday cage is a couple of battery-powered shortwave receivers. These will allow you to catch long range HF broadcasts from working stations possibly overseas. Shortwave may be your most reliable source of news. A ham radio rig, if it survives, might be very useful too.

If you don't have working radios, think back to a time when radio and even telephone didn't exist. Our founding fathers didn't have those luxuries and still managed. The solution is a central, easy to find headquarters, official written communications, and messengers. You will need plenty of paper, (with your office letterhead if possible), envelopes and some kind of official seal you can use. You might even consider a wax seal, like they used in the 18th century, but a notary seal (or something similar) with your signature over the top will look a lot more official than a blank paper. You will also need carbon paper or a working copier, but probably won't have them.

Small communities in the past used church bells, beacon lights, gongs, bugles, whistles, sirens and flags to communicate locally. These methods require some planning, but they still work.

Public notice boards were a major tool of government in the days before electricity. Designate a board outside city hall or somewhere convenient and section it off into five sections (or more if you wish). Post public policies and directives in one section and "good advice" such as water purification procedures in another. A third section of the notice board should contain a calendar or event log to keep people advised on upcoming events. (Also, you should somehow let people know what day it is). A fourth section of the board can contain news items picked up on the shortwave or from other communities.

The fifth [and very large] section should be made open to the public. Remember, they have no reliable communications means and may need to link up with missing relatives or communicate privately with other community members. A board is a good way to do this and can substitute for a public mail service. Set up a drop box for personal messages (controlled by someone at city hall or at the post office or whatever) and maintain a list of people with "refugee mail" on the public notice board. That way, if someone wants to send a letter or something to anyone else, they drop an envelope in the drop box and write the addressee's name (and a date) on the public board. When the addressee picks up his mail, he crosses his name off the list. Any person traveling to a nearby town can carry mail to that town.

You may need to regulate your public notice board by requiring people to date their notices and limit the time something can remain posted. Otherwise, the public board will quickly get out of hand, no matter how big it is. Try not to get too draconian. Allow people to post anything they want (subject to whatever constraints make sense to the town). Your board may be the best and only information service most people have.

You should also expect to do a lot of face to face meetings with crowds and individuals. Consider setting up a weekly town meeting where you can put out orders and public service information in person and invite discussion. Town meetings used to be a great source of entertainment and gave everyone a chance to blow off some steam about things that bothered them. When electronics fail,You will need to be able to do a lot of business face-to-face. If you move your headquarters to an easily accessible area, like downtown main-street, or near a marketplace, everything may be easier. Unfortunately, messengers and face to face conversations require working transportation of some kind (as discussed below).

2. Building an emergency economy
You are going to have to set up some kind of economy to replace the crashed finance system. You are not going to be able to rebuild the crashed economy, but will have to build an entirely new system, almost from scratch. If you get this one wrong, everything else will fall apart very quickly. This is a huge undertaking, but it must be done quickly. You simply cannot use the existing financial system or hope to rebuild it. About 4/5ths of your town will need food and most of the town's food will be owned by a very few individuals or controlled by a store manager in the case of a corporate chain store. If you allow the market to "work itself out", these few store managers or individuals will suddenly control all the wealth and be able to charge people anything they see fit...or withhold critical resources as the whim takes them. Some people will have nothing of value in the new economy [except their labor]. How will these people buy what they need? "Money" is not the fiat currency we are used to dealing with. It is something of value exchanged for something else of value. Any finance system has to be able to allow people to exchange what they need for what they have or it will fail. In this example, the likely results might be a riot and immediate looting.

Mitigation: None possible? I don't know how you can prepare your town for a total financial crash. If anyone has a suggestion, I would love to hear it.

We might as well deal with this topic right away. Are you going to try to have a strictly capitalist system? If so, a lot of people who don't currently have exactly what they need, or anything that happens to be valued in your new economy, are going to die. (More likely, they are going to revolt and try to take the resources they need.) A free market is a wonderful thing, but it requires time, security and communication to form. You won't have any of these. People who don't have food won't wait long enough for you to form a fully functional free market system, which could take months or years. Without perceived equitable distribution of "wealth" in the form of whatever your community members need, you will have violence and mayhem very quickly. A free market capitalist trade system will never get a chance to form without a precursor system to hold it up until it gets established.

In my humble opinion (after seeing many different monetary systems over the years) there is no alternative to adding a very large socialist component to a post-collapse emergency economy. If you don't strictly regulate critical resources, they will not be distributed equitably and many people will needlessly suffer and perhaps die. Even if that's okay with you, consider what you would do in their shoes. Would you watch your family starve while there was food on the shelves down at the Wal-Mart? Not very likely. You might decide to gather some like-minded folks up and storm the Wal-Mart. If the police try to stop you, what will you do? You will fight to the death because there is no valid alternative. For that matter, the police force may be leading the charge. What are you planning to pay them with? Patriotism? Whoever controls the food and other scarce resources controls the reins of power. It simply cannot be left in the hands of random individuals.

To avoid total anarchy in a societal collapse, you will need to form a centrally controlled economy in the short term, designed to equitably re-distribute and manage critical resources. You will need to slowly build a free market as you are able, but trying to do it immediately will undermine everything you must accomplish during the crisis.

In order to form a centralized economy or even pay for the services the town is going to desperately need, you need to gain control of most of the "publicly available" critical shortage resources and use them as your basis of wealth. Scarce resources are the basis for a currency system. At a very basic level, Food is cash. Once you have a warehouse of food under your tight control, you can pay for labor and other commodities and resources with that food. A better system might be to pay for labor and services with "ration cards". That ration card entitles them to eat a single meal at a community soup kitchen, or entitles them to a set amount of grain or other commodity on demand from the town warehouse. In essence anyone needing community resources "works for the community" and gets to eat at the mess hall...and earns a little surplus to use for other necessities. This arrangement will also give you a huge manpower pool to work with almost immediately. You may find that you will need most of them.

Avoid giving "handouts" to anyone. You need everyone to work as hard as they can. You need them to use their incentive. Handouts that compete with the local economy are counterproductive and destroy human dignity.

Without machinery, manpower is your biggest resource. Cherish each unemployed citizen. Make them work for their pay and use them to build capital for the future (see below), food production, military duties, messenger services, trash collection or anything else that needs doing. Remember, these are not freeloaders, they are solid citizens who want to work and feel like they are part of a larger effort. Don't worry about having so many people on "welfare". Most of them will get to be self sufficient as fast as they are able. Pay them a slight surplus and they will feel that they are working toward something and not living hand to mouth. You may find that they invest the surplus and build your free market economy for you.

If you let private citizens keep their food and fuel and other scarce resources and only confiscate and control corporate or "large retail or wholesale stocks" (explained below), any citizen with resources can also hire help at roughly the same rates you are paying, which helps the whole community and drives down demand for public stockpiles. (You have established a minimum wage of 1 ration card per hour). Everything else could be bartered using food or the town ration cards as currency. If you establish a set value for your ration cards and a safe marketplace in town (perhaps even a market day, where other communities can join in the trading), you have the beginnings of a free market with as little pain as possible and almost no stink of socialism. Since food is established as the gold standard, you also add incentive to immediately start farming, hunting, and otherwise adding to the public larder.

So where do you get the resources you are going to control? I am not talking about collecting up everyone's food and gasoline. That would be an economic disaster in the long term. People need to feel secure in their property rights or they won't be willing to invest in the future. And you need a lot of private investment to get your community through the crisis. You will need to collect taxes later, but not until there is a harvest or something to collect.

You have to be careful which resources you initially confiscate and only gather large retail or wholesale stocks meant for re-sale. Anything owned by an individual for his own use is his property and must not be touched. Any critical and scarce commodity owned strictly for resale should be confiscated for the common good and held by the community. Make sure you provide a receipt to any owners you can locate or at least keep records of what is taken. This will allow much easier accounting if someone ever tries to rebuild the old

Our free enterprise system has provided the opportunity for some families and even individuals to amass huge fortunes. It also allowed groups of individuals to "incorporate" to form legal entities that own vast resources. In normal times, this is an overall goodness that generates wealth and (at least in theory) raises everyone's standard of living. In normal times, an individual is free to own thousands of acres of land and all the minerals under it. He is allowed to farm it, bulldoze it, burn it, deny it's use to others or use it pretty much any way he wants. It's almost certain that critical resources in your community are "owned" by a corporation or private investor. In theory, a single individual can legally "own" all the arable land in a community and prevent anyone from farming it, even if they are starving.

In an emergency, I feel that this cannot and must not be allowed. Moral imperatives and common sense must prevail over law in some rare cases and this is one of those cases. Private property for use by the individual is morally different from corporate property or privately owned property that is held for the "wealth" it generates. If someone "owns" something and has no intention of ever using it himself (or even seeing it), he cannot morally control it in an emergency. I believe that corporations are legal fictions that have exactly as much validity as the rest of our complex finance system. When the dollar crashes and all the banks close, (IMHO) they cease to exist in a moral sense.

Any corporate or investment property belongs to the state in an emergency. Did that sentence scare you? It does me. But I believe it will come to pass. The state has the ultimate responsibility to answer to the people and has legal power over all corporate entities. The government's charter (by constitution and a huge jurisprudence system) is to provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare. In normal times, this is best accomplished by jealously guarding a clearly documented body of property rights for individuals and corporations. But this is not a universal law of nature. If corporate interests collide with public welfare needs, the government has the right and the responsibility to negate corporate or individual rights for the common good.

As mayor of a community, you are going to have to make some hard choices and convince others that you are right. One of these choices might be to confiscate corporate property and redistribute it as needed for the common good. That specifically includes local merchants who hold stockpiles of needed resources meant for resale, such as gas station and grocery store owners. The whole retail system with it's complex accounting and "ownership" laws are part of a finance system that no longer exists after a severe EMP event. You (and your community) need to sit down and determine a whole new set of ownership rules. I urge you to think hard about this and perhaps appoint someone wise and respected to arbitrate individual cases. Farmable land owned by a absentee landlord is easy; he's not there and owns it only as an investment, therefore it now belongs to the community. Large corporate holdings, like the stock of a chain department store are easy matters. That corporation is dead and gone and the goods now belong to the community. A large Agra-business hog farm is easy, confiscate the hogs and their feed. But what about a silo of corn owned by a Co-op of local farmers? What about a local farmer with 1,000 acres of standing corn clearly meant for commercial sale? What about a rancher with 100 head of cattle? You really have to be careful where you draw the line between private ownership and "retail goods", but draw it you must. Your new government is going to need a lot of capital to survive the tribulations coming.

3. Transportation and fuel
Your police and city vehicles may not work after an EMP event. In my opinion, the testing of EMP effects on vehicles outlined in the congressional EMP report "2008 Critical National Infrastructures Report" was flawed. Their simulator was only capable of generating 50kv EMP and only generated a E1 event, not the (perhaps) more damaging E3 wave. The cars were tested only until they exhibited a fault of some kind and then the testing was halted. Many of the vehicles showed some kind of failure or "faults" at lower voltages, but were never subjected to high voltage EMP, yet the conclusion includes these cars as having survived with no permanent damage.

Also, there is no reason to assume that 50kv is the upper limit in a real world HEMP event, it was simply the limit of the test gear available. I believe the test gear used was strongly influenced by the Master's degree thesis by Louis W. Seiler, Jr., "A Calculational Model for High Altitude EMP, report ADA009208". That thesis, while brilliant, computes E1 gamma burst for the peak EMP at ground zero for a burst above the magnetic equator, where the Earth's magnetic field is far weaker than it is at high latitudes (nearer the poles). Further North or South, the magnetic field lines converge (increasing the magnetic field strength). It's generally accepted that the peak EMP is almost directly proportional to the power of the Earth's magnetic field. That means that real world voltages in real world equipment may easily exceed 50kv. In fact we have some evidence of this. The Soviet above-ground warhead test #184 produced ground zero EMP intensity estimated by Soviet scientists at 350 kV. Also, remember that the cars used in the commission's testing were older cars build between 1986 and 2002. Have cars gotten more EMP resistant since then? No. My conclusion is simple. A lot of cars may not survive a real world event.

If a lot of vehicles survive, fuel stocks may be depleted almost immediately unless you take steps to protect them. I know this sounds draconian, but the police force and emergency vehicles should have priority for fuel and the only way to assure this is to implement some kind of rationing plan immediately. Fuel stocks are a public resource owned by private citizens. Once they are gone, your community may never get any more. This is a case where you are going to have to exercise some emergency powers and appropriate property from private citizens. If possible, you should "pay" for the fuel immediately. If you cannot, at least make sure you give the rightful owner a receipt so you can pay him back later if someone manages to re-build the economy.

Keep your town's vehicles in good shape and look into storing them inside a shielded garage when off duty. Being indoors may prevent some of the damage. If you are able to afford it, buy a reserve fuel supply for the police department. I don't know how much this would cost for a specific town, or how much fuel it should hold, but if you could somehow talk the town into the merits of a municipal reserve to last even a few weeks, it might someday prove very useful. If you bought two tanks, sized to last the police department a month or less, you wouldn't have any extra expense for fuel additives. You could rotate your fuel.

As distasteful as this is to Americans, I can't see any alternative likely to work. You need to seize and ration all bulk stocks of gasoline, Diesel, propane, fuel oil, coal and other fuels used or held by the town. The town will desperately need these fuels for heating, emergency services and agriculture. You may also be forced to confiscate privately owned vehicles if yours are damaged or you need specialty vehicles (like fuel tankers, for instance). You need to work out a method of doing this without stealing. Any time you confiscate resources from any private citizen, you need to somehow reimburse them as fairly as possible. A better approach may be to exclusively hire them as the driver and let them retain ownership.

Your town may also have a stream of refugees pouring through or past it from a nearby city. This is a very bad situation that has to be dealt with immediately. If they have access to your town's fuel stocks, they will drain every drop in a day or two. This may need to be your first order in an emergency. Every hour you delay may be critical. (Refugees are discussed below).

Another distasteful, yet lucrative opportunity you may have is to confiscate fuel (and other resources) from passing highway traffic. Whether you call this piracy or taxation, If trucks are still moving on the big highways, they may contain resources your town really needs to survive. I am not suggesting that this is a moral or desirable option, but someone in your community is bound to bring it up. Think out your position in advance and be ready to argue your point. Personally, I believe that any interference in long range commerce or transportation is detrimental to all of society and also undermines the very laws that prop up your own authority. No matter what you call it, the act of a government stealing is a slippery slope.

4. Water and sewage

Modern towns are very wasteful of water, but can't survive without it for more than a few days. Most people have never thought about how to purify water or deal with waste. If you don't do something quickly, a lot of your citizens are going to start defecating outdoors and many of your citizens are going to drink unsafe water. The results will be catastrophic in terms of public health.

Your town may be in good shape, but probably not. You will want to get some expert advice on this immediately. Many towns rely on pumped water, often from towers in or near the town. If so, you have a few days until the tanks run dry. You will need to figure out a way to keep this system going if you can. You still need to add chlorine and get the water high enough to maintain water pressure. If the machinery for doing this is broken, you need to set a crew working on water immediately.

Some towns won't be able to keep their water flowing and will have to use extreme measures to provide water for their people and deal with wastes. You may have to haul water to a central point and purify it manually, or even set up public latrines and wash points. Without ready supplies of water, most private residences are going to be uninhabitable in the long run. The folks with homes you cannot supply may need to move closer to your water point.

Talk to your water providers now and get them thinking about it so they can come up with options for you. Ask them to do a formal assessment of your town's situation and resources and suggest mitigation strategies for emergencies. What do they need to manually run their system during a power outage? If they can't run manually, you might consider buying a backup generator to run pumps and machinery. (Make sure you budget for a good Faraday cage to protect this generator and keep it disconnected and keep all cables inside the cage until needed). You may need to stockpile fuel or extra chemicals or buy extra equipment that can be run manually. If your town can't afford any of this, You may need to buy some mobile water tanks for the town. Any of these preparations could be very useful during a whole range of situations and natural disasters.

These will depend on your town's system. But you need to keep your eye on the ball. You need to provide at least a gallon of water per resident every day, just to keep them alive. You will need much more than that to keep them healthy in the long run. You also need to tell the community how to get pure water and warn them against drinking or using tainted water. Is your area dependent on irrigation agriculture? You will need to figure out how to supply that water too.

5. Solid waste disposal and burial of dead.
Without fuel, trash collection and burial can be very laborious. These problems would be a lot simpler if everyone lived within easy walking distance of town, but unfortunately this is almost never the case in the US. You may need to solve this by distributing simple instructions on how to do it using old-school techniques. Old homesteaders had an outhouse to deal with sewage, a compost pile to deal with organic waste and a burn barrel (or fireplace) to get rid of burnables. Anything else, they threw in the "trash pile" out back. (The solid trash pile for non-rotting, non-burnable trash was often a used outhouse cesspool, which was then covered over with dirt). On the bright side, municipal rubbish volumes are going to diminish and be replaced mostly with compost-able plant waste. Anything that can be recycled and reused, like old cardboard boxes will be treasured and kept. Our throw-away society will be over.

Burial and funeral services used to be handled very locally at the neighborhood church or even on your own property. Embalming and cremation are modern innovations that will be too expensive to maintain. [JWR Adds: The only exceptions will be in heavily-timbered regions or in coastal communities that are in driftwood deposition zones. There, perhaps there will be plentiful firewood for use in outdoor cremation pyres.] You will need your medical people to oversee and recommend procedures for burial. Make sure they consult the church leaders or you may make problems for yourself.

Actions: Check with a local doctor and have him recommend procedures for waste disposal. Find a way to distribute them and encourage people to follow the procedures by explaining why.

6. Food. (Short term provisioning)
This is going to be a real problem. You need to provide some minimum of calories and nutrition for all your citizens until the community can grow (and the free market can distribute) all the food needed by the community. This is going to be a tall order. Most people don't store a substantial amount of food in their homes and will quickly be dependent on town stocks. Most of the food in most communities is owned by very few people or corporations.

The only way you are going to save a substantial percentage of your population over the short term is to gain control of and ration most of the food centrally. You are going to have to locate and safeguard as much food as possible. you will need to establish a warehouse of some sort and guard it well. Pre-historic villages and other primitive cultures always locate their food stocks in the center of their living space to ensure it is guarded. This might be a wise choice. You may be able to use a church, school or other public building close to the town center for this purpose. If that building also has a substantial kitchen and cafeteria that you can get working again, it will save a lot of transportation problems.

Don't be shocked if your town is forced to fight some other town to keep the food you stockpile. Historically, when food gets scarce, communities fight and take what they need. Be ready for this behavior. I would station my police force inside my granary, in the center of town if possible.

Sources of food you can confiscate or otherwise control:

a. Department stores and food stores: Large food stores are the most obvious place to look for food. They will not last long whether you confiscate the food or not. People are going to either buy or loot everything in a matter of days or even hours. Unfortunately retail stores don't maintain much stock these days. If it's not on the shelves, it's probably not in the back room either. With modern stocking practices, nobody maintains a well-stocked warehouse on site anymore. The non-refrigerated foods should all be salvageable, but if you hurry, you might be able to make use of much of the frozen foods and fresh produce or even salt some away using other preservation techniques before it goes bad.

b. Co-ops and large commercial farms: These may have livestock and large amounts of feed grain and other dried foods on hand. Whoever manages these establishments are also probably experts at food preservation, storage and a whole range of agricultural issues. Seek them out and get their input and help to secure their food. You want to avoid spoilage and loss as much as possible and these people can help. Hire them. You may need to keep the grain right where it's at (and guard it) or provide power (if possible) to dry out the grain or you may need to provide manpower to manually harvest crops. Listen to your experts.

c. Feed stores: Most animals in your community are going to have to be slaughtered during the first year. Save as much edible feed as possible for human consumption. Most feed mixes are good for humans to eat. Even the big bags of dog food should be preserved. You will probably need them. They are mostly grain and if ground into flour and thoroughly cooked, all of them are safe to eat. Alfalfa pellets and other "non-human-food" products may be used to feed livestock.

d. Pet stores. Bird seed is nothing but grain and oil seeds. Most pet foods are edible and should be saved for human consumption. The issue of what to do with pets is going to be a hard one, but logic dictates that the community refrain from using up useful food stocks on animals unless they add substantially to the local economy. However, keep in mind that people get very emotional about their pets. If you try to get people to give up their animals, they may lynch you. (Your commissary should sell the pet foods, just like they do people food. If the pet owners work hard enough to support their animals, you should not try to get heavy handed. Any other approach will put you at odds with part of your population.)

e. Regional distribution centers: If you are fortunate enough to have one or more of these in your reach, you should act immediately to secure them. These centers typically have very substantial stocks of food on hand. Unfortunately, much of this food requires refrigeration and will go bad very quickly. The centers with dried and canned goods will be in big demand very quickly, so you need to dispatch work parties (with lots of trucks) as quickly as you can organize them.

f. Standing commercial crops: Depending on the season, one of the first tasks you need to tackle may be to help farmers with their harvest or planting or other tasks. Modern farms are only manageable with the aid of heavy machinery. Without this machinery, even routine tasks are not possible. Without combines, farmers couldn't possibly complete their own harvests. Without security of some kind, their crops may never make it to maturity. Refugees would strip them bare without your help. You can strike a deal with farmers to bring in their crops and help in return for some kind of payment in kind or a cut of their crop and others in the area. (Remember, most farmers are mono-crop farmers with little use for 60 tons of corn with no market). They may be more interested in what you can provide in the form of machinery, power or labor. Talk to them, explain your situation and strike a deal that benefits both of you.

g. Lakes and rivers: Fishing resources are very limited, but important sources of food in many areas if you can protect them. You need to prevent poachers from destroying their production capacity by over-fishing (maybe with dynamite) or polluting water resources.

h. Bakeries and food processing plants: Processing plants usually have very limited stocks of food on hand, but may have quite a lot depending on what they are making. They may also have usable machinery that can be converted to use.

i. Colleges, Libraries and bookstores. These don't contain food, but they contain knowledge about foraging for wild plants. You may be able to extend your resources by sending out forage parties to collect locally growing wild resources. If you get lucky, you might be able to gather a large harvest of acorns or maple seed or some other highly prolific food species. Appoint someone (maybe a survivalist or old hippie) as "wild food forager" and cross your fingers.

Things to watch for are large grain mills and industrial cooking equipment. You may also find water pumps, power generation equipment, specialized vehicles, lathes, mills, presses and other industrial tools. If you can repair the EMP damage, power them and get them working, they can speed the recovery of your community and really enhance your economy.

Actions: Appoint a good commissary officer. Someone is going to have to oversee collection, storage and disbursement of not only food supplies but fuel, tools, fertilizers, seeds and other resources. Your commissary officer needs to be a very smart, honest person and he or she will need a fairly large staff. They are going to have broad powers, so find somebody that is morally good. Whoever you appoint needs excellent people skills and the meticulous attention to detail of a banker. This same person is really in charge of your whole economy and will probably be in charge of printing currency if you use it. A bank manager might be a good choice. If you have political opposition in the community, this is an excellent place to put them if they are up to the job. Once they are "holding the baby" they will be on your side and won't be able to accuse you of any misbehavior.

7. Heat and shelter:
When winter hits, you may be faced with a grave heating fuel shortage. People staying in private homes may not have access to heating fuel at all. The town council is probably going to have some number of refugees to care for and they require heat too. Your community may use oil, gas, wood or something else for heating and each of them pose their own problems. You will need to think this issue out in the context of your own community situation and come up with some kind of solution. The most efficient solution, of course is to co-locate everyone in a few larger buildings and heat them at 65-68 degrees. Setting up a shelter has it's own problems, but it's easier than trying to heat 500 single family shelters. The public shelter model of setting up in a big gymnasium can work, but it provides a very efficient vector for respiratory and other diseases. If you can provide each family (or multiple families) with a classroom or office room of their own, they will be much more comfortable and resistant to diseases.

Providing a warm place to sleep may be all you can manage. Some homes are going to be difficult or impossible to heat once the power grid goes down and the oil trucks stop delivery. You should make every effort to conserve liquid fuels that will be needed for spring planting and emergency machinery.

Mitigation: Location specific. You may be able to encourage your citizens to switch over to an alternate fuel source (like wood, if your community has a lot of forests nearby). Stockpiling fuel for the town may be a good idea if you can afford it, but this is a temporary solution. Look around your town for some suitable shelter buildings and food storage facilities and check out their heating and ventilation equipment. You may be able to improve your chosen buildings or buy alternate heating systems for them within your budget constraints. Laying in a large supply of cots and blankets is a good idea.

Actions: You should immediately set up a shelter and cafeteria of some kind after the emergency. Schools are probably your best choice for this. You will probably have homeless almost from the start, so you need to get this done quickly. Home fires are bound to be more common and some people who live too far from town will need to move closer to the cafeteria. The more people you can get to move into your shelter, the easier it will be to heat. (Each human radiates roughly the same heat as a 100 watt light bulb. It adds up fast.) Make things easy on yourself and appoint someone competent (a school principal for instance) to administer your lodging and cafeteria. The principal already has a staff dependent on the city payroll. You will probably have to feed your teachers and school staff anyway, so hire them to administer your shelters. Administration of a shelter is a big, frustrating job, so make sure you appoint someone level headed to oversee this effort.

8. Security and public order:
Whatever your town's current situation, you will probably need to greatly expand your security forces. In fact you will probably need an Army. During normal times, your town doesn't have it's own foreign policy or the need to defend itself. With a general society collapse, that changes. Your town will need the ability to fight off raiders or even other communities.

a. Some of your own civilian population is going to get unruly. Even a small percentage acting up can overwhelm your current police force. You need some way to punish them and bring them in line. Jails are inefficient and expensive and not very effective at curbing bad behavior. I suggest a simpler system of corporal punishment (whipping or caning) and for serious infractions or repeat offenders, expulsion from the community. Find a judge or other competent person to set up a simple system of justice that fits your circumstances, take a vote at a town meeting to get public buy-in and then appoint someone to run it. Your police force should be distanced from both judgment and punishment. Judgment and punishment should be accomplished by a different group, perhaps a randomly selected jury or something equally simple and fair.

b. You are going to have additional requirements for officers (or someone) to act as "messengers" to put out policies and community information. Without electronic communications, much more of your business has to be done in person.

c. You are almost certain to have extensive guard duty requirements. You will need to provide point security for foodstocks, livestock, roadblocks and critical resources like fuel, power generation, etc. Your uniformed police force is too valuable to bog down with these security positions. You need to hire out of work locals to augment them with a reliable guard force. (I recommend handing this responsibility over to your military...see below).

d. You may need to put a 24 hour presence at roadblocks or traffic control points to divert refugees away from your town. (see below for a discussion of refugees).

e. You may face a threat from outside polities. If so, you will need an Army or you will be destroyed. You may have to mobilize the entire population to fend off other communities. (see below for a discussion of inter-community politics.)

Your security forces are your "face" to the community. They will represent the town and embody your decisions and authority. You need to keep a tight reign on your police forces or some of them are going to be tempted to take unwarranted liberties and abuse their authority.

One of your first actions should probably be to call your security forces and emergency responders together and reaffirm your covenant with them. You need to reassure them that they are still going to be paid and their families taken care of. You need to get buy-in from them and make them feel they are part of something important and bigger than mere survival. Let them know your plans and your thoughts as clearly as possible so they can represent you well. You should also let them know that you will tolerate no misbehavior. They are your knights and have to act the part.

You should also set up some kind of "military" arm to deal with extraordinary requirements. Call it a militia or a town guard or whatever you want. In essence it's an army. If you have any doubts about the loyalty of your police chief or sheriff, the military arm should report directly to you or one of your representatives rather than falling under the police. All of your authority rests on the shoulders of your security forces, so you can't tolerate any dissension in the ranks or misbehavior. Choose someone loyal and skilled with a military background and good people skills to head up your military. Hopefully you have a retired officer or senior NCO available. Whoever it is will have to be able to effectively give orders to perhaps hundreds of people in an emergency, so choose someone charismatic and smart. He will also need an excellent grasp of tactics and the ability to plan for small scale military operations. Let your military commander hire his own personnel, arm and train them and instruct your commissary and police force to assist him in anyway possible.

Your military commander's first task will be to do some kind of terrain analysis and COA products to determine how to defend the community and try to predict future issues. His second task will be to build an effective military force. It should probably be a small offensive force backed up by a larger irregular militia comprising most of the town. He will need to set up some kind of training program and be able to pay people to participate. Military training is hard work, so don't expect anyone to take it seriously or work at it if you are not paying them. You can put your military commander in charge of all the guard duty requirements to assist the police as well as messenger duties.

9. Foreign relations and refugees:
Every community is going to face the same challenges you have. I expect most of them will fail and fragment. I also expect a huge outpouring of refugees from every city in the USA. City based communities have huge challenges that small towns won't. They have limited options and maintaining order will be desperately hard, perhaps impossible. Every community and group of people are going to face terrible, unsolvable provisioning problems. The ugly truth is, most citizens of the USA are going to starve to death after a society crash. It's simple arithmetic. There will not be enough food for everyone to live. Even if most of them last through a whole season until the first harvest, there is no chance that the first [post-collapse] harvest is going to be bountiful enough to sustain everyone.

The following is going to read like science fiction [a la Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank], but I call em like I see 'em. If anyone can find a flaw in my analysis, then please tell me about it. I believe you can expect large polities to attempt to take resources from smaller ones. If you are the mayor of a city with 100,000 or more people, you have no other choice. During normal times, the countryside (agrarian areas) produce all the food consumed by cities. Once the provisions stop arriving, your city is going to starve very quickly unless you can procure more. Your normal sources of supply are perhaps a thousand miles distant and might as well be on the moon. Your actual chances of sustaining your population long term are zero. If you are a smart leader, you will attempt to save most of your people by sending them to other communities that have more food and water. If you are not so smart, you will attempt to take what you need to keep going from the surrounding countryside and small nearby communities. The best a small community can hope for is that all the large polities (cities) nearby will fail and fragment quickly. If they don't the small communities may be forced to take in refugees or surrender food stocks to support the cities. Either way, the city people are mostly doomed, but if this occurs, so are the small communities.

A medium sized city could potentially muster an enormous army. I am not saying every city is going to manage the level of cohesion, organization and discipline needed to do this, but it's at least a possibility in some cases, especially for cities that have a military base nearby. You also need to consider smaller polities like boroughs or neighborhoods or even church congregations making demands on your community. How will you react when the mayor of a nearby town or city asks you for provisions?

Another probable development I expect to see is the "professional army". Groups may attempt to provision themselves by threatening small communities and extorting "protection" from them. This is another layer of taxation you probably can't afford, but if you choose not to pay, you must be prepared to fight. Think about it and make sure you discuss your concerns with your security leadership so they can form plans.

You can also expect to see a large stream of refugees pouring out of heavily populated areas. If they have vehicles, they will move outward from the cities along major roadways until they can't get more fuel and then stop. If the finance systems are still working, this refugee stream may burn up most of the available liquid fuel in the USA in a few days. If your community lies on a major line of drift, you can expect to have many thousands of thirsty, hungry refugees knocking at your door hoping for a handout. These are going to be US citizens, mothers and fathers, sons, daughters, and grandparents who are desperate and begging. If begging stops working, they will get hostile and dangerous. Maybe very dangerous.

I know this is a very disagreeable topic, but almost every refugee is doomed and you are powerless to change that fact. Think it out carefully and you will see that you simply cannot feed everyone. You are going to have to prevent refugees from consuming your community resources or you will perish with them. You need to stop the stream of refugees from entering your community. Once they are inside your community, they will exponentially harder to deal with. Effectively killing someone by evicting them from your town while looking them in the eye and listening to them beg is going to be hard to do. If you get soft hearted and let too many stay, you will be condemning your community to slow death by starvation. Discuss this topic with your community leaders, especially your security leadership and make them see that there are no alternatives to a strict quarantine. You need to have a plan and execute it immediately or you may be overwhelmed within hours.

One final note on turning back refugees: Do it as far from town as you can. The refugees are going to be truly pitiful and seeing this level of misery will cause your community a lot of pain and distention. You need very hard men to man your line and you need to be careful to leave the refugees another place to go. Don't block a major road. Instead, block a turn-off. It's okay to be as humane as possible and provide water at the roadblock, but you simply cannot afford to give away food or medical supplies. The only people you can let into your town are town residents. All others will have to continue down the road. The men on your roadblock are going to crack up fast, so rotate them often and watch them. This will be the most traumatic thing they have ever had to do.

10. Long term provisioning:
You need to appoint someone to oversee food production. This should probably be completely separate from your commissary department. You need someone with expertise in farming and more specifically, small scale gardening. They need to organize and assist everyone in the community with planting their own gardens and teaching such basic topics as drying, pickling and canning produce. They will also have to oversee a lot of coordination to grow and harvest grain crops and figure out the most efficient ways to store surplus.

Mitigation: Heirloom seeds and fertilizers are going to be in very short supply. If you can somehow trick (or talk) your town into stocking up on these, perhaps as part of a 4-H or school project, your town will be much better off. If you have any say in public plantings for parks or landscapes, try to plant as many food bearing plants as possible. An apple tree is just as attractive as a pine or elm and produces fruit every year.

Actions: Every piece of arable land in the community needs to be planted with something edible ASAP. Without power machinery, this is going to be a real challenge. Every lawn and every empty lot should be dug up and worked in order to build soils, even if it's not planting time. Working leaf litter and plant materials into the plots needs to begin almost immediately. The "Garden Czar" will probably take up the lion's share of the spare manpower in the town just planting city owned lots. He will need to procure hand tools by the hundreds and garden seed, both of which may be in short supply. The tools can be loaned or rented to citizens as needed for their own plots and the seed will need to be rationed out carefully until a stock of good seed can be built up.

The town's citizens may have no horticultural knowledge or gardening skills and will likely not be conditioned for long hours of manual labor. The sooner they start getting their hands dirty the better. Try to hire some skilled gardeners to assist and advise your citizens with their own plots. Building a surplus and a working economy depends directly on their success at working small private gardens.

You may need to pass some resolutions about gardening to prevent land from sitting idle. You can't afford a scrap of idle land as long as you have any seeds left to put in the ground.

11. Building a manufacturing capacity. At some point, equipment and tools will begin to break down. Before that time, you need to establish a manufacturing base that can support your community.

You will eventually need a machine shop capable of founding, forging and machining metal parts and tools. You may need this immediately to repair critical equipment for pumping water or grinding grain et cetera A simple blacksmith shop will be needed to create plows and simple hand tools like hoes and scythes that you are likely to need. You may also need a small foundry and machine shop to create replacement parts for critical machinery. Keep a lookout for likely skilled individuals and hire them to build the town a metal working capability. [JWR Adds: As science fiction writer S.M. Stirling aptly pointed out in his Dies the Fire novel series, leaf springs from abandoned cars and trucks make ideal steel stock that can be used to re-forge into crossbows, plows, small hand tools, knives, and even swords. Leaf springs should be very plentiful for at least one or two generations in a truly post-collapse society.]

You should have someone begin building hand plows and other animal and human powered agricultural tools ASAP. You will need as many as your metal shop can manufacture and I guarantee you will be able to trade surplus plows to other towns within a few months.

You will eventually need to replace or repair clothing. You will have a long grace period while you go through existing stocks from department stores, but within a few years, you will need new fabrics. Appoint someone to worry about fabric production. How do you build a loom? In less than four years, you are going to need a source of fiber and a fabric production capability, especially in cold climates.

Other manufacturing capabilities may be needed as you go along. You may wish to set up a pottery shop or produce adobe brick for building materials or set up a sawmill for lumber and firewood. Brainstorm this with your staff or at a town meeting.

12. Preserving:
A lot of irreplaceable things are going to be destroyed or lost if you don't make some kind of effort to preserve them.

a. Animals: A lot of people are going to be very hungry. Most of them are going to die. I expect most species of large animals in the USA and Europe, including livestock, to be slaughtered for food until they are scarce or even extinct. Think ahead. You are going to need draft animals desperately in a few months. You simply must preserve as many animals capable of filling this role as possible. Dogs are peerless burglar alarms. Cats keep vermin numbers down. Once all the chickens are gone, where are you going to get eggs and poultry? Saving even a small breeding stock of all the useful animals in your community is going to be hard when people are literally starving to death all around you.

Actions: You are going to have to put livestock under guard or they won't last long. Someone will poach them. Any private farmer trying to keep livestock is going to find out just how sneaky hungry humans can be. Someone also needs to start training your working animals immediately. It takes time to produce a working plow team out of average untrained cows or horses.

b. Knowledge: If you don't take steps to prevent it, people will burn most of the books in your town for fuel. I recommend keeping your library open for business. Your town or local school libraries may turn out to be very important for both entertainment and reference.

c. Records: You need to secure public and as many private records as possible. Without them, repairing our current culture will be much more difficult. Birth records, tax records, bank records etc. All of these may have
tremendous value in the future.

d. Art and historical treasures: If your town has any, you should safeguard national treasures for future generations. The very fact that you are making this effort will send a powerful message to your citizens.

13. Medical:
Your existing health-care facilities and drug supplies need to be safeguarded quickly. You will have a very limited stockpile of opiates and other painkillers and mind altering drugs that will be very attractive to some
criminal (or simply addicted) elements of society. Every pharmacy and clinic in town should be carefully confiscated and put under guard. Don't forget the pet hospitals and veterinarian clinics. Appoint a doctor or pharmacist to oversee this effort and support them with whatever resources they require (if you can). Some drugs require refrigeration and may not be salvageable if they are ever warmed.

Hire as many doctors and nurses as possible and set up a public health clinic near the town center. Have them take charge of public health and start an outreach program for self help and public sanitation. If your town has vaccines available, you will probably want to use them up quickly before they go bad. Your community may be able to avoid a lot of misery and casualties if you organize your health care.

Have someone in your manufacturing base or commissary department work with them to replace or recycle medical supplies. Something as simple as a building wood-fired autoclave might be beyond the capability of your health care folks but easy for your artisans.

Also, hire as many pharmacists, chemists and any other scientists you can find. You probably won't have too many of these once they are all accounted for. If you have a few, don't be afraid of tasking them to do some very difficult tasks for you. They are very intelligent folks and can perform miracles if you challenge them. Challenge them to set up a lab and try to synthesize antibiotics, or opiates. Or challenge them to figure out how to improve agriculture in your town or synthesize liquid fuel for your vehicles, or explosives. They may surprise you with spectacular results. These folks are valuable property, so try not to use them as unskilled farm hands or guards. The same goes for engineers. Give them challenging work and have them tackle real problems.

I recognize that most of us are not mayors. We are probably not the ones who will be called on to shoulder the numbing responsibilities of command during a crisis. I really wouldn't care for that job, even in peacetime. When the balloon goes up, it will be hardest on the leaders. Your mayor and police chief will need help. As a prepper, you are in a position to provide that help. How many of the jobs that I mentioned above could you competently fill? I implore you to help them. Having you available as adviser (and commissary officer or military leader, experienced gardener, metal smith etc) could literally make the difference between life and death. Your efforts could make a huge difference to a lot of people.

If your community has any chance at all to survive, those odds will increase exponentially if your leaders have a well thought out plan and make good decisions. Community leaders will need to make timely decisions on a host of issues they have never considered and have the conviction to act ruthlessly. You, as a prepper, have the advantage of thinking about it ahead of time and working out all the details in your mind. That and the skills you have learned can allow you to make a real difference. Will you step up to the plate and try to save your whole community? It seems like a superhuman job and daunting for a mere human. But if anyone can do it, maybe it's you.

Win or go down swinging, - J.I.R.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Firefighter Charles's statement about FEMA's response times shows a lack of understanding of how the process works. In the event of another Hurricane Katrina type natural disaster, the following things have to happen, in the following order:

1. Disaster strikes
2. Local officials setup an incident command
3. Local Emergency Operation Centers (EOCs) are activated. The local emergency operations plan (EOP) is put into action.
4. Mutual aid agreements are activated. If the disaster goes beyond this, then...
5. State EOCs are activated. State EOPs are put into action.
6. The state activates it's mutual aid agreements.
7. If the situation is not contained, the Governor declares a State Emergency. He can then.....
8. Appeal to the President to declare the event a federal disaster - whether it is a Stafford Act event or not.
9. FEMA is then activated and ordered to head the rescue/relief efforts. The FBI is the lead investigative agency for any criminal acts, while the BATFE is the lead law enforcement agency for anything law enforcement related such as security, etc.

The National Incident Management System (NIMS) always puts the onus for response on local governments. FEMA is a last resort and responses to disasters must always be handled at the local level if at all possible.

Therefore FEMA's "response time" is irrelevant. FEMA will most likely be kept abreast of any situation through the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), but cannot act unless the locals, Governor, and President have done their parts. FEMA does not just swoop in and take control as this is totally against NIMS and the National Response Framework (NRF).

All of this certainly doesn't change the author's 72 hour assertion. I dislike FEMA as much as anyone else, but FEMA shouldn't take the blame for bureaucratic foot dragging that's quite out of it's control. - Adam in California


I've noticed many SurvivalBlog articles, including Firefighter Charles', advocate the use of the Vehicle Bug Out Bag/Bin or Bail Out Bag. At this point, I wouldn't store even just a plastic spoon in my car. It is so easy for thieves to break into a regular car. In the present day car break-ins are opportunistic in nature. In a society break-down situation, people who are desperate might not stop at anything to fill their needs.

In the past seven years, my Suburban has been burglarized five times. The first time was when we were moving to this city and had just pulled into a hotel. We went to check out the room and in less than 10 minutes had lost coins and a gun that we felt were "hidden." Others parked beside us lost electronics. At least our window wasn't broken. Then we had a couple of break-ins while at work in full daylight with crowds present. Nothing taken as nothing was available. Last, two break-ins in our driveway, probably kids. However, the last thing stolen was the car's Owner Manual, for goodness sake!

Now we have a loud car alarm which is always left set when parked. My city is one of the largest in the country and we don't leave any kind of box or crate or bag in a car, even in cars with tinted windows.

One idea: Buy those flat under-the-bed plastic sweater containers. Take out the carpet in the back, place a couple of loaded containers, cover with thin plywood, replace the carpet. This might deter casual thieves pressing their noses against the glass. Clearly, someone who is determined will find anything hidden in a car or a house. - Elizabeth S.

JWR Replies: It is time for you to move to a lightly-populated, low crime area! All those break-ins should have been hints.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

First things first, please accept my heartfelt thank you for your excellent web site and all of the information you have helped disseminate to folks such as myself.

My heart goes out to the people of Nashville and the disaster they are facing from the flooding. However, the logical part of me is astounded by all of this as the media and government (http://www.nashville.gov/oem/preparedness/wcd.asp) in Nashville have been repeatedly warning people to prepare for a major flood since 2005 and have held numerous public meetings in conjunction with the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). The warnings were not from a large rainfall in a short period of time, but for an even larger disaster which is the potential failure of the Wolf Creek Dam. The 80% earthen and 20% concrete dam is located on the Cumberland River 150 miles upstream of Nashville and the dam is on top of a large limestone formation which has continued to leech away causing a history of extensive, repeated dam repairs. The dam holds back the largest lake in the state of Kentucky , and prior to drawing down Lake Cumberland the USACE classified their remediation program to stabilize the dam as heroic/crisis with the dam having less than 5 years of useable life remaining. Numerous resources were made available to the public such as the Wolf Creek Dam Consensus Report, Engineering Risk and Reliability Analysis and flood inundation maps for both Kentucky and Tennessee. The inundation maps are a great resource for deciding whether to bug in or out, and if you bug out which route to take.

The purpose of writing was to offer a lesson in situational awareness. Preparing for the Wolf Creek dam failure should have left more people prepared for a smaller tragedy like what recently occurred in Nashville . Survivalblog readers, have you checked your local emergency management office for specific threats to your city or neighborhood and made plans and preparations based on those threats? - Todd B.

Mr. Rawles:
Thank you for your time, efforts and thought in providing all the survivalblog readers with an excellent resource. I have been a daily visitor to your site now for about a year after being introduced to it by my brother. I consider myself to be an amateur prepper, and am hoping to move into becoming more prepared in large part due to the information that I have been the beneficiary of through resources such as your site, others like it, as well as other resources both in print and through training and group participation. In any event, the letter re the "Lessons from Nashville, Tennessee" got me thinking and I wanted to send along three of the lessons that I have learned and/or had reinforced in my mind after this recent event. I apologize for the length of this email, but, as Mark Twain once said, I didn't have time to write you a short one. Also, in order to understand the "lessons learned," I think that a complete recitation of the underlying facts is necessary.

I live not far from Nashville, but far enough away that my area was not submersed like portions of the city were. However, as I work downtown, I know a multitude of folks who do live in Nashville. Unlike myself, they prefer to live close in rather than have to deal with a daily commute. I wanted to relate a story from one of my friends that underscored for me the importance of preparing in advance.

My friend is a working mother of two children. She is a highly paid professional, and her husband is a member of the group of folks that due to loss of employment have gone back to school. What those first two sentences mean is that neither she nor her husband have time to cook, and so their daily routine is to send their kids to day care where they are fed breakfast and lunch, and then they eat out as a family almost every night. In other words, they have limited food stores at their home.

She told me that when the rains came down and the floods came up she decided to leave work early and get her kids in order to try and avoid traffic at rush hour that would be made more infuriating due to the heavy rain. When they arrived at home she and her children sat and watched the rain fall, and fall, and fall. They live on a sort of hill so the water wasn't collecting in their yard. She didn't turn on the television or radio, and she and her children just sat there and looked out the window while the kids complained about not being able to go outside to play.

Finally, she received a call from her mother in another state who was watching the news and asked her daughter if she and the grandbabies were okay. My friend was surprised to get this call, and went and turned on the television. Or, at least she tried. At this point her power was out. She had no access to the television or radio. She hung up with her mother and accessed the web on her iPhone to learn that the river was heaving beyond its bounds and that Nashville was being soaked and flooded. She called her husband and asked him to come home immediately and to stop and buy some food and flashlights for the night as they didn't have any in the house.

The husband left school and stopped at Wally World [Wal-Mart] and grabbed some flashlights and food and started to head home. However, he quickly discovered that although his neighborhood was not underwater, the roads that lead into his neighborhood were under water. About four feet, and thus impassable. He called his wife and let her know. She and the kids ate Doritos for dinner that night and went to bed early without flashlights or candles. The husband slept in his car.

The next day my friend and her children walked down to the entrance of their neighborhood with their neighbors who also stayed behind and were hungry and in search of food. They found that other neighbors had gathered canoes, john boats, inflatable tubes, etc. and were in the process of ferrying everyone over the newly formed mini-lake at the mouth of their subdivision to the other side where family members and friends waited to carry the stranded off to safety and, in all likelihood, [the] Cracker Barrel.

My friend, her husband, and her children were all reunited safely. No severe damage occurred at their home, and things seem back to normal for them.

However, for me, this was a great learning opportunity. Three of the take home lessons for me were:

1. Try your best to have your preps on hand before you need them. My friend was without things that most of us consider essential and likely have many of at our homes or retreats right now: food and flashlights/candles. She had none, and when she needed them, she couldn't get them. I know I am a great procrastinator when it comes to securing some items that I know I "need." I am not advocating spending more than we can or going into debt to acquire preps; not at all. Remember in my story that my friend makes a good salary ($100,000 plus). And yet, she didn't have food or flashlights/candles. I learned to look at my own preps and determine what items I can realistically afford right now, but simply have been putting off. For me, it was nothing expensive or significant, and by way of example I'll tell you what I purchased after speaking with her that was cheap, I'd just been putting it off: plastic sheets for window/ventilation coverings in the event that they break or I need to put up some sort of a "defense" against the outside air.

2. We don't know when we'll need our preps, and the need may literally fall out of the sky. Here, there was no real advance notice that Nashville would flood. In fact, my friend didn't know until someone told her that it had already happened. For me, this was a wake up call. I guess I figured that TEOTWAWKI would somehow be a gradual thing that I would see coming from a mile away. As I saw with my friend, this is not necessarily the case. I was reminded of the parable of the 10 Virgins in the Book of Matthew. They were all waiting and waiting for the bride groom to come—like many of us wait, not necessarily with eager anticipation but often with trepidation, for TEOTWAWKI—but some had failed in their preparations. Then, when he came at midnight, half were shut out of the feast because they were absent, in search of oil (preps) they should have already had. We don't know when, or if, it's coming, so we must remain vigilant and prepared. This was a lesson for me about physical preparation, but more so about spiritual preparation.

3. There are many without preparations out there, even basic preparations, and we need to plan accordingly. I know that there are different theories about how preppers are to deal with friends, family, neighbors, and the Golden Horde post TEOTWAWKI, and I will not advocate any particular approach here. I myself am of the opinion—at least now—that I would rather share my food and shelter than fight over it barring threats to my family's safety. Regardless of what one's opinion is on this subject, the truth that my friend's story offers is that there will be many, many people who are without even the most basic of preparations and part of our "prepping" should be preparing for that reality.

Thanks again, and God bless you and yours and may we all prepare with prudence for the future, - R.B.M. in Tennessee

Monday, May 24, 2010

I live in Nashville, Tennessee.  Most people have heard about the devastation of the recent flooding of  our city –what a  lot of folks don’t know is that there were over 1,400 boat rescues of stranded people who could not (or would not) evacuate their homes before the water overtook them.  The events of these past few weeks has heightened my disaster preparedness and has proven to me once again "that being prepared" is paramount "to surviving" any natural or man-made disaster.

This brings me to share with you what I call the “oh my gosh” moment.  When the forecast for Nashville was for heavy rain on Saturday, May 1st it was just that –heavy rain.  I work at Opry Mills Shopping Mall right next to the OpryLand Hotel.  Saturday it was pouring cats and dogs.  I worked from 2:00 p.m. till our normal closing time of 10:00 p.m..  A lot of the employees were hoping that we would close early not only because of the torrential rain – but because we were also in a severe storm warning.  The roof was leaking in several spots so we had to keep bringing buckets from the stock room to hold the water.  The store was busy – we even had customers until the last register closed. I live 10 miles from work but had no trouble getting home.

The next day Sunday, I was scheduled to work at 1:00 p.m..  I had heard on the news when I got up that we had had 6 inches of rain – a near record amount of rainfall for Nashville and it was still pouring like crazy and was predicted to rain all day. At 9:30 my husband asked me to go to the store for a pack of cigarettes.  Well that ½-mile trip to the store scared me half to death.  Because of the heavy rain, every low spot in the area was filling up and with no place to go was now gushing over the roads. And not slowly – very fast. Small cars were having trouble going through it and even with a large car, I could see how this would very soon get out of hand. The road in front of Opry Mills- Briley Parkway -is a low spot and I knew that if I went to work it would be very dicey coming home.  When I got back from the store I told my husband I would not go to work no matter what – in fact I decided I would wait till noon and call out. I thought: "Well, I didn’t have to do that."  At 11:00, my supervisor called and said the store would be closed because Briley Parkway was starting to flood and that tomorrow the managers would call the employees if it was safe to come in.

Later that night, my husband and I were eating dinner and the local news station was showing pictures of cars stranded on the freeway – people being evacuated from homes and the like. The announcer said ”Someone has sent us a picture of Opry Mills”  Well it showed the shopping center –the parking lot and the road completely under water and our store under three feet of water!  The Cumberland River had overflowed and would not crest for 12 more hours!

That was it- that was my “oh my gosh” moment when it hit me that this was not just some rainfall –not just some flooding – this was really a very serious situation. About one hour after that, I heard they were evacuating Opryland Hotel - a major feat since they had 1,500 people in the hotel and no place to go.

I had experienced this same moment about 15 years ago. I was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee. and was in the worst tornado that ever hit the city.  I remember that night- it was not storming- not even raining. We did not have any severe weather predicted.  Just all of a sudden, the wind started howling – I looked outside and all the trees were leaning almost horizontally because the wind was so strong. That’s when it hit me “oh my gosh” –this is serious- I got to the safest place I had access to and within  minutes a tornado fell from the sky and completely destroyed four of the eight buildings in my apt. complex.  I am happy to let everyone know that I was not injured and never experienced any loss of property in either disaster. After seeing the chaos and what happens in the aftermath of these situations there is one thing I learned: You need to try to get out of any bad situation as soon as you have that "Oh my gosh" moment. Why?  Because you may not be able to do so afterwards.  After the tornado –within about 10 minutes the apt complex was surrounded by police and fire trucks. You could smell gas in the air and I found out very soon that a main gas line had broken.  The chief fire marshal came in and did a door-to-door evacuation.  He knocked on my door and said I had to leave, immediately!  It was dark in the apartment and I couldn’t find my purse – he said to me – you must get out Now!  Okay – no purse, no driver’s license, no money - I had to go.  We were told to walk to the front of the apt. complex and that we would be taken to shelters.  I realized that even without my purse, I was one of the lucky ones – I had on sweats and a pair of moccasins.  Most people were in their pajamas, nightgowns or underwear, with no shoes.  The tornado had hit at 1:30 in the morning and many had been thrown out of their beds (literally into the parking lot.)  Everything was very chaotic – people were injured- many had cuts on their feet because over one hundred cars in the parking lot had imploded and there was glass and debris everywhere. Even with no experience about shelters and FEMA, etc. I knew I was not going to a shelter.  I had a friend that lived 3 blocks from the site.  During the confusion – when the fire marshal turned his back -- I started to walk away -- not fast but very controlled – no one saw me. I got to my friends house and stayed there.

One of the articles this week in the Nashville paper told of one neighborhood that was flooded out.  The lady that they interviewed told the reporter how they had called the police and emergency agency and asked if they needed to evacuate.  They could get no answers. Finally, her cousin that worked on one of the dams called her and said Leave!  They knocked on the doors of their neighbors and evacuated – just as the water was almost blocking their exit.

I thought to myself, "Why did she wait? She was concerned enough to call!  She doesn’t need permission to leave her house.  Why did some of the other people wait?" (Not leaving even when the water was 3 feet, 4 feet, some not leaving even when the first responders were there to help them.)  It reminded me of 9/11. When the plane hit the first twin tower someone called the police from the other tower to ask if they should evacuate- the police told them "no".

Remember when you were little and something bad happened?  Maybe it wasn’t the end of the world, but it was disturbing your little world. You probably cried or screamed very loudly.  Then what happened?  Probably your mom or dad came and said – it’s okay – nothing is going to happen.  All the adults would “discount” your gut instincts and then through the years you no longer listened to your gut instinct.  You may have heard that“oh my gosh” this is serious -in your head initially but shortly after that you heard the words- It will be okay!  Well I want everyone to start listening to their gut instincts.  If you think it is be a bad situation, get out immediately!!  The worst that could happen is that everything will be okay and you can return home.  But if you don’t seize that opportunity, it may not come around again.

For all the people that have little hideouts outside the city there is a lesson to be learned. In Nashville both interstates I -24 and I-40 had areas underwater and were impassible as were many side roads.   I’ve had to re-do my evacuation plan to not just include the best routes out of the city but to include every route out. You never know which roads may be affected. Since this flood included 30 counties even into Kentucky, this made escaping extremely hard.  Like I said – if you want to get out it has to be done before things get out of hand. Fortunately, this disaster was local and was handled very well by our mayor and city officials.  Opry Mills went completely underwater and the Opryland Hotel had 6 feet of standing water – if you go to youtube there are some amazing pictures of the flooding of our city. We are without work until the rebuilding- 2 to 4 months.  Opryland Hotel may not open for six months.  It was very scary and will make me work harder to get my survival plan in place.  The next event could be worse, much worse.

Lessons from Nashville, Tennessee - Small Windows of Opportunity

I talked to you about the need to evacuate an emergency as soon as you realize the situation or that “oh my gosh” moment.  Now I want to tell you about the small window of opportunity you may have immediately following a disaster.  Although my home was virtually cut off from the main road (we live on a peninsula on the water).  We live in the very center of the peninsula and on the highest ground in the area.  That meant that although there was drama all around us – my husband and I were safe.  Nashville virtually came to a standstill on Monday after the rain.  Most businesses were closed- the Mayor asked everyone to stay home so they could assess the damage and the worst  was not over because after all the small rivers flooded and were receding the big river – the Cumberland would not crest until later that day.  People set glued to their television sets all weekend- the local channels broadcast the news 24/7.  There was so much damage over such a large area it took a long time to see everything that was going on.  The Cumberland River finally crested at 8:00 p.m. in Nashville 10 feet above flood level.  In Clarksville Tennessee, an area lower in elevation- the Cumberland crested at 20 feet above flood level.  It seemed strange that the worst flooding came after the rain on a beautiful warm and sunny day.  The next day –Tuesday I got up early.  People were venturing out of their houses for the first time and wow what a site.  Even though some water was receding it was awful.  Our local park was a mess – five feet underwater and every ballpark fence down.  So many roads were still flooded it was almost impossible to drive without being detoured. 

As people were gawking at the site, I had an agenda.  The first thing on my list was to get to the grocery store.  My regular store was closed – they lost power during the storm and lost all their frozen foods.  I went to the other store expecting it to be crowded. To my surprise and delight it wasn’t.  Being a prepper I already had a stocked pantry and freezer but my intent was to get some milk, bananas, fresh produce and bottled water.  Even though I did have some I knew it would be in short supply very soon. (At the time of this writing 20 days after the storm we are still on water conservation because one water treatment plant went down with the flood.)  I was right about the water – they had sold out of my brand. I left and went to another store and got what I needed but noticed that as I was leaving – people were getting up and figuring out they better get stuff before it is gone.  My husband needed cigarettes and when I asked for a carton I noticed the girl pulled the last one of his brand off the shelf. Hmmmm  I thought maybe I should go get another carton.  My next stop was the gas station where I topped off the car and bought the other carton of cigarettes. Now on to the bank(s).  We have four bank accounts for a variety of reasons.  I went to each of them and pulled out the maximum amount that you can get for one day at the ATMs.  I do keep cash at the house but decided to get a little more than usual just in case. I purposely did not go into the banks so as to not let my tellers think I panic in situations such as these.  Besides by having multiple bank accounts you can get so much more out without drawing attention to yourself.   By 9:30 when the majority of our neighborhood was just venturing out I was on my way home with everything we would need to be comfortable for at least a month- even longer in the event we would go into “emergency mode”.  Fortunately for our city the Mayor and city officials were very much on top of everything and even though there was widespread destruction there were only minor incidents of looting. Maybe it helps to live in the Bible belt.  At any rate you need to be aware that you have to act fast in any emergency and take advantage of these small  windows of opportunity.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

I think we can all agree that a deep larder is good insurance for bad times. There is some variation on how we approach this topic, but we probably all have a lot in common. I would like to present my approach to food storage to give your readers (perhaps) a new perspective. Some of them may have inadequate plans for feeding their families.

First, I have to admit that I am probably not as well prepared as a lot of readers and that my preparations could easily be improved if I were less lazy or worried more. I don't put very much work into survival preparation. I don't own very much equipment or a whole warehouse of guns and ammunition. I don't worry too much about which gun to use with what ammunition or what holster looks best with my outfit. I really don't worry about which brand of SUV might make a good G.O.O.D. vehicle. I finished my main preparations long ago and I now simply live my life as I wish, tweaking my preps here and there as the whim takes me.

I was able to gain a lot of peace of mind by rationally looking at the threats I face and prioritizing my needs. Preparation is easy if you plan carefully with a clear view of the likely threats. I assessed the risks, set some achievable goals, and executed the plan. Now I spend a lot of time fishing or messing around doing what I want.

Important Caveat: Skills definitely come first! You should never skimp on skills in favor of gadgets. Your best survival kit is your own noggin and what you put inside it. I am not advocating sitting idle. You should frantically be learning new skills all the time and honing your old ones. Use your time and money to learn valuable skills. The rest is just stuff.

I take a fairly flippant attitude about survival gear in general. With the right skills, you need surprisingly little equipment to keep breathing. I have firearms, of course and some ammunition, a few basic necessities, like a good water filter, a good grain grinder, camping gear, backup power, reliable vehicles and spares for everything. But all of this costs less than you would probably believe and I think I have my bases pretty well covered on equipment.

But I do take food security very seriously. Perhaps more seriously than some of you. I have traveled to several third-world countries and famine zones in the course of my military career and have seen hunger up close. I have eaten the same gruel given out by UNICEF and other NGOs in their feeding programs and watched powerless as children died from lack of a few dollars worth of basic foods. I have also seen that abundance of food doesn't do much to alleviate hunger if the finance and transport systems don't work. I have seen women with young babies standing along a highway, literally among corn stalks of ripe corn, trying to flag down a truck and prostitute themselves so they could afford to buy some of it. Yes, I take food security very seriously.

Food security is the first and foremost problem the human race has always faced. It's the specter that never sleeps for long. Thomas Malthus was right. Populations tend to increase as long as there is plenty of food, overpopulate in good years, and then starve when the food supply becomes scarce. You can actually correlate death rates in medieval England directly to grain prices. It's been that way throughout history and it still is today. We are just enjoying incredible surpluses and record-low food prices right now (for the last hundred years or so) because of technology and new lands coming under development. Predictably, the population has swelled logarithmically to take advantage of that abundant food. Starvation has become almost unthinkable in the western world. Unfortunately, those good times will end if our society ends. We will be back where we were a thousand years ago, anxiously watching the harvest to see if our children will live
through the coming year.

Food is the one thing you can't improvise. Any interruption in your food supply will kill you and your family, so you need to store a lot. How much is enough? Simply put, I don't think you are likely to be able to store too much. A five year supply is not excessive because there are always going to be people less fortunate than you who need it desperately. Food is wealth. Have you ever worried about having too much wealth?

I take food security seriously enough to make it my top priority. I have a tiered approach to storage that works well for me and I think it has advantages that other methods don't. I have long term storage, medium term storage and short term storage. And, I eat what I store.

Short and medium term storage items I keep in my home. Long term storage items, like wheat, beans, rice and white sugar are stored elsewhere in hidden permanent caches. My short and medium term goods are largely to see me through short and medium severity events, like a regional disaster or slow-slide economic decline. I don't intent to raid my long term storage until I am ready to replace it (in about 25 years, if I live that long) or in the event of an extreme emergency. My long term supplies are insurance, pure and simple, in case there is a major interruption to my family's food supply. I built my caches well and don't spend much time worrying about them. I don't rotate the food in them regularly or need to check on them often. But they will be a life-saver when (and if) I ever need them.

Most of the supplies I keep in my home are more perishable. They have to be rotated regularly. This is easy because we live on these supplies. I don't store anything we don't regularly eat. I choose not to grow a garden since I have some old injuries that make it painful for me, (also I am terribly lazy), so I have to buy all my fresh stuff at retail prices. If you can grow a garden and keep some livestock, like chickens, I highly recommend you do this. That would enable you to be much better prepared than I am. As a non-gardener, I shop every week to get fruit, veggies, potatoes, milk, eggs and cheese. I take that weekly opportunity to top off all of my rotating supplies. Anything we use up, I generally replace within a week or two.

In addition, to the perishables, I probably have about 3 month's supply of most of our semi-perishable staples like canned veggies, meat, pastas and sauces. All of these things, along with most medicines and vitamins, have a shelf life measured in months (or a few years in some cases). Wet-canned foods have to be rotated. You can save a lot of money and (surprisingly) trouble by home canning. The price of home canned foods are lower, even if you have to pay full price, plus it allows you to buy things in bulk when the prices are low.

In November 09, I started canning meat instead of freezing it and now I tend to buy about a "canner load" (20lbs) every couple of weeks and can it for later use instead of freezing it like I used to do. (My stocks of canned meats has been going up ever since). This has already proved to be a wise decision. Our freezer recently got unplugged and we only discovered it because of the smell of a few rotting steaks and the few pounds of fish I keep there. I glanced at my stacks of canned beef, chicken, pork and turkey and smiled. I figure my pressure canner paid for itself that day.

I also maintain about 350 pounds of wheat, 100 pounds of white flour, 150 pounds of dried beans, 100 pounds of white sugar, 150 pounds of white rice, 5 gallons of canola oil, 5-7 gallons of dried milk powder, about 30 pounds of dried eggs, 20 pounds of raisins, 25 pounds of salt, and about 25 pounds of dried corn. (I also maintain a fairly large stock of sprouting seeds, garden seeds and vitamins in our spare refrigerator). All told, I figure my wife and I could eat pretty well for many months in an emergency without dipping into long term storage. All of this stuff is rotated and eaten regularly.

Let me say that again. We live mostly on wheat (in many forms), rice, and beans. (we eat a lot of potatoes, carrots, onions, cabbage and turnips too, but I will cover that later). The other things we buy at the store are mostly adjuncts. While they would be sorely missed, losing fresh eggs, milk and cheese wouldn't cramp our lifestyle much. We cook with dried milk, cheese and eggs already and only use the fresh variants for fried eggs, sandwiches and drinking milk. We prefer the fresh, but use an awful lot of dried food in our day to day lives, just for the convenience.

I marvel at people who store foods they don't eat and really don't like. I met a man once who had a "whole year's supply" of expensive dried foods in his basement for several years. In all this time, he had never once opened a can and tried it. Once I talked him into trying his larder, he was sorely disappointed and lost all enthusiasm for storing food. (I have to admit that I didn't like it much either.)

This is a serious issue because I have doubts that most folks could easily transition to a "basic food" diet in an emergency. The caloric density of basic foods is about half as much as the diets most Americans currently eat. If you are used to living on fast food and plan to transition to a whole wheat and bean diet once the emergency happens, you are deluding yourself. You have to eat a lot of wheat to equal a double cheeseburger and frankly, If you eat mostly prepared or fast foods, (as most US citizens do) You have a finely tuned digestive tract that can't handle bulk foods and lots of fiber.

If you introduce these foods gradually into your normal diet, you will grow to enjoy them. I highly recommend that every survivalist attempt to live off of his stored foods. See if you can learn to like them. The benefits of doing so are tremendous. First, my grocery bill is tiny. Most of the foods we all store are the cheapest food you can buy. Second, a largely vegetarian lifestyle is not bad for you. You will feel better if you get most of your calories from grains and beans and eat more veggies and fruit. You will never buy another antacid or laxative and will have more energy. You might even lose some weight.

I am not advocating giving up meat products, lord no! I am a confirmed omnivore and eat more than my share of meat. I am only advising you to cut back on them. Too much meat is terrible for you and probably the most expensive food you buy. It might also be much too expensive after a crisis. Beef in particular is horribly expensive to produce. In most of the world, meat is too expensive to eat more than a few times a month. If you cut down on meats and other fatty foods now, your digestive system will already be adjusted to living on bulkier grains and other carbohydrates. You also won't get indigestion or gas from eating beans. Cut down now and maybe you will miss these high calorie foods less if they become scarce or expensive. I enjoy meat, and eat some almost daily, but I don't crave it any more.

FAMEAL: Famine Chow is a good way to introduce storage foods into your diet. This is a slang word for WSB or CSB (Wheat-Soy-Blend or Corn-Soy-Blend) used by NGOs in their feeding programs. Most Americans have never heard of (much less tried) this stuff. This is the same gruel fed to starving people in Africa and elsewhere. The only word that describes it is "foody". It's delicious. You can eat it as a thin paste or thicken it up and make dumplings or bread out of it. You can add it to soups and casseroles or even make cookies out of it. Best of all, it's healthy and cheap and made of storage foods. The NGOs buy it pre-made in big dog-food bags so they can just add water. The pre-made mix is extrusion cooked so it's easier to work with under primitive conditions. You are not going to find this stuff at your grocery store but here is how you can make your own:

50% (by volume) Corn meal or wheat meal. (I prefer meal to flour, but both work)
30% (by volume) Bean meal. Any kind..even soy. I use lentils because the are easy to grind.
10% (by volume) Oil. Any cooking oil works.
10% (by volume) Sugar or honey or syrup if you prefer.
Add salt to taste. You can also add vitamins by grinding a tablet with the mix.
(With multi-vitamin supplement, this is a fairly well balanced diet).

To cook it (it will be a powder) mix it slowly (it clumps) with boiling water (three cups of water per cup of meal). Turn off the heat and cover it and allow it to cook for 10 minutes. If you add the powder to the water and then try to heat it, it burns to the bottom of the pot, but a microwave oven works great for cooking the wet mixture. Or, use the powder just like flour for baking. It makes an awesome bean bread. It also makes a wonderful cake mix if you add more sugar and other flavorings. You can vary the amounts of everything, including water to suit your own tastes. Try it. You may find that you really like it. It's fairly tasty, filling and satisfying. My kids ate an awful lot of fameal muffins while they were growing up. They freeze well and make a good quick breakfast food if you are in a hurry.

Fresh Vegetables.
Potatoes, carrots, squash, corn, green beans, Broccoli, cabbages, greens, tomatoes, onions and turnips. We eat a lot of these crops, but I don't currently grow a garden. They are all difficult for me to store because they require a cellar or refrigeration, so I buy them as needed. Fortunately, they are cheap and abundant now and will remain so unless there is a major economic crash or other terrible disaster. When this happens, I intend to grow my own. I maintain a rotating stock of heirloom garden seeds for this. Potatoes require a little more work since you must start from root-stock and not seeds, so I will have to try to grow them from store-bought roots when I need to. If I am unable to grow any of these crops when I need to, I will have to do without. Until I can get a garden going, I will be forced to substitute a lot of sprouts for other fresh veggies, but I don't expect any insurmountable problems.

A word of caution: Growing a garden is not easy. It requires a lot of physical labor and practical knowledge. I have a solid set of gardening skills and years of experience, so I feel ok about just storing seeds. I have grown several gardens using the same techniques I will have available without modern society. If you have never done any gardening in your area, especially using only hand tools, you really should. Your learning curve will be steeper than you probably think. Learning is cheap now, but won't be later. Make your mistakes now, not when you need the food. You will have to grow a large garden to feed your family. Gardening is a critical skill! and so is food preservation.

Just as important, you need to learn which varieties of non-hybrid plants grow well in your area and the only real way to learn this is to grow a garden. Even a small one can teach you volumes. Your soil also needs building, so every season, your productivity will increase. You might find you enjoy it. Once you get good at it, you might be safe just to stock up on seeds, fertilizers and tools like I do, but build the skills first.

Long term storage foods:
Your long term storage is your capital for the future. We are going to need time to get our permanent food production capacity going again. We may need several years. I expect farmers in the USA to have to re-learn a lot of their skills once the machines don't work anymore. Plowing with a horse team (even if you have horses available) requires tack and harness and tools that don't really exist anymore. My father's generation in rural Tennessee were among the last folks who grew most of their own food using a horse team (Amish communities and anomalies like them excepted). Since then, the specialized tools needed have been lost to age, antique shops (and cracker barrel furnishings). Before we can go back to a simpler pattern of farming without modern machinery and chemicals, we are going to need to re-invent the tools and breed and train the livestock. This is going to take time. Your storage food is all you have to give you that time.

At the risk of sounding like a nut, I believe you can't have too much food. As long as it doesn't go to waste, the more you have the better off you will be if society collapses. If I were able, I would store a warehouse of grain and keep my whole community alive, but this is impossible for me. If everyone in the USA stored two years of food, we might be able to save many of them after society collapses. Unfortunately, even preppers rarely store two years of food. Most of us have a year or even less in storage. I am not confident that we will have adequate food production to feed everyone left alive two years after a collapse. I think three years is more realistic. Not only will that give us time to increase production, but it will give more people time to die. Starvation will be ever-present until we can grow enough food for everyone left alive and that could take a long time.

Storing food long term is not easy, but right now, it can be very inexpensive. You can store over a ton of wheat for the price of a new Glock Model 17, four spare magazines and holster. Cut down on your gun collection a little and you can store a lot more food. I store almost exclusively wheat, beans, white sugar, salt and rice. I have stopped using plastic buckets for my long term storage. They are just not sturdy enough to last several decades and they are not rodent proof. I use two-quart mason jars with a spoonful of diatomaceous earth, sealed with an oxygen absorber and the lids dipped in paraffin. This is a little more expensive, and the jars are breakable, but they are water and rodent proof and I figure the dry food will last basically forever. Jars are about a dollar each, but worth it for me because I store the bulk of my long term foods underground, where there may be moisture or rodents. Enameled cans are cheaper, shock-proof and probably a better choice for most purposes. If you have a secure environment, plastic pails with mylar liners are a good choice.

I have stored quite a lot of basic foods for a single family and done my best to get others to build up their reserves. But the sad truth is, all of my supplies would still last less than a year for my whole extended family. My meager supply wouldn't feed a whole town more than a few days. You can't feed the world and can't stop the coming die-off with your storage food. But you might be able to save your family and perhaps help a handful of people. If you are reading SurvivalBlog, then you are at least thinking about the problem and that puts you way ahead of the general population. I encourage you to go overboard. Store many times more than you need. Because you may want it. - J.I.R.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Dear Mr. Rawles,
We live in southern Middle Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville, and we are watching the news coverage of this weekend's record-breaking flooding in the Nashville area. It is confirming our conviction not to live in a metropolitan area as we see how people are affected by this natural disaster.

All three interstates going through Nashville--I-65, I-24, and I-40--have been shut down for long periods of time yesterday and today. The cars and trucks stuck on I-40 as I write this stretch for over five miles, and the drivers
have no way of backing up, turning around, getting off on a side road, or crossing the median. They are stuck! Note to self: when evacuating an area, do not take the interstate.

The motels are full, and even the Opryland Hotel is being evacuated because of rising river levels and sporadic electric service. They're interviewing hotel guests on the news who have been evacuated and left stranded at a local high school with no food, no medications, and no creature comforts. The ones who had cars had to leave them behind. Most of them probably did not have cars because they came in by air. They are complaining about the inconvenience and lack of information. Imagine if this situation [or a comparable situation] were affecting the whole state or the whole country--what would these people do?

Public services are being stretched way beyond capacity as police and disaster workers try to rescue people from their cars and from their homes, and try to keep people off the roads. I have heard that over 600 people
have been rescued. Rescue workers are exhausted, and now that it's dark their work is even more dangerous. So far, five people have died as a result of this flooding, but the count will probably go up as the flood waters go
down. Some areas are dangerous to drive into, but due to the overwhelming scope of the flooding, no rescue workers have been able to go in and put up barriers or warnings.

Many of these homeowners probably did not have flood insurance, as their homes were in areas that have not flooded in anyone's memory. (Some of the these subdivisions are located within the curve of river bends, which
seems incredibly short-sighted to me.) A levee on the Cumberland River is leaking in at least one area and there is concern that it will break. Several areas have no electric service, no home phone service, and no cell phone
service. They are saying that the water supply is safe, but they are asking people to conserve water. Lots of people are spending the night in shelters that have just cropped up today, including people from out of state who got
stuck here when the interstates closed down.

All of this gives our family food for thought and helps us discuss how we can be even better prepared for a similar situation in our area. It also makes us wonder how our nation would fare if a disaster struck across several states or the whole country. It is obvious that there simply aren't enough police or emergency workers to take care of everyone at the same time. So many of the flood victims being interviewed on the news don't seem to have any sense of personal responsibility for emergency preparedness. - Ginny

I have recently started reading your blog. Since I started from scratch six months ago my family and I have stored food, stored water, learned firearms and safety, learned first aid, purchased communications equipment. Some of the ideas were put to test this past weekend in Nashville, Tennessee. with the "once in a century" flood. Our area of Nashville received 15 inches of rain in a little over 48 hours. To putt that in perspective: Our annual rainfall for this area is around 45 inches. Many areas flooded out.

My family and I live on a lake. The water came up to our house but no major damage. Many others were not so fortunate. Things I found out. Scanner radio came in handy to listen to on the ground reports of rescues. For your readers I would suggest they know the local [public service] frequencies. This came in handy vs listening to all the other channels further away from where we were being affected at the time.

I listened to a rescue crew report that a nearby road flooded over within a mile of our house. If we had needed to bug out at that point I would of known not to use that road. One observation were all emergency crews acted professional however at one small point they simply could not get to everyone. Two portions of the interstate (I -24 and another I- 40) were flooded. Both interstates are major roads for Nashville.

One crew was asked to go to a location but they were blocked in on the interstate by traffic and could not move forward due to water over the road. The call was transferred to another crew who handled it. The idea struck me that sometimes no matter how well the intentions are help may not be able to arrive on time thus self sufficiency would pay off. Nashville did not have looting during this crisis. However my family and I were prepared with food , guns, ammo, safe drinking water if that time had arrived. Things I would change: CB radio batteries in portable CB were dead when I went to use it. Fortunately we had power at house and I could recharge the rechargeable batteries. I saw a neighbor outside on the lake our property fronts in a boat needing help to secure docks that were in process of floating away. I ran outside to join him. I made two mistakes on running to his aid:

I failed to let any member of my family know I had left. I also did not take my cell phone. Simple mistakes but nonetheless if the boat we were traveling in flood waters had tipped over my family would of had no clue that I had gone out in the water on a boat. Another small one was my Goretex rain gear about a month ago was obviously no longer water proof. I decided I would wait till next fall when the rainy season hits again to replace this gear. I would of never guess that I would really need this gear in the torrential downpour. I simply put it the gear on and stayed wet. Last night I purchased new rain gear from an online site, with the lesson learned.

The other part I learned and observed was peoples reactions. Some people are very level headed during a crisis and could make good decisions. Others were in panic mode. I still have a lot to learn but felt comfortable in the knowledge we were semi-prepared. I will fine tune some things from this experience for the next event. "Living and Learning", - Kris

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dear Mr. Rawles,
I live in Albertville, Alabama.  We were hit by a tornado Saturday night. The things that I witnessed in Albertville were very similar to that of Yazoo City [which was recently described by another SurvivalBlog reader.]

I would like to add to some things for you to consider:

The tornado in our town stayed above the ground for a large part of the destruction.  This means that if you had trees close to your house, more than likely, you are going to have damage. Do not have trees too close or allow them to get too big.           

A house with a hip-style roof will hold-up better than a gabled roof.

Asphalt shingles actually outlasted tin.  Small portions of asphalt were missing in some people’s houses as opposed to large sections of tin. 

In this region, these storms always come from the West.  Have as few windows as possible on the west side.

More people will watch you work than help you work. 

People will come in and try to take your stuff.  We piled junk on the side of the road that was destroyed.  People had the gall to pick through our stuff as we were piling more onto the pile.  They were making a bigger mess than the tornado.  I explained that if they took one thing they were taking it all.  The woman called me an expletive and gave me the finger.  An officer, who I know, witnessed the whole thing and arrested the lady for hindering a government operation.

People will loot food and vice items quickly.  Convenience stores and grocery stores will be the first looted.

Never ever store anything you will need in an emergency situation in a portable out-building.  It will be scattered all over other people’s yards.

Do not park your camper in your front yard.  It will be in someone else’s yard when you find it.

If your area is impacted by a tornado, be prepared to be hassled.  Even if you know every officer in your town, other agencies will send officers to help and they do not know you.

If the stuff you need is away from your house you might not be able to get to it for many days.  My brother lives on the other side of Albertville.  He was not able to get me the tractor he had borrowed until Sunday afternoon.

Join a Reserve Deputy Program if you can.  The badge will help you get back to your home.

Be on a first name basis with an electrician.  When utility poles are snapped, they will get your house's power lines ready to be re-connected.

The bottom line is that my family has been reading this blog for several years.  If it was not for SurvivalBlog, we might be one of the guys looking for help instead of being ready to get to work.

I took the [November, 2009] blog post regarding generator preparation to heart, so my generator was ready to work the next morning after the tornado struck.

Thank you Mr. Rawles and thank you to those who post here. I am a better person for it. - JEH

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dear Editor:
I have been reading your blog for a while but until Saturday, I never saw how a disaster could unhinge some people so quickly and what lack of preparedness can do to some people.

I went to deliver a chainsaw, some gas and water to a relative in Yazoo City and what is usually a 45 minute drive took over 2 hours. Land lines and cell towers were down, and if you had a phone with a certain carrier, the service was very spotty. The traffic was bad and the roads into the town were blocked and we were turned away twice by a motley group of authorities but mostly State police. One local deputy was sympathetic and told us a way to get in the town that was 35 miles out of our way and we eventually got close to the north side of town and we had to drive over live power lines and swerve around transformers. We got to the entrance of town and there were two State troopers blocking the exit but we told them we were delivering some supplies and they let us through. Eventually, we reached the home and there were trees and power lines everywhere. No power, no gas lines, homes and cars crushed, etc. One generator was being shared by neighbors and gas was being siphoned out of boats and cars to power it. There was one electric chainsaw that was plugged into the generator.

Things to note were that the authorities were very stressed out and not experienced with this kind of devastation and there were many people who tried to get to loved ones or family that couldn't get past the road blocks. Some people just left their cars on the sides of the road and were allowed to walk into town. One lady drove around the roadblock and was chased by a cop car. There were people panicking and the Red Cross got there and all they were doing was handing out water bottles. The power company was only responsible for getting the trees off the power lines. You could see people just staring at their crushed homes and houses wondering what to do. There were cops on four wheeler ATVs just riding around and eventually the National Guard showed up but they were just driving around.

Some lessons learned:

No one is getting into town right after a disaster

Have a big chainsaw and make sure there are no trees in your yard

Have a four-wheeler and a 15 foot trailer to haul out pieces of debris from your home/yard

Have a siphon and a generator

Know how to turn off your gas in your home because live wires and natural gas don't mix

Know beforehand that the authorities are not there to help you but to maintain order and the power company is not going to cut down that tree that is now in your dining room.

Brick homes fare better than stick ones

Anticipate that neighbors are going to freak out and run around like chickens with their heads cut off and try to do silly things like get in their cars and drive over debris in the road and get stuck and pop their tires.

Have gloves and chains in your truck and keep a full tank of gas at all times. Some people ran out of gas in the traffic.

Realize that tensions are going to be high and seeing weird things like one group of people having a barbecue and getting drunk and across the street one family was sitting on the lawn waiting for help is a recipe for a bad situation. I saw a kid in the road trying to flag us down and there were some guys leaning up against a house a bit out of sight. We just drove around him. I couldn't believe that it was already getting strange and the tornado was only a few hours earlier.

So in a nutshell, that was my experience and one more thing, the tornado hit so fast that the siren didn't give enough warning. And what was worse, people are conditioned to think the siren means thunderstorm or it could be a test or something else. So no one was prepared until they heard the freight train sound and with no one having basements in Mississippi, there isn't really a safe place to be.

Sincerely, - James H.

Friday, April 2, 2010

I thought this issue of Frontline was good. It had really good footage, and provided lots valuable exposure to real-world disasters. Particularly interesting was the type of medical treatment being employed there immediately after the disaster, amputations with no anesthesia for instance. I've decided I need to expand my first-aid kit after watching it. - Jeff M.

Monday, March 8, 2010

I had the recent somewhat surreal experience of going through the Hawaiian costal evacuation during the most recent tsunami alert. It was a near-miss natural disaster scenario that unfolded in slow motion because of the distance from the Chilean earthquake and the presence of tsunami alert sensors and monitoring officials. There are a few observations that I'd like to share.

I managed to stay ahead of the Golden Horde phenomena by a few hours and it was interesting to just acknowledge some of the predictable elements: most people were not alerted to the risk of the tsunami until 0600 when the civil defense sirens went off. The gas stations and grocery stores were subsequently mobbed and quickly were depleted of supplies. For the most part people were civil with each other but there were some conflicts despite the local radio hosts admonitions to "remember people, love, love, love -- aloha". I think the conflicts were minimal because this was a "potential" disaster only. The costal highways of course were packed. Look at a map of Maui and you can see how egress from many of the more densely populated areas is limited to a single road (right on the coast).

The other folks who were up with me at 0200 beating the crowds tended to be folks with increased "situational awareness". For example, I talked with a guy that had worked for the powerplant and knew that it was in the inundation zone and was threatened. This also included the main airport and of course the harbors. He currently works for the public utility and also knew that water and sewage pumping stations would be: a) turned off in expectation of the tsunami surge and b) out of commission if the island took a big hit. In a place where everything has to be shipped from somewhere else, it didn't take much imagination to realize that 120,000 inhabitants and 60,000 tourists could be quickly SOL for services and supplies.

All of this was of course to be expected. Somewhat more subtle revelations include:

-Even if you are going to Hawaii for your 25th wedding anniversary a preparedness awareness and travel kit are in order

-Consider the potential threats in your travel destination. For example a hotel room could be selected not just for the view but with the knowledge that in a tsunami you can vertically evacuate to above the 3rd floor, trying to balance with concerns for fire, or earthquake (these are volcanic islands of course and while there we also got to experience the Vog - volcanic smog, coming from the big island).

-When we arrived we didn't "need" anything more than a compact car - but it turned out to be prudent to have rented a vehicle with extra cargo carrying capacity when suddenly I was packing cases of water and food and supplies for potential camp out for multiple days

-It reminded me that the being in a state that disallows for conceal carry and personal/ family defense is not just a quaint ideological or cultural shift, but has potential real implications

-I was lucky in that I was up late enough to get the earliest tsunami warning reports. If it weren't for the Olympic coverage on television (which I normally would not be watching), I too would had my first awareness of the situation at 0600 with the rest of the clueless. It taught me that in your travel environment, (or home for that matter) some kind of monitoring of news and or civil defense sources is a good idea.

| -One shouldn't rely on the hotel or your other hosts for timely prep or information -- they still had their maintenance folks sweeping sidewalks just off the beach as part of their tsunami prep.

-We had selected a hotel room outfitted with a kitchen and this really helped when it came to taking essentials for cooking and cleaning, (as well as self defense if you count a 10" chef's knife)

-Civil Defense plans and their orchestration with local agencies was pretty good - but: a) a lot of sirens that were supposed to did not go off, and there were "gathering points" for evacuees that had no supplies (food, water, etc) because this was not part of the plan. Obviously the civil defense planning has not yet included secure power and water supply systems either. Your travel situational awareness might also include taking in the strength and weakness of governmental agencies and infrastructure. This now goes on my travel checklist.

I feel very lucky to have been able to watch and learn from all of this without having had to experience a full blown catastrophe. The process is going to light a fire under my tail to get going with my preparedness plans and to give all of them some needed hard reflection.

Thanks for all the education I have already received from SurvivalBlog. - B.P.S.

Friday, March 5, 2010

I thought that you and your family might be encouraged by the following: There was an extraordinary occurrence in Haiti on February 17th. Here is a blog entry with a YouTube link about a nationally declared three days of fasting and prayer in Haiti. Amazing grace.

The final sentence in the entry is the most sobering:

"The only sadness that I feel today is for our nation. While a nation that has long been under Satan's domination is turning to God with total commitment, our nation, founded on Godly values, has rejected God and is rapidly trying to forget that His name even exists. Let us pray for revival." - Sheila M.

Hi James,
Its been a while. I just spent eight days in Haiti building a radio station in Crois des Bouquets. We were working with a church and pastor I have worked with before. He had about thirty Haitian people who lost everything in his home, plus 10 Americans, three on our radio team, and an evangelistic team out of Florida.

Our team went in with tent, MREs and Mountain House food. a water filter plus all of our necessities. fortunately we didn't need our food but donated it to the house hold to aid others. We left our tents, sleeping bags, and air mattresses behind and told the Pastor to give them to people he knew who really needed it.

We got a radio message from the states inquiring about an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp who had been sent aid
by a ministry in Indiana. Apparently they had not received their aid yet. We checked and thought we had the right IDP camp. They had not had anything to eat or water in over a week.

My first thought being an old army sergeant was: "Where are the privies?" There were no sanitation pits dug, and people were relieving themselves out in the open. This was just about three miles from the airport at the river bridge. There were two large tent cities in the same location with absolutely no sanitation facilities.

I talked with the leader of one camp and ask why they had no latrines dug. They had absolutely nothing to dig a hole with. I told him that if they didn't do something immediately about the problem, that disease would go through that camp in short order, and could wipe them all out. I told him I would get a pick and some shovels. I did so the next day.

On the following day we were leaving and the camp had a team out digging privies. Praise the Lord.
James, and readers, there was at that time absolutely nothing being done about sanitation in the camps. The U.S. Army was really concerned about this issue, but their hands were tied. There were no NGOs addressing the problem either. It is a major issue with the medical people I met.

I did see about ten brand new porta Johns at the IDP camp across the street from the presidential palace. But there was no one using them. I'm sure they were put there for the news nosies, just for the cameras. I know in the next month there will be a second disaster developing, and there already is in one camp. (I got word from a person that I trust and that is in the know, that a large TB outbreak had already occurred in one of the IDP camps.

The Haiti government is very inept and un prepared for any disaster. the UN, USAID, UNICEF, Red Curse, et cetera are all just having meetings and doing very little to help the situation.

All I saw when I was there was Christian ministries getting the job done. I know the Samaritan's Purse, Operation Blessing, Friend Ships, Catholic Relief, Mennonites, Baptists, et cetera are in there getting their hands dirty and getting the job done.

I would just say in closing that the first thing after a disaster strikes, and people are having to camp out, or go into a camp is to dig a suitable latrine, and make some effort to keep clean. One of the first things that our servicemen in all of our services learn in basic training is field sanitation. If our military were turned loose to help I know full well they would go in there and help provide some form of field sanitation.

I do have to say the Christians are pulling together in Haiti, and people are turning to Christ by the thousands.
Blessings, - Dave M. (A Blessings For Obedience World Missionary Radio volunteer)

Mr. Rawles,

I thought I'd drop a note having been in Haiti from the day after the quake to a couple weeks ago, and having run an ongoing program there for a few years now. I wanted to comment on the issue of rioting in Haiti versus. Chile. I think the core issue was that people in each country were faced with different immediate challenges.

In Haiti, like many other developing countries lacking Chile's level of building codes and construction standards, Port Au Prince was extremely vulnerable to a quake. Because the quake hit only a few miles from Port Au Prince you had complete destruction of entire zones of the city, with entire blocks where 4/5 of the buildings just collapsed. As a result the death toll was 220,000 people.

The immediate job for a large percentage of the city became how do I dig through these buildings to rescue those 220,000 people or at least recover the bodies. The self organized work crews were pretty incredible. For much of the rest of the population the immediate task became how do I find my family and find shelter. Most of those alive were in front of completely destroyed houses (1.5 million homeless) Even when looking for a few immediate resources because so much was destroyed people were salvaging collapse sites more often than looting.

In addition the atmosphere was somber and surreal, the work crews pulling out bodies everywhere in the city and piling them, the people crying for help, the surgery taking place on the street. I would say that everybody I spoke to who emerged from that situation left with a truly profound sorrow in their hearts. Missing a day or two of food was pretty secondary for most people. Many Haitians have dealt with food insecurity and hunger before, that wasn't as much of an immediate issue. Even for aid workers it was hard to even remember to eat much less worry about it.

Outside Port Au Prince people were largely just melancholy, it is a small country, everybody had somebody who died, everything was shut down, you couldn't get money from banks or buy food in stores for a week, yet there weren't people in the streets till the very end of that, and even then it was just some organized marches in front of the banks for them to re-open. Within four days in Port Au Prince many of the aid services started emerging and food and water started to become more readily available. Within 6 days some money transfer services started opening in the rest of the country and commerce started again.

Thankfully in Chile, outside of the terrible devastation in the Tsunami zone, comparatively many of the structures in the earthquake zone stood. So the challenges faced were different. The people seen on television looting seem more concerned about scarce resources than trying to dig out their trapped friends and family out of the rubble. With a death toll under 1,000 so far the number of people who are directly missing people or who came back to find their home collapsed on their family must be much lower. Which leaves more people concerned about "Where do I get food, where do I get water" than "How do I dig these people out, dear god there are so many people dead, everywhere"

I think in the end the Chilean people will look back on this tragedy and realize how prepared they were as a nation, that they had put the standards in place to keep their buildings standing and they will take that to heart in preparing on a personal level. I am hopeful things will calm and they will find the strength to rebuild.

For the readers who want to know how to prepare for seismic situations let me offer 3 bits of gear advice, always have a full unbreakable water bottle on you, always carry a whistle, and always keep a respirator (even if just an n-95 mask in a pocket, you would not comprehend the toxic cloud that is created when a city collapses, it was like 9-11 everywhere). Beyond that if you are in a developing country in a seismic area with poor cement block construction (lots of parts of Peru, Guatemala, Thailand, Dominican Republic, India, Pakistan, etc) in older style buildings try to sleep near an exit to an open courtyard, try to stay in one story buildings, stay away from adobe. The safest bet is to try to stay in modern hotels, the big chains force proper construction techniques. If the quake hits get out and watch for falling hazards. Many prayers that the readers of this blog never have to face anything like what people are facing in Chile or Haiti. Sincerely, - Peter H.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Dear James:
I came across article today titled Food Handouts Turn Chaotic in Haitian Capitol. I find it quite amazing that still to this day and age that the government and social aid organizations are so unorganized. I think that they should use the novel One Second After [by William R. Forstchen] as a guide for food distribution. I've just finished reading that novel, and it just justifies that all preppers (including myself) are not crazy thinkers we are just making sure that we can take care of our families when something either natural or governmental disaster happens. - A Prepared Woman in the Southern Southwest.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Dear Jim,
Thank you for the blog. It has helped my family and I to be more prepared than we had ever imagined. I found this Fox News article and thought you might be interested. There are a few things here that have been discussed at length in SurvivalBlog and in your books, but it is good to look at them [actually coming to pass] in real world situations. These include: 1) The police chief can get less than half of his force out. That is probably because they are trying to fend for themselves. 2) They are asking “what is taking the foreigners so long?” Why aren’t they dependant on themselves? 3) Half of the aid coming into their country is from the US Army. If this scenario happened here, who would be bringing aid here? 4) The ones who seem to be doing the best are the ones who live in the hills and who blocked access to their area with cars. 5) Don’t count on the government. That is one young man’s take on things. 6) When the grid goes down, what happens with the criminals in the prisons? Blessings and I hope you enjoy. - Bill H.

Mr. Rawles,
My wife and I were so sorry for your loss and your family has been in our prayers. Our family believes like you that the thin veneer is very real. I thought this article proves your point about the "Golden Horde" and staying away from "Channelized Areas" (aka "Refugee Lines of Drift").

We were very fortunate to escape a "luxury community in South Texas" and return to the Northwest, purchase our retreat as well as continue our preparations. We took advantage of your "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course and free book offer and have been pleasantly surprised (even though we are preppers there was still an abundance of info that we gleaned from it and it changed a little of our pantry storage process). Regards, - Mr. and Mrs. Foxtrot

Greetings Jim,
About a year ago, I submitted a piece on some lessons learned from Hurricane Iniki that struck the island of Kauai in 1992. There were three points from that article that I believe are relevant to what we see in Haiti. One is the problems encountered when rescuers attempt to squeeze a large number of aircraft into one airport. There are monumental challenges with off-loading and moving supplies and equipment in a timely and orderly manner. The second is the need for armed security at distribution points to control the crowds. Most troubling, is the ratio of relief workers to island residents. On Kauai, at the peak of the relief effort, there was one relief worker for every 10 island residents. To achieve that 1:10 ratio on Haiti would require 200,000 to 300,000 relief workers and security forces to assist and protect 2 to 3 million displaced Haitians. That kind of support is unlikely to materialize. We can expect more violence in the days ahead. - Bill in Honolulu

Mr. Rawles,
A few items from Haiti. Ham radio operators trying to help were fired upon, apparently by escaped convicts. I also read that prisoners broke from prison after the quake, stripped weapons from the guards, including assault rifles, and the descended on the rubble of the Justice Ministry to destroy all records of their prior crimes. Obviously, the prison break maps very closely to some of the scenarios you've discussed on SurvivalBlog and in your books. People who believe they do not need to be armed when facing a collapse event should read these articles more closely. Best wishes to you and your family. Keep your powder dry. I fear we're all going to need ours soon. - Dave R.

Mr. Rawles,
I've been reading your new "How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It" book. I like it. I was reminded of something I read there in the sanitation chapter about dealing with dead bodies when I saw this article from the BBC. I also found the Management of Dead Bodies Field Guide the article referenced. The manual can be downloaded. Thank you for all your work. I pray your family is doing well since your loss. God bless. - JG

Dear Jim:
The recent earthquake in Haiti is a perfect example of why disaster planning and preparations are so important. While the most technologically advanced nations on earth try and get aid to the region, they are hindered by a broken port and single poorly equipped airport. Rioting has begun and aid workers are being shot at and mobbed.

This is not a unique situation. This is a mirror for past, present and future disasters. Los Angeles riots, Hurricane Katrina, ice storms, heat waves, tidal waves, etc. all cause an immense amount of death and suffering for the first few weeks simply because folks are not prepared with the basics and the 'government' is lucky to be able to find its shoes in the dark with both hands.

Beans, Band-Aids and Bullets. Or to be more precise, water, medical supplies, fuel, shelter, and the means to defend one's family.

CNN shows the displaced under tarps on main street next to decaying bodies. A military helicopter dropping supplies was mobbed so badly that debris was being thrown up into the rotor blades. After the supplies were all gone, in a few seconds, the crowd began to fight over the empty cardboard boxes! Haitian police just opened fire on a looting mob. This is not a drill.

I have vowed not be forced into that type of situation. I have prepared my immediate family (now numbering ten! what happened?) to be able to ride out at least thirty days of hardship and could well do more if we restrict intake and no one is hurt. We will have our stores and we will be able to defend it. No Katrina/Superdome type fiasco for us thank you very much, hopefully we will hole up here at the house but if need be we can bug out to a campsite away from the maddening crowd.

I know this is preaching to the choir but Haiti is not an anomaly. It is what happens in real life when folks miss only three meals. Bless you and your staff. - Cactus Jim

Hi James,
Wanted to point out this article as an example of your prediction of the "golden hoard" coming true. I can't even imagine the carnage when 1 million people realize they have to, and can't, wait for food to grow where they are headed. I've read "Patriots" and with this many people heading into the countryside, do you seriously think holding the fort is possible? It seems the only viable option will be to bug out and keep ahead of the hoard. - Kevin in Honolulu

Here's a story about a U.S. Compassion International worker in Haiti who was trapped by the earthquake. - Jerry

Friday, January 15, 2010

The aftermath of the recent earthquake in Haiti has underscored the fragility of modern societies. In the event of a major disaster, it doesn't take long for "the thin veneer" of civilization to be peeled back. And please keep in mind that headlines like the following are not exclusive to Third World countries: Gangs Armed With Machetes Loot Port-Au-Prince; Central Business District Resembles Hell On Earth As Bodies Pile Up And Armed Men Battle Over Food, Supplies.
Here is a key quote from another recent news story from Haiti: "Money is worth nothing right now, water is the currency," one foreign aid-worker told Reuters."

Get your beans, bullets, and Band-Aids together folks, and plenty of training to go with them!


Today we present another entry for Round 26 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest.

First Prize: A.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner's choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost between $500 and $600, and B.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees, in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $392 value.) C.) A HAZARiD Decontamination Kit from Safecastle.com. (A $350 value.), and D.) A 500 round case of Fiocchi 9mm Luger, 124gr. Hornady XTP/HP ammo, courtesy of Sunflower Ammo. This is a $249 value.

Second Prize: A "grab bag" of preparedness gear and books from Jim's Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $350.

Third Prize: A copy of my "Rawles Gets You Ready" preparedness course, from Arbogast Publishing.

Round 26 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that articles that relate practical "how to" skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Friday, October 30, 2009


While scanning through iTunes U, I found a television (or audio) series from University of California TV on disaster preparedness. They are professionally produced and contain a wealth of information about about emergency response systems are intended to work. Included here are four of the fifteen or so shows that they have put together. The ones I have included are Natural Disasters, Chemical and Biological Agents, Pandemic Influenza and Emerging Infections and Disaster Volunteerism

They go over several case studies that happened in California, but talk about organizations generally enough that it is applicable to most areas with advanced emergency response systems. At the end, I have included links to more shows in UCTV disaster preparedness series.

Here are some video links and excerpted brief summaries:

Disaster Preparedness: Natural Disasters

Transportation and care
Multiple disasters co-existing (earthquake, fire, flood)

Wild fire
-larger then expected

Family Preparedness
-Family network - getting everyone involved
-List of material that needs to be packed to go
-Long distance phones can work (call to foreign county, deliver message, foreign county calls to local number you could not reach), calling local people sometimes doesn't when the disaster is local. This would appear to be a failure of the phone system to update their routing tables dynamically.
-Define a meeting place for your family
-Stores and supplies at home
-Tent, stove, propane, water
-72 hour critical supply of food, medicine and water
-Laundry - Something I had not thought about
-Communications and information management, one of the most difficult things
-Real time information systems - where the fire is, what the evacuations plan is
-After action report - learn from what worked and what didn't
-Reverse 911 only works for land lines.
-Multiple layers of communications, multiple contacts per person
-"Alternative care sites" shelter, Fairgrounds, school gymnasiums, arenas, animal shelters
-Special needs patients, elderly, dialysis
-First day great, everyone helping one another - Day 2 short tempers - social workers and behavioral specialists needed, neighborhoods forming
-It is mentioned *many* times that people will not leave their pets behind. Include them in your preps.

-Single point of contact - single voice speaking for a set of resources
-If you build it, they will come. Where lights are on, people go there.
There are several phases
1. Immediate injuries - Crush injuries, Amputations, Head injuries, airway obstruction
2. Secondary illnesses - Blood pressure medication, diabetes medication, increased rate of heart attack and child birth
95% are rescued by local responders and volunteers in the first 24 hours.

Disaster Preparedness: Chemical and Biological Agents

Disaster Preparedness: Pandemic Influenza and Emerging Infections

Disaster Preparedness: Disaster Volunteerism

More Programs in Emergency Preparedness / Emergency Medicine

Regards, - Ben M.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mr. Rawles,

I just finished reading Patriots, all I can say is thank you. A few things I'd like to add to what TiredTubes said about hurricane preparedness:

First, when my wife and I first moved to Florida we had little knowledge of hurricanes and their impact. However, due to great parents we had been brought up to always be prepared. So we read and made preparations for ourselves. We lived in an apartment at the time (now we live in a 1960 block home with hurricane panels and a new tile roof) and I asked the apartment manager about logistics of preparing the complex for storms. I could easily tell that this manager of about 200 units had never been asked this question. I asked if maintenance installed the hurricane shutters or do the residents? If the residents do where are they located? At which point in time is the decision made to batten down the hatches? Just blank stares, no answers. I should point out our plan was to protect our valuables as best we could but we would be bugging out. If you live in an apartment or condo complex get the info on the managements plan, and if they don't have one, offer to help form one it will likely come out better if you do.

Second, help other areas after a hurricane, more specifically go to areas affected, even if it requires some travel. The reason is two-fold: A) It's what a Christian, or any moral person should do if able to. B) If you have not experienced a hurricane first hand you will glean countless lessons just cleaning up in the aftermath. Soon after moving to southeast Florida for school the west coast of Florida was hit by hurricanes Charley and Frances. My wife and I both drove over to help out with our church group. Take your own gas, food, water, ice, tools especially the tire plugger and 12 VDC compressor, supplies you want to be a help, not a burden. If there is room take extra supplies and come home in an empty vehicle. With a little common sense I learned things that I'd never have thought of had I not seen the aftermath. You can develop an eye for weaknesses, something a book or web site can't provide alone. A small example is the fact that I was the only one on my street who took five minutes to dig his mailbox up out of the shallow sand and put it in the garage (what's that crazy guy doing?) but then it didn't end up as a missile like some others, when we were hit.

Third, creature comforts. When we were hit by hurricane Wilma (not necessarily high on the Affairs Hurricane scale but 3rd costliest hurricane in US history) we were prepared but lost power for 17 days. Thankfully the freezer stayed cold, the lights stayed on and the gas supply lasted. However, at the time my wife was pregnant with #1 daughter and not feeling well, what added to her discomfort was the fact that most generators cannot run a central air conditioning system and it was hot and muggy. A fan can only do so much for an expectant mother. For us relief came in the form of a friend who had a window air conditioner unit which our generator could handle. This provided a room where my wife could comfortably rest and I could have decent sleep to recover from the post-hurricane cleanup. The units are not excessively expensive and can provide a welcome relief.

Thanks again, - Steve B.

Dear Editor,
Be sure to test any UPS/generator combination before you have to rely on it. Many off-the-shelf UPS units will not accept or pass on incoming power that is not pristine in terms of frequency and voltage. Many lower end generators do not put out pristine power.

I have tested several combinations of generators up to $500 and UPS units up to $200, none would work together reliably.

Higher-end UPS units such as those for commercial data centers can usually be configured for a wider range of incoming power quality, from puritanical to promiscuous.

Bidding on eBay might land you a deal on a 2KW or greater commercial UPS that needs a new set of batteries. Batteries are not expensive, though they are almost always sealed lead-acid types that will need to be replaced every five years or so given gentle treatment.

It is no substitute for a proper battery bank and inverter. -Vlad

Thursday, October 22, 2009

In September, 2008, Hurricane Ike--a Category 4 hurricane--pounded the Gulf Coast of the southern US. Some coastal communities like Crystal Beach no longer really exist. Inland, life was severely disrupted. For those of us on the South Coast hurricanes are a frequent reality. We were quite well prepared, but used the disruptions and dislocations as a test and opportunity to tune up our preparations.

1. Be ready to help others and to accept help We didn't need much during Ike, but the power went out before a neighbor finished boarding up his house. My 1 KW inverter, hooked up to his idling truck provide the juice for a Skilsaw and a few lights; allowing him to finish. Usually it is skills and not "stuff" that helps others and yourself. Besides strengthening a neighborly friendship, the number of damaged houses was probably reduced by one.

2. Keep your stuff squared away.. I repaired a few generators during and after Ike. I observed that every one suffering from lack of use; i.e. gasoline that resembled turpentine in the carburetor. People were at a complete loss to understand this. My daugher-in-law owned one of the generators that I repaired. She ignored my admonition to change the dirty oil ASAP and then once every 50 hours. Early in the next week it [ran out of oil and] threw a rod. She was in the dark for another week. Just a $2.99 quart of oil would have saved discomfort, ruined food, etc.
My portable genset, loaned to my daughter, was ready to go;  fresh oil, filters, valves set, exercised, load tested. It started on the first try. I came to check it and change it's oil as soon as it was safe to travel. The first thing that I did was turn it so the exhaust faced away from the house! She had placed it so that the starter rope was in a convenient spot. At least she had, like I had asked, chained and locked it to a foundation pier.

After every hurricane Darwin gets a few through accidental carbon monoxide poisoning. Don't join them. If you have a generator, get a carbon monoxide detector in case the wind changes and wafts exhaust in your windows.

Our own [permanently-installed] genset uses natural gas (a tri-fuel generator) which in the majority of cases is superior and much cheaper to operate. Over the 11 days that we didn't have power it consumed $100 worth of natural gas. I estimate that an equivalent amount of gasoline would have cost more than $300. I stopped it every 75 hours for oil and filter. If your genset doesn't have an hour meter, then add one. There are some inexpensive self contained hour meters made for lawn equipment that work very well and require no hard wiring. It's really the only practical way to keep track of operating time, without which, intelligent maintenance is impossible.

I noticed that many generators, some still in the box, on Craigslist following Hurricane Ike at bargain basement prices. I recommended to a friend he latch onto one of these and purchase a dual-fuel gasoline/natural gas carburetor] kit. Ants can profit from short-sighted grasshoppers.

It goes without saying have all your vehicles filled up and serviced so they can be depended upon with out much attention. Pay particular attention to cooling systems, oil changes, tire pressures, belts and battery terminals.

Develop a pre-event SOP: When we hear of a hurricane in the Gulf, we pick up loose items like branches that can be thrown by high winds and cause damage (aviators call this rubbish FOD), trim trees, check prescriptions, recharge everything rechargeable, treat the swimming pool with "shock" chlorine, get all the laundry and dishes done, get all the trash out for pickup, take “before” pictures, etc., etc., etc.

3. Have backups for your backups. The portable generator above was our backup to the natural gas-fueled genset. Then an inverter and ups. After that is a 100 Watt solar array I've been tinkering with to provide power for security lighting,etc.

My daughter spent up to two hours a day foraging gas, mostly waiting in lines. She found out that the problem with gasoline-fuel generators is gasoline! It's expensive, in short supply (when it is needed most), and it takes gas to go and get gas! Needless to say I rounded up the parts and the portable is now a dual fuel machine. Had it been able to use natural gas then she could have stayed home and been one less person waiting in line. And the machine still retains the capability to burn gasoline!

Since gasoline became hard to come by (it was impossible to get for a week after Rita) but diesel fuel was plentiful we did any necessary traveling in my old diesel Mercedes (which is EMP proof, BTW).

One important word on generators: Treat yours like it is the last one you'll ever get. Try and get a good one, I prefer either a Honda or Briggs Vangard engine. My Vangard portable is approx 10 years old and absolutely dependable. The difference is methodical maintenance. Keep the manuals, and read 'em ! Keep the oil changed, keep a fresh spark plug, keep spare [oil, air, and fuel] filters. Most importantly run it under load once a month. Unless it's new, pull off the cowling and clean all the dirt and dust from fins on the cylinder jug. Closely examine the starter rope, the fuel lines, et cetera. Replace 'em if they ain't perfect.

If you get a permanently installed generator carefully consider installing a manual transfer switch and other upgrades. With the exception of automatic "exercising" fully automatic generators these add a layer of complication and cost.

Don't store gasoline in the machine other than enough for one periodic test run. Develop a ritual on test runs: such as every other payday, or the last Saturday in the month, to reduce it to a ritual. I run mine monthly whilst cutting the back yard lawn. (The mower makes more noise.)

For storage between test runs: On portable gensets [with the ignition off, slowly ] pull the cord until you can feel that the engine is at the top of the compression stroke. This is where the engine feels like you are pulling it through a "detent". It puts the piston at the top of the bore and closes both valves. This protects the cylinder from moisture. If you store gasoline then use stabilizer, after six months burn it in your car and replace it. Few experiences are worse that trying to clean out a carburetor by a dim flashlight whilst being consumed alive by salt marsh mosquitoes. Trust me on this. BTW, I've had better results storing "winter" blended gas, since t has more light fractions and starts easier year round.

If you use gas cans; stick with metal, preferably safety cans. Plastics are slightly permeable and it will go bad much faster in a plastic can. On that note, [in humid climates] don’t keep spare spark plugs with the machine. This is because in outdoor storage the insulators can absorb moisture [and the metal parts can corrode]. Keep them inside or in a sealed can with some silica gel. An old one-quart paint can is ideal.

If you have a dual-fuel machine, then break the engine in on gasoline and make sure it operates properly on both fuels under load. Keep the necessary connectors for gas operation on the machine so that you don't have to go searching for that 3/8ths-inch pipe nipple with a flashlight.

Use high quality oils, and have enough. Don't forget to also store plenty of 2-stroke [fuel mixing] oil and chain oil if you intend to use a chainsaw. Maybe store some extra for your neighbors that are less prudent. I use Rotella brand synthetic oil and Wix brand filters, and have had good results with them.

Make sure you have enough oil, filters and plugs for at least two weeks (336 hours), or longer. Don't forget about your equipment after the crisis is over: There are valves to set, oil and plugs to change, etc. Even if you own two generators and have enough flashlights, automatic emergency lights, et cetera, things can, and may likely go wrong. Small children usually do not take kindly to being plunged into total darkness. Unless it is TEOTWAWKI, keep the candles in the cupboard, especially if there are small children about.

4. Double your plans for helping other people. Several relatives from coastal areas evacuated to our house (approximately 50 miles inland). I keep a 55 gallon drum of stabilized gasoline to fill up their cars to get them home. This was a lesson learned after the Rita evacuation cluster. How much food you will go through will surprise you. It finally dawned upon us that we almost always eat dinner (lunch to you Northerners) and sometimes breakfast away from home. So what we consumed whilst hunkered down seemed out of proportion.

We also sent some food home with people to hold them over. I was able to "lend" a retired neighbor enough generated power to keep his freezer, television, and fan going. He was genuinely happy. This also meant that he was one less person in line for ice, food, and so forth.

5. Keep a dial up phone line around, after 24 hours the cell phone tower generators started running out of propane, the cable modem (and the cable) went down with the power. Remember how to make that dial-up modem work.

If you're not a Ham radio operator, then find out where the local hams conduct their emergency nets, and listen on your shortwave radio (HF) or scanner (2-meter and 440 band) and you'll know a lot more that the local television news truck can find out.

If you have cable television, then keep a traditional antenna handy. If you live near a major market the local AM news station, then it is probably a good bet. Have a good UPS, plug the computer and the desk lamp into it. If you have a cordless phone, plug it into the UPS too. The UPS will take the "bumps" out of the generator's power; your computer will thank you. Make sure you test the UPS periodically by plugging in a 100 Watt lamp and pulling the plug on the UPS. I find I need to replace that UPS battery about every 2-to-3 years.

6. Plan for the guests. Have plenty of soap, have a small flashlight (preferably with rechargeable batteries) for each guest. Have things other than television to keep youngsters occupied. Try and get plenty of rest. You'll probably be plenty busy after you can poke your head out again. In this vein don't forget dishwashing supplies, laundry supplies, baby supplies, etc. If it's a predictable event such as a hurricane, have all the dishes and laundry done. before it hits.

A television in a room by itself will keep the racket contained from those who want to read, play games or just sleep. If you have the space, then a “quiet room” where  people can just rest, read, be alone, have some privacy or get a fussy to baby to sleep cuts down on contagious stress.

7. Make sure you are medically prepared. Have a rather complete first aid kit that includes a backboard and splinting materials. There will be plenty of cuts,scrapes, bruises, sunburns and sore muscles in the aftermath. Have Band-Aids, 4x4s, neosporin, peroxide etc. Have plenty of acid reducer and immodium on hand (stress and unfamiliar cooking), have at least two weeks of prescription drugs on hand [and preferably much more for any chronic health issues]. Have a good assortment of Tylenol, cold and sinus preparations, BenGay [muscle ointment], good  multivitamins, etc.

8.Be extra, extra, extra careful. You getting sick or more likely injured can really mess things up for everyone you have prepared for. Not to mention that the local fire/ambulance is probably already overtaxed. Be extremely careful handling fire and fuels. A lot of us are not entirely fluent in using chainsaws, small engines, fixing roofs, trimming trees and moving debris.[JWR Adds: safety equipment including heavy gloves, kevlar chainsaw safety chaps, and a combination safety helmet with face shield and muffs are absolute "musts"!] Don't get in a hurry unless there is a threat to life. Be hyper cautious, be very aware of your surroundings and things that can go wrong. Don’t toil alone. Make sure you have a clear path to beat a hasty retreat if things go wrong. Wear those gloves, safety glasses, boots and maybe a hard hat.

Don't overtax yourself. Getting a fallen the tree off of the roof today avails you little if it triggers a heart attack or heat stroke. Ask God's assistance and start over tomorrow.

Keep fire extinguishers near the gas generator, in the kitchen, and near the camp stove.

Avoid using candles at all costs, and absolutely prohibit smoking indoors for the duration. Have more than enough battery smoke detectors around.

9. Be ready to make temporary repairs.. The missing shingles, damaged windows, etc. Have some plywood, a few 2x4s, some Visqueen polyethylene sheeting, batting boards, duct tape, a tarp, some nails, and so forth around. If you happen to have a good cordless drill, then you'll find sheet rock and deck screws are very superior to nails. If you're squared away then you already have this stuff , but a neighbor might be in need, so buy extra.

Debris creates flat tires for quite some time after many events. Have a tire plug kit and a 12 VDC compressor in each vehicle. Repairs to structures, especially roof repairs guarantee nails in tires. Be ready for them..

Have everything rechargeable recharged. Make sure you have some traditional non-power tools, I have a handsaw that I've had for decades, a good bow saw, ax, maul, sledge and an old eggbeater style hand drill still get regular use.

10. If I had my choice of just one utility it would be running water. Fortunately where we reside is served by a well run rural utility district which has prepared well for hurricanes. Failing this, in addition to stored water I have a portable gas utility pump (Robin brand) that can pressurize our water system from our pool and has sufficient capacity for a fire line. The pool got a good jolt of shock a day before the storm hit.

11.Keep some cash money handy. For a few days [with no utility power] there were no functional ATMs, and no way to use credit or debit cards.

12. Keep a low profile. About a week after Ike a passerby indignantly asked "How'd you get your lights turned on?" This showed his ignorance on several levels. He seemed to think someone just had to flip a switch downtown and "shazam!" his lights are on. I couldn't make him understand there has to be an unbroken physical link between a power plant and consumer, this seemed to aggravate his obvious helplessness. Telling him that we had been making our own juice seemed to irritate him. I wonder who he voted for? People with this mindset (that the world owes them something) could be a genuine liability in a real catastrophe. (BTW on a news show during a piece about energy, I actually heard a lady refer to natural gas as “just another dirty fossil fuel”) and not be challenged on the facts. Little minds scare me. I think that the hyper-liberals would love to use the heavy hand of government to force the ants take care of the grasshoppers.  Keep a low profile. The best advice I ever heard on the subject (I believe it was Howard J. Ruff ) was to "keep your principles public and your actions private".

13. Keep a notebook, keep a record of what happened, but especially keep a record of preps you overlooked or screwed up, or stuff you ran out of, or skills that need to be added or honed. That's where most of the preceding information came from! Also keep tabs on what's scarce after an event. Gas was scarce, but diesel plentiful after Rita. In contrast, after Ike there was plenty of fuel, but few operating stations due to lack of power. (There was a "mandatory evacuation" during Rita which turned out to be a fatal traffic jam for a few poor souls which quickly emptied the filling station tanks.) Out our way the local Wal-Mart made a heroic effort and opened up on locally-generated power, two days after Ike. The sheriff’s department was there to “maintain order”. (Let’s just say that they actually wear brown shirts here.). This event was a lifetime opportunity to study the varied behaviors of people under stress.

There were plenty of canned goods and auto supplies. But fresh fruits and veggies were a little thin, no meat due to lack of refrigeration for a few days, batteries, Coleman fuel, trash bags, paper plates, disposable diapers, formula, and nails evaporated. The pharmacy was closed.

Even with the numerous mistakes we made, we were able to stay safe, secure and comfortable and help others while "victims" were standing or idling their car engines in lines. It was an opportunity to try things out under more or less controlled conditions. WTSHTF there will not be controlled conditions!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Background Information:

My interest in preparedness started in earnest really just a few months ago.  Before that, I had been an avid backpacker, rock climber, and other sports which require self-sufficiency and forethought.  I am also a Red Cross volunteer.  I was at hurricane Wilma, and I have done local search and rescue, amongst other things.  This February I was dispatched to the south-western region of Kentucky for the Ice Storms.  What I learned there changed me in a lot of ways.

I was aware of the pending economic collapse, but hadn't really thought of practical things to do until then.  As a pre-1840s Re-enactor, I was pretty sure I could comfortably live in a pre-industrial setting.  A little hubris, maybe, but at 23 sometimes that goes with the territory.

While we drove into Kentucky, parts of it looked like a war-zone.  Downed trees and power lines, roofs collapsed, the whole deal.  It was a long drive, and it really set in for us how serious this was.  People's lives were on the line. 

There were three FEMA gas depots throughout the State, but FEMA did next to nothing to help here.  Without electricity, the pumps at the gas station will not work.  Some place had hooked up diesel generators to power the pumps if they could, and very few business that were still open would accept anything but cash. 

When we arrived in the small town to which we had been dispatched, we found that the Red Cross volunteers at the shelter had not slept for any normal amount of time in close to 8 days.  At the height of the storms our shelter slept 150 people.

We gave the local volunteers a needed break, and worked 20-hour days.  It was rough; but anyone who has been in that situation knows it can very rewarding as well.  We served 800 hot meals a day, gave out pallets upon pallets of MREs and uncounted bottles of water.

The grid-water had been contaminated, so bottled water was really all the people could drink or wash with if they didn't have a very, very deep well, even then they were on a boil-alert.  If your house did not have a wood burning stove, then you were sleeping with us.  All together the power and gas were out, in some places, for more than 20 days.

That's the background and the quick version of events which eventually led to my interest in this area.

On to the practical details that I learned.  First and most important was this:  when the trucking lines break down, within two or perhaps three days, every store will be sold out of all dry food.  That means, that if you don't have at least two weeks worth of food stored up, you'll be visiting me at the Shelter.

We slept (at out busiest day) 150 people in the shelter. No electricity, no gas, no water.  We're talking serious survival kind of situations.  In talking with the people there, excluding the elderly, the main reason people could not stay in their homes was heat.  If you had a wood burning stove, you were basically fine.  You could get by. 

FEMA had  a recording when you called them, that gave the residents the Red Cross local number.  They did such unhelpful things as tell people we were giving our generators, gasoline, and kerosene.  Things that to my knowledge the RC has never done, and we were not doing.  FEMA had fliers telling people the could free food if they needed it.  Supposedly they actually gave out about 1000 meals, but after that they referred people to us.

Lesson learned here: Do not, under any condition, assume FEMA or any other government agency will help you.  Help yourself, and help your neighbors.

When I got back from Kentucky, I started to put the things I had seen in order.  I started to mentally make lists of the things I would need when this situation came to my neck of the woods.  I did not want to be in the shelter when (not if) something happened near me.

The main reason I saw in this specific situation was heat.  So I planned on picking up at least two working wood burners.  Then came water, then came food, and in a long-term scenario: barter.


My house has a fireplace, and although that is not very efficient, in a pinch it would do until I can find the kind of stoves I really want.  So I moved on to next item.


Water was pretty easy.  I have a couple of streams on my property, and I can collect rain water.  Some friends and I built a gravity-fed purification system.  We modified two used beer kegs that we bought very cheap to hold water on top and bottom.  We connected them with a 4 foot long stainless steel pipe with a very fine metal mesh at the bottom and  filled with activated charcoal.  When the water is first put through a matrix of gravel and varying degrees of fine sand, then through this system, you get very, very pure water.  We believe it to be near laboratory-grade water.  In fact, this system is just a scaled up version of a purifier at out local pharmaceutical company.

The benefit of using kegs is two-fold.  First, they are readily available almost anywhere, and two they are stainless steel.  I suppose you could also pretty easily convert this into a still if you so desired, for barter or producing barter-goods.

I have been working on something called an Archimedes' Screw to help move the water.  It is basically a screw inside a cylinder.  When a mechanical force is applied to the screw to turn it, either by hand, modified bicycle, or wind turbine, the screw pulls water up the cylinder, from a low place to a high place.  This is not finished yet, so I cannot give it 100% clearance, but the theory seems sound.


Food takes a bit longer.  I started by ordering some 6-gallon mylar bags and  a couple packages of 500cc oxygen absorbers.  I went to the local Big Box store, the kind that has a bakery inside, and asked if I could have their used 5-gallon buckets with lids.  They were happy to help; and they were free.  I cleaned them by alternating a bleach wash, a salt wash, and a vinegar with lemon juice wash.  That got all of the icing smell out of the buckets.  That step was more my OCD then a necessity, since the mylar will keep anything from being contaminated.  Although I thought this might reduce the likely hood of insects poking around my buckets...

Place a mylar bag in a 5-gallon bucket.  You want 6-gallon bags so you can press all the air, and seal the very end.  This allows you to re-use the bags several times.  Fill the bag with about 5 gallons of rice, beans, powdered milk, lentils, noodles, red winter wheat... whatever you are storing.  Seal about 9/10's of the bag with a clothes iron being sure to leave room for your O2 absorbers to fit though; I like to make a two-inch seal.  Grab the bag and lift it and shake it a bit to allow the contents to settle some, pressing the air up towards your seal. 

You'll want to do several of these at once, because as soon as you open the O2 absorbers, they start working.  I put the unused one in a zip-lock bag which I suck all the air out as I seal it.  I also put in the tester pellet that comes with the absorbers so I know if they are good or not.

So let's say you are putting up five buckets.  Each bucket gets ~2000cc worth of O2 absorbers.  If you bought 500cc packs, that would be four per bucket for a total number of 20.  Feel free to err on the side of caution here, if you are using some stored in the zip lock bags.  The extra costs of the materials is drastically outweighed by the value of the stored food.  If I have had the O2 absorbers exposed to air more than once, I toss in an extra one, more than twice, I toss in two extra, and I have never had any done more than that.

You want all your buckets prepped for final sealing before you open your O2 absorbers, for obvious reasons.  I usually ask for a hand with this next stage to allow me to move as quickly as possible with as little exposure to general environmental air for the absorbers.

So, toss in your 4 absorbers, press out as much of the air as you can, and finish off the seal.  I like to make my seals 2 inches thick, and again I use a clothes iron.  I use a large dictionary with a wooden cutting board on top to make this seal.  Snap down the lid of the bucket. 

The bucket is necessary to protect the mylar.  Although the mylar bags are strong in the sense that they can bear a lot of weight, pressure, or vacuum, they are highly susceptible to puncture.

Once all your buckets contain O2 absorbers and are sealed with lids on, take clear packing tape and put a long strip on the lid.  I write the date I packed the bucket, the approximate storage life, the contents, and the weight/volume.  I stack the buckets off the ground three-high.

Keep in mind that every dollar you spend here is worth many multiples of that in the future.  Even if we are all wrong on the possibility of Schumeresque Scenarios, think of the money you will save just because of inflation.

Now, speaking of money. If you spend $20 for 50 pounds of rice today, and three years from now, you could sell it for $100; if you did not do your storage well, you're out $100 plus the cost of storage materials, not $20.  So make sure that you do it carefully.  You can also rotate out and in new stock.


No one (or at least not me) has the resources/time/etc to put into long-term storage everything they need for the rest of their lives.  Eventually bullets and beans run out.  So, you will need something to trade. 

I like [non-numismatic pre-1965] junk silver, and one-ounce silver coins/bars.  In my mind, these would work for direct bartering: things like mason jars, food, animals, ammunition, whatever.  Flea markets are a great place to pick up small amounts of junk silver if your budget does not allow for larger purchases, like $500 or $1,000 face-value bags.

If we find ourselves in a prolonged period of hyperinflation like the Former Yugoslavia experienced (more on this later), then we might want to hedge our bets.  You could buy a few 10-ounce silver bars, with the intent to sell them for the hyper-inflated currency before the bottom drops out to purchase needed items.  Just a thought.

One could lay up, mason jars, paraffin, salt, sugar, alcohol, tobacco; lots of things for barter.  There is also the good old stand-by, ammunition.  My concern with ammo for barter, is that you might not know what that ammo is going to be used for, nor know for sure it will not be used against you or someone else.  I do see the incredible versatility and all the good reasons for an ammo-based barter system.  So do what you like.

The other event that really sent a lot of this home for me was a 6-week stay in Serbia.  Listening to stories about how people would smuggle in gas during the embargo, buy any solid good while the money was worth something, and generally do everything they could to survive really had an effect on me.  At the height of the crisis, they had 37% inflation per day culminating in the issue of the 500 billion Dinar note.  This was of course fifteen to twenty years ago, but the scars are still visible.  Belgrade did not demolish or clean up any of the damage done during the 1999 NATO bombing.  The Serbs see that every day. 

There is a quote I like, that many of you may know that I feel is appropriate here:

"History has shown us that government leaders often ignore the fundamental fact that people demand both dignity and freedom. Stripping motivated people of their dignity and rubbing their noses in it is a very bad idea." - John Ross, Unintended Consequences [JWR Adds: This otherwise excellent novel was marred by some vulgarity and gratuitous sex scenes. Beware!]

Back to the practicals...
People stocked up on silver, charcoal, wood burning stoves, anything that could be a store a value and increase their chances of survival.  Another interesting happening was the use of checks.  Checks in Serbia and the Former Yugoslavia are all printed with a maximum amount.  Usually 5,000 Dinars, (about $70 in today's Dinar/ Dollar exchange rate).  So, if you had a business, you are issued a certain number of checks each month.  What happened during the crisis is interesting.  The checks were spontaneously monetized. 

Here is and example of what I mean.  I write a check for 5,000 Dinars, but I don't address it to you.  You give me the goods for the check.  Then, instead of cashing the check at the bank, you give it to someone else for your needs.  This usually went on, especially in very small towns for up to four months before my account was drawn for the amount.

This also had the benefit of me being able to write a check I might not have had the money to back it right away, so it was like credit for me, and cash for you.  This doesn't happen anymore in Serbia, by the way. 

Although I imagine I'm preaching to the choir, I know from my own experiences that it's easy to get down, and disheartened.  But don't fret.  Get to work, lay in your stores, and every day do at least one practical thing that increases your and your family's chance of survival. Keep your powder dry.- KP

Monday, July 27, 2009

I was pleased to see this post over at the Mountain Steps blog: A letter to our county commissioner about emergency preparation for hyperinflation. It is commendable to make such inquiries, but it is essential to ask detailed questions. Especially when contacting elected officials, vague, general questions tend to elicit vague, general answers, and hence most likely no action will be taken.

It is also essential that you do some research first, to direct your inquiry letter or phone call to the right individuals. Flunkies don't create or change policy, they just implement it. You need to direct your letter to someone that has the authority to make policy, and has the budget to implement it. (In some cases, this will mean separate contacts to whomever controls the purse strings.)

I recommend that you ask detailed questions, such as:

Do you have a back-up generator, and how many days of fuel do you keep on hand? What is your contingency plan to implement before that fuel runs out?

Can you continue to operate without grid power? If not, then what contingency plans do you have?

Is the city's water supply gravity fed, from end to end? If not, then what contingency plans have been put in place to provide water to utility customers, in the event of a grid power interruption longer than 48 hours?

And ask:

Are electrically-pumped filters used, or traditional gravity filters?

Then, if you discover that the water system is mostly via gravity, but it uses electric pumps only for pressurized filtration, then ask: If electrically-pumped filters are used, then has a disaster contingency waiver been established with the USEPA, (for turbidity and other standards), to allow bypassing of filters in the event of a grid-down emergency situation?

Similarly detailed letters or phone inquiries should be made to your local irrigation district, your fire department, power utility, phone companies (both cellular and land line), refinery, hospital, kidney dialysis clinic, coal mine, National Guard, grocery store, et cetera.

Do not expect the grid to magically stay up and running, Assume the worst case, and plan accordingly.

OBTW, one key word to search for when estimating the resiliency of your community's infrastructure is co-generation. Find out where the co-gen plants are, and their capacity!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Several months ago, a man wrote an article for the SurvivalBlog detailing the ups and downs of being a prepper while serving on Active Duty. As a former Active Duty soldier I could appreciate what he was saying but more than anything else I found myself being thankful that I was now doing my prepping while serving in the National Guard.

Many preppers join the local volunteer fire department or rescue squad in order to learn valuable skills for free that could help in an emergency. They also do it so that they can learn skills that will help pull their communities through during tough times. I would like to propose that some of the readers who are of this mindset could gain much by joining the National Guard.

I have been in the Army seven years now. I started on Active Duty serving in Georgia, Germany, and Iraq. After three year I moved back home and joined the Guard. I am currently wrapping up a tour as the commander of a 170-soldier Military Police (MP) company. Like anything else, the Guard has its positives and negatives and I’d like to provide readers with both so that they can make an educated decision about what I think is a great opportunity. (Full disclosure: I like my job.)

First, the positives:
1. Job training. Hands down, from a survivalist mindset, this has to be the best thing that the Guard has to offer. The training for jobs in the Guard is the same as what you’d receive on Active Duty. The difference is, while it’s common for Active Duty soldiers to stay in the same carrier field for the duration of their career, Guardsmen often end up training in more than one field for a variety of reasons. I have soldiers who started out as mechanics who retrained as Military Police after a few years because there were more opportunities for career development in our MP focused unit. Likewise, in my unit we are authorized three medics up to the rank of Specialist [E4] (the fourth enlisted rank in the Army). When they decide that they want to pursue their Sergeant stripes, they will either go to another unit that has slots for a medic at the rank of Sergeant (there are two such units within 25 miles of us) or retrain as Military Police to pursue one of the many slots available in that field for the rank of Sergeant and beyond. The point is that the choice is theirs. How valuable would it be for you to train as a mechanic, infantrymen, medic, MP, or chemical specialist? It is not uncommon for some of my older soldiers to be formally schooled in up to three different Military Occupation Specialties (MOS).

2. Learn additional skills beyond your MOS. Every one of my soldiers has practiced putting in an IV, knows how and when to use a nasopharyngeal airway, and can perform a range of basic first aid tasks. Two of my soldiers have been school trained as armorers as an additional duty to their primary job. I put everyone on the range 2-3 times a year firing 9mm, 5.56mm, 7.62mm, .50 cal, 12 gauge, and 40mm. Our people know how to maintain and fire a variety of pistols, rifles, machine guns, shotguns, and other less common weapon systems. We practice navigating alone or in small groups cross country using a map and compass. We also train everyone on basic hand-to-hand combatives. Finally, our Military Police soldiers get trained on collapsible batons, OC, and soon, Tasers.

3. Continue to live where you want. One of the big complaints of preppers on Active Duty is having to move every few years. In the National Guard you choose your armory (presuming they have an open slot) and you can live anywhere that you like. In my state 90% of counties have at least one National Guard armory. As you go up in ranks you may have to go to another armory that has the slot that you want but you’re never forced to do so. If the openings don’t exist for your career track at your armory, you can always retrain into another field where the slots do exist.

4. Be a leader when trouble strikes. When society gets shaken you will likely be called upon to stabilize and sustain your city, state, or nation. Some would see this as a downside as they would prefer to hunker down when things get bad. I see it instead as a positive. Even as a mere mid level leader in the Guard I have the ability to make decisions that will help restore towns to a state of normalcy. This was proven to me when our company was charged with restoring law and order to a coastal Mississippi town in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. We fed people, stopped the looting, and gave the utility workers the support that they needed to restore basic services. Not only was it a rewarding experience, but it also pulled me into the survivalist community. I promised myself that my family would be prepared when disaster struck.

5. Local in focus, global in reach. Unlike the Reserves, National Guard soldiers serve at the direction of their state’s Governor. If this sounds odd to you, remember that before 1933 the National Guard Bureau was called the Militia Bureau. If you’re interested in helping in natural disasters, the Guard is the way to go. I’ve responded to tornados 30 miles North of my home as well as hurricanes 500 miles South. I’ve even conducted exercises in South America and Europe with the Guard. The President can always federalize a Guard unit, but at our core, we’re a state asset.

6. Learn even more skills outside the Army. The GI Bill and Tuition Assistance can help you go back to school for vocational, college, or post graduate training with little or no out of pocket expense.

7. Gain an extra paycheck. Not much more to say on this one. Live off your civilian job salary and you can just apply your Guard paycheck to paying off your house or any other debts that you have faster.

8. Gain full time employment. While the Guard is traditionally a part time force (usually one weekend a month, two weeks a year… though the War on Terror was stretched that), there are some full time jobs out there. Put in some time and prove yourself and you could serve full time from your hometown. Of particular interest to people who understand the threats that exist domestically are the Civil Support Teams (CST) that each state has that’s composed of Army and Air National Guardsmen. These are the first responders for just about everything that a terrorist might level against us here at the home front. All the soldiers in a CST serve full time and represent the best that we have for detecting and dealing with chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear threats.

9. The camaraderie of a group of like minded individuals. It’s good to know people in your community that you can count on in a pinch. Plus the Guard can be a good networking opportunity if you’re looking for employment in an emergency response field (police, fire, EMT, etc.).

And now, the negatives:
1. Overseas deployments. Sooner or later you’re probably going to go to Iraq or Afghanistan if you’re in the National Guard. If you have a family, this is definitely a negative. However, for some of you the experience that this brings would be invaluable in a survival situation. Just prepare your family to operate without you, preferably in conjunction with the support of trusted friends and neighbors. Know also that the Guard has really made headway since the wars started in providing dwell time to its soldiers. Current deployment cycles attempt to limit a unit to one deployment for every five years.

2. Some units in the Guard lack vision and don’t train hard. It pains me to say that but we must remember that the Army is a microcosm of the society it serves. Some leaders are no good and some units are lazy. My unit trains hard and the soldiers appreciate it. We take every opportunity to learn and grow. Not every unit is like that. If you join a unit that’s sub par, work to change it from the inside. If the culture of that unit is beyond your ability to fix, request transfer to another one.

3. If you’re thinking about joining the Guard now, you just missed some of the best enlistment bonuses in decades. Work closely with your local Guard recruiter (located at most Guard armories) and see if the field that you’re interested in still offers money up front to help kick your prepping into high gear. Not all the bonuses are gone but several of the bigger ones went away a few months ago.

4. Leaving your family during the height of an emergency. I alluded to earlier, but it’s worth repeating given the audience. It is all together possible that when your family needs you the most, you will get called away to help other people. This is a chance that we take along with our brethren first responders. Police, Fire Fighters, EMTs, Doctors, Nurses, and Guardsmen… if we hold to our oath then we’ve got to go where our community needs us in an emergency.

If you’re thinking about joining, grab a friend in the Guard and ask a lot of questions. It’s not a small step because it requires many years of commitment. I think it’s worth it, though. Hopefully this article has answered your questions regarding the Guard as means to serve your community and grow your personal skill set in preparation for a survival situation.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

CBRNE is an acronym for Chemical-Biological-Radiological-Nuclear-Explosive events. [It is most commonly spoken "Sea-Burn"] This article gives a general guideline for responding to such incidents, geared toward the individual or small group with basic medical/trauma care abilities and little to no rescue capability. Some details about each type of event are also included. Note that I am a paramedic; my training is geared toward that venue, and this essay reflects that. However, many of the same principles are relevant to anyone forced by circumstances to respond to such incidents, not just public safety personnel.

Deliberate Attacks Versus Accidents
Most CBRNE events will be accidents or natural occurrences - chemical spills, pandemics, etc. Some, however, may be deliberate attacks. The most likely candidates are explosive devices, which are relatively cheap, do-it-yourself, low-risk endeavors. Chemical, biological, radiological and especially true nuclear attacks are expensive and high-risk. For example, creating a nuclear device requires obtaining plans, a large team of scientists in multiple specialties, esoteric materials, and so on. And that is just to build the device - a delivery system is still needed. Bringing these elements together is expensive, difficult and time-consuming, and likely to attract unwanted attention. Overall, the cost and risk-to-body-count ratio is much better with conventional arms and explosives; accordingly, these are the most likely forms of deliberate attack.

The first priority must always be making sure that you and yours do not become victims. If you become injured, you cannot help others; furthermore, you require assistance, which draws resources away from other victims. Consider the following:

Scene Safety: Look for fires, unstable structures, weapons or dangerous persons. Look up, down, and all around - remember that not all threats come from ground level. If you do not have the training or equipment to help safely, then wait for those who do. Leave the area if necessary. Do not try to provide aid in an unsafe area - move victims if necessary. In some cases, you may even have to leave them behind. Remember, you cannot help others if you become a casualty.

CBRNE events pose a high risk of contamination. Do not expose yourself to chemical or infectious agents or to radiation. If you do not have appropriate personal protection equipment (PPE) - do not approach the incident site. PPE is discussed in more detail later. Keep in mind the "Rule of Thumb" - get far enough away from the scene that you can completely cover it with your outstretched thumb. Remember to go uphill and upwind of the affected area.
Secondary Devices: In the case of a deliberate CBRNE attack, be aware that there could be additional threats or devices waiting for responders. While these are generally directed at police, fire, EMS or other official agencies, if you are trying to help, or have the bad luck to be at the scene, you share the danger.

In the case of CBRNE event, public safety agencies – police, fire and EMS – will have initial responsibility for scene management. Whatever you believe the long-term consequences will be, initially these agencies will be functioning. What follows is a description of their organizational model. If they are on the scene, you will be expected to function within that structure, if you are permitted to assist at all (for safety and liability reasons, you may not be). However, even if a CBRNE event occurs where public safety agencies cannot respond, the principles of this structure are still appropriate for your own use.

Overall responsibility for managing a given event will, at least initially, fall to a single person, designated as Incident Command. If the event can be managed with less than 7 or so responders, this person (and perhaps a Safety Officer) may be the only command personnel needed. However, a CBRNE event is likely to require a considerably larger response. It has been found that a single individual cannot effectively direct more than 3-7 people; 3-5 is an even better number. This is referred to as an effective span of control. Accordingly, for an event of large size, additional levels of organization will be introduced in order to maintain an appropriate span. Regional or functional divisions are used as necessary. For example, the Incident Commander may appoint a Rescue Chief, a Medical Chief, and a Fire Suppression Chief for a large-scale response. (Note that regional or functional elements and leaders are appointed by Incident Command. Some are standardized across the nation, while others will vary geographically depending on local organization, preference and tradition.) Each of these individuals will in turn direct about 3-5 subordinates. Depending on the number of responders, each of those subordinates could in turn direct a team of 3-5 responder, et cetera. The keys are that (1) each responder reports to one and only one supervisor, chief, or other leadership element; (2) each leader directs no more than 3-5 subordinates directly; and (3) overall responsibility for the scene falls to a single Incident Command. It is essential that there is no freelancing – a disorganized response can lead to inefficiency, an unsafe scene, oversights or mistakes resulting in poor outcomes, additional injuries [, needless contamination] or even deaths.

Geographically, a scene will be divided into three zones: a central hot zone, a surrounding warm zone, and a safe cold zone.
The hot zone is the immediate site of the incident, and may expand based on wind, spill or rainwater runoff, etc. Only trained responders with appropriate equipment should be in the hot zone. Depending on the incident type, this could mean fire department, HazMat or other type teams.
The warm zone surrounds the hot zone. Operating in the warm zone may also call for specialized training and equipment, but not always and not as much. Decontamination, which is discussed below, is usually performed in the warm zone.
Finally, the cold zone is the [ostensibly] safe area surrounding the warm zone. Basically this is the rest of the world. Additional resources and treatment centers will normally be located in the cold zone.

Decontamination will be necessary when it is likely that victims or responders have been exposed to chemicals, biological agents or radiation. The most common method of mass decon is gross decon. Essentially, victims are instructed to disrobe (it is estimated that in many cases this can remove up to 90% of contaminants) and are run through a large “shower” area, then given clean garments. On a smaller scale, you or your family members can self-decontaminate by disrobing and showering. It is recommended that garments that must normally be pulled over the head be cut off, instead. In some cases more detailed decon may need to be performed, for example a wound contaminated with radiological material. In this case, wash the specific site with soap and water, making sure not to contaminate others or other areas of the body while doing so (wear appropriate PPE). Note that victims should in most cases be decontaminated before receiving medical care or first aid. The exception is an immediate life-threatening condition, such as a severe hemorrhage, which may receive preliminary treatment prior to decon.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

This discussion will deal with two forms of PPE: medical PPE and chemical protective gear. It is essential to wear appropriate PPE in any CBRNE event to avoid becoming contaminated or spreading contamination to others.
Medical PPE includes gloves, masks, gowns and eye protection. Follow the Universal Precautions philosophy – assume that everyone is a potential carrier of dangerous infections, and behave accordingly. Wear gloves whenever providing treatment, and change them between patients. Also be aware of the following “special” situations:

Splash protection – when “splashes” are anticipated (for example with childbirth, massive hemorrhage or vomiting) wear eye protection, a mask and a gown
Contact precautions – some infections, such as certain MRSA varieties, can be passed skin-to-skin, and call for contact precautions; wear gloves and a gown
Droplet precautions – infections spread in mucus or respiratory secretions may be transmitted over short distances by coughs and the like; wear a surgical mask when in close proximity. (The CDC says within three feet [but coughs can project droplets 10 feet or more.])
Airborne precautions – infections with airborne spread, such as tuberculosis, call for an N95 mask; ideally, the patient should be in a negative pressure room

Chemical Protective Equipment comes in four levels:
Level A calls for a Self-Contained Breathing Apparatus (SCBA) and a sealed chemical protective suit. Note that no single suit type protects against all forms of exposure. Generally, Level A protection is used only by trained HazMat Technicians.
Level B calls for an SCBA and a non-encapsulated (non-sealed) chemical protective suit, such as a Tyvek suit.
Level C consists of a filter-type respirator and chemical protective clothing, gloves and boots (same as type B).
Level D includes standard work clothes – uniforms, surgical scrubs, turnout gear – which give some skin/splash protection, and no respiratory protection.

Once proper PPE is in place, the response has been organized, and the scene has been rendered safe, care for victims can begin. After safety, preventing or minimizing the loss of life is the highest priority. A CBRNE event is likely to produce a large number of victims, and could easily exceed response capabilities. When this happens, the goal must be to do the greatest good for the greatest number.
Haphazardly rendering aid to random victims will result in chaos and poor treatment priorities, which will in turn lead to unnecessary loss of life or poor outcomes for victims. It is important to apply triage procedures. “Triage” simply means “to sort,” and refers to sorting victims into groups based on severity. The first competent care-giver to arrive at the scene of a mass casualty event should begin triaging – sorting – victims. The following categories are pretty much universally recognized:

Red or Immediate – These persons have severe injuries, but are likely to be able to be saved. The are “salvageable.” Given the seriousness of their condition, they receive treatment (and transport to the hospital, if available) first.
Yellow or Delayed – These are the people with serious but not life-threatening injuries. They are the second group to receive treatment, after the Reds/Immediates.
Green or Minimal – These are folks with only minor injuries. After all the reds and yellows are taken care of, they can be taken care of.
Black or Expectant – These victims are dead or expected to die. Any victim who cannot breathe on their own should be triaged into this category. If manpower or resources are limited, they should not be expended on these victims, who will probably not survive anyway.

Once triage is completed, treatment can begin.

Some comments specific to incident type will be included later. For now, consider the following general assessment and treatment priorities (note that this is a mere overview; detailed first aid skills should be sought elsewhere):
Mental Status – Assess whether the patient is awake, unresponsive, confused or lethargic, etc. An unresponsive patient should be considered Red/Immediate. A confused patient will probably be Yellow/Delayed, assuming no additional problems are found. Next check the ABCs:
Airway and Breathing – Check to see whether the victim is breathing. If not, open their airway by tilting the head or (if injury is suspected) by lifting the jaw forward. If the patient does not breath on their own at this point, consider them Black/Expectant. If they do, ask whether they are having difficulty breathing and listen to their breath. Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing or strange breathing sounds indicate at least a Yellow/Delayed patient. Severe or progressive difficulty breathing indicates a Red/Immediate patient.
Circulation – First, if a patient has no pulse, they are dead, and are Black/Expectant. Second, check for bleeding. If bleeding is found, it should be controlled. Place direct pressure on the site; this should control the bleeding. You may have to maintain pressure for several minutes, then place a dressing and bandage. If the bleeding does not stop, and is from an arm or leg, apply a tourniquet. In the past tourniquets were viewed with great caution, but it has been found that they can be safely used for up to several hours without long-term negative effects. At any rate, one cannot worry too much about an arm or leg when a victim – possibly a loved one – is bleeding to death. Finally, keep a bleeding patient warm (cover them with a blanket) and elevate their feet; this will help combat shock.

Those of you with CPR training will notice that I’ve omitted rescue breaths and chest compressions from this discussion. That’s because (1) in a mass casualty situation victims needing these interventions will be Black/Expectant, and will not be treated; and (2) unless high-level follow-on care – paramedic, ER and/or ICU – is available, CPR alone is unlikely to save a cardiac arrest victim. And I simply don’t have space to include such details here. I do, however, recommend that everyone seek out first aid and CPR training, at a minimum.

Finally, remember that scene safety comes before treatment. If necessary, move the victim. In general it is good to leave trauma victims in place, in case there is some spinal damage. However, when the scene is unsafe, you have to move.

Specific Incident Types

Explosives Events
Remember that explosive devices can also include some biological, chemical or radiological (“dirty bomb”) contaminant; and that there could be secondary devices waiting for responders. (Note that explosives will usually destroy any included biological or chemical material, making explosive dispersal of such agents unlikely to succeed.)
Explosives create blast-type injuries, which are classified as follows:
Primary Blast Injuries: pressure-related injuries from the blast wave, these can affect internal organs such as the intestines, lungs or inner ear without visible external injuries
Secondary Blast Injuries: these are injuries from objects (shrapnel, debris, etc.) striking the victim
Tertiary Blast Injuries: if a blast is powerful enough to throw a victim into the air, they will sustain injuries from striking the ground or other objects
Quaternary Blast Injuries: all other injuries, including burns and the like

Here are some basic treatment ideas:
Bleeding should be controlled by direct pressure and, if necessary, tourniquet.
Broken bones, sprains, etc., can be splinted
Burns should be covered with clean – preferably sterile – sheets or dressings; do not put any salves or chemicals on any but minor burns, as they will have to be washed out later – very painful for the victim
Victims with neck or back pain or tenderness, or loss of sensation or movement, should not be moved unless absolutely necessary, as they may have suffered spinal injury, which may be worsened by movement. However, this is much less likely than television and first aid instructors would have you believe.

Chemical Events
Chemical events require proper PPE; otherwise, follow the “Rule of Thumb.” Remember that wind and water run-off can spread contaminants. Also remember that chemical events may not be immediately apparent. Multiple victims with quickly-developing symptoms, as well as dead flora or fauna in the area, are the most likely signs.

A special note should be made for organophosphates. These produce a condition commonly called SLUDGE (salivation, lacrimation, urination,
diarrhea, gastrointestinal distress, and emesis), which in layman's terms is the sudden onset of soiling yourself, peeing on yourself, crying and vomiting everywhere. They merit special mention because these are the type of exposures for which Mark I kits and other atropine/2-PAM kits are indicated, as well as valium for possible seizures.

Biological Events
Biological events can be difficult to detect, and to protect against, because often there is no scene. Generally, multiple victims will present with “flu-like symptoms” or other complaints to multiple health care providers. The main signs are multiple patients with similar complaints, especially when the symptoms, the demographics, or the season are unusual. For example, large numbers of healthy young people complaining of flu symptoms in the middle of summer, clustered in certain areas, is a sign of an exposure or pandemic. Isolating the source is a matter of finding “common ground” between the victims – think of lots of people suffering from nausea, vomiting and diarrhea after eating at the same restaurant.

Speaking of flu-like symptoms, I thought it might be timely to share with you the following guidance that I’ve received from my EMS agency regarding the current “Swine flu” –

1. Suspect swine flu in a person who:
- has a cough, runny nose or sore throat; and
- has a fever more than 101.4F; and
- has been to an “endemic area” in the last 7 days
Endemic areas currently include Mexico and affected areas of the USA.
2. Distance is considered adequate protection; however, if one must approach a suspected swine flu patient, a surgical mask is recommended.
3. Only if one must be in a confined space with a suspected swine flu patient is an N95 respirator recommended.
These recommendations come from our medical director based on CDC and other agencies’ information and advice.

Victims of a biological agent (i.e., an illness) can often be treated, depending on the agent; preventing further spread within a population can usually only be accomplished by isolation or – on large scales – by quarantine.

Nuclear or Radiological Event
As noted previously, deliberate nuclear attacks are relatively unlikely, due to their expense and risk when compared with conventional methods. “Accidents” are also rare, as modern-day reactors and the like are designed with multiple redundancies and dead-man’s-switches. We are many years removed from the technologies of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, or so experts say. Smaller radiological events are more likely. Of course the first thought in most minds is the “dirty bomb,” a conventional explosive with radioactive material.

Radioactive materials are usually divided according to the following types:

Alpha particles cannot penetrate clothing or often even skin; however, they are very dangerous if somehow introduced into the body
Beta particles can be absorbed by protective clothing
Gamma rays are stopped only by several inches of lead [or several feet of earth or concrete], and easily penetrate human beings, damaging organs along their paths.

The severity of radiation exposure will depend on time, distance and shielding – a shorter exposure, over a greater distance, with more shielding in between, will be less severe than the opposite. Radiation effects various bodily systems. Inhaled radioactive material can damage the lungs. Radiation can also produce severe burns; these will present as severe itching, but over time will reveal significant damage.
In evaluating the severity of radiation exposure, the easiest reliable measure is time to onset of vomiting. If a victim starts vomiting within one hour of exposure, their exposure is severe. Beyond two hours, exposure is probably mild to moderate.
You may find it useful to stock geiger counters, personal dosimeters, or potassium iodide (KI) for your family. Information on all of these topics is already archived on SurvivalBlog, so I will not go into them here.
Otherwise, without specialized facilities, the best you can do for a victim of radiation poisoning is to decontaminate and treat symptoms as they arise. Remember that with a sufficient dose of radiation the victim can themselves become a source of radiation, and pose a contamination risk.

In the case of a CBRNE event, essential include a scrupulous eye to safety, an organized response, careful use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and decontamination to prevent spread of contamination, triage of victims, and the best treatment available. Remember that you will probably not be able to do as much as you would like. You must do the greatest good for the greatest number. Finally, remember your priorities: after safety, preventing the loss of life comes first. Then you can worry about protecting property and/or the environment, and long-term recovery. These topics, however, are beyond the scope of this essay. I hope you find the information contained here useful in your preparations, though I hope you never have to use it in a true CBRNE event.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Cheryl wrote to mention an article that described using Vitamin D to prevent a cytokine storm The dose is 2,000 units of Vitamin D per kilogram (1 kg = 2.2046 pounds), once per day. Thus, for an average 150 lb. adult, the dose would be would be 136,060 units of Vitamin D. This is to be taken for three days. (I.U. Equivalence: 50,000 units = 1.25 mg) My Strong Proviso: The usual fat soluble vitamin (KADE) warnings apply. Don't over-do a good thing. You should discuss vitamin D testing and replacement with your physician before acting on that doctor's recommendations! Vitamin D supplement limits vary depending on body weight, diet, and exposure to the sun.

Today's flu headlines:

WHO pandemic threat level raised to 5 out of 6

New Flu Strain is a Genetic Mix

First US Swine Flu Death, Cases Now in 10 States

France urges Mexican flight ban

Cuba Halts Mexico Travel (First Country to Do So)

Pandemic Risk Grows as New Cases Emerge
US cases now at 64, Mexico 152 dead, over 2,000 infected

US Flu Deaths Seem Likely as Outbreak Spreads

Scary Advertisements From 1976 Flu Outbreak
Today they tell us to stay calm

Mexico City Mayor: One more death, toll stabilizing

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The death toll in Mexico now at 149, and climbing, with more than 2,000 patients are hospitalized there. Containment appears unlikely. For a flu to spread this rapidly outside of the normal "cold and flu season" tells us something about its ferocity. I suspect that we will see multiple waves of infection, with the worst of them probably being next winter in the Northern Hemisphere. Mutations are impossible to predict. The only good news is that at least in the long term, viruses tend to mutate into less lethal strains. (The most lethal--a la the Marburg type hemorrhagic viruses--are so lethal that the hosts don't live long enough to pass on the viruses to others. Hence the tendency for many bugs is to become less virulent. The common cold (acute viral rhinopharyngitis), it is said, probably started out as a killer, many centuries ago.)

SurvivalBlog Editor at Large Michael Z. Williamson sent us a link to the first really practical article on using N95 masks that I've ever seen, by Tara Smith.

Mentioned a useful CDC background piece: Antiviral Drugs and Swine Influenza

Reader Matt J. in Kentucky notes: "Wal-Mart in Louisville, Kentucky is already out of N95 masks, but the hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe's have 20-packs readily available (I bought two 20-packs at Lowe's and one 20-pack at Home Depot." OBTW, Bob at Ready Made Resources mentioned that sales have been very brisk, and they are now nearly out N95 masks, despite buying all that their wholesale suppliers had on hand. He also mentioned that their inexpensive full protective suit ensembles are going fast

Here are some of the day's flu headlines:

World closer to swine flu pandemic

Swine Flu: Five Things You Need to Know About the Outbreak Thanks to Dave (at Captain Dave's) for the link

Texas Closes More Schools as Flu Spreads

Obama: Flu Matter of Concern Not One of Alarm (yet)

Mexico City Now a Zombie City

Call Your Congressman! US Says Not Testing Travelers From Mexico

Swine Flu Hits Ernst & Young in Times Square, N.J. Department of Health Confirms Five Probable Cases

Flashback to 1994: CDC to mix avian, human flu viruses in pandemic study

Sunday, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that they would open up the National Stockpile of medications to provide antivirals to areas that may need them. This comment is a big clue to the real concern that this is already getting out of control. The National Stockpile is rarely tapped so this is a big event and a potential trigger for those out there who need to be aware. Luckily this year’s human flu was resistant to Tamiflu so there appears to be stock left, but this is also the end of the season so normal supplies are low. Relenza is another antiviral that is available and the swine flu is sensitive too, (at this point). Tamiflu [dosing] is weight-based for children and Relenza is not indicated for patients less than seven years old. I would suggest that anyone with significant medical conditions obtain an antiviral prescription from their friendly doctor now, and not later. Obviously large cities, especially those with international airport hubs, and those on the border, or with large migrant populations probably aren’t the best places to be right now. What triggers a bug out is individualized, but there is a definite advantage of being in a small town. But even Kansas hasn’t been spared with this one. With schools being shut down, that forces adult parents to stay home which causes shortages of employees not only at the mall, but the grocery store, the shipper, the police station, the hospital, the gas station…etc… Plan accordingly for any last minute items you need. - Mike the MD

Sunday, April 26, 2009

In the past 24 hours I've received dozens of e-mails from SurvivalBlog readers about the emerging Mexican Flu. Some news stories have included cryptic comments from heath officials, implying that the mechanism of infection makes this particular virus "very difficult to contain." This leads me to conclude that those infected have a long latency period during which they are infectious, yet, they do not display frank symptoms. This does not bode well for any hopes of containing the spread of the virus.

Then we hear a CDC official stating: "The swine flu virus contains four different gene segments representing both North American swine and avian influenza, human flu and a Eurasian swine flu." That strikes we as something very peculiar.

The disease is respiratory, and has one strong similarity to the 1918 Spanish Flu: "The majority were young adults between 25 and 45 years old," said one official under the condition of anonymity. Since, young and healthy people with strong immune systems are the most likely to succumb, this might indicate that the biggest killer is a cytokine storm--a collapse caused by the human immune system's over-reaction to a pathogen.

I strongly recommend that everyone reading this take the time to re-read my background article on flu self-quarantine and other precautions: Protecting Your Family From an Influenza Pandemic. The details that I give there are quite important. Pay special attention to my discussion of the shortage of hospital ventilators. If anyone in your family is immunosuppressed, consider yourselves on alert. Make your final preparations to hunker down, immediately.

In the next few days, there is a good chance of wholesale panic, including some well-publicized "runs" --probably first for hand sanitizer and face masks, and soon after for bottled water and groceries. Plan on it.

UPDATE: The BBC News web page Mexico flu: Your experiences has some updates posted from individuals in Mexico City

To summarize, here are some key quotes from a recent article:

"This outbreak is particularly worrisome because deaths have happened in at least four different regions of Mexico, and because the victims have not been vulnerable infants and elderly.

"The most notorious flu pandemic, thought to have killed at least 40 million people worldwide in 1918-19, also first struck otherwise healthy young adults."
"But it may be too late to contain the outbreak, given how widespread the known cases are. If the confirmed deaths are the first signs of a pandemic, then cases are probably incubating around the world by now, said Dr. Michael Osterholm, a pandemic flu expert at the University of Minnesota.

"No vaccine specifically protects against swine flu, and it is unclear how much protection current human flu vaccines might offer."

Current statistics show a less than 10% lethality rate, but of course the first wave of flu victims are getting access to the best medical care available. If the contagion spreads, sheer numbers will quickly overwhelm hospital facilities--particularly the number of mechanical ventilators available. So the lethality rate may rise, even if there is not a viral mutation.

Here are the latest headlines on the flu, as well as some background pieces. I'll post more links, as they become available.

Swine Flu, Mexico Lung Illness Heighten Pandemic Risk

Swine flu could infect U.S. trade and travel

Mexico Races to Stop Deadly Flu Virus

Spanish Flu Survivors Remember

Some Facts About Past Flu Pandemics

WHO ready with antivirals to combat swine flu

Possible Swine Flu Outbreak at NYC Prep School

California Expects To Find More New Flu Cases

Swine Flu Jitters Sparks Sell-Off In US Hogs

Swine Flu Resources

Most Mexico fatal flu victims aged between 25-45

Swine Flu May Be Named Event of ‘International Concern’ by WHO

[A UK] County's masterplan to deal with flu pandemic


Monday, April 6, 2009

I wish to present an alternative prep situation that I have not really seen talked about on your blog and at other other sites. First a small bit of biographical background and anecdotes to explain my reasons for what I (now recently we) are doing.

Ten years ago, I retired from the military (26+ years, Life Scout (in a younger form) and an ex-scout leader (both Boy and Girl Scouts), fixed income with a part time job, never lived at one address longer than three years (requirement of military lifestyle), hobbies oriented to colonial/fur trade eras (see anecdote), recent earnest prepper (caused by that feeling in the pit of my stomach and head that things really aren't right and not going to get better). Fiscally responsible but bought the "earned your retirement" false dream long ago--that can't be changed now.

While in the military a lifestyle of semi-preparedness was necessary because of my low income. (I suffered through the Carter and Clinton administrations). We canned food from our garden wherever we were stationed to stretch the food budget and teach our children how to make their own food; we cut firewood for heat in some locales; we relied on kerosene lamp back-up lighting and camp stove cooking because of unreliable base power grids. At one base I was even visited by the Public Works officer to find out why my quarters had lights during a power outage. Imagine his surprise to find both lights and heat off the grid, plus all my neighbors and their children warm and well fed.

At times, while in the service, we qualified for assistance food and based upon those experiences have reached some unconventional decisions. Assistance food usually meant a five-pound block of USDA cheese, #10 cans of dehydrated soups or powdered eggs, surplus breads and very large containers of dried milk. When you open these it becomes a use-it-or-lose-it menu even for a family of four!

My colonial/fur trades hobbies came about with involvement in Scouting, teaching merit badges, Indian skills and camp crafts. They are both enjoyable and practical from a barter-trades aspect: hide tanning/leatherworking, moccasin and footwear making, non-manufactured clothing making (no zippers or buttons) and using trade cloth/blankets), primitive cooking and camping skills and pioneering--the art of using logs and rope to construct bridges, platforms and watch towers, cranes and jack-legs, and other basic heavy lifting rigs. I highly recommend adding Scouting handbooks and merit badge books (older printings) to family preparedness libraries. There is a wealth of information there!

Last year, while looking for our current home, I was really taken with a 1950s home that still had a primo Civil Defense specification bomb shelter in the back yard, primarily as a safe place for my reloading and weapons storage. It was the high end style that was connected to the basement of the house with a concrete tunnel, doored at both ends, and three feet underground. It was in mild disrepair: vent system damaged and entrance sealed off at the house, but repairable. We passed on that house because it was in the end too small for our needs and in a shall-we-say "unstable" neighborhood. Six months after purchasing our current home my wife, out of the blue, says that maybe we should have bought the other house! This from a woman that has made disparaging remarks when I have added to our LBE kits and checked the status of our "homeland defense" items.

She seems to have had an epiphany after our taxes were prepared when she wanted to know why we had not taken the $3,000 credit from our small investment nest egg before and I explained that we had never lost over half of it to the economy! When the "boss" changed her attitude and became interested in my "below the radar" preps, I started to include her in the decision and prioritizing of what to buy and the impacts on our limited budget.

"Below the radar" preps means passing off a purchase as some other need (diplomatic when not everyone is on board with the idea): a small generator was for our tent camper, food items were for this summer when our grandson visits or to replace things lost in a move, water jugs were because of the places where we camp, extra gas cans were for the lawn mower (a stretch but it worked), the FRS radios were an aid when we are out hiking, though there was no need to disguise the increase in reloading components when the election results were in.
All this brings me to our different style of prepping.

While I would like to be able to stock up as is generally noted and advocated, our finances and storage space do not permit the expenditure of the amounts necessary to buy in bulk. Also from my experiences in the military I don't like to place all my eggs in one basket. I will admit that while it is more expensive per unit cost, it is also more "do-able" in an on-going practical sense on a fixed income and has an unforeseen future benefit.

We make our storage food purchases with only the two of us in immediate mind, to aid in use and rotation, by buying individual serving packages for most of the items that we get: boxes of rice sealed in boil-in-bag pouches, powdered milk in boxes that have quart size servings inside, individual packages of Ramen style noodles, small cans of fruits and vegetables (the type with the pull-off lids), non-refrigerated microwave meals that serve one (these are very practical as they go in our lunches on a daily basis), individual packet boxes of instant oatmeal, and normal sizes of canned meat, chicken and fish. Some items naturally are bought in what would be normal sizes but for only the two of us they seem to last forever: Five pound bags of flour, sugar, cornmeal, coffee and pancake mixes. The primary factor in these purchases is getting the longest expiration dates that we can find. All this gets put into 22 gallon Totes that have latches for the lids but only one container of each item per Tote: a box of rice, a box of milk, salt, coffee, etc., 4 each of the fruits and vegetables (36 total), 4 rolls of toilet paper and towels, strike anywhere matches, sets of durable plastic knife, fork and spoon, zip-lock bag of 28 individual size soap, 4 empty plastic bullet boxes that hold 4 Bic style [disposable butane] lighters, 2 packets each type garden seeds. This list is not complete, but you get the idea. The content of each Tote equate to one month's food and paper needs and is movable by even our 13 year old grandson. We currently have six totes filled, after only four months of serious additions. We are trying to add one Tote a month in addition to the other things that we are getting. My part-time job provides the funds for this so what we can get depends on what else is on a priority that month. We do have an additional Tote that holds 36 MREs and is marked for priority loading. Our water is stored in the newer G.I. five-gallon plastic water cans, available at flea markets. These are stored in a dark storage room. Our small camper is always stocked and ready to go no matter what season of the year.

Now for the reasoning behind this method. If TSHTF or TEOTWAWKI occurs it may be gradual or a traumatic event requiring different tactics. If gradual and we can hunker down while finishing up necessaries, only one Tote at a time needs to be opened to augment what we have. If traumatic, anyone can carry/load the Totes into one of several available G.O.O.D. vehicles or the trailer while another watches their "six". The urgency of a bug-out may dictate how much can be loaded in the time available. The more Totes that can be grabbed, the longer we can make do but the MRE Tote and water is always loaded first. This is in addition to B.O.B.s and homeland defense items.

Now for the unforeseen future benefits that I mentioned. As you have noted several times and places, I too could not turn away others that are in need if I can help. But giving someone a #10 can of beans or soup will not really help them. A grocery bag of individual servings that they are familiar with and provide variety and full meals for one or two days plus a means to heat it will help while not depleting our stores. Secondly, if a bad guy finds a single Tote with a few of everything in it, they may assume that's all there is and not attempt to engage in a protracted search for more.

One last item that may not meet with approval but is out-of-the-box thinking in the selection of several fallback retreat sites that most others probably will not think of. If we cannot stay in the city, as small as it is, I have found a couple of locales that would prove ideal. One is a semi-restored 1870s military post. Yes, I know that I don't own it in the traditional sense though I have paid for it through my taxes, but if there is no more authority in force, it could prove useful. The fort is already set up to function without power as we are used to, just coal or wood heat and cooking (there is no electricity on site), bulletproof buildings and pre-determined fields of fire, close to a year round water source, small homes for families and barracks for singles and designed by some of the best military minds of their times. Even has a powder magazine and jail! It also has a very low visitor count. If it is occupied or contested, no problems, as there are others at regular distances closer or farther. If not, then it allows for a rally point and the expansion of a Group as others arrive that are aware of my thinking. And they are not unique to our Area of Operations (AO). I have been to some really complete ones back east, in the south, and on the west coast. Let your mind do the walking.

I didn't realize how long this became. If you find it suitable for others to see to help them achieve their goals with limited or minimal means, please feel free to chop it as necessary.

Very Respectfully of your efforts to aid others, - R.D. in Wyoming

JWR Replies: That is an interesting concept, but implementing as you describe would require a quite unique set of circumstances. Namely, it could only happen if there were a sudden an near total collapse of society, and if all law enforcement evaporated overnight. It is far more likely that we will witness a "slow slide" from recession to depression, (and then, much less likely) to collapse. For most that continuum, your actions would be seen as criminal, and you'd quickly attract the attention of government. So then you might end up behind some other very stout walls. And BTW, any of these forts that are on National Forest or National Park land are considered Federal property, so any occupation deemed "trespassing" would be a Federal offense and likely carry a much more severe penalty than trespass on state or county parklands. So it is best to make this a "very low likelihood" contingency plan.

In my estimation the only pragmatic way to occupy an old fort in the midst of a slow slide situation would be to include representatives of county, state or perhaps even Federal government as part of your planned cadre, and characterize it all as a "continuity of government" (COG) endeavor. Bureaucrats often enjoy thinking (or pretending) that they come up with original ideas. Given the promise of safety for "selected" people, this should not be too difficult to orchestrate, especially as the economy worsens and the crime rate escalates. Creating a nexus with a governmental organization could be as complex as getting qualified as an EMT, or as simple as joining a Sheriff's Posse, joining a County SAR team, or becoming a RACES-affiliated ham radio operator.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I was working in a pawnshop in Aransass Pass Texas, about 20 miles North of Corpus Christi, Texas. Two days earlier my wife and I watched the destruction of New Orleans on National Television, the news coverage was continuing around the clock as the drama unfolded.

Gasoline had shot up from $1.56 to $2.99 a gallon overnight and of course I had to fill up that morning to get to my menial low paying job. Late that afternoon a rich looking couple driving a huge brand new pickup truck, came into the pawnshop. They spoke very loudly about how their family members in New Orleans did not have electricity and were relying on them for help. How they communicated [with those in New Orleans], I did not know. The pawn shop owner had two used generators and this couple was desperate to buy them, even hundreds of miles away from Louisiana, generators had become scarce. The couple bought both of them, at an extra high price, and the owner asked how they were going to get them to New Orleans for their family members to use. “Well” said the man, “we can’t drive up there because the roads are closed, so we are going to take these to the UPS office and have them shipped to New Orleans, no matter what it costs.” No one revealed to this man the flaw in his thinking. My Wife and I had a good laugh about that when I got home that day.

September 20, 2005.
We were very concerned about Rita’s progress that night, after Katrina everyone was in near panic.

September 21, 2005
They called the evacuation that morning, we had no money and our car was hardly running, there was no way it would make it inland several hundred miles, even if we had money for gas. The storm looked like it was going to make a direct hit where we lived in Rockport, Texas 30 miles North of Corpus, and right on the coast. Our financial situation was dire, my Wife had lost her job, and after an altercation with my manager at the pawnshop, I had quit mine. We were awaiting an inheritance to come through, but it had not happened yet. The job prospects in the small tourist town, in the off season, were grim. I thought about just sitting tight, but the lives of my Wife and kids prompted me into action. With reluctance and a feeling of failure as a man, I called my Father for help.
Jobs, money and status were the code that my father lived by, even though he had never held a low wage job in his life. He agreed to help, and reservations at a hotel in Wimberly Texas were made, before the golden horde set out from Houston. We would leave in the morning in my father’s truck, heading roughly two hundred miles inland. Wimberly is located between Austin and San Antonio Texas. I spent the afternoon of that day boarding up my Father’s house in the nearly 115 degree heat and humidity. After that was accomplished my Wife and I needed to pick up a few things in town including a prescription. It was completely surreal in Rockport late that afternoon. The streets were all but abandoned, trash fluttered in the wind on the empty sidewalks, most business were already closed. The schools had closed at noon that day, and the children sent home. Even the sky had a peculiar orange brown cloud cover that was unnerving. A hand painted cardboard sign adorned the windows at Super Wal-Mart stating that the store would be closing at 6pm, less than an hour away. The parking lot contained a handful of RVs and pick-ups with travel trailers, all of them were loading up canned goods, bottled water, propane, charcoal, flashlights, batteries and ammunition. We had about $6 at the local bank, but we also had a $300 overdraft privilege, the decision was made to exercise it. The ATM machines had been limited to dispensing only $80 at a time for only 3 transactions, to keep the machines from running out of cash. The ATM’s were also adorned with crudely made cardboard signs. We took our $80 out 3 times, with a $25 overdraft charge each time, that we would owe the bank at a later date. Inside Wal-mart it looked as if the hurricane had already struck, the store was a mess, and the employees had a haggard appearance. We picked up the prescription, there were no more batteries to be had, but I needed a box of .45 ACPs.

People had paid attention to the mayhem that followed hurricane Katrina, this was evident at the ammunition counter. They were out of shotgun shells, all common rifle rounds were gone, the same held true for common pistol rounds. All they had were oddball cartridges, .357 SIG, .45 G.A.P. .17 Remington, .300 Weatherby Magnum, et cetera. Even the .22 LR were gone. There would be no .45 ACPs for me, so we headed home. We passed several gas stations, again with crude signs, stating they had only premium fuel. We got home to get ourselves and our kids ready to evacuate in the morning. The television news reported that the hurricane was gaining strength, they still had no idea where it would make landfall, and residents of Houston were “urged” to evacuate now in a few hours it would be “mandatory”. I felt it was imperative for the members of my family to be equipped with proper footwear, in case there was trouble and we wound up walking. My 11 year old fashion aware daughter proved to be a problem, all she had was girly shoes that were otherwise useless. We scrambled to find her some walking shoes, deep in the closet we found a pair. Also in the closet we located a forgotten partial box of .45ACPs, at least my magazines would all be loaded. I vowed to never be caught without essentials like walking shoes and ammo again.

We packed light, I backed up my family photos and writings onto a CD-ROM and packed it, we included socks and a change of clothes for everyone, all of our important paperwork and identification and full canteens. Into my backpack went half of our cash, one 1911 Colt .45 Automatic with five magazines on a gun belt, one large Ontario Razor sharp hunting knife, one Swiss Champ, my medications including a good supply of aspirin, salt tablets and Dramamine. One compass, a military poncho, foot powder, boonie hats and a copy of “Conan the Adventurer” By Robert E. Howard. Everyone also had high energy snacks and a poncho. As we went to bed that night the TV reported more bad news.

September, 22 2005
This would be the day that I would learn how truly fragile our complex modern society is, I would also learn that by avoiding groupthink and with a little forward planning most hazards could be easily bypassed.

After disconnecting the water, electricity and gas to our house my Dad arrived and we loaded up by 9 a.m. . As I got into the truck my Father handed me a Texas Roads map book and said, “I have picked out our own evacuation route.” he had traveled the roads of Texas his entire life and knew every back road there was. The penciled in evacuation route would prove to be our saving grace. Many lives were lost that day because people and bureaucrats could not or would not read a simple road map; instead they relied on digital gimmickry and an unswerving belief that the interstate highway system was the only roadway available to them.

Urgency bordering on panic was wafting on the air, you could feel the tension, and see the worry on other motorists faces. We headed out on the first of many Farm to Market (FM) roads crisscrossing the state. Traffic on these back roads was still heavier than I had ever seen it. Towns we went through appeared deserted until you reached gas stations that were near riot conditions many were out of gas. Luckily my father had filled up the previous night, if he hadn’t we may have very well been stranded in the choking gasping heat that day. We switched back and forth onto differing FM roads to avoid more and more traffic, every town was congested, we had long waits at every stop light and four way crossing. A three hour trip had turned to six hours and counting, we stopped at small hamburger joint for lunch, it was jam packed, as we ordered we overheard other folks talking. Rumors were flying about accidents, fires, turmoil and gridlock on Interstate 10, they still had no idea where Rita was headed. We got our order and headed back out eating in the truck, the little town was swamped with cars and people, one person was driving on the sidewalk, there were no police in sight.
Between towns on the FM roads it was easy going, but as you neared any community there was chaos, as the afternoon progressed, many a crude sign could be seen proclaiming “No more gas”, No more food”, this was repeated again and again. We were coming up on Seguin Texas when traffic came to a halt, we were about to cross over I-10 the main evacuation route out of Houston. Out of the truck window along the horizon I could make out several columns of black smoke. It took over an hour to travel the two miles to the overpass and then I saw I-10. All the lanes had been re-routed to head west only, It was like a scene from a movie, as far as I could see there were lines of cars, both to the east and the west pointed in a single direction. There was no end, none of them was moving, more columns of smoke could be seen in the distance what caused them I did not know.

Heat rippled off the metal and in automobile exhaust, the evacuees could not turn off their engines, if they did there would be no air conditioning and heat prostration would quickly find them, especially the old and the very young. Along the roads sides people could be seen walking, I guess they had abandoned their vehicles in search of a respite from the heat. A fuel truck was also traveling on the road side, it was not stopping for anyone, and a few police cruisers traveled the road sides as well, the only vehicles in motion along that nightmarish interstate.

Late in the afternoon we arrived in Wimberly and checked into the Motel, which was completely booked and we were the last people with a reservation to arrive. My father was staying with a friend in Wimberly and he left us his truck. We headed to the grocery store to lay in our supplies it was crowded but not overrun yet. We bought three days of food for a family of four and headed back to the hotel. The storms heading was still uncertain, but at last we enjoyed some peace and laughter. Later that night we decided to run back into town and get some ice cream, there was chaos in Wimberly this time. The grocery store we had been at just hours earlier was stripped bare. They had cleaning supplies and some make-up but that was about it, there was no more food of any kind to be had, no drinks, no water and no toilet paper. The streets were packed stalled cars littered the roadways and every gas station was out of fuel. We went back to the hotel, grateful that we had bought supplies earlier. We watched the TV and heard horror stories of what was going on, events that we had witnessed throughout the day. The night passed without incident.

September, 23 2005
We spent the day relaxing at the hotel late in the afternoon Hurricane Rita made her turn to the North making the previous two days an exercise in futility. She struck in the early morning hours on September, 24 between the Texas/Louisiana border, while we were safely asleep at the hotel. We went home as the storm moved inland.

Lessons Learned:
I believe that after Katrina officials overreacted to Rita in ordering the evacuation of Houston, Many died needlessly. This is a danger we still face today, not just the storms but the hysteria surrounding them.

After our experience we gave up on the coast and moved to Oklahoma, we live a hundred miles from any major city and we keep stores of food, ammo, water and medical supplies on hand in case we need them in a hurry. Never again will we be caught unprepared!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mr. Rawles:
I, as well as possibly tens of thousands of my fellow Americans, are extremely fearful that the United States Government is slowly becoming like the former Soviet Union and that the day will come when the citizenry is in serious trouble. I continue to prepare as best I can for my family in the event it all comes crashing down but I cannot see where I will prevail long against American soldiers, police, and gangs that might try to harm me and my family. I am further afraid because I do not know Jesus Christ as my Savior and it seems that I cannot find a way in which to communicate with Him. Just know that there are those of us who look up to you for advice and comfort and please keep up the fine work that you do on our behalf. Respectfully, - John B. in Colorado

JWR Replies: The wonderful thing about Christ's love is that there is no intermediary required. He knows all of his elect by name. Salvation is yours, if you merely ask for it. Just open you heart in prayer. Ask first for His forgiveness, recognize Christ's sacrificial death and resurrection. That is salvation in a nutshell. Once saved, ask for guidance, providence, and protection.

Please don't look to me as an authority for any advice on truly big survival issues. I just know a few little nuts and bolts on preparedness. The big, substantive issues are all matters for prayer. Trust in God to put you in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. To start, I can offer a couple of pieces of encouragement, found in scripture: In the New Testament, see Philippians 4:13, and in the Old Testament, see: Psalm 91. My recommended initial reading for anyone not familiar with the Bible is the book of John. All things are possible, through Christ, who gives us strength!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

When it comes to real-world advice that applies to real people, Kathy Harrison's article ranks right near the top of the list. There is a sizable portion of the survival community (including my family) that believes that the community retreat model outlined in this article is, for most scenarios, the single best strategy for survival. While there are certainly some scenarios in which a remote retreat would be advantageous, those (in my opinion) are relatively few and unlikely. The community retreat strategy is one that can be used by just about anyone regardless of family or occupational requirements. It takes full advantage of the very reason that people have always congregated together. It's followers are well positioned for recovery efforts that leave out the isolated retreater, and it incorporates one of your key points - live at your retreat.
I look forward to more articles of this type by Kathy Harrison and others. - Stephen in Florida

Dear Mr. Rawles,
The recent post “The Community Retreat, by Kathy Harrison” prompted me to write with some comments about municipal retreats. Her comments are about a community retreat that is privately operated. I recently had an opportunity to see how a municipal shelter/retreat functioned. It was illuminating.

Recently we had a pretty severe ice storm here in the American Northeast. Many folks feel that it was the worst since 1987, when a storm knocked out power for two weeks. I wrote about my experiences with that storm here.

One thing about this storm that was new to me was that it was the first time my municipality had activated its Emergency Preparedness Plan (EPP).

I live next to a municipality of 1,600 people. The Village covers a little under two square miles and has 386 households.

Like most municipalities these days that receive Federal grants, the Village must meet certain eligibility conditions. One of those conditions is that there must be a municipal Emergency Preparedness Plan. This plan describes the village chain of command, who is responsible for what (fire, police, DPW, etc.), how to contact those departments/individuals and what resources they have. It also lists resources available in adjoining municipalities and what resources (fuel, water, etc.) are available within the village.

Another aspect of the EPP is that the village has to have a facility to shelter residents during an emergency. That is what I wanted to address here.

This was the first time the village had activated their shelter plan and I thought it might be useful to describe how it was supposed to go and how it actually went.

When the village wrote the EPP, the plan was that the American Legion [Hall] would be used to shelter residents. The Legion had large open spaces, a large commercial kitchen, was located on high ground and had ample parking. There were large bathrooms with many toilets and sufficient storage for reserve food and cooking items. To this end a trailer mounted military generator was permanently acquired from the Federal government and the buildings wiring slightly modified so that all one had to do was plug the generator into the building, throw a transfer switch and you were good to go. Sleeping cots were stored in the building as well as assorted small items that would allow for sheltering a large number of people. The American Red Cross would set everything up.

Like most municipalities, the village worked very hard on the EPP, sent copies to all the right people/departments, filed it with the Feds and States and then put it on a shelf and never paid attention to it until this ice storm hit. They –never- updated it. The plan was 2.5 years old.

The Legion hall is privately owned. About 8-10 months ago a decision was made by its owners to put it up for sale. When the time came to implement the EPP, the building was no longer available and a replacement had to be immediately found.

The –only- other building available was the Village Hall. It had emergency power and water and as a village owned property was immediately available. The downside was that it was considerably smaller; only about 25% of the capacity of the Legion [Hall]. The Village Hall contained both the police and fire departments so it was being used as a command & control facility. The Red Cross switched gears from Legion to Village Hall. A space was found for about 20 cots but fire and police personnel had to go through this area to meet with their commands. The radio room was right next to the sleeping area and the sandwiches and coffee for the firefighters and cops and everyone else was also in the same room. I don’t see how anyone could have slept.

While there was no disorder or major crime, the police maintained a presence in the shelter that did seem a bit ominous. People were allowed to come and go freely, but it would not have been a stretch of the imagination to foresee a time when people, once entering the shelter would not be allowed to leave. Commander Zero [, the editor of the excellent Notes From the Bunker blog] commented on the New Orleans, Louisiana authorities doing this at the Super Dome: They said that the citizens had [effectively] signed an unwritten contract with the authorities by entering the Dome and that they were being prohibited from leaving ‘for their own safety’. Commander Zero called this the "Guantanodome."

The food supplied to those people seeking shelter in the Village Hall was limited to grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee and water. There were no diapers, no provisions for pets, no toys or distractions for younger children. The bathrooms were small, each containing only two toilets. There was a single television but it’s volume was kept low so as not to interfere with radio communications.

Finally, there was no guidance or protocol from higher authorities on how long to keep the shelter open. After five days or so, staffing the shelter (all the staff were volunteers) became more difficult and a decision was made to close it down. By this time only about 10 people remained and they were directed to shelters in another town. I don’t know what became of those people when those shelters closed. I like to think that power was restored to their homes by then and they went home.

It would be very easy to say that this shows that an individual really should not rely on government in an emergency. In a large way, that’s correct. While I advocate that the goal of being prepared is to prevent having to go to this type of shelter, I do not think one should ignore the need for a municipal shelter. While I will still prepare and strive to not need to leave my home, I will work with the Village hierarchy to update and improve the plan that they have. If I know the village residents have a place to go and resources to draw upon then there will be that many fewer people out scavenging for what I have put aside for me and mine. - RMV.


Hi Jim...
It never ceases to amaze me how the majority of US survivalist wannabes adamantly contend they must live in the major cities. Fully 80% of all survivalist wannabes want to hunker down in their urban or suburban homes according to our polls.

Yet, they subscribe to and post 'survivalist' articles to survival forums like my Surviving The Day After list at Yahoo Groups], Rourke's Survival Retreat and Secure Home [list at Yahoo Groups], or Brad's HunkerDown06 [list at Yahoo Groups]. Their topics are often centered around a socialist/communist theme of a secure, remote survival retreat paid for by pooling money and resources of would be members and living a communal existence after TSHTF.

None of that is a viable plan, especially with the coming economic collapse of the USA, worldwide depression, and World War III. But, they won't even consider getting out of the cities now! It's frustrating to survivalists like me.

BTW, I am in West Texas and we are developing a problem here in such a sparsely populated area. Pecos, Texas is about 5,000 people around mile marker 40 on Interstate Highway 20. They have a 3,000 bed county-run prison that houses 3,000 Federal prisoners. Last Saturday night the prisoners rioted and burned out the R2 unit. About 45 days ago they had rioted and burned out R1 unit. My brother is a prison guard there and called during this riot to warn me the inmates were expecting help from MS13 [gang] contact/associates from Mexico.

The night before, a Hispanic youth gang called Brown Pride Gang torched six homes in and around Pecos. Two of those homes had Hispanic families asleep inside. Those responsible have been apprehended and are facing attempted homicide by arson charges. These gang "youths" were organized and incited to commit this attack by MS13 members in Pecos.

Glenn Beck was saying on Fox News that the border violence is intensifying and yet neither the Democrats or the Republicans are willing to close and regulate the border with
Mexico. And to top that off, Beck was warning that Texans will soon get fed up and take matters into their own hands, arming themselves and protecting their families and property from invasion.

This all has an effect on my personal survival plans long term of course. The lack of population, the distances involved here in the desert of West Texas, and the proximity of our paid-for mountain retreat to our paid for farm in the valley puts us in a much better prepared position than 95% of the populace. It has taken years of preparation and planning, though. And, none of it came cheap.

I am still a voice in the wilderness crying: Get out of the cities, now!

Regards, Lawrence R.
List Owner, SurvivingTheDayAfter at Yahoo Groups

Sunday, January 25, 2009


The gentleman that wrote to say that he wants to rent his property out for bugout situations should read the [first hand] observations posted on [the aftermath of Hurricane] Katrina. [This was written by someone that sheltered dozens of people]: Thoughts On Disaster Survival. Regards, - Bill N.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


On the topic of SHTF scenarios like [the Post-Rodney King Verdict riots in] Los Angeles and Hurricane Katrina, YouTube has many videos detailing this that your readers might find are worth revisiting. It's one thing to talk about it, another to actually see it all again:

Los Angeles Riots, Looting, and a Gunfight in Koreatown

LA Riots - Korean Store Owners Prepare for Showdown

Hurricane Katrina New Orleans, 08/28/2005 Massive Evacuation

Hurricane Katrina Looters, A Few of Them Were Police Officers

After Hurricane Katrina, Desperation at the Convention Center

Regards, - The Survivalist


I remain very skeptical regarding the police, as representatives of the state, in "SHTF" situations. New Orleans is the most obvious example. But consider: the state disarms you, and then confiscates a portion of your wages to create a bureaucracy to protect you. When that's not enough the state "creates" crimes - whether it's the "war on drugs" or something as simple as banning cell phones in cars - in order to sustain it's bureaucracy. Like any other agency of the state, this becomes a self-perpetuating dynamic.

Secondly, agents of the state, in a true crisis situation, will have limited information. Otherwise law abiding citizens are easily painted as potential threats through the chain of command. History provides plentiful examples of what happens when those agents of the state -otherwise good people- meet up with the civilian populace during times of crisis. Clearly history is not on the side of law enforcement making sound, independent decisions in these cases. Further, as New Orleans demonstrates, law enforcement personnel can easily be deployed from their own back yard to other areas of the country where they do not have roots, family or ties to the community. There are also cultural differences (in the example of New Orleans: How Chicago police may feel about citizen-owned firearms) that amplify and exacerbate the problem.

Volumes have been written about this subject. But I would encourage anyone looking to the state for protection of their individual rights during a crisis situation to study history - and I am not speaking about ancient history or extreme examples such as Stalin or Mao. Simply study American history. - Steven

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Sometimes it is not an option to relocate so you have to get prepared wherever you are located. I am located on the Gulf Coast 60 short miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. We were ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, so I have a first hand experience of what can happen I will describe some things that I did right and some things that I did wrong.

We were unable to relocate to a place like Idaho as we had elderly parents who could not and probably would not relocate to a more appropriate survival area.

My mother was born in 1930 the daughter of a sharecropper in the Louisiana delta. They lived a survivor lifestyle as a matter of everyday life. She instilled in me a fear of having absolutely nothing. Until her
death in 2007 she refused to run a dishwasher or air conditioner. She could not bring herself to waste electricity, water, or anything for that matter. She would not waste anything.

Although not as dedicated to thrift as my mother, I did inherit her fear of hunger, and vulnerability to the unexpected. She died in fear of depression era conditions returning. When she died I lost a valuable
source of survival information.

Because of my mother's influence, the day after Hurricane Katrina, we were one out of 75,000 or so who had lights and running water 36 hours after the storm. The following is what most people did wrong:

A lot of people had generators, the problem was that they only had a couple of cans of gas. So they were all without power in less than 24 hrs. All of the gas stations were disabled. No gas means no

Nobody had enough food, they recommend three days, it took almost three days just to get the roads clear.

No guns! I had friends who did not "believe in guns" that ended up borrowing some weapons.

No dogs! Without dogs, you have no warning of intruders. Alarm systems don't work after the batteries are dead.

The following is what I did right:

I had a natural gas generator installed. I was up and running less than 36 hours of the storm. It was also a mistake to select natural gas as a fuel source. Upturned trees broke gas lines all over the region, it was only blind luck that left me with gas pressure. A propane system would have been better.

I had drilled a water well. I was able to provide water pressure to my house, city water was out for weeks. I tied the system back to the house by a simple water hose going from a faucet on my pump to one on the house.

I had lights and water. Here is what I did wrong:

I evacuated the elderly mothers and dogs to an area 100+ miles north. Electricity was out over the entire state, my motor home generator powered my sisters house where I left our parents and dogs. I left the dogs at my bug out location before I returned to the disaster area.

Mistake #1: I sent my dogs elsewhere.

The other thing I was unprepared for were refugees. I call them refugees because they would have gone hungry without the food in my pantry and freezers. I was totally unprepared for the 16 families looking to me for food and direction.

Some other things I did wrong:

I did not have enough food. I fed a lot of people. In a real end of life as we know it scenario, I would have been forced to choose who I would have to turn away. It's one thing to take care of people when you know help is on the way, quite another when there is no help in sight.

Weapons: I loaned my old shotguns to all the people who did not believe in the private ownership of guns. When gangs of illegal aliens and welfare recipients' were roaming the streets, the folks who didn't believe in guns didn't hesitate to request assistance.

I did not have a fuel source independent of the grid.

The following are changes that I have made:

I now have a Bluebird Bus motor home. It has a huge fuel tank that I can use to run the house if the natural gas generator quits. It’s diesel generator can put out 12 kw for a long time.

I have a much larger store of food.

I have a photovoltaically-powered water supply.

I have a bug out vehicle that has a 1,200 to 1,500 mile range. It has a propane refrigerator. It has a water
system that can provide water pressure to my house.

I have dogs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thieves were cranking up lawn mowers and pushing them up next to running generators after the storm. They would then shut down the running generators and leave the running lawn mowers while they absconded with the generators. You cannot stay awake 24 hours a day. Dogs do not miss much if anything. I can’t recommend a breed of dog, but the following work for me: Miniature Schnauzers, Australian shepherds, Catahoula Curs. If you live in the south and have some land you cannot beat a Catahoula Cur. An Australian Sheppard is a close second for all climates.

I have ten acres and good soil, I am putting in a very large garden. However, I do not feel that I can overcome the huge welfare population we have here, If things get out of hand, I plan to bug out. I now have an RV that has a tremendous range. It has a propane refrigerator, and full facilities. I can literally live on the side of the road for weeks or months. It is equipped to pull a full-size 4WD with trailer. I have several bug out locations within four hours where I can evacuate to. When I leave I will have dogs, food, tools, and arms. I also have shortwave radios.

You have to develop a survival mentality, you have to add to your preparation everyday. Each trip to Wal-Mart is an opportunity to add to your supplies. The one thing I learned is that when the storm hits, its too late to think about being prepared. You have to think: if a disaster strikes, how long can you feed and protect your family? I add to my provisions every day.

Start to prepare now. Think: food, food, and more food, ammo, bandages, and unless you can go without sleep 24 hours a day don't forget the dogs!

[In his article "The Thin Blue Line",] Deputy W. makes a very good observation about the tipping point when law enforcement retreats to protect their own families. This situation has occurred twice in recent history here in the U.S., during the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles in 1992 and most recently in New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina. I lived through the riots in L.A., as well as two earthquakes and would like to share some of what I learned from this experience.

The fact I want to impress on SurvivalBlog readers is that they will most likely experience a situation like this wherever they live at some point in their life, it is almost unavoidable. Mention this experience to most people and they will think "this will never happen to me". However, human behavior really hasn't changed very much for thousands of years. If you starve people or remove the threat of arrest and incarceration, some of them will turn into animals who will stop at no evil, causing a breakdown of civil society. The saying "at any time, you are three days from anarchy" is no doubt true.
As the riots began, most people assumed the situation would remain under control in the South Central part of Los Angeles, a poor and rundown area. The story ran on the evening news and everyone went to sleep thinking it would blow over. Law enforcement (the Los Angeles Police Department - LAPD) made a number of errors in handling the situation and it rapidly spiraled out of control. By the next morning, the air was smoky and the news was filled with scenes of mobs attacking defenseless people like truck driver Reginald Denny, who was nearly beaten to death because he had the misfortune to drive his truck through the wrong neighborhood. Keep in mind, at that time LAPD was considered to be one of the best run police forces in the U.S. If the LAPD couldn't keep control, then could your local law enforcement keep control in this kind of situation?

What did it feel like to be there for "the end of the world"? Power and water still worked, and I had about a weeks worth of food on hand, so it was a comfortable, though scary "end of the world" for me -- I didn't own a gun at the time and the flimsy gate and sliding glass door at the entrance to my apartment didn't offer any protection if someone wanted to get in. Because LA is a media center, the local helicopter news coverage was quite good and people stayed glued to their televisions, just to make sure the mobs weren't heading our way. So good in fact that looters would burn down the business they finished robbing and go home to watch the fire on television. Once it became clear to the public at large that no police would be there to stop anything, it became a free-for-all. Television crews on Sunset Boulevard filmed people breaking large storefront windows, the alarm bells blaring and dozens of looters entering to help themselves to the "30 Minute 100% Off Sale". I remember quite clearly an interview with a looter who had just exited a shoe store holding up a pair of shoes for the camera and saying excitedly, "Granny, they didn't have the shoes you wanted, but I got you these in your size".

Another scene burned a memory I will never forget. Many of the businesses in these poor areas were owned by hard working Korean families. These merchants banded together and got on the roofs of their businesses with shotguns. Four days later when the smoke cleared, they were the only businesses left in town and I don't believe many of them even had to fire a shot.

I ventured out to the local grocery store after the first day -- you could hear gunshots from neighboring Venice. The parking lot at the shopping center was full of panicked people, desperately buying anything. They patiently waited in lines over ten people long -- at least people were still reasonable in this neighborhood. We traded stories with people who had just come down from Sunset Blvd., where the looting was really taking off, it was completely out of control. The shelves in this store, however were stripped clean -- it looked like a store you would see behind the Iron Curtain, people had money, but there was nothing to buy.

After this experience, I swore that I would never be unprepared -- you can't always count on someone else to look out for your interests and protect your family. - CK


Mr. Rawles,
I have been a law enforcement officer (LEO) in a small city - western New York and was raised in New York City. I believe that Deputy W. stated his facts on the nicer side. The mental state of anyone in survival mode is not a pretty thing, ff they are not prepped as most here [where I live] are. I would venture to say better than 50% of the LEOs in the nation would not go to a callout under TEOTWAWKI scenario. And how many would respond to a SHTF moment? They have to take their families as primary importance and you would not expect otherwise. The only way to avoid this is to make certain that the families were well provided for and protected, that is not done anywhere that I am aware of. So do not take the law into your own hands just to be righteous, but protect yourselves and be prepared to defend family and property, food, et cetera, if you see the legal system break down.

I was once told by a fellow LEO: "I don't need to store food, I have guns and I will feed my family" .And, yes this man was basically [otherwise] ethical and honest as are majority of LEOs in this country. I am not Christian or Jewish nor any variation of that. So my faith in your savior is not what I lean on, but my faith and my belief in my right to survive will allow me to do what I must to survive. I pray for all whom 'he' would protect and allow all to live -- if they do not threaten me and mine.

Get a firearm and practice with it, and if they will listen, train your family as you might not be there to use it. If possible, have a plan and a backup plan, and have a gun with you at all times. That plan should include a bug out bag (BOB) and it should be portable,many sites to find what should and should not be in there. Shalom, - S.S.B.


I would like to add that during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina that the New Orleans Police Department was doing just as much looting as the Citizens and the National Guard was there to disarm the survivors. So I'm not even going to trust a LEO during the bad times ahead, they have family to feed too. What makes the matter worse is the average citizen has been conditioned to obey law enforcement.

What do you do when a LEO comes to your door and wants [to 'requisition'] your supplies? Signed, - Dan


Dear Mr. Rawles,
Regarding the recent article concerning the Thin Blue Line being the "only" thing separating honest citizens from criminal chaos: I think one of the basic suppositions is incorrect.
For the past year I have been living in two places. Approximately 3-4 days a week I live in a large Pacific Northwest City and the other 3-4 days I live on the edge of a very small town (pop. 2,000, which is my Bug Out Location) somewhere in the Inland Northwest. The police force in the large city is doing the best they can, but I am am constantly at Condition Yellow. Crime is serious and getting worse. In contrast, the small town doesn't have a single police person. There is virtually no crime. While I think a societal breakdown is more than likely in the city, given almost any excuse, I also think that almost any kind of problem in the small town will most likely bring the town to an even higher level of cooperation and care for the common welfare of the citizens.

I plan on making the small town my permanent residence as soon as possible. The ramifications for quality of life issues are vast, even if the Schumer doesn't hit the fan!
I in no way mean to take anything away from the police. They are doing the best they can, but these days they should be getting combat pay! As Dirty Harry said: "We've got our finger in the dike, and the whole dang thing is crumbling around us!" The future is not in any city. Thank you (again) for your guidance and fellowship. God bless, - E.T.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The “Thin Blue Line”. It describes something much greater than the title of a second rate movie. It describes the thin blue line of civilian law enforcement officers that is the only thing that separates America from utter chaos. It is not too difficult to imagine what would happen if that thin blue line were to disappear or become overwhelmed. A scary thought indeed, but one that you are already thinking about since you are reading SurvivalBlog.

Yet, we are alarmingly close to just such a scenario. As most readers of SurvivalBlog know, our modern Western society is extremely complex, interwoven, and most of all, vulnerable. We are facing the most serious economic situation since the Great Depression, but discussion of the current economic crisis and the innumerable other threats to our society is beyond the scope of this essay. Rather, I hope to explain to you, from a rural law enforcement officer’s perspective, what we could be in for in the event of a cataclysmic societal event.

I have been in a law enforcement career for 10 years. I have worked in a jail, I have worked road patrol, and I have been an investigator. Through my career, I have become a student of human nature. I have seen the evil that man is capable of perpetrating against his fellow man. There is one general rule to remember about all of humanity: it is at the core of our sinful nature to do that which is best for ourselves, regardless of what effect that may have on other people. We are a murderous and self seeking race, and it is my hope that you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to set you free from this sin.
But facts are facts. The Bible tells us that there will be many more souls that will be lost than there will be souls that will be saved in the end times. So we must prepare ourselves spiritually and physically, with the assumption that we will soon be facing unimaginable evil, and it will be in the form of a human face. As disturbing as it may be to you, you must be prepared to do whatever it takes to defend yourself and your family. You must be willing and able to deliver a lethal recourse if it becomes absolutely necessary. I will extrapolate on those thoughts.

The average petty criminal has a simple mind set. He operates from much lower moral standard than most other people. He is concerned about only one thing: himself. He is typically lazy and self serving. He doesn’t see a reason to go to work every day. Working people are chumps to him, but he likes having them around because they earn plenty of things for him to steal. It is no coincidence that burglaries are primarily daytime affairs. He knows that most people will not be home when he chooses to burglarize. He doesn’t want to hurt anybody, but he carries a knife or a gun in case somebody tries to interfere with his plans The only thing that keeps him from being more brazen is the threat of enforcement action against him. He doesn’t really want to go to jail, because it really is an unpleasant place to be. After all, if jail were so great, why do so many criminals flee capture?

Then consider the more malicious type of criminal. He has absolutely no morals, with the exception of honor among criminals. Even that is very questionable if it comes to a point where he can save his own skin. He has been raised on violence, and it is all he knows. He has no empathy for you, your family, or for anyone else. He doesn’t care if he causes you pain, and he probably even enjoys it. He will give no more thought to killing you than you would give to killing a housefly. He sees people like you as an annoyance to be dealt with. He sees you as an inanimate object, put on this earth only to provide him with gratification. He sees you, your family, and your possessions as a means to an end to self gratification. He will do whatever he wants to do in order to be gratified, unless and until you are willing to do whatever it takes to defend yourself. Otherwise, it is very likely that you and your family will perish horribly.

You see both types of these criminals all over America. You see them in the big cities and in the small towns. The only reason they are kept in check is because we have an established system to adjudicate and punish criminals. Even that is not usually enough to keep them from committing dastardly acts. All that we can hope for as a law enforcement officer is to catch the criminal after the act punish him. Then we hope that this acts as a deterrent to future criminal acts. Honestly, I’m not sure that it does. Some men are just plain wicked and that’s the way it is.

Criminals are the minority under normal circumstances. Most citizens are decent and hard working people. But it would not take much to destabilize our society. There are a lot of threats to our way of life. Proceed with me through the following scenario. A major economic collapse occurs in America. Millions are unemployed and have no way to earn honest money. The rest of the citizenry is crippled by inflation. Through various economic events, the entire economy grinds to a halt. Trucks and trains stop moving, which means that coal is not delivered to power plants, and food is not delivered to stores.
Things quickly grow desperate. The average family realizes all too late that they have only a few days worth of food in their cupboard, with no available means to acquire more. Hundreds of millions converge on supermarkets within a matter of a week or two, and riots and looting erupts. Martial Law is declared and the National Guard is called up, but is completely inadequate to maintain order. Not only do the aforementioned criminals become free from constraint and begin to run amok, but millions of regular people realize that the only way their kids will be fed is if they go and take supplies from someone else. Hungry people with weapons will have no reservation about doing unspeakable evil on others if it means their own family will survive a little longer. Do not doubt that the sinful nature will turn normally docile people into voracious killers. It has been written into our DNA since the Fall of man.

Now to the big point I’m making. Here’s where it gets really scary, and the vulnerability of the thin blue line becomes apparent. I am employed in a county with a population of 40,000 people. We have a city of 25,000 as a county seat. At most, the agencies in my area could muster about 50 officers. This means that there would be an 800 to 1 ratio of citizens to police officers in our area. It would be impossible to maintain order with this ratio. We would be lucky to be able to hold a few buildings, let alone provide law enforcement service to 1,000 square miles of rural area.

Now imagine this happening in every city in town in America, all at the same time. The number of law enforcement officers, National Guard, and [Reserve Component and active duty] soldiers would be wholly inadequate to even make a small dent in widespread civil disorder. There are many Friday and Saturday nights when our local law enforcement agencies have to stack service calls for two hours due to high call volume, and this is during normal times. If law enforcement agencies can’t answer calls in a timely manner during normal times, how could a reasonable person expect law enforcement to be there during a societal collapse?I also urge you to consider this. There is no way that I, even as a police officer, can abandon my God-given responsibility to care for and protect my own family. There are times when retreat is the better part of valor, and if that terrible time comes, the vast majority of officers will not be able to justify in their own minds fighting a lost cause. They will retreat and take care of their family, which is what the brotherhood of the thin blue line is all about. Don’t misunderstand. The huge majority of law enforcement officers perform a very dangerous profession honorably and to the very best of their ability. But drastic times will call for drastic measures from everyone, and the preparedness minded person can’t assume that the thin blue line will always remain intact.

Thus, it quickly becomes apparent that each citizen will be responsible for his own family’s safety and security during these perilous times. To assume that there will always be police there to protect you will most likely be fatal. Please don’t make that mistake. Do what you must do. If you own a gun, learn how to use it proficiently. Take firearms training courses, and know the laws in your area. Most importantly, be ready for the unexpected, and don’t rely upon the government to take care of you. That’s your responsibility. - Deputy W. in Missouri

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First of all, my heart goes out to all those who truly suffered with loss of life or property as a result of Hurricane Ike. I only had the minor inconvenience of being without electricity in Houston for five days. (There are still over one million in Houston and the surrounding area without power.) So I had a taste of what it is like to be off-grid and learned a few things to share with your readers. It seems a lot of people here had generators which burn lots of precious gasoline. But after a few days the gasoline runs out. We toughed it out. I did have small camping-type battery powered fans and several flashlights but can't imagine what we'd do in a situation without power for the long term. You can have only so many batteries and then what? We had water drawn in bath tub to use for flushing toilet, as water plants use electricity to pump water. Also had many frozen plastic milk jugs in freezer and big igloo to keep some things cold for a couple of days. Ice was very hard to come by. Grocery stores were closed for a couple of days and there were lines just to get into the stores when they did open. They let in a few people at a time for crowd control. I was lucky to have my nonperishable food stockpile. Remember to have extras for relatives. Gas stations were slow to reopen and had hours to wait when they did open. (Many buying gas for their generators). We had full tanks in advance of the storm. One important item we used was the car charger for the cell phone. Be sure to have one that fits your current phone model. Also, many don't realize that cordless land line phones use electricity so you need to have a standard corded phone (which I had) if you want to even find out if your land-line works. To heat water for coffee we used sterno called Canned Heat and it worked very well. I know this is merely a temporary solution to heating. I told my husband recently that I wanted to buy a camp stove and now he may agree with me. And of course no television or computer which is really tough. I used my television band radio a lot to get information.

I am now more afraid than ever of what it is going to be like if the power goes off frequently or stays off in a worse-case scenario. Luckily I didn't see civil unrest, but what if power stayed off longer? If there was any way, I would move out of the city. Since I can't leave, I will continue to prepare the best I can. Please continue to remember the trapped-in-the-city dwellers when you post ideas for survival. I think we need the most help. Thanks for all you do, - Nancy B.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hello Jim,
This note is in reference to the letter from Melanie and Rick in Columbus about the woman who never thought of using the grill to cook. I had a similar experience with my mother-in-law. While we had power and water, she had lost hers. I offered to bring buckets of water to her house so she could manually refill the toilet tank to flush with(she has septic).
Not only did she not think of that, she couldn't understand the concept. She ended up going to a hotel for a couple of days. People like this will not last long in a prolonged crisis. Just goes to show the most critical piece of gear is your brain and knowledge. Take care, - Jeff in Ohio

Hi Jim,
I just finished reading Melanie and Rick's letter and what they faced during their 'hurricane' event in Columbus. The conditions they experienced sound very similar to what I related to you was occurring in Cincinnati a few days ago. I just wanted to make a few comments regarding the need for self-defense and owning a gun to do so. Rick was concerned about someone who was driving by coming back to 'liberate' his generator. That would concern me too, so here are a couple of my thoughts on the situation. First, it is a good idea to conceal the fact that you have power when the rest of your neighbors don't and it's pretty obvious at night. So close the blinds, black out the windows and do what you can to conceal the fact that you have power. Second, do what you can to muffle the sound of your generator with sound baffles or a soundproof enclosure. Third, "nail it down" and secure it as Rick did with chains and locks.

Now to the more important issue, protecting the generator using deadly force. A couple of years ago when concealed carry was first permitted in Ohio, I completed the required course to get my permit. While not a lawyer, I do remember the most important lesson taught regarding the law in Ohio is this; you can use a firearm to protect human life, but you may not use a firearm to protect private property. So to Rick's point, if he did have a gun and used it to protect his generator from a would be thief and actually injured or killed them during the event, he could be prosecuted should he cause injury or death to the intruder. It does go without saying however, if Rick was threatened and feared for his life or the life of someone in his family while and intruder was trying to steal the generator, he could defend his or their life with deadly force. Personally, I always feel my life is in immediate danger anytime someone invades my home, regardless of their intentions, but simply threatening someone with bodily harm using a firearm is also currently illegal and depending upon the circumstances and the court and lawyers involved, one could potentially face some time in state provided accommodations. There have been a few cases reported where people defended their property by shooting a fleeing intruder in the back while trying to escape and were found guilty of assault with a deadly weapon. For someone to be attacking you they must be facing you. However, one could certainly detain the intruder for the police if the police could be successfully contacted (communications/availability might be an issue) and would actually show up to make an arrest.

With this said, I believe everyone should own and trained to safely use a firearm(s). When the defecation impacts the rotating oscillator the laws may not change, but the circumstances will definitely change for the worst...so when you have only seconds to make that life-or-death decision you will be more likely to successfully do so while waiting for the cops are just minutes, hours or even days away!

It is essential to be prepared for the worst, but hope - and more importantly, pray for the best. - Larry in Cincinnati


I am an ex-cop, who served in St. Tammany Parish, just above New Orleans. (On the other side of Lake Pontchartrain). I was there during [Hurricane] Katrina. Believe me when I say I have many stories to tell, and I am sure I will, eventually.

However, I have been lurking on your web site for a while, and I had to comment in a recent post.
The people in Ohio who almost had their generator stolen made me remember a looter we had in Post-Katrina St. Tammany Parish. He would bring a lawn mower in the middle of the night, turned on and throttled down, to your house. He would put it near the generator, and over the course of 10 or so minutes, throttle it up. Then he would simply turn off the generator and trundle away with it, leaving a similar noise behind. The cold air from air conditioning would last long enough for his get-away. If I remember correctly, he stole about 36 generators before being caught.
We even had a gennie stolen from the Sheriff's LEC (Law Enforcement Complex), three nights after Katrina. And one of the jail's large generators was given to the hospital when theirs died. Essentially, hide them, do not use them at night if you can avoid it, and think about putting a muffler on it to hide the sound. And buy a gun.
Any questions? Thanks, - Joshua

Friday, September 19, 2008

With [hurricanes] Gustav and Ike paying us a visit, I thought I would send you a note regarding the importance of self reliance versus shelter life. Living in the Gulf South, hurricanes are something you have to prepare for. Government support and shelter will not be there for you in the way you might think. Your lack of supplies or resources when you most need them, depending on the emergency, could mean a thoroughly miserable experience for you and your family at best; or [something far] worse if the emergency is wider and deeper in scope. Start making your preparations now, when they’re not needed immediately and are readily available. When the time to act arrives, don’t hesitate, and you will find yourself in safer territory long before the rest of the unprepared and sometimes frantic crowd.

Hurricanes are simply a part of life in the Gulf South. Out West there are earthquakes, wildfires and even volcanic activity. Elsewhere in the US we have to prepare for tornados, blizzards, nor’easters, floods, et cetera. And these are just what nature can throw at us and often does. Barely a day goes by where we are not reading about some unfortunate people caught short in an unexpected event, and unprepared for [the] emergency. In addition, in today’s world there are legitimate man-made concerns, such as terrorist activity, industrial accidents and the threat of economic collapse as highlighted in your most entertaining and informative novel; "Patriots". In short, I don’t think anybody; anywhere is 100% immune from some sort of emergency or cataclysmic event. The time to start preparing was yesterday. The time to stop, is never. Always look to improve and renew your preparations.

Before Hurricane Katrina, I thought that I had my act together. My wife laughed at how prepared I always was. I took great pride in her labeling me as her little Boy Scout. But I soon found that I wasn’t. After the storm passed I discovered that the recoil [starter] spring on the generator was broken. (I hadn’t checked it for the last couple of years). And although I found a way around that, I only had enough gas to run it for a few days. I figured it would all be over quickly as had been the case with so many other storms that merely brushed by and brought little more than an inconvenience. My easily prepared food was also limited to a few days, maybe a week at best. Water I had enough of for a week or two. I soon realized that I was little better prepared, if at all, than anyone else on my street. Sure, I was the first one with boards on my windows, and I had a generator; but that was about it.

Taking it a step further, I had these preparations for myself. My wife and family had evacuated. In the event there was an emergency where they wouldn’t be able to evacuate, with generator power for a few days, food and water maybe the same, we would have found ourselves in dire straights all too quickly with little or no choice other than to rely on charity. If we were creative, we might have been able to stretch it out for almost two week, at best. Cleaning up after a storm and trying to put your life back together requires a lot of extra calories and is certainly not the time to scrimp together a minimal diet.

We were lucky, however, in that we had saved money for a grand family vacation the following year, so there were funds available to take care of everyone for three weeks while they were evacuated. Fortunately for me, I am a police officer, so decent hot food and support was available to me. Not to mention being able to take home a few gallons of gas each day for my generator. Had I of been Mr. John Q. Public given the same set of circumstances, I would have been in line for Red Cross meals twice a day before long, and totally without power unless I went from 8-to-12 hours per day to 2 or 3.

Again, taking it a step further, if my family needed shelter, given either a lack of funds or the opportunity to evacuate, and unable to stay in my house due to storm damage, we would have wound up in line for food and spending the night in the corridors of a local school which is used for [a public] shelter. I have worked as security at those shelters. Believe me, they are not places you want to spend time in, filled with the homeless, near homeless, mentally ill, infirm and a rough assortment of folks with near nothing to their name.

During [Hurricane] Gustav our city had several shelters, and by design, they are not comfortable. One shelter where you could bring your pet (in a crate & with food & supplies only!) had a huge generator. All of the pets enjoyed air conditioning. The people, housed in a separate area, did not. The other shelters where pets were strictly not allowed also had no air conditioning. When asking the Red Cross officials about this, they stated that their rules demanded air conditioning and 20 square feet of space per pet. For people, no air conditioning was required and only 15 square feet of space was deemed necessary. They said they didn’t want the people to be too comfortable where they wouldn’t want to leave. They achieved this goal ‘handsomely’. The walls of the school corridors were soon sweating profusely from condensation and pools of water covered the floor. Anything like sleeping bags, or bags of clothing left on the floor soon began to absorb water. Even after 24 hours, the smell began to set in. No one hung around any longer than they absolutely had to. Mission accomplished. Given different circumstances and recourses, I’m sure they would have been more accommodating, but I never want to find out first hand.

The local school board was also what I would describe as less than considerate. At the shelter I worked at, the folks from the Red Cross were told by the principal that they were limited to the hallways, cafeteria and gym; that the people requiring shelter could only be from that area – no evacuees from further afield; and that 12 hours after the storm passed, everyone had to be out. In short, evacuees found themselves in miserable conditions, and felt unwanted all round. The Lord should smile on the Red Cross volunteers who actually manned the shelter as they worked themselves silly to do all they could for the inhabitants, but try as they might, they simply could not do much to alleviate the miserable conditions. I never want to find myself there, and refuse to let my family go through anything remotely like that.

Today I am far more prepared in every respect, and continuing to improve on my preparations all around. When I first started getting truly prepared, my family thought I was a little ‘nutty’. Now, in many ways they see the need, but still see a somewhat eccentric side to me. They were all born in a time of plenty. A time where we are accustomed to having what we want and when we want it. Increasingly, the finer things in life are taken for granted and many segments of society even demand not only their necessities, but the luxuries of life to be handed to them, gratis. In time of need, the more sudden, the deeper and prolonged the emergency, the more severe their reaction to take what they don’t have and we do have, by any means necessary.

Hurricanes are relatively small emergencies. Given the scope of [hurricanes such as] Ike, Gustav, Katrina, or Andrew, for example, some may say they were anything but small. To many, they lost everything. But on the whole, hurricanes produce short lived, localized emergency conditions which the rest of the country responds to. Given a far wider reaching event, such as a [large scale] EMP attack, economic collapse, pandemic etc, the effects could be very widespread over a far longer period. It wouldn’t take long for people to realize that no one would be coming to help. The 911 telephone system wouldn’t work, or would work less effectively. Shelters, if available, would be hell, but for those of us unprepared, we would have little else to fall back on. This, in large part, is why I prepare. It is why we all should. - DZ in Louisiana

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hurricane Iniki, which struck the island of Kauai on September 11, 1992, was the third-most damaging hurricane in U.S. history and provides some valuable insights into how people react when an entire self-contained community loses most of their creature comforts. By way of background, Kauai is the fourth largest island in the Hawaiian Archipelago. It, along with a small, privately-owned island off its western coast make up the County of Kauai. The population in 1992 was about 50,000.
On September 11, 1992, Hurricane Iniki made a direct hit on the island with winds upward of 150 miles per hour. Approximately 70 percent of the buildings on Kauai were destroyed or damaged. Telecommunications and electricity were lost and not entirely restored to all areas for six months. Due to early warning and good Civil Defense planning, there were only a handful of deaths attributed to the hurricane. The hurricane missed the rest of the state except for brushing the leeward coast of Oahu.
National Guard troops from other islands were on Kauai eight hours after the hurricane had passed. Within three days, there were approximately 1,000 National Guard personnel on the island. The command and control element reported directly to the mayor of Kauai County and to the Governor. These lessons learned are from the personal recollections of a member of the command and control element.

Most striking was the number of relief agencies that arrived on-island within a week to two weeks after the storm. At one point there were 5,000 relief workers representing 80 different governmental agencies and private organizations supporting a population of 50,000. The 1:10 ratio of relief workers to residents was one reason that there was almost no looting or lawlessness in the aftermath of the storm. This ratio of 1:10 would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve in more densely populated areas or disasters that affect larger geographical regions (as we saw following Hurricane Katrina) . In New Orleans, the military response was initially focused on rescue or recovery and not on law enforcement.

Military planning is built around “operating systems” i.e. maneuver, communications, etc. To facilitate planning, the operating systems inherent in all civilian communities were identified, assessed and tracked to determine their current status to coordinate support and to help estimate how long before each system would be brought back on-line.
These systems were:

  • Water
  • Food
  • Communications and electricity
  • Sewage treatment and waste disposal
  • Traffic control and public safety
  • Medical Services

Each of these operating systems presented unique challenges and insights as they relate to disaster planning.
Water - There are few private wells on the island. The County owns the water system, which consists of reservoirs in the mountains and some wells that service the drier parts of the island. The first priority for Civil Defense was to install generators at all pumping stations. In most areas water was back on-line within 3-to-4 days.
Food - MREs, supplied by the Federal government, were available within a few days after the storm. They became the main source of calories for most people. However, the novelty of eating MREs quickly wore off and distributing food became a high priority. Feeding stations serving a hot lunch were set up at various locations around the island using military cooks and idle chefs from the various resort hotels. However, headcounts changed daily and it was difficult to ensure that sufficient food was available at each location.

Communications and electricity - In 1992, there were few cellular phones. Nearly everyone relied on land lines for their telephone service. The hurricane downed perhaps a third of telephone/electrical poles on the island. Crews were flown in from as far away as the east coast and worked months to repair the damage. Replacement poles were obtained from the mainland and shipped to Kauai. Reportedly, the base yards in several western states were emptied of poles to support the recovery operation for a community of 50,000. It should be noted that Hurricane Andrew had hit Florida three week before Iniki and the two areas were competing for some high priority items like telephone poles and the, much prized, blue plastic tarps used as temporary patches for leaking roofs. There were microwave relay sites on the island to transmit communications signals from Kauai to the other islands and, then, worldwide. Some of these sites had only minor damage and were quickly repaired. Others were destroyed and replacement equipment was flown in from Oahu or the mainland. Within a week. telephone service was available to the public via mobile phone trailers that were set up around the island. However, telephone service to individual homes, like electricity, was delayed for up to six months as crews replaced downed poles.

Sewage treatment and waste disposal - Kauai is a mix of public sewer systems and [private] septic systems. FEMA provided generator support to the Kauai County sewage treatment facilities and sewage never became a major health issue. Waste disposal was more challenging. The hurricane created a lot of destruction and debris. County sanitation workers had been furloughed to take care of their families. The County landfills were initially closed. People began to dump trash along side the roads. About three weeks after the storm over 1,500 active duty soldiers were brought to the island with their equipment and went door-to-door cleaning up yards and hauling away debris. A new landfill with an expected life of ten years that had been opened shortly before the storm was completely filled within a couple of months.

Traffic control and public safety - It became apparent within the first few days that the Kauai Police Department was overwhelmed. A decision was made to free-up police officers whenever feasible to take care of their own families. Restoration of electricity to key intersection was given high priority so that traffic signals would be operational. Interestingly, there was little civilian traffic for the first week since few businesses were operating and most of the roads were blocked by downed poles. A military police unit was flown in to provide traffic control as needed. However, as conditions improved, people adapted to driving without traffic lights and were generally courteous to other drivers when arriving simultaneously at intersections. Few accidents were reported. Looting was minimal due to the large presence of the military. The Honolulu SWAT deployed to Kauai and operated at night in high priority areas such as near jewelry stores, banks, etc. Two looters were arrested within the first week following the storm. In what amounted to lighting justice, they were charged, tried and convicted, and incarcerated within a week. The case was widely publicized and served as a great deterrent. The fact that access to the island was tightly controlled for the first month also stopped any outsiders from taking advantage of the situation. The lesson learned is that highly visible military and police presence coupled with quick convictions served to keep criminal activity at a manageable level. However, the local police department, as we saw in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, is probably incapable of maintaining law and order.

Medical - All medical personal who live on Kauai were affected by the hurricane and, with the exception of emergency rooms, normal medical support ceased. State and County Civil Defense had air evacuated most expectant mothers and dialysis patients to Oahu a few hours before the hurricane struck. Interviews with doctors from the various relief organizations uncovered a pattern of medical emergencies. The first few days saw broken bones from falling off roofs, nail punctures and similar wounds. After about a week, diabetics and people on mood altering prescription drugs started to show up at the clinics looking for medication. These were followed by people who had ran out of medicine for chronic maladies like high blood pressure and epilepsy.

Drug addicts presented a special problem in that their regular supply was disrupted. No illegal drugs were getting on the island because the airfields and seaports were controlled by the military. Initially, addicts turned to known drug dealers and, if necessary, broke into the dealers’ homes looking for drugs. As a last resort, they started to appear at medical aid stations. Typically this occurred 7-10 days after the storm.

Medical challenges provide some of the most relevant lessons learned for people interested in preparing for a breakdown in local, regional or national government. As any infantryman will tell you, the welfare and location of the unit medic is always on your mind. If you don’t believe you have any skills to offer a group, you should develop your first aid and medical skills. There will always be a need for a “doc” to take care of group members. Research and build your own medical kit. Talk to emergency room workers and find out how they triage incoming patients. Research and memorize the checklists that first responders use as they assess patient needs and prioritize casualties. Research the process doctors use to diagnose patient complaints and symptoms. Medical equipment and a confident air could be your passport to safety. One of the most prized items turned out to be generators. Without the immediate influx of generators from FEMA and the military, life of Kauai after the hurricane would have been much tougher. Generators pumped water, cleaned sewage, provided electricity to medical facilities, and refrigerated perishable food that had been barged and flown to the island. In many instances, relatives of Kauai resident living on the other islands or the mainland bought generators and have them shipped to the Kauai. Military and civilian generators arriving at the port on Kauai were occasionally stolen by enterprising homeowners who simply backed their trucks up and drove off with a generator that had been off-loaded and staged for pickup by the legal owner. Apparently some local residents felt that it was worth the risk to provide refrigeration and lights to their families. The willingness to risk jail to obtain a generator can likely be traced to the desire to eat fresh food. MREs quickly lost their savor, especially for children.

Kauai residents would tell you that the most stressful time came immediately after the hurricane when all communication was lost and people were restricted to their immediate neighborhoods by the downed poles and trees. They simply did not know if they were going to get any help because they did not know whether the other islands had been hit by the storm. A communication plan that is well thought-out ahead of time would be a great psychological boost following a catastrophe. In addition to a good electronics, something as simple as a bulletin board that is updated every few hours would help the cohesiveness and bonding of the group.

Finally, I need to say something about the way people reacted and adjusted following the storm. In 1992, people in their 70s and 80s had lived through the Great Depression and World War II. They proved to be tougher than one would expect . They usually had a better attitude and often adapted better to living without television, electrical light and refrigeration than did many younger people. Military people found the duty easier than most field training exercises. Military veterans had often endured tougher times and also quickly adapted. In general, the more outdoor oriented people were, the easier their transition and recovery. Some folks could not cope with the dramatic changes in their routine and committed suicide. Others left the island; never to return.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Mr. Rawles,
As you may remember from our profile we recently moved to new residence in luxury community in South Texas because of a job loss in the Pacific Northwest. Last week my wife and I learned of the tropical wave that ultimately created this storm, immediately we stocked up on gas and purchased some cheap extra batteries. (The pantry is still full). We also threw some clothes together and pre-positioned those in the car. We withdrew some extra money and got ready to board up (Our G.O.O.D. bags were already prepped and a once over was sufficient to add to and update them).
I mention this because all the Government officials, locals and people who have lived here for quite a while were doing nothing until the 21st. (Per the evening news reporting of this.)

This storm developed rather quickly enough to catch all the local government off guard and they quickly put together some meetings, et cetera.

Afterwards they were basically notifying the public that the storm had developed too quickly for a mandatory evacuation of the scope required and you're on your own (YOYO--something I’m sure all your readers already know). In their defense it looks like at the time of this writing that the storm will hit much lower than this area maybe even Mexico. That said, I had a flashback to video from Hurricane Katrina and those school busses sitting there empty. We also watched the evening newscast at 10 PM Monday night that was live at the big grocery chain and there were people interviewed that 'thought it was a good idea to stop and get some extra food and batteries'. On another newscast one vacationer to the coastal area of South Texas from San Antonio (also considered South Texas) exclaimed 'this is exciting”.

There are no absolutes when it comes to the path prediction of hurricanes and this couple of examples are pretty much the norm around my community. This has convinced me that we were wrong in coming here and I am resolute that we will get back to the Pacific Northwest at all costs to get back to a culture of preparedness and self sufficiency. IMHO, if and when TEOTWAWKI hits only the prepared few here in South Texas will survive and those that do will most probably be swallowed up by those that stopped by the grocer for some extra batteries or the Golden Horde from Mexico (the Alamo comes to mind) and I pray for the sake of my neighbors and friends that I’m wrong.

Keep up the work. And again our prayers are with Memsahib, - Mr. Foxtrot

P.S. I've decided that I sure get my money's worth on your site which is up until today I hadn't supported (except for purchasing your books and making purchases from your advertisers), but I'm sending snail mail cash for the 10 Cent Challenge

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I'm sending a follow-up to your link on the historic flooding in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Typical issues: Roads closed or collapsed, bridges flooded or swept away, traffic jams for miles, power and gas outages, water shortages, businesses closed, forced evacuation of 20,000 people included the local jails and a hospital. Cleanup will take months, and there will be shortages of construction material. Heck, we had shortages of lumber and sheetrock in Iowa during the Florida and Louisiana hurricanes.

And what has become typical - jurisdictional disputes. Local law enforcement has its own issues, but FEMA doesn't play well with others.

Armed police and National Guardsmen stood ready to prevent you from re-entering your neighborhood and your property. First, they and the fire department will break into your home to determine if it is safe for you to enter. Then they "allow" you one trip, only to your home, and only to retrieve what you can carry on your back.

Watch the YouTube clip at the 1:58 mark. Sometimes those who "protect and serve" are not very friendly. And "contraband" items were not overlooked. It would be a kick in the teeth to return home to an arrest warrant.

What made the flood more destructive was the fact that the crest predictions were off by 10 feet and overwhelmed the levees. People who felt safe by moving their possessions to the second floor found that the unanticipated extra 10 feet of dirty river water invaded that, too. One might want to rent a storage garage (on a high hill!) when the flood warning is posted.

BTW, I received my .45 ACP Springfield XD [pistol] Saturday along with the rest of the Front Sight "Get a Gun" training and gear package. I've attended Orange Gunsite for rifle and pistol, but it's been some time. This [pair of courses at Front Sight] should be fun. Thanks for giving me the push I needed. - Redmist

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I got this from a friend in Indiana:
All is well at our house but the town is suffering. Here are a few comments for your edification.
- Small rivers come up fast with 10 inches of rainfall. Unknown to me, but if I had delayed another 30 minutes in going home, I would not have been with my family where I was needed.
- This was the first time other than snow events when I could not leave town. All roads underwater, including interstates and state highways.
- My Chevy 4WD pickup will go through deeper water than most cars. Don't purchase any used cars from Indiana for awhile.
- The portable generator worked great. With smart load management I could essentially run the entire house including frig, freezer, microwave, geothermal air conditioning, and lights. Total power off time was 12 hours with less that 6 hours of generator run time. Now I want to have more fuel on hand. A quieter generator would have been a plus.
- When the power went off and it was expected to be off for the duration of this emergency, we all immediately took showers to use the available hot water. Sometime later the city water pressure went way down but not completely off. Toilets remained operational.
- The hospital was flooded and will be closed for an indeterminate length of time. All patients were evacuated. Plan your medical emergencies accordingly.
- I'm in the market for a battery powered AM/FM radio with headphone jack so I can listen to local news without disturbing others during the night. Local radio seems to be the best source of information. Cable went off line. The weather band radio was useful as they routinely give river level conditions.
- The middle school and later the high school were opened for those seeking shelter. I'd rather sleep in the woods.
- My brother lives 30 miles away but works here. He was stranded and spent the night with us. He appreciated the hot shower, clean bed, dinner, etc. He's now thinking that a bug out kit would be a good thing. He would have slept in his truck rather than go to the shelter. Drinking water would have been his first issue.
- Cell phone communications stayed up but were overloaded. Too many folks use them for non-essential communications. Same for 911 calls. I don't have a good work around but will give this some thought.
- There was no car or pedestrian traffic in our subdivision during the night. I anticipate this would change if the situation had stretched for several days. With no street lights or city ambient lighting, night vision [equipment] would have been helpful.
- The headlamp on a headband really makes the odd jobs in the dark much easier to manage. LED flashlights are a good thing. Surefire [flashlight]s were kept in reserve.
The town is in clean up mode now. Thanks and Best Wishes, - Bill N.

Mr. Rawles

Hello from a long time reader. Thanks for all the info. I thought I could give everyone a heads up on what is happening in the new Wisconsin wetlands. First off it is amazing how foolish people act when a disaster strikes. There a literally hundreds of people walking around in backed up sewer water which is waist deep. Without even shoes? People think that if they drive their sports car fast enough through the water they can make it. People who live within sight of a river are on television saying how shocked they are. Didn't it ever occur to anyone that if you live within 20 feet of a body of water it might rise someday?

My house is fine, on a hill in the higher part of town. Our Bug Out Location (B.O.L.) is fine too, just called and got the"okay" word. It is nice to know which ways to take out of town in the event of a flood for next time. Make a note of this it might come in handy. People are helping each other sand bag their homes and businesses. I wonder how long people will work together if food were to not be trucked in. It was funny to watch my neighbors load groceries into their house in the pouring rain. Preps come in handy on a rainy day, literally.

There has been lots of damage around all of Wisconsin, I had to take an alternate route to work as they shutdown a few of the lower roads. Seeing the damage first hand is sad and at the same time I think is good for people because it makes them realize how quickly everything can be lost. Coming home from my in-laws' house, I had a man hole cover blow off two feet from my truck, due to the water pressure. The next day there was an article in the local paper on how one woman's SUV was totaled because she wasn't so lucky.

Now I'm just waiting wondering if I will have a job, if the d**n on Phantom Lake goes, so does the building that I work at. - Bill C. in Wisconsin

Friday, May 16, 2008

Scenario 1
You are sitting at your retreat, enjoying the scenery, when you hear on the radio that there has just been a nuclear weapon that has detonated in a contiguous State . You decide to run into your shelter. After a few days in there, you start to wonder when it might be safe to come out. You also wonder if you would have been better off evacuating and getting as far away from the radiation source as possible.

A radiation disaster is a scenario for which we must be prepared. It may be from a radiological source, such as a nuclear reactor accident, or from nuclear devices, such as a nuclear weapon.
Much of what we know about radiation exposure comes from accidents such as Chernobyl [nuclear power plant disaster] and [the bombing of] Hiroshima [and Nagasaki]. With the nuclear reactor accident in Chernobyl (1986), 70% of the contamination fell on 26% of Belarus. 400,000 people were evacuated and 50,000 km squared was restricted and removed from use. The isotopes included Cs137, Cs134, Sr90, I131, and Pu239, with an estimated 114 Million Curies entering the environment. Untoward effects from this accident included 31 initial deaths, 300 injuries and hospitalizations, 150,000 abortions, $ 3 billion spent in emergency response, $500 million spent to compensate Italian farmers, 10,000 reindeer slaughtered, and an increase in cancer (mostly thyroid cancer, many years after the incident).

It is estimated that if a large US city (population 1 million) was hit by a 10-Kiloton (KT) nuclear device, that it would produce the following casualties:

>13,000 prompt fatalities
Approximately 114,000 expectant fatalities (>830 cSv)
Approximately 90,000 requiring ICU support (530-830 cSv)
Approximately 141,000 requiring either ICU or minimum care ward (300-530 cSv)
Approximately 150,000 requiring a minimum care ward (150-300 cSv)
Approximately 159,000 requiring outpatient therapy (70-150cSv)
Approximately 128,000 requiring health monitoring (25-70cSv)
Approximately 212,000 worried [but] well (<25 cSv)

The healthcare system is not ready or able to cope with this magnitude of casualties. That brings us to: What should you do?
The mechanism of injury from a nuclear device is 3 fold: blast, heat and radiation. Assuming a 10-KT burst, people within a 0.55 km radius of the explosion fall within a “blast injury circle” and have a high immediate fatality rate. People within a 0.9 km radius of the explosion fall within a “prompt radiation circle”, and people within a 2.1 km radius fall within the “thermal circle” and suffer 2nd degree burns. If you are outside of these 3 circles, you may suffer from radiation fallout. The amount of fallout you are exposed to is determined by 3 factors: length of time exposed, distance from the original explosion, and how much shielding there is between you and the radioactive source.

To minimize radiation exposure, you will want to reduce your time exposed, increase your distance from the source and have as much shielding as possible. This can lead to a dilemma if faced with this scenario: should you evacuate your retreat (increase your distance from the source), or should you stay and go into your shelter (increase your shielding)? The answer to this question will depend on whether or not you have a shelter, how far away from the initial source you are, the strength of the nuclear device, and the weather conditions. Even if you have a shelter, you may be forced to evacuate due to your proximity to the radiation source (Remember Chernobyl where 50,000 square kilometers were deemed unusable). It can take many months and sometimes years to clean up after a Radiation Event. Most people don’t have shelters that will sustain them for that long. Unfortunately, if faced with this scenario, you will have limited time to make your decision, for if you decide to evacuate you will want to do it immediately to reduce your exposure time, and before the roads get jammed with people. Thus, it would be useful to know a few basic equations to help you make your decision.

Radiation exposure follows the inverse square law- exposure reduction is proportional to the inverse square of the distance. Radiation is measured in Gray. If the source produces 10 Gy/hour at 1 meter, the exposure will be 2.5 Gy/hour at 2 meters (10 divided by 2 squared). The worst case scenario could produce up to 50-100 Gy/hour at the site of the explosion. With this information, you can calculate your exposure based on how far away you are from the radiation source. You must also keep in mind the weather conditions. If your calculation reveals a total body dose of <0.7 Gy, the radiation effect will be minimal, and you should be safe to stay at your retreat.

Scenario 2
You decided to stay at your retreat with some type of shelter, but after 12 hours a family member starts vomiting. Should you take them to the hospital which you know will be full of victims or should you stay isolated?
The key to treating radiation victims is knowing what dose of radiation they received. All medical decisions are based on the dose estimate.
There are many ways to determine dose of exposure, most of which require a hospital visit and laboratory tests. Without access to prompt healthcare, the easiest way to determine dose is to record the time from radiation exposure until the time the victim starts vomiting. Then use the information below to estimate the dose the victim received (measured in Gray):

Time To Onset of Vomiting Post Accident/Terrorist Act

Hours to Vomiting Estimated Dose (Gray)
20 0.1
7 0.5
5 1
2 5
1 10
0.8 20
0.5 50
0.3 100


Use that number for the following interventions:
If they received a dose of < 0.7 Gy, they will not be significantly affected by the radiation and they do not need to be hospitalized.

If they received a dose of 0.7-5 Gy, their lymphocytes (cells in the blood that fight infection) will dramatically decrease. This happens within the first 1-2 days and puts them at a very high risk of infection. Their hemoglobin and red blood cells will also decrease at 30 days after exposure and they will become very anemic. With good supportive care, the blood counts will recover by 60 days post exposure. Treatment includes IV fluids, antibiotics and colony stimulating factors. These are the people who benefit the most from being admitted to the hospital because they need the colony stimulating factors (which are not able to be stored at a retreat). My advice would be to take them into the hospital. If this is not feasible, they must be quarantined for at least 60 days. If they do not get an infection, there is a good chance they will live.

If they were exposed to a dose of 6-15 Gy, the predominant effect will be on their gastrointestinal system- this means profuse, bloody diarrhea and dehydration, starting at 5-7 days post exposure. It is also often associated with severe nausea/vomiting and fever. Treatment includes specific antibiotics, GI nutrition, IV fluids and early cytokine therapy for 5 or more weeks. These people will also benefit from hospitalization if feasible. Survival is possible, but unlikely.

If they were exposed to > 15 Gy, the effect will be on their cardiovascular system and central nervous system. This leads to brain swelling and death within 2-3 days. It is associated with a 100% mortality rate and the best care would be to provide them with pastoral care and to keep them comfortable. There is nothing medically that can be done to save their life.

Scenario 3
You decide to make a trip into town to pick up some supplies. It’s around 10 a.m. and you are walking down the street. All of a sudden you hear a loud explosion and see pieces of shrapnel flying. There are casualties all around you from the scrap metal. You are thankful that none of it hit you. Then you hear someone yell “It was a Dirty Bomb!” You think to yourself, “A Dirty Bomb! What should I do?”
A “Dirty Bomb” is a radiological dispersion device which combines a conventional explosive with a radioactive material. It is not a nuclear weapon, nor a weapon of mass destruction; however, it is a weapon of mass disruption. The impact depends on the type of explosive, amount and type of radioactive material and the weather conditions.

Immediate deaths or serious injuries would likely result from the explosion itself. It is unlikely that the radioactive material would kill anyone. The radioactive material would be dispersed into the air and reduced to relatively low concentrations. Low level exposure to radioactive contamination could slightly increase your long term risk of cancer (mostly thyroid cancer). There would be significant impact by causing fear, panic and disruption. Clean up would be costly and could take many months.

Consider this example: In Goiania, Brazil, 1987, 1375 Ci of Cs-137 spread throughout a neighborhood. It was an accident (not a terrorist event), and yet it caused mass panic and fear. Ultimately, 112,000 people were screened, out of which 249 had detectable contamination. Four victims died within four weeks and 20 were hospitalized. Site remediation took months to complete (Oct 1987-March 1988). Can you imagine the impact if it had been a planned event?

Dirty bombs can expose one to radiation both externally and internally. Internal contamination can occur through inhalation (nose, mouth) or absorption (wound in the skin). The radiation is typically deposited in the thyroid, liver, lung and bone. It is not acutely life threatening.

When dealing with a victim of radiation contamination, act as if they were contaminated with raw sewage. Protect yourself with clothes, mask, and gloves and use standard medical emergency procedures (Airway/Breathing/Circulation). Decontaminate after the victim is stabilized. Removing their clothing and washing with soap and water is 95%+ effective at decontaminating. Treat with fluids, anti-emetics (anti-nausea), anti-diarrheals and pain medication.

There are also blocking and diluting agents, but these are isotope specific:
For Radioactive Iodine (I-131), use Potassium Iodide (KI) - must be given within 4 hours after the exposure, see the dosing chart below
For Strontium-85 and Strontium-90, use calcium, aluminum, barium
For Tritium, use ordinary water (force fluids for 3 days)
For the Transuramics (Plutonium, Americium, Curium, Californium), use DTPA 1 gram intravenously (must be given within 24 hours after the exposure)
For Cesium, use Prussian Blue 1 gram orally three times a day for three weeks

There are two problems with the blocking agents: First, you often don’t know what the isotope identity is until after it is too late to administer the blocking agent. There is no easy way to determine which isotopes were included in the bomb and you will need to rely on medical personnel to provide you with this information. Secondly, most of the blocking agents are not readily available. The only exception is KI, which is easily purchased through many of the SurvivalBlog advertisers. You are fortunate if you have DTPA or Prussian Blue stored away, but most people don’t.

In the absence of knowing what isotopes were in the dirty bomb, my advice would be to have as much fluid as possible (to dilute tritium). I would also take KI if you have some. If I-131 was in the bomb, the KI will protect your thyroid gland (and possible cancer later in life). It must be taken within 4 hours after the exposure. If I-131 was not in the explosive, the KI is safe with minimal side effects. If you decide to take some, use the following dosing chart:
Adults 18 and older: 130 mg of KI
Pregnant/Lactating females: 130 mg KI
Children age 3-18 years: 65 mg KI
1 month-3 years: 32 mg KI
Birth-1 month: 16 mg KI

In summary, the radiological/nuclear threat is real! Mass casualties in your area are possible, but radiation injury is treatable.

JWR Adds: Some readers might not be familiar with the term Gray--the standard unit of measurement for radiation exposure, that replaced REM (Roentgen Equivalent, Man), and RAD (Radiation Absorbed Dose). For us Bomb Shelter Era dinosaurs, conversion from Grays are as follows.

1 Gy equals 100 rad
1 mGy equals 100 mrad
1 Sv equals 100 rem
1 mSv equals 100 mrem

Stocking up on KI tablets is inexpensive, so every family should keep a supply on hand. In 1985, I was stationed in West Germany and was briefly down-wind of Chernobyl. At the time I wished that I had some KI available! Anyone that lives in an urban area should have a Nuk-Alert "key fob" radiation detector. That way you won't have to wait for word from someone else to determine whether or not a nearby bomb explosion was a dirty bomb. Nuk-Alerts are available from several SurvivalBlog advertisers.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Residents of the US state of Louisiana can purchase needed items free of sales tax as they prepare for the 2008 hurricane season.
The inaugural 2008 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday takes place on Saturday, May 24 and Sunday, May 25. The holiday is an annual, statewide event created by the Louisiana Legislature to assist families with the important job of protecting their lives and property in the event of a serious storm.
During the two-day holiday, tax-free purchases are allowed for the first $1,500 of the sales price on each of the following items:
• Self-powered light sources, such as flashlights and candles;
• Portable self-powered radios, two-way radios, and weather-band radios;
• Tarpaulins or other flexible waterproof sheeting;
• Ground anchor systems or tie-down kits;
• Gas or diesel fuel tanks;
• Batteries – AAA, AA, C, D, 6-volt, or 9-volt (automobile batteries and boat batteries are not eligible);
• Cellular phone batteries and chargers;
• Non-electric food storage coolers;
• Portable generators;
• Storm shutter devices – Materials and products manufactured, rated, and marketed specifically for the purposes of preventing window damage from storms (La. R.S. 47:305.58).
The 2008 Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax holiday begins at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 24, and ends at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, May 25.
The sales tax holiday does not extend to hurricane-preparedness items or supplies purchased at any airport, public lodging establishment or hotel, convenience store, or entertainment complex.
For more information, visit the State of Louisiana web site.

Monday, February 11, 2008

I read the link that was submitted by Craig in Odds 'n Sods. The Channel 3000 story couldn't be farther from the truth. As a local first responder, I can attest that we are getting the short end of the stick. The State Patrol didn't even acknowledge there was any problem on the interstate until hours after our crews were already on scene. They didn't even know that Dane County had set up an incident command headquarters at the Highway 51 interchange. The first semi trucks started losing traction as early as 10 a.m.that day. Near blizzard conditions had been present all the previous night. I am on Stoughton, Wisconsin EMS team, and my cousin is with the Stoughton Fire Department. My cousin and his friend, also a firefighter, responded to the command center with personally owned snowmobiles.

Shortly after these two individuals start checking the welfare of motorists, a State Patrol officer stopped them and read them the riot act for daring to drive snowmobiles on what he called "my interstate." He threatened to give both emergency responders (acting under fire command orders) citations for operating the snowmobiles on the interstate. They had been tasked by the incident commander with recon of the southbound lanes, they made it to the Rock River (where the Rock County incident command was set up), and were met by more than 30 members of the local snowmobile club. These private citizens came ready equipped with food, water and first aid. The two local firefighters were tasked by Rock Co. incident command to split up the club members into two teams and check lanes in both directions.

At no time did the local responders ever see National Guard members on snowmobiles. Nor did they ever see any on the interstate. The National Guard were handing out water and food from one truck at the Dane Co. incident command headquarters to emergency workers. The stranded motorists soon started to become covered by snow drifts. Many said that was the most scary aspect, as well as the total lack of information. Local cell towers became overloaded. Communications were accomplished by "CB relay chains".

Several diabetic motorists were assisted by snowmobilers, and one patient who was en route to the University of Wisconsin Hospital in his privately owned car was loaned a portable generator since the internal battery on the patient's medical device ran out.

The National Guard chopper was seen overhead on several occasions, but never landed as far as I know. Much later in the day, after some traffic flow began, the snowmobilers had to go back out to the interstate to wake up some of the semi truck drivers, who had been sleeping in their cabs, and whose rigs were now blocking traffic flow. All told, the firefighter/snowmobilers logged over 400 miles traversing a 25 mile stretch of I-90. - BadgerDad, EMT-IV

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Different types of disasters may require a different response if a family wishes to maximize their chances for long-term survival. Therefore each family should have several different disaster plans that they could successfully implement depending on the circumstances. These plans should include:
1. Staying at your home and being able to survive for a reasonable period of time without any outside assistance, and
2. Quickly and efficiently evacuating your home and traveling to a predetermined destination.

Staying at home is probably the best overall strategy for most families in a variety of different disaster type situations. However, there are a few scenarios where your continued long-term survival may necessitate the evacuation of your home. For example, consider each of the following situations:

Fire in a city, suburb, or in the country: The only option is to leave and to leave quickly. Even if the fire doesn’t reach your home, the smoke could make it impossible to breathe. If your home does survive then the smoke from the fire will probably saturate many of your possessions and they will have to be replaced.

Flooding From Heavy Rains or Hurricanes: During severe flash flooding many homes, trees, and cars are completely swept away. If you stay, you die. In other areas only the first floor of a home may be under water. You might be safe on the second floor, or in the attic, or on your roof. In most flooding situations the water does eventually recede and you can go downstairs. However, the building foundation is now weakened, the floors are warped, the walls are cracked and peeling, and the appliances are ruined. It these cases it frequently costs less to rebuild from scratch than to repair all the damaged areas. And living in the home during the repairs is not an option because the mold and mildew that is now growing in your floors and walls will produce air-borne spores that will make you sick and gradually kill you. If this situation your only option will be to leave. (Note: If you become unexpectedly stranded in your home during a flood and you can’t evacuate, then you should quickly transfer your most important possessions to the second floor or attic to reduce the possibility of their becoming water damaged.)

Drought: The lakes dry up. The city water supply is exhausted. The city must be evacuated. You may stay if you wish but why would you want to? What type of people do you think will become your new neighbors? How will you survive when your current supply of food and water is eventually gone and the drought continues? Without rain there will be no way to replenish your water supply and no way to grow more food. Without water how will the city survive if someone’s very small cooking fire accidentally gets out of control and quickly spreads throughout a very, very dry building? In a very short period of time the entire city will be in flames. And if the city has already been evacuated then you will not receive any warning until you see the flames or smell the smoke, assuming it doesn’t happen while you are asleep.

Epidemic: Is the disease spreading by water, air, human contact, or some combination of methods? What percent of the population is dying? Staying inside your home in this situation would probably be the best solution unless the flu is being spread through the air. If that is the case and you are living in a heavily populated area then how long will it take the virus to eventually make its way into your air supply? If you had a gas mask or face filters then you might be able to escape to a remote region of a national forest where the virus will have a smaller chance of reaching and infecting you.

Martial Law: Why was it implemented? What are the restrictions? And do you really want to live in a heavily-populated area that is being policed by the military and where you could be executed by anyone in the military for any reason at any time without any type of trial?

Political or Religious Persecution: What if all registered Republicans are suddenly declared to be enemies of the state? Or all Democrats? Or all Protestants or Catholics or Muslins? Some of you may be laughing right now and saying this is impossible and it could never happen in this country. I truly hope you are right. But what if you are wrong? What if you suddenly heard on the news that you are now a member of a group of people that has been identified as being enemies of the state? What would be your plan for survival? If you remain where you currently live it would only result in your immediate arrest, trial, and either imprisonment or execution. During World War II in Germany there were millions of Jews, Christians, and several other groups of individuals who learned this lesson the hard way. And Germany is not an isolated example. This has happened many, many times in many different places in modern history.
None of these things are pleasant to think about but the above threats are real. If any one of them should occur where you now live then you may need to evacuate your home or apartment very quickly in order to have any chance for long-term survival.

How to quickly evacuate your home or apartment is not something most people take the time to think about. However, over the past few years the increasing number of families that have had to quickly evacuate their homes is extraordinary. Entire families and communities have been uprooted and moved to another area and in many cases they will never be able to return to their homes or to the life they once knew. Hurricanes, flooding, and forest fires have resulted in the loss of billions of dollars worth of possessions and have claimed an unknown number of lives. Devastating winter weather has crippled many areas and left hundreds of thousands of homes without electricity or heat in the middle of winter and forced people to seek refuge and basic survival in community shelters, schools and churches.

Flash floods and forest fires happen so quickly that people do not have the time to carefully consider what they should take with them. Later when they return and find their home and possessions reduced to cinders, or ruined from water damage, they wished they’d had more time to think about their choices before they were forced to evacuate.
Therefore, before a disaster strikes, prudent individuals will make a simple list of the most important things to salvage in the event of a disaster. Later, if a disaster should force them to evacuate their home then they can consult their list and quickly execute their plan and collect and save their most important possessions. They could salvage the things they would need to survive under difficult circumstances, and things that would make their transition to a different life style not only possible but also a little easier for their entire family.

If you survive a disaster then you can start over. If you have a plan, starting over will not be as difficult as someone who evacuates without a plan. Unfortunately some of the people who survive without a plan will eventually resort to robbing and/or killing. Predators do not discriminate and they will prey on one another as well as on the helpless. Human predators are usually a self-correcting problem during a disaster, if the disaster lasts long enough.

If you must evacuate your home you should have carefully considered ahead of time where you will go. Your destination should not be a last minute decision because your choice of a destination is as important as carefully selecting which items to take with you.

Bug-Out Destination Options
Let’s examine several different destination options. In each of the following situations you should attempt to pay your expenses using whatever credit cards you have available and save whatever cash you might have for a future emergency. If your family has more than one car then you should quickly load each vehicle to the maximum, without overloading them, and then drive out of the disaster area. Before you start you should have consulted a map and selected a minimum of two alternate routes that lead to your final destination. Then listen to your car radio as you are driving to see if there are traffic or other problems along any of your planned departure routes. The quicker that you can be underway the better your chances will be that you can get your family to safety.
Your safe destination could be any one of the following:

Family: If you have family members who live outside the impacted disaster area then they may be willing to provide you with shelter for a short period of time until the disaster has passed and you can return to your home. However most families live on a very tight budget and they will not be able to feed and clothe you for an extended period of time. It would be nice if you paid for some of the groceries while you are there, and also made a contribution to their utility bills. If it later becomes impossible for you to return to your original home then you will need to find new employment and a place to live as quickly as you can to relieve the pressure on family relationships. If your new job does not pay enough so you afford to rent a place of your own, then you should give at least half of each of your paychecks to the family you are staying with to help pay their bills. You should also remember that you are still a guest in their house, and that every member of your family needs to abide by their rules.

Friend's Home: The above comments about family also apply to very close friends. However the relationship is much weaker and friends should only be imposed upon for the absolute minimum amount of time. Even if you have discussed this situation with your friends in advance, it would still be a good idea to minimize the amount of time you stay with them.

Motel: A motel located outside the disaster area is a good option if you can afford it, and if the disaster is forecasted to be relatively short in duration. Once the disaster passes you may be able to return to your normal way of life. An Extended Stay Motel might be a better option because you can pay by the week or month and each room also has a few kitchen appliances, such as a refrigerator and a microwave. Before paying the rent always politely ask if you can see the actual room you will be renting.

Boarding House: Depending on the size of your family you may be able to rent a simple room in a boarding house on a weekly or monthly basis. You can read the “For Rent” section of the local newspaper to locate one these places and then you can call to see what their rules are. You should phone several places to find the best deal based on what your family requires.

Forest Campground or recreational vehicle (RV) Park: If the weather permits, then a campground or RV Park may be an option if you have an RV, or if you have a good tent and some camping gear. Many RV Parks have a separate campground area for tents. They also have a community shower area, one for men and one for women, and they have drinking water available near the campsite. A good tent is not an expensive investment and every family should have a tent to avoid being forced into a Government Shelter for survival. Even if you have no money you can still camp for free in most National Forests as long as you don’t stay at one of the official forest campgrounds. However, you will need to move your campsite at least once per week to a different area to comply with forest regulations. (Note: If you own an RV then it might be wise to find an RV storage site close to your planned evacuation destination. The monthly rental to store and park an RV is about the same everywhere but the advantage of parking it near your planned destination is that your RV would already there. If you have family members who live on acreage way out in the country then they may be willing to let you park your RV at their place for free.)

Government or Community Shelter: As a last resort, you may temporarily reside in a shelter. A church operated temporary disaster shelter is usually less restrictive than other types of shelters. However, before you go to the shelter it would probably be a good idea to rent a temporary storage facility and store all your equipment, supplies, and personal belongings in the storage unit. Many of these monthly storage rental units are large enough to drive a car into so you could park your extra car inside and still have room to store all your equipment and supplies. You are also allowed to put your own personal padlock on the door to your rental unit. (Note: Some storage units will not allow you to park a car inside the actual rental unit but they will rent you space inside the fenced area to park your car on a monthly basis. In this situation completely empty your car into the rental until before you park it.) If you have cash, or if you can get cash from an ATM, then you should pay the rent in cash to avoid leaving an electronic trail to the location where you are storing your remaining possessions. If possible pay the rent for a minimum of three months in advance and get a receipt. Your entire family could then get into the remaining vehicle and drive to the shelter location. Just remember that some shelters are easy to get into but almost impossible to get out of until the authorities are ready to release you. If you become a voluntary prisoner at one of these shelters you may discover that life in the shelter is unbearable and that you are not allowed to leave simply because you now realize you should have never entered the shelter. When you first enter the shelter, there is a strong likelihood that government shelter personnel will carefully search you and confiscate any weapons, knives, drugs including prescription medicines, tools, children toys, money, makeup, wallets, purses, keys, and any extra food you may be carrying with you. It is unlikely you will get all of these items back when it is time for you to leave. In some cases you will only be allowed to enter the shelter with the clothes you are wearing and a new identification card [or wrist band] issued to you at the shelter. This makes escape from the shelter less feasible because you will have surrendered all your possessions including your driver’s license, credit cards, money, and keys. This forces you to follow any rules the shelter may impose because you are now defenseless and you know you now have no other choice in the matter. Savage brute force will dominate inside these shelters and your family members will be subject to beatings, rape, and having their daily food rations forcibly confiscated by the strongest residents in the shelter. In a worst case, these evil individuals will continue to grow stronger as your family members continue to grow weaker and eventually die of disease or starvation. These are some of the reasons why a church or community volunteer shelter would be preferred to an official government shelter.

The preceding discussion has focused on: (1) the need to evacuate, and (2) several different possible destinations. It has not reviewed the most important things to take with you when you evacuate your home. Here is a link to a list of practical and useful items.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

I found the following in a letter posted on your blog: "Barring TEOTWAWKI, it seems to me that we are infinitely more likely to face moderately scary scenarios, like Hurricane Katrina and necessary urban evacuation, some urban 1970s-style civil disturbance but nothing like Mogadishu, high-intensity individual criminal acts, a low-order terrorist event nearby and the accompanying panic, or some other situation shy of the worst case scenario."

Do people realize that New Orleans wasn't far from becoming Mogadishu-like after Hurricane Katrina? Certainly if the water hadn't flooded the streets it very well could have been much worse. The flood waters actually helping the situation by restricting movement to a degree. And let's not forget we heard the approved media version of it. Who knows how many people really were killed, wounded or raped.

Certainly we want to hope and pray for the best, but it's totally unrealistic given recent examples in the United States to think that the low-lifes in society will not take advantage of any and possibly every situation. There's some good writings out regarding some of what happened in breakdowns and economic problems in other countries- i.e, Argentina, Rhodesia, etc. Here's some things to consider regarding that:

I would argue that people in third world countries are accustomed to: currency devaluation, military controls, rioting in the streets, high crime rates, food shortages, breakdown of infrastructure [such as extended power failures], et cetera.

So for the average Third World resident these things are not TEOTWAWKI. Now consider the suburbanite in the US of A:, "John Smith": John is definitely not used to seeing the value of his money vanish before his own eyes. John Smith is not used to getting mugged every day on his way home. John Smith is not used to seeing the military on his street. John Smith is not used to rioting in his city. John Smith is not used to two or three days of brown-outs or black-outs.

John Smith gets angry and extremely frustrated when someone cuts him off in traffic. John's wife Sally is irate when she loses satellite reception during Oprah and she misses the required reading section. John and Sally's kids are even worse.

And that's suburban folks, what most of us would call "middle class." We won't even bother to talk about some of the other's actions, just find the archives of Hurricane Katrina and the New Orleans Superdome and you'll figure that out. [JWR Adds: Lest anyone consider this a quasi-racist statement from R.H., bear in mind that some of the looters caught on film in New Orleans were white and hispanic. The tendency toward looting and other acts of lawlessness during disasters is tied to economics and whether or not children have a law-abiding, morally-grounded upbringing, not race.]

As survivalists, we need to be careful in our thinking. If we are not mentally prepared for the "worst case" and always assume that the guvmint will bail us out before our "three day kit" nonsense runs out, we are going to be in for a world of hurt. It took about three days for it to get really ugly in New Orleans and one could argue that had a lot to do with weather factors or it potentially would have happened sooner.

A lot of folks have "itching ears" and want to hear that they will be okay in the suburbs, that two weeks of food is enough, that they will only have to 'brandish' a firearm and won't have to actually use it, et cetera. I'd like to personally thank you and the many others on the net that don't water down the message so as to pander to "itching ears." Thank you for your commitment to reality - R.H.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This letter is in response to your posting today regarding potential nuclear targets. Overall, a very good question by DFer, and your wise and reasonable response is much appreciated. As one of the few people on the Internet who actually discuss potential US nuclear targets, based on historical government documentation, I'm glad to see you and a few others (Shane Connor, Joel Skousen, etc.) not letting this important point of history be forgotten. It's another visit to an old post of yours in June of 2006.

Lawrence's response in that post was "old 1960s era targeting maps will still give the survivalist a good idea of where not to be when TSHTF". That still applies. Discussion on your site and many others about other places not to be (mass gatherings such as sports events, malls, national monuments and the like) is also worthy of consideration, in our current trend of monthly terror threats, such as today's announcement of Osama Bin Laden's latest video threatening Europe. (And yes, .mil is very concerned on both sides of the pond).

I have had a few "unofficial" e-mails from government contacts in the last couple of years (since 2005...most [of them] working on government contracted publications for internal use) who have asked for some of my non-public collected data information on targeting, and the short online Q&A with them has led me to believe that the pot of hot water we frogs have been living in has had the heat turned up, meaning this...new and updated lists of potential worry are prepared, and probably still being tuned and polished up, as the daily world threat thermometer rises and falls.

I seriously doubt the general public will see these lists, maps, locations, and target types for many years to come, since the external threat to US soil is still at such a ragged and ever concerned pace. It took only two years to get the National Attack Planning Base 1990 released from FEMA by the FOIA, thanks to a friend of mine who found my document wish list a few years ago. While just over 20 years old, it's still the measuring stick for any reports that follow.

FEMA 196 is still the only consumer document available directly from FEMA that ever gave fairly detailed info (to a generalized county level) of potential US targets, and since US threats have risen greatly since 9/11, it may well be the only document that FEMA, or succeeding agencies, ever produce on that subject. What we can learn from the currently available info, is why the original targets were targets, and what might make new locations future targets. It takes a bit of work on our part, but it's not any more difficult than basic

I've expanded the target list on SurvivalRing a bit with more discussion of what makes a target, and have added a comments section to the web page to answer specific questions that readers and visitors may have about the old targets, and potential new targets. SurvivalBlog readers might like to discuss our current target list, or have more info they'd like to bring to the table.

Since I'm still attending college full time, I have a lot of my site projects on the back burner, but one near the top of the list is a mashup of my blogging software, with Google Maps, extended interactive areas, and a lot deeper discussion, research, and updating on targeting, safe areas, and all the details you mention in your response (weather patterns, population demographics, etc). I'm finishing up an atmospheric science class this semester that really opened my mind to global weather patterns more than ever, and the work that Shane Connor did with Transpacific Fallout is going to be seeing an update from me in the spring.

Keep up the great work, and thanks for all you do. You're one of the most rational minds I've found on the web when it comes to the simple work of helping others understand why we need to think about dealing with whatever the future brings. - Rich Fleetwood, Founder of SurvivalRing.org

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The whole South Island has been told to prepare for a massive earthquake in the near future.
This is due to the Alpine Fault Line which is where the Australasian and Pacific plates meet on the West Coast of the South Island.
The boundary between these two plates is locked and the pressure building up needs to be released.
A release of such pressure would result in an earthquake about the size of a number 8 on the Mercalli Intensity scale.
Such a earthquake would last for minutes, not seconds.

Canterbury University Associate Professor Tim Davies was quoted at a recent meeting as saying that, "The longer it goes before the next earthquake, the bigger the bang will be when the spring goes."

The shaking from the predicted earthquake would be felt all throughout New Zealand and may even be felt as far away as Sydney.
Mr. Davies also emphasized that people should have food and supplies on hand to last for up to three weeks after a quake.
Shaking damage and land instability from a quake like this would disrupt surface transport for months, tourists will be trapped, and distribution of vital supplies ( e.g. food, fuel) will be limited. Hydro stations will shut down immediately and may be slow to restart, power reticulation will be damaged. Only satellite phones will remain in use.
Landslides into lakes and fiords may cause tsunami, as may the collapse of river deltas in lakes or the sea. Queenstown, Milford and Wanaka are likely sites of tsunami damage
Tour bus operators are also urged to stock up on food and supplies for their customers who could likely be trapped for days in isolated locations.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Popular Mechanics magazine outlines five scary Katrina-esque scenarios
in various parts of our country might face in the coming years. I find it interesting that two of the five involve California and three of the five involve large bodies of water. People in the affected areas need to seriously consider moving out or having a Get Out of Dodge (G.O.O.D.) plan. Also, just because you don't think you are near any bodies of water, it does not make your home immune to floods. When checking a local university's Emergency Preparedness Plan, I found out that my neighborhood is part of a flood plain for a dam 16 miles away. Fortunately, high ground is within a five minute walk and any flooding from catastrophic failure will take [considerable time] to reach my home.

I pray that nothing horrible will happen to my loved ones, but since reading and acting on the advice of SurvivalBlog, I am more confident in my ability to protect my family. As concerned citizens, we all need to get after our local and Federal government to maintain and improve our infrastructure so we can avoid these disasters. But, like you've admonished us before, we must be prepared in case our government fails us. Because they have, and they will. - Mark D., Utah

I was talking to a friend in North Carolina this afternoon and he was telling me about the drought conditions in the Charlotte area and he relayed to me some interesting drought news.

- The several acre sized lake on his property has dried up.
- Duke Power has issued a statement, in the local area, to expect power disruptions in the coming months due to low water levels in the reservoirs that Duke operates that is used for hydro power, cooling towers, and such.

Here is a link from the DOE about a drought's drain on power. The article is from 2002, but the conditions are worse now.

Best Regards, and I am taking advantage of your "6-Pack" sale for autographed copies of "Patriots". - Desert T

Friday, August 17, 2007

Further to my recent post about the recent flooding In the UK, things in the immediate area are pretty well back to normal now, aside from some continuing disruption to the road network due to land-slips, undermining and in some cases, bridges across water courses being washed away.
Here, we got off very lightly, compared to some. No loss of life, no injuries, very little property damage. There are many families, however, who will be counting the cost of this incident for a long time, both in terms of loss of loved ones and of property and livelihood. One’s heart goes out to them.As to how our preparations ameliorated the effects of the flooding, I must first of all say we were very lucky to have escaped. The waters found their way into areas never before affected, with properties and farmland many feet above the normal floodplain levels being covered. In one case, a farm tractor in just such a place was up to its cab-roof in floodwater.
However, we moved to this area for work purposes in 1999. Prior to the move we rented a property in the area to give us a base from which to explore and familiarise ourselves with it.
The next task was to obtain 1:50,000 Ordnance Survey maps of the entire region and work out the pros and cons of each likely area for settlement.
To the east of this region lies the flat, productive lands of the Vale of Evesham which, as beautiful and fertile as they may be, are crisscrossed with so many waterways that the map of the area appears to have varicose veins. To the west the topography changes as it moves into the mountains of Wales, an area of stunning countryside, so well beloved of tourists in the summers, but one so bleak in winter that it is used by Special Forces as a training ground. [JWR Adds: This is the "Brecon Beacons" area that many SurvivalBlog have read about in books about the SAS.]
In-between the two the land becomes one of foothills, with small peaks up to a thousand feet or so.
The area has several cities, many towns and villages, with all the concomitant amenities and services along with a good transport infrastructure. It ticked many of the boxes we had earmarked as necessities.
It also has one of the most unstable rivers in Europe running through it; the River Severn. With its source in the hills of mid-Wales, the Severn is one of many local rivers that feed from the mountains of Wales and find their way to the sea further south in England after joining with the Severn.
Coming in from the east is the River Avon, of Shakespeare and Stratford-upon-Avon fame. Another picturesque watercourse when in good humour, but truly frightening when in flood. This too joins the Severn as it moves west towards the sea.
Given all this water, the thought of joining the many flood-plain dwellers (does this name not give them a clue?) along these rivers did not have much appeal. Also not wanting to live in an urban environment, we ruled out the cities and larger towns. This led us to ‘head for the hills’ but given the additional need to be reasonably close to transport links due to work commitments, a compromise had to be reached.
We finally settled on (in?) the outskirts of a village in the foothills which had the requisite communication links and was high enough to avoid all but truly Armageddon-like flooding from the river system.
Being doomers by inclination and country folk by nature, we set about making the place as self-contained as possible given the constraints of time, money and the desire not to look out of place.
Water was a primary objective. Having invested so much time and effort trying to avoid it, we now installed a series of linked barrels to collect around 500 gallons of rainfall run-off from the various roofs. (The long term plan was to install underground storage but an impending move has forestalled this). This to be used in the summer for assisting with garden irrigation and for hygiene use should the need arise.
There is a mains supply of potable water, supplemented by bought bottled and spring water from the adjacent hills captured and stored in ex-military containers. (Again an underground cistern was planned).
When the recent floods hit, we found unprecedented amounts of rain had fallen (up to 131mm locally) in just over 24 hours and the subsequent run-off completely overwhelmed the drainage systems. It is not uncommon in these parts for the hill roads to turn into rivers after a storm, but the amount coming off the peaks was phenomenal. Due to our location on a hillside, we were in little danger of standing –floods, but fortunately had sandbagged the ventilation bricks and doorways to deal with the expected run off. Even so, the bags were in danger of being overtopped by the sheer volume of water. This caught us somewhat by surprise, never before had we needed to cover these points.
The mains water supply is electrically pumped throughout the area, so it is not unknown for it to fail when the power goes down. We had sufficient water available to deal with what was thankfully a short-term event. However, the provision of more capacity could only be a good thing especially in the event of a long term incident.Our electricity supply is mains provided, but due to local conditions is fairly unreliable, going off on average once a month. We have back-up for heating, cooking and lighting, with a variety of methods for providing for each. As well as propane heaters and cooking rings, we have wood stored and several camping style cooking sets using differing fuels. Lighting from candles, hurricane and Coleman lamps as well as the ubiquitous MagLites complete the list. Wind up radios are used to keep connected to news services.
This system works well for us in a bug-in situation, with some of the kit doubling for the bug-out bags, in which it is normally kept. It again worked this time and we are currently replenishing supplies ready for the autumn and winter weather.
We thought that given the predicted rainfall, bugging-in would be the best solution and this proved to be so. We also planned to be on site during the event as the lower surrounding area a re prone to flooding and we have been cut-off in the past. Had we been caught out of position, one or more of us would have been stranded. Cars were washed away by previously unheard of levels of rainfall and all exit routes were simply inundated. We have multiple exit routes planned and driven, but all were closed in a very short time.
Several staff members at one of our employers, who also live nearby, had to remain in the building for several days, unable to get out . Even if they could have escaped the building, they would have been unable to return to their homes due to the floodwaters.
Being aware of the potential for the area to become cut off by bad weather, we keep an above average level of consumables in. This includes foodstuffs, medications, hygiene materials etc. We keep little in freezers, having lost the contents once too often when power remained off too long. Most foods are either canned or dried and when the power does fail, we emulate the NCIS agents Jethro Gibbs and Kate Todd and eat the ice-cream before it melts!
When we could get from the property into the nearby town, we found the shelves of the shops were depleted of nearly everything. Some panic buying had apparently occurred, but this was also down to the inability to re-supply them as the entire area was cut off from road and rail links. The disturbing part about this was that this took no more than a couple of days for the shelves to empty. It seems that the ‘just-in-time’ approach also now applies to your local food store and those behind-the-shop front warehouses are no longer filled with more than a day or two’s goods.
What this would mean in a long term situation became all too obvious further down the Severn’s route as large scale efforts had to be mobilised to bring in bottled water and emergency food supplies to stranded people.

In summary, our initial site location work and subsequent ‘prepping’ served us well during this event, but if any of us had been caught out of position, or had we decided at the last minute to ‘bug-out’ as flood levels rose, we might well have found ourselves in a different situation.
No matter what precautions one takes, it is surely down to the Grace of God as to what happens and how well you fare. We are currently planning our next adventure, a move out of the UK to a small patch of land somewhere in the Mediterranean. The planning and preparation for this has been ongoing for several years. More on that in a future article. Keep safe. - Michael in England

Thursday, August 2, 2007

You might have seen the news reports about the flooding in Central England last week. We’re in amongst it, but fortunately (and thanks to forward planning) high enough to have remained dry.
The primary cause of the floods was a prolonged period of exceptionally heavy rain, up to 131mm (c.5-1/2 inches) in one day. This followed hot on the heels of a very wet summer which left the ground sodden an unable to absorb the downpour, which caused flash-flooding as it ran off.
Areas not normally flood-prone have been inundated. Rivers broke their banks and filled their flood-plains.
Now this part of the country is used to flooding, although not in the summer months, as it has two of the UK’s most unstable rivers, the Severn and the Avon, passing through it. This episode, however, has been notable for the sheer amounts and force of the of water and depths of flooding. See this link and this link for some of the BBC's coverage…

The mayhem and disruption caused has been bad enough, but it has been compounded by the behaviour of some which can only be described as moronic. Conversely, the bravery of many, both in the response services and the public, has been humbling to see.
The floods caused chaos with the transport links, with railway lines and roads under several feet of water, even the M5 and M50 motorways (our equivalent to freeways) were closed after they disappeared under anything up to a foot of floodwater. This caused huge tailbacks with several thousand people stranded for up to twenty hours in their vehicles. One woman went into labour whilst in the jam on the M5 and the emergency services were unable to reach her either by ambulance or helicopter because of the conditions. Fortunately a truck-driver stuck near to her car realised the situation and used his vehicle to force a way through the water and the traffic to tow the woman’s car to the ambulance. He then apparently had to tow the ambulance as it too had become overwhelmed by the water. They managed to get the woman to hospital in time for the child to be born in the dry.
Towns and villages have been cut off for several days with residents needing rescue by boat or helicopter as the waters rose so quickly. As is always the case, some residents opt to stay with their property and many of these had to be rescued later as levels continued to rise.
The situation has been made worse by the failure of mains services; electricity and water plant were flooded, even though they were sited above normal flood levels. A water treatment plant was overwhelmed and engineers are having to wait till flood levels drop sufficiently for them to get in and assess the damage. It is estimated that mains water will be off for at least two weeks. This has resulted in the water company having to import bottled water into the area for drinking purposes and, when the floodwaters dropped sufficiently, the placing of water bowsers to enable people to obtain clean water for sanitation. Sadly, although not surprisingly, there have been cases of people vandalising the bowsers, by breaking open the taps and even by polluting the contents. There is one confirmed case of someone urinating into a life saving tank. Looting has become a problem in areas that have been evacuated, forcing police to be diverted from rescue to deal with the crimes. There was an attempt to steal a length of temporary flood barrier, supposedly for its high scrap value. It is perhaps a pity that the thieves were thwarted in their attempt as on the other side of the barrier was several feet of floodwater.
Shops outside the affected zone have seen their entire supplies of water, milk and bread bought out by ‘enterprising’ individuals who later tried to sell them at highly inflated prices to the stranded people. Fortunately the police dealt with this unsavoury bunch and the practice has all but ceased.It is now just a week since the worst downpour, although the unseasonal rains continue to add to the misery. It took considerably less than a week, however, for the infrastructure to break down. With no water or electricity, empty shops and no means of re-supply, many people were in dire straits within a couple of days. The elderly, infirm and those with young families were, and in many cases still are, in deep trouble.
For families who could remain in their homes, or who have since returned, to areas which are still without power and mains water, basic sanitation is an increasing problem. Toilet flushing has to be rationed, clothes washing is virtually impossible and personal hygiene requires a level of thought and discipline that few are used to. One woman in her forties was seen on the television stating that she thought it appalling that the authorities had not been round to each home to ‘tell us what to do’. Personal responsibility and the thought that maybe the ‘authorities’ had other things on their mind at the time did not seem to enter her thinking.As the swollen rivers send the excess waters downstream the floods, power outages and disruption travel along with them.

There has been some respite from the rains which has allowed the levels upstream to drop, and flooding to recede, but at the time of writing (Friday 27th July) more heavy rains are forecast for Saturday night and key personnel have been placed on stand-by within the response services. Further flooding is predicted as the ground is still sodden and unable to absorb any more water. Whilst writing this first report, the post has got through and I’ve received my copy of "Patriots" from the lovely people at Amazon. The opening quotation from Gene Roddenberry makes a far better ending than any I could come up with: ‘Nuclear war is not necessary to cause a breakdown of our society……their water supply comes from hundreds of miles away and any interruption of that, or food, or power for any period of time you’re going to have riots in the streets. Our society is so fragile, so dependent on (the) interworking of things…"

This has been the largest real-time test of our prepping to date. We live in a fairly isolated spot and power outages are common, but this time we have been cut-off by the floodwaters and have been thrown, albeit for a short time, upon our own resources.
Our decision was to bug-in as we believed we would fare best here; the location was chosen carefully although with some compromise due to the need to be near places of employment.
That said, it seems everyone, us included, were surprised by the sheer amounts of rain – the most in living memory in the region – and just how quickly transport and communications failed. Had we bugged out in the midst of it, we would very likely been refugees ourselves. When the recovery phase is fully underway, we will re-appraise our planning and handling of the event. Remember, no plan survives first contact..Keep safe. - Michael in England

JWR Adds: I find it amazing that in the midst of this crisis, so many people are letting the copious rainwater from their roof downspouts go to waste. They just don't have the survival mindset. At the very least, they could be using rainwater for clothes washing, bathing, and toilet flushing. With a water filter, they could also use rainwater for drinking and cooking. Take a minute to read his piece, by way of SHTF Daily: Living life without any tap water Take special note of the final quote in the article: "We also have to use bottled water to flush down the toilet, which is a waste, but we don't have any choice." Common sense, it seems, is all too uncommon.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Hi Jim,
I'm a regular reader and 10 Cent Challenge contributor. I just wanted to pass on a little info that struck me as very unusual. I live in Louisiana, too close to New Orleans unfortunately. In my mailbox on Saturday, I received a 32 page publication from the Louisiana Dept of Health & Hospitals. It is titled "How You Can Be Prepared for a Flu Pandemic" Individual & Family Handbook.
What do they know that we don't? The state spent $663,594.40 publishing 1,658,986 copies of this Handbook under a grant support from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
This is about the number of households in the state as of the 2000 Census, so I assume each household will be mailed one. I intend to wait about a week and take a poll of my fellow workers to see if anyone received and/or read the publication. My gut tells me most will simply pitch it with the junk mail and not
even read it. The book is very basic, but it does make an attempt to raise awareness and encourage preparedness and educate on a subject of which most people are ignorant. The KISS principle, I'm sure. If nothing else it could be a good tool to help persuade the "blind" to consider the value of preparation-especially skeptical spouses and close family members. Maybe you have seen this handbook or something similar. Here is a link to the publisher. (Item # ps92230)
Keep up the good work. We appreciate all that you and the family do to keep the information flowing. Thanks and God Bless, - GMac

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Dear Jim and Family,
Some months ago, our president signed into law a bipartisan bill that protects Americans from gun seizure during a disaster. In theory, every emergency worker (including police and National Guard) knows they cannot take guns from citizens, period. In theory. In practice its far more likely that we can all expect: the worst case scenario. This is uncomfortable as you have no idea if the cop down the street is honest or a bully who's taking guns because he can, or because he's been ordered by by his boss, or a buddy on the force with plans. I have encountered crooked cops. They really do exist, not just in movies. They do a real disservice to honest cops and endanger lives but investigations are hampered by the code of silence and Internal Affairs can only do so much without getting murdered undercover.[JWR Adds: Thankfully, the vast majority of police are honest and trustworthy.]

I'm wondering if your encounter with the police is about to make you a victim or not leaves you with the unpleasant choice of either losing your ability to defend yourself during the most critical time or deciding to be proactive and run the risk of dying for it, or even killing an honest cop by mistake. Following Hurricane Katrina, the Federal government and National Guard behaved in a shameful manner, disarming people trying to protect themselves. The result is this law, which probably won't be followed. How would you enforce it? Take them to court? If you survive, great. But if you really needed the gun, why did you survive, weakening your own case. If you really did need it you're too dead to sue.

When the cop says give me your gun what will you do? Do you have a backup? Do you have an argument that will keep him from taking it? Does the cop know or care that taking your gun during this disaster is a Federal crime? And will he harm or imprison you for pointing it out? These are ugly questions, but you had better think long and hard what your options are and what is the appropriate response.
Best, - InyoKern

JWR Replies: You are correct that H.R.5441 has been signed into law, (becoming Public Law No: 109-295). So it would be considered an extrajurisdictional act for any officer to "temporarily or permanently seize, or authorize seizure of, any firearm the possession of which is not prohibited under Federal, State, or local law, other than for forfeiture in compliance with Federal law or as evidence in a criminal investigation" during "a declared disaster." By now, all sworn officers at all levels should have been briefed on this law, and its existence has surely been added to the curricula of police academies. In most states, by exceeding jurisdictional authority, officers shed their "Sovereign Immunity" from prosecution and/or civil suit as individuals. (Up to a $100,000 per Title 42, USC.) In many states, sworn officers sued in this manner for damages in their personal or individual capacities are classed as "persons" (rather that state officials). See: Hafer v. Melo, S.Ct., 112 S.Ct. 358, (19, 116 L.Ed.2d 301 91). And in many states, by doing so they even put themselves in the same category as a common criminal. To wit, extrajurisdictional seizure of property constitutes common theft. (Technically, you would be able to place an officer under citizen's arrest. But I wonder what circumstances would allow you to safely do so.)

The wise course of action during a disaster is to studiously avoid confrontations with anyone in law enforcement that is exceeding their authority. And, if you are unfortunate and do get your guns seized, then have a backup set of guns cached nearby. They can't take what they can't find. BTW, this is just another example of the value of redundant logistics. Don't be belligerent or come to blows over this issue. Worry about recourse in the courts later. In the short term, your key responsibility is to protect your family members and see them safely through the crisis. And you can't do that if you are behind bars.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Dear Mr. Rawles,
First off, I would like to thank you for writing the novel "Patriots" and starting SurvivalBlog. My dad sent me your book in the mail and told me to read it. Being a fan of Tom Brown-ish survival literature, I decided to give it a try. I read it in one night, starting at about 8 pm and finishing at 3 in the morning. Truly, my world view has changed. I have immediately started making preparations---getting my Bug Out Bag together, my Bug Out Routes planned and starting to practice some of the skills sets I've let fall by the wayside recently.
I am a full time college student and collegiate cross country and track runner at a school in the great state of Tennessee, but have had the benefit of being raised in a preparedness oriented family in a
southwestern region of rural Montana. I was at school when [Hurricane] Katrina hit and remember the close-to-home impact it had on many of my friends who lived in the New Orleans area. Our school sent relief teams to New Orleans immediately afterwards, with shipments of food and water. At the time, my perception of the Katrina disaster was largely shaped by the major media
outlets. A humanitarian crisis it surely was, but I never realized the uglier side of the story until recently.
It seems that disasters and emergencies bring out the best and the worst in people. Having read extensively many of the SurvivalBlog entries and perused the Internet for stories and first-hand accounts of surviving the Katrina disaster, I discovered that the population of New Orleans could be broken down into four "classes" of people during the evacuation/hurricane/post-disaster crisis.
The first class of people was composed of a small group of individuals and families who had plenty of food, water and protection stored away to either weather the storm, or to travel to a safer location without sacrificing their safety.
The second class of people was composed of a larger section of the populace who decided to leave New Orleans or evacuate their area and had no food, water or self-protection supplies built up before-hand. These became the highway refugees, or the refugees huddled in the Superdome. Some were successful in escaping safely, many were not.
The third class of people was composed of people who decided to stay in New Orleans, without the necessary preparations, and planned on either the government helping them or on obtaining supplies from their vacant neighbor's homes and Wal-Mart. These were looters, thieves and murderers.
The fourth class of people was composed of law enforcement and National Guardsmen who stayed in New Orleans to try and maintain order. They were usually not successful.
In my analysis, everyone in the first class of people were prepared to handle whatever came their way. They were good, hearty men and women, with respect for God and a practical view of the world. In order to survive, they just needed to minimize contact with all three of the other classes of people, namely the refugees, the looters and the police.
The refugees were desperate people, some willing to kill for gasoline so that they could rescue family members. While not necessarily bad people, they were victims of the circumstances. Avoidance of these people was relatively easy, as long as one stayed off of main highways and out of refugee concentration areas. One reader posted a letter on this blog about his experience with his dog and pickup filled with gas-cans on his way back to secure his gun store. The looters were also desperate, but not necessarily refugees. They weren't fleeing, but were actively preying on people and businesses to
sustain themselves. These people were a lot like the "Mutant Zombie Bikers" [often mentioned by SurvivalBlog readers]. Mostly active in New Orleans, these looters were to be feared and avoided mostly by the prepared and self-sufficient people.
The police were able to direct traffic and enforce the law in the early stages of the disaster, but by the time traffic spilled out into the opposing lanes and looters really started opening up on their rampage,
they were relatively helpless. One thing that much of the public is not aware of is the indiscriminate"martial law" tactics undertaken by many police/SWAT and National Guardsmen during and after the evacuation. While their actions in arresting and confiscating weapons may have been justified in trying to control the looting problem, many honest, prepared men and women who were "holding the fort" had their homes invaded, searched and any and all weapons confiscated. In one of the parishes near New Orleans, the police used boats to pull over riverine traffic and search and confiscate any weapons found, often without providing receipts for the weapons confiscated. Obviously, for a prepared survivalist who was protecting their property, Bugging Out, or trying to provide humanitarian/rescue assistance, this was a major problem. After watching this short documentary on 2nd Amendment violations in [the aftermath of Hurricane] Katrina, which every law-abiding American owes it to themselves to watch, I have realized that in a TEOTWAWKI or near-TEOTWAWKI type disaster, even law enforcement can be more of hindrance than a help. The indiscriminate firearm confiscations that occurred in the wake of Katrina are very worrisome indeed.
In planning my Bug-Out-Plan (with multiple, redundant routes...one by foot if need be: yes, all 2,000 miles of it back home to Montana), I fully intend to avoid law enforcement like the plague. As [the] Doug Carlton [character] said in Patriots, "Roads are for people who like to get ambushed." Similarly, getting searched by the police in a TEOTWAWKI type situation is something you definitely want to avoid. There may be cops out there with their heads screwed on straight who can discern an honest citizen from a looter, but the risk of running into a hotshot and losing the means of protecting myself is too great.
I hope all other preparedness men and women take this into account when planning. Oh, and never become a refugee and confine yourself to a refugee camp. - R.D. from southern Tennessee

JWR Replies: The troublemakers in New Orleans came from many races, and surprisingly from both lower class and the lower middle class. It is difficult to stereotype the "looters" when based on the archived news footage it is clear that they represented a fairly wide cross-section of the New Orleans populace. Safe distance from major population centers is the key to survival during a widespread disaster. Fewer people means fewer problems. Most of the armed confrontations will take place in the big cities. Yes, lives will be lost far and wide WTSHTF, but the vast majority of the violence will be in the cities.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

James Rawles;
I enjoy your blog and wish I had more time to review [all of the content]. I plan on getting the best of the blog when my funds permit.
I saw the "Convincing the Unconvinced" post and thought I would reply.
I like what another reader recommended on bringing people around to preparing and hope you have a section dedicated to this subject somewhere on your blog.
Pushing a lot of information too fast will be counterproductive. They need to learn and decide for themselves to be prepared, and how prepared [they want] to be.
MJS could try getting Government-issued preparedness brochures. They are available from the American Red Cross and The Department of Homeland Security. This literature shows the need to be prepared for various situations. The information coming from a source that the doubtful will consider "mainstream" may be what they need to convince them to be prepared. You can work from there to discuss with them all the types of potential disasters (man made and natural) that can occur in your area and what can be done to be prepared.

Preparedness gifts are also a way to get the doubtful thinking about preparedness. I have given first aid kits, power inverters, Flashlights, Baygen radios, vehicle 72 hour kits, Preparedness books--some published by the Red Cross and Homeland Security--as Christmas gifts to plant the seeds of preparedness thinking. With the bird flu threat looming, I am considering a long term food supply for a month or less and publications on what you should know about bird flu for this Christmas. I am looking at water purification equipment for the following Christmas.
At least this gives family members a chance to survive a short term event. I know I cannot prepare for them and they have not considered what to do if the big cities that they live in melt down. But I can give them the information to make them think and to help them if they ask for it. - Ron from Ohio

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

I found the three following Australian web sites while surfing the web. The AusSurvivalist site led to the second two: Australian Government information concerning the London bombing and how Australia needs to prepare, and the Australian Government Emergency Management web site. Regards, Bill N.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I'd like to share a couple of things I've learned through the recent hurricane seasons in Florida, being hit directly by one, indirectly by three or four more (I've lost count). The following assumes you’re staying put, not bugging out. Typically my wife will take the kids and bug out, while I stay home for security and damage control if needed. This can also apply to some of the severe storms that other parts of the country experience throughout the year.
1. Water - In Florida, I travel with a case of water in the back of my car. You never know. In the off season, we use up the stored bottled water from the last year, and right about now [--May--], do a replenish. Our typical storage water "in season" is about the size of a pallet, four feet high. Off season we may get down to three or four cases. We also have a “Big Berkey” to filter the water from the lake behind our house if things are down for more than a week or so.
2. Food - Freeze dried long term storage food (Mountain House or equivalent) is absolutely required. The stores will be cleaned out in the two or three days before the storm arrives, and the grocers stop shipping food in at the last minute to cut their losses in case the buildings are knocked down. Immediately after the storm passes you're a fool to go out on the roads with the trees and downed power lines and by the time they are cleared, the stores open on a cash basis because the power is out, and it's dry goods only. All frozen and refrigerated food is discarded so they won't get sued for selling spoiled food. In your house, at the start of the hurricane season it’s prudent to work down your refrigerated foods and fill the space in the freezers with gallon milk jugs full of water. This will keep the remaining food from spoiling if the power is only out for a few days.
3. Cooking – We have several stoves that work when nothing else does. The best one for indoors is a butane stove that I picked up at a gun show for about twenty bucks. Butane cans are available, and they store indefinitely. I’d not use any combustion appliance indoors without ventilation, but after the storm the windows can be opened, and there is plenty of breeze coming in around the corrugated storm shutters, which still provide some measure of security. We also have a couple of Coleman stoves that run on either propane or coleman fuel, but those are strictly outdoor units.
4. Cash - Have a few hundred bucks cash on hand in the beginning of the season, and increase it to a thousand or more if you can once things are in full swing. There is usually a run on the ATMs when the storm is bearing down on the area, and when the power is out, it's done.
5. Fuel - If there is even a hint of a storm, top off all vehicles and keep them full until the threat has passed. It can take two weeks to get gasoline into the area and replenish the empty stations after the run on gas that happens when the storm is bearing down. Also, keep up on maintenance of your vehicles. It would truly suck to blow a radiator hose in traffic while trying to evacuate. (I’ve seen that happen – I think it was [Hurricane] Wilma, a guy from Miami was evacuating through the Fort Myers area and had [his engine] overheated with his small child in the car. I stopped with my work truck and we filled up his radiator with my drinking water supply, and I left him with a half case of bottled water, which was what I had left. His terror at being at the mercy of both the weather and his unwillingness to prepare was obvious).
6. Shelter - You need to buy the stuff to watertight your house before the storm, not after. Buy enough tarps to completely cover your roof - do the math and figure it out. In the off season the tarps are on clearance, pick up a few spares. They don't go bad [if kept out of sunlight] - stick them on a shelf in your garage.
7. Storm shutters - either cut and number plywood to cover the glass or install the mounting tracks and have the corrugated metal panels ready to go. Do this on the off season, not the day before, as you want to do the initial exercise once and be done with it We put our shutters up about a day before the storm is supposed to hit - sometimes at the last minute. Our family can do the job in about 40 minutes in the pouring rain.
8. Tools and batteries - Charge everything at the first indication that your area is targeted, then keep them on trickle charge to maintain full capacity. I've got a battery powered Sawzall, but with two discharged batteries I might as well use a hand saw. The same goes for battery powered drills – a dead battery renders them useless.
9. Lighting – As for wind up lights, check them pre-season. I bought a wind up light a year ago and while it still lights up, the battery is shot - only lights when I crank it. I only paid ten or twelve bucks for it, but it’s junk. April is the month where the battery powered lights are checked to make sure they work, and a fresh supply of batteries are stocked.
10. Security - If you think you might need force to defend yourself, get your concealed carry license (CCL), get your practice in and buy your rifles, handguns and ammunition well before season. The state has been known to declare a state of emergency and suspend the sales of guns and ammo when a storm is coming. Also, the gun dealers will cut a deal in the off season, but "sticker [price] is sticker [price]" when a storm is coming. Not gouging, just no breaks. Gun shows are your friend, as you can really shop and compare.
This will get you through the storm and the immediate aftermath.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Dear Jim,
Looking at the concept of mercenaries post TEOTWAWKI [mentioned in Ron's recently posted letter], I'm not convinced there is a valid threat there.
There are a lot of myths floating around about Blackwater specifically. I have several friends on contract to them in various capacities from maintenance to pilot to executive protection.
The relevant facts are that they are highly trained, highly paid (up to $1000 a day, depending on assignment and location), held to high standards of qualification (must be honorably discharged veterans, no criminal background and with relevant skill sets) and do specifically fall under the UCMJ when contracted to the military or in association with the military (including executive protection details on State Dept missions in Iraq). I keep hearing these stories of beer-bellied yahoos who don't answer to anyone, but I've yet to see anything to substantiate that apart from vague allegations in the press.
Obviously, if a government collapses, it will not be hiring troops in that price range unless it's paying gold or foreign cash. Even if it could, convincing politicians that 20 out of country mercs are better than 100 local recruits is a long shot.
As to low-paid, second rate mercs, history is full of them. They tend to be more hassle to the paymaster than any enemy.
I can't see what they'd be hired to do other than guard government installations or private facilities with the desire and the money. "We're hiring you to go rough up the civilians" doesn't seem either cost effective, worthwhile, or doable, as in small groups they'd be readily defeated by numbers. And if things are that bad, I won't be going anywhere near a government facility.
The condottieri of the Middle Ages were specifically small bands with training and weapons equal to the small local forces they faced--enough to defeat a village or small town. Without lots of supplies, any modern equivalent would just be another gang of armed men. In this case, armed professionals who'd prefer to dig in and take control of an area, rather than be roving bands. It's quite likely a few of them read survivalblog, and they're hardly the enemy. If such groups existed, it would be worth allying with them to build a community. Nor would they be likely to pillage an area, as it means less resources in future.
It is possible, in case of a total collapse, that such would become feudal lords. However, that would last only as long as they maintained the good will of the locals and had ammunition. Modern systems of government are far more effective and efficient. - Michael Z. Williamson

Monday, May 14, 2007

Here is the second round of responses to this question: Those who are well educated enough to see a societal collapse of some sort or another in the making fall into two groups, the merrymakers and the preparers. The merrymakers don't see life worth living post-SHTF, so they live it up now. We on SurvivalBlog are the preparers and have chosen to survive, but why? Our children? To rebuild civilization? Because the collapse will only be temporary? Because we can and we're stubborn with a stronger than normal will to survive? The following is the second batch of responses. A few of the following poll responses exceeded the one paragraph limit, but they had substance so I decided to post them, regardless:

The survival seed was planted at when as a young boy I entered our Ohio basement "fruit cellar" and noticed the stock of canned goods, candles and other necessities. My mother explained that we might need the items if the "weather turned bad". We never did need those items in the 1950s but the idea stuck.

For my family [living] in Alaska, it just makes sense to provide yourself with comfort items should the SHTF. We have a self sufficient setup which is accented by a complete, mobile camping outfit and further enhanced with ultralight backpacking gear. We are experienced in the use of this gear.

Silly as it may sound, if hard times come we do not want to be inconvenienced. That is the simple answer. And that includes begging others for help and standing in line to ask that the government do something.

Most important, we have incorporated preparedness into a normal enjoyable lifestyle. And it just plain feels right.


Life is tough. Challenges abound. Success is a drug that there is no anti-dote, only garbage that clouds the “vision” to succeed.
Why prepare? When reading the responses to this poll, I noticed a common reference to a “near term” disaster such as “Katrina”. This truly is a short term disaster. There is no reason that most of us can’t survive any short term disaster. Let’s look back to the late 1920s and early 1930s, or better yet, back to the original settler’s challenges, those were Longer term, affecting several generations. Why do we make reference to the near term problems rather than the historic obstacles? I think it is a protective mechanism that allows us to relate to “recent history” rather than “necessary history”. Imagining a multi-generational collapse I admit is not in my thinking, (to protect my fragile mind). But the labors of my grandparents and their grandparents are not to trivial to be memorialized. History repeats itself.
In the late twenties, a vast percentage of the population was “semi-self sufficient” and lived in the rural area’s trading with neighbors for the items needed that they did not produce themselves. Fast forward 80 years and a scary few minorities produce the knowledge to be productive and have the land to do so. Our forefathers could plan and survive even though difficult at times, they did it. How will we as city dwellers with no productive skills for the basics survive a similar economic tragedy? History repeats itself.
If more of us do not prepare, the likelihood of reverting back to the wagon train era is inevitable. If we can do more now, it is prudent to the survival of this great nation. This Nation is deserving of all of our love, and the things that we don’t agree with can be politely demonstrated against, or we can use the power we wield by voting for change. History repeats itself.
This country feeds the world, yet we squander it away in the pursuit of riches by greed. What a disappointment to our forefathers to have what others want, move it at all costs to further one’s pocket book, and not hold enough back to help our family and friends. If everyone in this nation had a year’s supply of food, then the vulnerability of this nation would greatly lessen, (see the history of the noose that was placed around Russia and the tens of millions that perished because of such starvation) After a “collapse”, our productivity would be multi-generational leaps rather than microscopic advance, if in fact we had the basics squared away. To get this great country back on her feet, we need to first, take care of our needs so if the tragedy of life happens, our focus can be productive, focused, and our return to glory inevitable. History repeats itself.
Am I am optimist? Am I a pessimist? Am I aware of how things really are so delicate? Do I love the country I live in enough to help bring her to her feet?
Be part of the solution, not part of the problem,…. An old saying is: “…problems always work themselves out…” I don’t want to be “worked out”, I want to help re-build, and not stress in the basic needs of my family and friends, I want what I have now, the ability to do much, and hopefully be surrounded by like minded friends no matter what the economic situation of this country is. I love this country, I love my family, I love the teachings of history even though history repeats itself. I love what I have learned, and pray for what I have not. God Bless the USA.


It occurs to me as I read the responses to this question that while I share most of the reasons I am reading, including it is kind of fun, I also fear that I have within myself the capacity to do great evil if the need to provide for my family in times of trouble comes and I am not prepared. In fact this is one of the questions I ask people whom I approach when they tell me something vague about being okay. I ask them if they will really be able to sit by and watch as their children starve? I get interesting looks and statements.

I first became interested in the whole survivalist concept as an ER doctor, early in my career in the late 80's. What I saw is that the government cannot help people prevent problems, it only "cleans up" and tallies data. The police are the best examples of this (call the police when a burglar enters your home and they will gladly come and take a picture of your dead body). Although I had hunted since childhood, I only became interested in concealed carry, etc., after seeing case after case in the ER where people died or were maimed, while hoping/waiting for the cops to come. The cops did come, but always after the bad guys had done their deed. So much for that.
Over the past decade, my lack of faith in government "Helping" has grown more pervasive (in part due to working as a DOD doctor during Desert Storm I) and now focuses on Peak Oil (about which the government will never inform you in any truthful way until its too late) and the US Dollar (which the government and its goons (e.g. Kudlow et al on CNBC) say is just fine, along with the economy as a whole). There will be no functional oil by 2030, and by 2015 (that's just 8 years away), we'll see $10 per gallon at the tank, if we're luck and if China/India do not grow any faster than they already are.
All h*ll will have broken lose by then, as nearly everything we use comes from oil or is related to it (think antibiotics, clothing, food, not to mention our incessant "happy motoring" to go to work and take kids to/from school and other activities). We will not be able to depend upon transport of veggies from 1000's of miles away and may have trouble even getting water, depending upon where you get yours, just for starters. The sheeple, as another writer on this forum pointed out, will become wolves. The goal is to be a better prepared wolf, with stores of food, medicines, farming and mechanical equipment, guns and ammo.
Oh yes, the US Dollar (USD); it has dropped about 30% in the past three years. Yes 30%! China has announced that it will diversify out of the USD, as has most of OPEC, Russia, et al. Only Saudi and Japan continue to support the $USD for oil scheme, and that won't last much longer. When the USD drops below 80 on the USD index, that's it; we'll see 30 or 40 within a year or so, and that will be a 50%+ devaluation from present levels. If you look at every country in the world that has had its currency devalued (always, BTW a sure result of over use of the printing press), social degeneration has followed. Ordinarily, governments become totalitarian when that happens, but I suspect that the Peak Oil situation will prevent our government from doing anything but jawboning. Cops won't be able to enforce anything at $10/gallon gas.
Peak Oil + USD devaluation = total social/economic breakdown. And, BTW, I agree with other writers who have pointed out that its "pie in the sky" to think we'll "simply return to 1890 and live happily ever after." 1890 technology could not support a highly urbanized, work challenged and bloated population like ours. 10,000 BC is more likely, only with pockets of technology, and ammo, and a much smaller population. The only question left is when, not if, and when is likely within a decade.


Because no one with any sense of self respect likes being a loser.


Hi Jim,
My family prepares for bad times because it is inexcusable not to prepare. Bad things happen all the time - job loss, illness, accidents, etc., - as well as all of the possible natural and man-made
disasters that could occur. Preparation is insurance that your family will get through a rough time. Not preparing is a deficiency of character and neglectful to your spouse and kids. Being able to
survive more easily through bad times will greatly improve your physical and mental situation if it happens. In addition, you will be in better shape to help others should you need to. If nothing ever
happens in my lifetime I will be thankful and will enjoy having a bit less stress in my life because I did everything I could to keep my family safe and protected.


Beside the fact that I've read the last chapter in The Book (Revelation), there's peak oil & the coming die-off as petrochemical resources become scarce, population stresses, a government that seems hell-bent on totalitarianism of one flavor or the other (I keep praying that cooler heads will prevail, but the past couple decades' experience doesn't build much hope.), external political & economic turmoil, pollution, terrorism, a resurgent Russia, Chinese war drums, froggy dictators with nukes, a weakening dollar, the list goes on and on. The worst part is each one of these either feeds off or feeds into the others. I'm betting that my children & grandchildren will live in a much different world than the one I grew up in. My prayers are that it will be a better one -- but I also realize (and in some cases, I'm very thankful for the fact) that sometimes God says "No!" So, I prepare -- and I attempt to prepare my sons to live in a world that looks more like their Grandparents' world during the Great Depression than the one I grew up in. Keep a stiff upper lip & watch your Six!


First off, I love your novel "Patriots". Regarding the survey: We prepare because of the core morality we have: that we aren't victims and we don't want to depend upon the government for our welfare since that would make us slaves. I believe every other political view we hold comes out of this core belief, be it regarding the 1st and 2nd Amendments, welfare reform, public education, taxes, business regulation, Federal Reserve policy, etc.


As to your query about why planning and striving to survive. At first I paused and asked myself that same question...Why Survive? For what purpose? What will I do when/if I do,
and when will I know that I have "Survived". I guess that initially it came down to personal and immediate family survival. Our extended family is fairly large and we are, what I consider to be, relatively "close" as a family unit.
Although my immediate family considers me "alarmist" and "extreme" I have still been planning and stockpiling as best that I can (afford) for all of us when the SHTF. (Whether the next "emergency" is natural or man-made.) My personal survival is only to ensure the safety and well-being of my daughter and to stand as a resister/witness against the "Anti-Christ".

National survival (the sovereignty of our Constitutionally-based government) is doomed by the fact that the globalist cabal have already (over the last couple of centuries) put into place people, politico-financial-industrial networks and the military might to enforce their will, that resistance will be short lived and futile. Our best effort will be to resist honestly and honorably being witnesses against the evil that is closing its trap upon the unsuspecting mass of sheeple. Although, conceptually, I can understand their reasoning, I cannot in good conscience support their end result.

Survival, not just being a biological instinct, but in humans - a choice, we are presented with not only mere physical requirements and consequences, but also moral and ethical repercussions as a result of our choices. The faculty of conscience, whether intact or corrupted, is a characteristic of God imbued into mankind to act as a "moral compass" to influence and guide one's actions. Our mind's/personality/character's (the soul's) decisions and consequent actions are the basis upon which we shall be judged. So survival is not just a matter of how we achieved it, but also how well we achieved it.

Survival isn't just to get by, but to be able to provide the basis by which our "way" of living (hopefully by the freedoms outlined in our Constitution) continues into (at least) the next generation. We must do as much as we can and as long as we are able. My personal "religious"/"reality" views are that we all will "survive"; (continue on as beings) and that our further existence will be far greater than that which we experience now.


I prepare because I am responsible for my family. I also realize that even if our government is able to respond, they will not be able to do so immediately. Just look at the response times for police and fire departments. Three to ten minutes is not unusual and that is when the phone system is working and there is no snow storm or other disaster such as [Hurricane] Katrina.


I will survive because I'm too mean to die. Survival is a choice. Many people choose to die rather than suffer the hardships that survival often requires. In the next 10-to-15 years, the world population will almost certainly decrease by 3-5 billion people for various reasons (mainly famine related to Peak Oil). I plan to be one of the people who live. I don't have much interest in religion, and I have no interest in leadership. People want to be sheep: let them follow someone else to their doom. I will do what is necessary to survive and hopefully enjoy the process as much as possible while I quietly duck away from trouble others feel compelled to fight head on (and die in place). If you die for a cause, you have failed at survival. Always remember that.


Because when I first heard the story of "The Three Little Pigs" I got it. Make you house strong so the wolf can't blow it down. Do it right from the beginning and the wolves wont get you. I have had a Survivalist mentality since as early as I can remember. I think people have to be blind and deaf to all around them not to catch on to the obvious, our lifestyle in America is not stable. And no culture/society has ever been stable. All the great ancient cities failed, USA is no different. 1 year or 1,000, USA will end. I am 30 years old and have seen many Third World countries. I do not want to end up like that! I wish I could get everyone to see what the real world is like and what we stand to lose. Incidentally, my wife is from one of those Third World countries. So in the end, a hand dug well, no toilet paper and a dead 42 inch plasma TV suits us just fine because we know we can take care of ourselves. Being a Survivalist is the closest thing to being stable, a Survivalist community is the closest thing to a stable society.


I was in the Coast Guard during Hurricane Hugo and I saw how few people were prepared, it made a huge impact on me. People were driving one hour for ice! I also know that is my God given responsibility. Reading your book only reinforced these thoughts. Thanks for all you do to wake up the sheeple.


In response to why I am planning to survive. Is there any other rational choice? I am preparing from a personal sense of mortality. Selfish as it is it is my survival and hat of my immediate downline that I am concerned about.
Being the victim of a massive Stroke several years ago that left me partially paralyzed on my left side, and disabled from my corporate America job. My earning capacity went from $100K per year to less than $36K, in a stroke, yes pun intended. With more time on my hands I see many many ways to do things differently. Our nation is an anchor to world events and I see that we are on a downward spiral. We feel that we as Americans have in our scant 250 years of existence gained the knowledge and expertise to control the whole world, by debt. I see the collapse coming, and am in survival mode right now as to go from $100K per year to less than $36K per year requires retooling. I think that much more retooling will be required in several years when we mostly all go from Dollars to Skills and actual work. The one who owns a shovel can get some one to operate it for him, If you don’t own the shovel, then you will be the one shoveling for me! Shovel long enough and I will let you shovel it a while for yourself.. That is the way it is supposed to work.Real work for real value. This is the legacy I am intending to leave for my kids.


Because the prophets have said to. Because [LDS] President Gordon B. Hinkley and the 12 have said to. Because I know it is the right thing to do. Because the Spirit tells me it is the right thing to do. To protect my family and loved ones from the storms that will rage and be poured out without measure. And because I want myself, my family, and others to hopefully make it through all the tribulations in order to see the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior!


Like one of the previous writers – I grew up in the 1950s when Nuclear Was and bomb shelters were the norm. My dad made sure we prepared ourselves for survival back then and I took over that responsibility after he died in 1967, as the sole surviving son in our family. It was ingrained in me and taught as a responsibility – and it’s one that I take seriously. I am now an ordained minister and believe that God has called us to prepare ourselves spiritually, mentally, and physically for whatever comes our way in the future.

As I prepare my family for TEOTWAWKI or whatever else may come, I am also preparing to share with others in need. As I buy, make, grow or otherwise acquire I put aside extra for charity and barter. I hope each and every survivalist, preparer, and/or provider will do the same. Preparing to survive is not just so we can live while others suffer or die; it is a duty and responsibility we have been called to by our Creator. And, besides, it’s so much fun!


I choose to prepare so my children will have a chance to live a full life. By "full life" I do not mean a materialistic, consumption driven competition to amass "more". I do not wish to ever have to look at them and say there is no more food, I do not wish their lives cut short because I chose not to prepare for what I know is coming. Many may think I am "strange", but ever since I was a child I have always been drawn to acquiring knowledge of natural food sources, survival skills, etc, and I have always known a time would come when you can't just go to the grocery store when you need something. I believe things will get very bad, I don't know for how long, I also believe that "we" shall emerge at the end of that time, (after what I'm sure will be an enormous "die-off"), and begin to put together a new society. I prepare so that my children will have the chance to make it through the worst times, become self sufficient, strong, and capable of building a new future for themselves.


There are a myriad of reasons why my family prepares, and most of them have been mentioned (Religious leaders instruction, Boy Scout motto, seeing the writing on the wall, American self-reliance) and all of them have a great deal of merit. Although I don't think any of us can totally prepare for TEOTWAWKI there is a great deal we can do to prepare for the end of electricity/oil/food/water as we know it.

I have few axioms that I live by that have served me well.
* If you are not prepared to care for yourself, be prepared to rely on the generosity of others.
* I would rather have it and not need it. Than need it and not have it.
* You can never have too many knives or flashlights.
* Preparation is cheap insurance.
I love your site and have derived a great deal of information from it that I pass on to others. Thank you for all of your hard work that you share with others.

I guess many reasons, most likely though it was triggered when I was going through a hard time in 1998 and Y2K was coming. It just got me to thinking more about the future then the present. Then I happened to come upon "Patriots" and it started to motivate me to do more, then 9/11 hit and Like everyone else I got a bit excited and started doing all sorts of things for prepping. There are many other reasons too but those were my first ones. Namely now I do all I can to get my mom and myself ready, mainly for a Bugout as we cannot survive in the urban place were at. I also have taken up a bit of time with posting flyers with a small 3 day kits explained and priced, by just going down to the local Dollar store. Lastly, I want to die from old age not starvation or an injury or by [be killed by] a nut, post-SHTF.


Back when I first heard of survivalism, my first reaction was not "They must be crazy!" like most of my fellow liberals, but "That's a good idea." I realized that prepared people are our nation's life insurance: if America falls apart, the survivors will revive it. I still had faith in the government, but I admired independent people. After the Oklahoma City bombing, I realized that if the government can't even protect its own workers from a single man, it'll never be able to save us in a true disaster; I had to prepare for disaster myself. When I learned that McVeigh was a survivalist, I saw that thinking "the survivalists, whoever they are, will rebuild after I die in the collapse " was as naive as thinking "the government, wherever it is, won't let anything bad happen." Our nation is only as good as the people in it. If some evil people will survive a collapse, then I have to make sure that the good people who survive will outnumber them. I prepare because I want to be one of the good survivors. It's my God-given duty to be a part of this great nation, and if America breaks down it will be my duty to rebuild it as an even better nation.


Our founding fathers created this great Republic to be a beacon of hope for humanity. Every day that we exist we prove their point that when government is small people are big – then miracles happen.

When you see the rain coming, you take an umbrella. When it rains, you open it. How can I not prepare to survive with so many storm clouds clearly visible: economic maladjustment, hedonistic society, government growth into incompetency, and imminent crop failure, both in the US and abroad? Sticking my head in the sand is a death warrant. Period. Maybe not all of the storms will hit but all have the potential to be nasty...very nasty. I have a chance with a plan and some extra supplies. Without a plan, I would wander aimlessly or panic, becoming easy pickings for the predators that will certainly arise. With a plan I have fortitude of spirit and the knowledge that most of those I interact with in troubling times will not have a plan, leaving me with an advantage. Maybe a slim advantage, but that may be all I need to come out alive. I pity the countless souls that will come to a sad end because they didn't or wouldn't pay attention to the gathering storm clouds.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Here is the first round of responses to this question: Those who are well educated enough to see a societal collapse of some sort or another in the making fall into two groups, the merrymakers and the preparers. The merrymakers don't see life worth living post-SHTF, so they live it up now. We on SurvivalBlog are the preparers and have chosen to survive, but why? Our children? To rebuild civilization? Because the collapse will only be temporary? Because we can and we're stubborn with a stronger than normal will to survive? The following is just the first batch of responses. I plan to post at least one more batch. Please send your responses (one paragraph or less) via e-mail, and I will post them anonymously.

The survivalist is an optimist -- not merely because he/she thinks he'll make it through the crisis, but because of the (possibly subconscious) hope that something good will emerge in the aftermath. It's the logic of any kind of apocalyptic thought... Theological systems that have a conception of a climactic struggle or an "end times" imagine that, after Armageddon, we'll see the dawning of a new age. Not surprisingly, a lot of Hollywood movies follow this script, too: After the aliens are defeated, for example, in "Independence Day", mankind stands united, having put aside their differences; After catastrophic weather changes in "The Day After Tomorrow," the planet begins to heal itself, etc. Heck, this theme can be seen, too, in your fine book, "Patriots". In the same way, I plan to live not only because I'm stubborn and have a finely-tuned sense of justice -- and thus hate the idea of turning over the planet to looters, thugs, and others who would prey on the innocent -- but also because I'm both curious and hopeful about what will emerge as society reconstitutes itself.

My modest preparation springs from the knowledge that I and the Lord are the protectors of my family (there are five of us). Our ultimate trust is in Him, but it is on me to do what I reasonably can do to protect my family from in the event of hardship and/or disaster. (After watching [Hurricane] Katrina, it seems apparent that the government cannot do that.) Anyone reading your web site thinks that there is at least a fathomable chance that our nation's run of blessing/luck will end (or be suspended) at some point in the future. Nothing lasts forever. If and when that time comes, I would never forgive myself if my family suffered unnecessarily because I did not take reasonable steps to prepare for such a time. In addition to that, it's just plain fun to learn about this stuff. (Anyone who says otherwise is lying!)

Because the alternative is inconceivable to me!

I’m currently going through some things in my life that are agonizing (but subject to change) and make things feel almost hopeless for me at times, yet every day I wake up again and thank God that he breathed the breath of life into me. I won’t waste that breath. I’m motivated to prepare to survive and overcome by many factors. Here are some examples:

I’m a 7th generation descendant of a settler in my current state and I’m motivated to survive by the risks my settler ancestors took, the struggles they went through, the multiple battles they fought in, the children they lost prematurely and the price they paid to be here. I recently visited some of their graves for the first time. I see it as my responsibility, honor and duty to live freely and survive. The stock I am from is cut out for it.

I prepare to survive because I’m ultra conservative, at times feeling like an endangered species or “minority” and I’m tenaciously defiant to those who would like to see my “kind” exterminated. I am equipped with a few trusted friends that are peers in regard my views (though mostly surrounded by sheeple) and have inspired some to begin to prepare. I discern a negative spiritual force is taking action to see my country’s sovereignty given away. I am motivated to be a hindrance to that spirit. My country is worth saving.

I prepare to survive because as a young man I swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States, despite the fact that there have been some truly sorry individuals working to undermine that Constitution since before I was born. I intend to see my oath fulfilled.

I prepare to survive because I read "Patriots", awoke to how fragile our economy really is and saw how foolishly I’d been behaving in the past (assuming life would always be normal) and am in the process of repenting of any residual foolish, sheeple-like attitudes and habits I have.

I prepare to survive because I’ve been in a city where gasoline was temporarily not available and walked through the local grocery store at 3:00 AM (less crowded) and have seen the store shelves stripped of food for a short period of time. It’s pretty convincing you need to prepare when the fuel in the tank of your vehicle and few 5 gallon cans (at the time) may be all you’ll have for a while.

I prepare to survive because if things ever Schumerize I have multiple skill sets that can help a number of people in a number of survival situations. I believe I was created to help people, when possible. I gather info, educate, discuss and leave food for thought for those who are unprepared, but willing to listen and consider my views on the subject.

Why an I preparing? For the simple reason that I live in the middle of the midwest. Bad winters, heavy snow, and ice storms. The rest of the year heavy rain , floods, tornados, et cetera. You can't depend on the government to come through when needed, so if you don't have what you need than you are SOL! You have to be able to get by on what you have or fabricate something to do the job needed. I haven't depended on the government to help and I really don't think they have the capacity any more if ever. It will be your self and friends and neighbors pulling together that will make the difference. I prepare for me and mine so that we may be able to help others if need be. I've traveled extensively in South America, off the beaten path, and if you don't have what you need or can fabricate it than you should not be there. The same goes for having all your ducks lined up at home.

I'm a Jesuit educated 38 year old Bachelor, Eagle Scout, USMC Gulf War Vet, working for a major aerospace company in Seattle. The reason I'm preparing is I inherited ~$500K from my grandfather, who sold the family farm in California to housing developers. He worked hard for all of us and I don't want that blessing of wealth to be squandered. I'm preparing because being prepared is what's been beat into my head since I was a kid. You can't play the "victim" card on the Four Horsemen.

Why do I prepare? Probably because I read too much science fiction as a child! Probably because surviving is so much more interesting than succumbing. Born in the late 1950s, I remember bomb shelter salesmen and diving under my desk during A-bomb drills. I always assumed something, a war, or a pandemic, could change life as I knew it. It never occurred to me not to want to survive. Both my parents were alive during the depression, and that contributed to not taking food/housing for granted. Perhaps my uncle, who survived Bataan, or my aunt, who was a prisoner of war in the Philippines, might also have had something to do with my mindset?

Because I believe that life is worth living, and I have no intention of simply "biting the dust" unless I give it the old college try. I believe that trying and ultimately failing is far better than not trying at all.

Bottom line: I owe it to my family to be prepared. I could not bear to look into their eyes as they look to me for help and have to say "Sorry."

I am a preparer. Not because I'm smarter than anyone else, but because from what I see, there just is no other choice. I do it for my family; my beloved husband who humors me but thinks I'm slightly nuts, my grown children who love me but roll their eyes whenever I speak about what is happening around us. look, I don't have any college degree or any fancy smarts, no one would call me well educated. But I can see what I can see. I read, study, research and from my angle, we are gonna be toast and I bet my surly one eyed cat that it will be ugly. so I plod along doing the best I can when can. I don't have a retreat, I don't have a bunker or fallout shelter, I don't have 10 acres or two years worth of food. But I've got God. I keep plodding on doing the best with what I have and I know He takes care of the rest.Will we survive the whatever that comes? Heck if I know. But I'm a fool if I do not give it my best shot.

As a man of firm Christian beliefs, I believe all our days are numbered and have value. In those number of days we are to protect and provide for our our own selves, our families and so on. Examples in scripture are numerous how people were commanded to defend their homes, their cities, their neighbors, and their land. Unless we (like some were) are destined to go into Babylonian captivity I see no other proper choice.

I am taking what steps I feel necessary to survive in a societal collapse of infrastructure because I realize that the more intricate a system of living becomes, the more possible facets of failure are therefore created. As the machine known as Society grows in scale and complexity, so do the required aspects of its function; increasing the number of things that can go wrong, thus eventually causing a critical failure of the system. With the statistical (and historical) inevitability staring one in the face, how can someone not do everything within your power to be prepared?

I feel its my duty to four fathers, kids, grand kids, friends, although they are getting harder to find these days, an it just feels like the right thing to do,also its interesting,fun, a great learning expense,i spend hours on your site an i want to really thank you for it. I'm sure you make money off of it an you should, but I'll bet you are the type of person that really believe in what you do. I love my guns an have about 25 [of them], I try to go to the range at least three times a week, its the most relaxing time in my life ,by myself or with someone, I'm sure a lot of people don't understand, I love the military weapons a lot, I have .303s, Mausers, and others. I'm proud of my beliefs, thanks.

I consider preparing my Christian duty. I'm also stocking up lots of extra food, clothing, and so forth for charity, which is also my Christian duty.

Myself, I am what would be called a "millennialist" based on my beliefs from the Bible. The majority of mankind is stupid and sinful. Thousands of years and we are still doing the same mistakes over and over. I do not believe in any Gene Roddenberry vision where mankind, by its own efforts, rises from the ashes and evolves into a benevolent a Star Trek society. Nothing sort of divine intervention will save us in the long run from permanent self-destruction----Now aren't I a cheerful one to invite to a social gathering?;)

Just for the record, I'm not one of those nuts that believe in trying to hasten or encourage the Second coming The world is dong a fine job all by itself.

While I had read about survivalism and planning for a couple of years, the importance of having some sort of plan didn't hit me hard until I was living in the South, had a new baby, and [Hurricane] Katrina hit. All of a sudden the importance of having an evacuation plan, supplies, and a known destination to retreat to were very important. I am not as prepared as many of the readers, but I know where to go and what I'll do when I get there. Also, thanks to some great books on small farming and some great advice on here I know how to avoid some real pitfalls.

I’m preparing to survive for my wife and my children, because I can and because it gives me a feeling of confidence. I say “because I can” since most of my acquaintances don’t have a clue of the probable upcoming changes in society, but of those that do have a clue they can’t prepare for survival. They can’t prepare for survival because they’re financially tapped out by having been brainwashed into living on credit today figuring somebody else will take care of them tomorrow, but it won’t be me.

And it drives me nuts. A 45 year old single female friend of my wife owns a boat, owns a camper, had two vehicles, bought a scooter and recently bought a house within the last two years. When I first started preparing for survival, my wife made a comment to her about it and her friend said when the SHTF “we’ll all be as snug as a bug in a rug.” I said“What do you mean we? I think you need to make your own preparations.”

I used to try and educate our acquaintances but have started taking more of an inquiring approach with regards to what they think are the possible upcoming changes in society. A couple we know refinanced their house to buy a travel trailer but they only camp within 45 minutes of their house because they can’t afford the gas and their tow vehicle is not reliable. I asked the husband what he thought was coming in the future, he said he figured things were going to get pretty bad. But then they just put down a deposit on a trip to Hawaii so I’ve got to figure you just can’t help people like this.

And it’s not that I wouldn’t help anybody, I saw value in a comment on your web site with regards to helping neighbors and I will. (Is it okay if I only help the ones I like?). We live in a conventional neighborhood and I wish we didn’t but at this point it would take too much of our resources to move to a property with more land. So our best defense is to bond with the good neighbors but I don’t want all our irresponsible acquaintances coming to live with us.

We have a good life and are lucky to be able to make preparations for what may come. And I am thankful for every additional day I have to get better prepared.

I am preparing to survive because I believe the threats to our way of life are manifold. We are in a global war. China strength's grows, our borders are not protected. Our government is shredding the constitution. Natural disasters, environmental concerns, the basic depravity and selfishness of man--its reason enough. I was a volunteer during [Hurricane] Katrina. Not one person who had preps, was sorry. Many other equivalent societies in this century have fallen, why is America better ? It is inevitable, one disaster will prove the wisdom of preparing.

1. Life is worth living.
2. I want to be around if there is any defending of this nation to be done.
3. Who said one can’t prepare and merrymake? (I guess it depends on one’s interpretation of ‘merrymake’).

It's something that was raised in me. Whether it was the Boy Scout's motto of always being prepared, or just the human instinct of survival, if I see something on the horizon, I won't back down. Not to mention I get to justify spending a lot of money on camping gear and guns, my two favorite hobbies.

We are trying to prepare because it is the right and responsible thing to do for our family, friends, neighbors, and country. If we all became part of the solution, then there would be no problem.

Jim, I grew up in the bomb shelter/Cold War era. A neighbor two houses down actually dug out their front yard to install a bomb shelter. My folks had a rudimentary bug-out bag and we always kept a month's worth of food on hand. Hey, for the 1950s, that was progressive thinking so I guess I come by being into preparedness naturally.

I hold advanced degrees but my education does not get in the way of exercising common sense. It is obvious that our complex society is too interdependent to survive major interruptions and we have numerous examples to look at (the L.A. riots, Hurricane Katrina, and such). To believe that a major interruption of services could not occur is delusional. The empirical evidence is right in front of us. The family which is prepared has far fewer worries.

Do I believe we are headed for TEOTWAWKI? Not particularly. Do I believe that we will see significant disruptions that will affect us for 10 days or so? Yes, definitely. Disruptions lasting to 30 days or beyond? Less likely, but I maintain a "year's supply" nonetheless. Also, my Church has preached being prepared for years. Our leaders have constantly cajoled us to have a year's supply of food and other necessities and my guess is they know something we haven't heard yet.

Most pundits state that human beings are constantly evolving. The point they have ignored or can't see is that the evolvement of the human race in the last 50 years has been a deterioration, not an advancement. We survivalists are, quite frankly, throwbacks to the pure genotype that got us to this point in time.

I prepare because the end is nigh (at least TEOTWAWKI), and there will be a lot of merry-makers who suddenly changed their minds, post-collapse. If you're prepared and you decide the going is too rough, you can always quit,but if you're not prepared, your options are zero. You're done. Besides, my family is Finnish, and we're stubborn SOBs. You can always tell a Finn, just not much...

I prepare to survive because I see it as part of the natural cycle of human civilization. Something in us wants to forget the lessons of what makes us a great society and start living on borrowed riches and capabilities. Eventually, that living beyond our means catches up with us via a natural disaster, economic collapse or societal conflict.

If we were not to prepare to survive then we are doomed to fail and live miserably under the dictates of someone else. If we prepare we are not guaranteed to have prepared for the right situation, or enough, but at least we have a much better than average chance. In the end, I am an optimist. No matter how bad things get they will eventually get better. We can speed up our own recovery and that of our community’s by preparing now. If we do not, then we may end up wallowing in misery and struggling for the barest necessities. Is that the kind of life God wants for us? I think not. I believe God wants us to live wisely and prepare to prosper under all conditions. That takes discipline and short-term sacrifice.

Jim, your blog rocks. I only hope that I can learn and earn fast enough to take advantage of the incredible information that your forum provides before TEOTWAWKI.

I have a beautiful 6 month old son who is totally innocent to the ways in which TPTB (the powers that be) are systematically destroying nature, American Democratic principles and threatening the survival of humanity. He deserves a chance in this life, regardless of whether or not he'll ever get to visit Sam's Club, get a college scholarship, drive a V-8 or own an iPod.

When things start to get dicey, and as the world as we know it begins to fall apart - most likely permanently- he will be just coming up in age and entering what should be the most wondrous years of a child's life.

For him, and for my future children, I will fill their youthful imaginations with nature, tools, projects, outdoor adventure and practical knowledge. Before I let the idiot-box and America's media-driven junk-culture destroy their understanding of their place in God's kingdom (and the animal kingdom), they will know what to eat and how to hunt it, how to garden, how to fix stuff and how to avoid trouble in a society that in the future will eventually fail entirely by trying to eliminate all risk of failure here in the present.

They will be encouraged to learn practical trades: veterinary sciences, engineering, construction, medicine and alternative medicine, martial arts, food production and off-the-grid technology solutions.

No bankers, real-estate agents, financial analysts, politicians or computer graphic designers in this family, Jim. No sireeee bubba.

I have always believed that those people who want to throw God's gift of life away through risk, recklessness, attempted suicide or plain old bad lifestyle habits are doomed to live longer.

I have also questioned since1987 when the U.S.S. Stark got hit by our"allies" escorting black gold in the Persian Gulf how long our cheeseburger-driven, cheap-oil, fiat-money, fake-friends and fear of loss-driven society can keep going.

Therefore I will survive this impending paradigm-shift in human existence in order to see my children prevail into adulthood, and for my morbid curiosity to see how all this B.S. I have put up with my entire life winds-up in the end of my days.

It won't be easy however. Here in Texas, not 1 in 1000 people has a clue what might be coming in the next few years. Even after [Hurricane] Katrina pushed a not-so-golden horde of 150,000 low income welfare dependents onto the greater Houston area. I guess that bad stuff only happens to others, right?

I'll be heading for the hills soon enough I hope, and taking my brood to a more austere, self-sufficient and remote lifestyle before Sugar Land Texas becomes a looter's paradise.

At first I prepared because it was an American act of self-reliance. Now, after all the weird looks and puzzled expressions, I get to have the biggest 'I told you so' in my lifetime.

Great question. Do I have an answer? Yeah a couple. Peace of mind in these troubled times is the main one. We buy insurance for everything except peace of mind. Our power goes off we start our transition to alternatives without a worry. Lights, power,shelter, water, communication ability goes on. Food is here to be eaten fuel to use without need to purchase, cash on hand no worries. Another reason we do what we do is because "I" feel it's my responsibility to my family. Part of my responsibility as a husband and a father is prepare to take care of them no matter what happens next I can't sleep knowing I could have, but I didn't. It's a philosophy of maintaining the status quo to then have the time and resources to help others. It's about being "ahead of the game." It's about life and meeting it's changes head on, never stopping head down and moving constantly on forward to whatever it is that is next in life.

My reason is: why give up? I have fought to hard in this life to just roll over and die.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Many people tend to think about survival as if it where an on/off switch, black or white reality. You have a relatively nice, normal life, such as the world most first world citizens live in these days, and suddenly you have a SHTF event and you go into Post-SHTF mode all of a sudden, meaning people start carrying their load bearing vests full of mags, with their SHTF rifle of choice, scavenging around the ruins of the city, shooting trespassers and burying them in the back yard.
This is all very cool to talk about, its fascinating in a Hollywood kind of way, and I love to discuss possible scenarios until 4 AM but it bothers me to think that people are actually losing perspective of what may occur, others scenarios that are much more likely than what people fantasize about.
I’m a moderator over at the survival forums at WarRifles.com, and I can tell you, If only I had a dime for every time I’ve read people writing stuff like “Now you can’t get away with it, but post-SHTF, I’ll put up “Trespassers will be Shot! “ signs and I’ll shoot trespassers as soon as I see them setting foot on my property.”
I simply have to ask: What on Earth makes you believe that you can get away with that?
The usual reply is that there will be no law or government to bring you to justice and judge you, every man for himself.
Now, I don’t want to urinate on anyone’s barbeque, but didn’t anyone consider that the government and police won't disappear as if by magic after TSHTF?
Instead of just disappearing as so many people hope, what if they just go corrupt and/or inefficient? Meaning, they wont be there to protect you, but they will be there to take you away if you shoot someone 100 yards away without a clear threat to your life, or even take away your guns, as seen after Hurricane Katrina.
My personal situation doesn’t apply to all possible scenarios, but it’s a text book economical collapse, pretty much typical and it applies to many type of medium-to-long term crises. From the great Depression to Russia after the fall of communism, there are many parallels.
I kept contact through a survival forum with a guy that moved to USA from Africa, and the parallelisms and similarities between my own country in South America and South Africa where more than I would have thought, specially concerning street smarts and crime. You can go into some of the worst parts of the country, where most people don’t have potable water or sewers and hook illegally to the main power line, and there are just a few business that are pretty much standard in most poor neighborhoods.
There’s the evangelist church or sometimes catholic church depending on where you are, some kind of school/community kitchen where most kids get they one and only meal, where maybe a small primitive emergency room operates nearby. There’s entertainment, meaning a Bingo or small casino and a brothel, an then you have the local commercial road or street, where a gray/black market operates in a warehouse or empty lot nearby, a Third World version of the upper neighborhood’s mall and shopping centers that can be found in the same country.
None of this goes on on the wealthier neighborhoods, but its pretty standard along the poorest parts of the country.
One thing that never ceases to amaze me, is that no matter how poor the neighborhood is, there’s always a “Lawyer” sign, hanging in a house near the market or commercial part of town, sometimes simply written by hand with paint.
No matter how Third Worldly the country gets, there’s always place for judges, cops, and lawyers. Those guys are like cockroaches after a nuke, they still survive.
Just think for a second, and consider the huge justice and government apparatus. Think about the millions of people that work there.
I’m not trying to preach to the choir here, just help people understand that in the huge spectrum of SHTF possibilities, from an isolated incident where to you just have to spend a day or two without water or power, to a full scale nuclear war, Armageddon-like earthquake or invasion from China, their favorite scenario where society goes down but governmental institutions, police force and justice system simply vanish in thin air, allowing you to step up and take charge of things in you area as you see fit.
Hope I provided a bit of food for thought. Take care, everyone.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

I read a good posting on the blog [by Bryan A.] that unfortunately made me chuckle. Those of us who are first responders (cops, firefighters, etc.) will confirm that the usual mantra of “three days” of preps is excessively optimistic. In fact, FEMA is quietly (or not so, depending on who you ask) telling folks a minimum of ten days. In a briefing last year by a major Puget Sound USAR director, he stated that in his opinion, 10 days is minimum. This is an actual Region 10 director, contrary to what the government says (who did respond to Hurricane Katrina). Three days for supplies to get to someplace is wholly dependant on the ability to get to the region. Far more days elapsed in Katrina affected regions due to the impassibility of so many roadways, especially into rural areas. In a briefing by a New Orleans, Louisiana police department SWAT officer, even their supplies were drowned by the toxic flooding, causing them to go well outside the area to acquire foodstuffs, fuel, etc. (and yes, causing some station houses to loot stores under the disgusting idea that it was for the greater good).

In the windstorm we experienced in the Seattle Metroplex area last winter, there were whole neighborhoods stranded and without out even power for anywhere from 3 to 14 days. Vehicles couldn’t even access some areas until power lines and trees could be cleaned up. One neighborhood in the city that I patrol in had power out for six days, and they were across the street from the city hall! They were the unlucky folks to be at the extreme end of a power grid.

When asked by folks, I warn them to plan for 15 days as a minimum. I get many shocked looks. A recent evaluation of the region showed that over 90% of folks didn’t even have the basic minimums (three days), as easily evidenced by the panic buys of the usual candles, matches, batteries, flashlights, fuel, etc. No wonder people seem shocked. Best Regards, - MP in Seattle

Monday, April 9, 2007

Dear Mr. Rawles,
Recently a fellow posted asking about firefighting options. If he wants advice about firefighting and resources to do so, he might want to look into joining his local Volunteer Fire Department (VFD).
Fire departments are the first ones (along with law enforcement) to be summoned to any natural or man-made disaster. For this reason, almost all fire departments (including the VFDs) prepare, trains themselves for disaster! 75% of the fire departments in the United States are manned by volunteers. All [of them] are always looking to add men to their rosters.
While one might think that all the local VFDs do is fight fires, they actually perform many services and have great training that would be quite useful for the average Joe.
One great advantage to being in the VFD is that you not only know what resources your municipality may have for dealing with a disaster, you know how they are going to use those resources and can make your preparations accordingly. Simply put, you know how the municipality is going to respond, so you can tailor your preparations to address at the personal level the areas where the municipalities preparations are lacking.
As far as training, pretty much everything is available: Basic First Aid, Advance First Aid, Certified First Responder, EMT-A, EMT-B, etc. All at no charge to the individual. Aside from first aid, there’s training on handling Weapons of Mass Destruction scenarios, Hazardous Materials, Mass Casualty Scenarios, Decontamination, etc. That’s in addition to firefighting training.
Many departments actually have retirement benefits even though it’s a volunteer gig; my department pays a $400 a month pension when I’m 62 if I stay active in the company for 20 years. May not sound like much, but that will pay my property and school taxes for the year! Also, after five years in the company I get a 10% break on my property taxes.
Since the departments are volunteer, a fellow can pick different jobs within the department. Not everyone is cut out physically to run into burning building or cut drunks out of car wrecks. Some folks are just drivers, some are Fire Police, others are scene support. There are different positions for different degrees of physical ability.
Another big plus is now that the Department of Homeland Security has implemented a standardized National Response Plan (NRP) and National Incident Management System (NIMS), there has been an impetus to standardize protocols between departments on things such as identification. In my company we receive county/state issued ID cards that have our name, photo, physical description and identify (in my case) the bearer as a Firefighter in the (name of town) Fire Department. On the back are the state seal and county seal. In the event of Bad Times, this ID can be a big help in getting around.
Also helpful in getting around can be the special license plates and authorized emergency vehicle lights. In a disaster when civilian traffic may be barred from the roads, such markings can be useful.
Since I’ve been in my company, I’ve learned the following things that can help my family and I in an emergency:
I know what the local municipalities disaster plans are. I know what resources are available and I know how long they will last. In short, I know how long before the refugees become a hungry mob.
At no cost to me I got credentialed as a Certified First Responder.
I learned all the 'ins and outs' of the county’s communication systems. I know where all the repeaters are, how much fuel they have and what frequencies all the local agencies use.
In the event of a smallpox or Avian Flu pandemic, I will be one of the first people vaccinated and will be assisting in the distribution of vaccine to others (meaning that I will make sure my family gets theirs in a timely manner!).
I persuaded my company to avail itself of Federal programs that allow for first responder agencies to purchase (for a nominal fee) surplus military equipment. Our company has pallets of MREs (ostensibly to feed the crews during wildfires), we have trailer mounted military generators (for when power to the municipality goes out and we need to power the local emergency shelter) and are currently looking at several other useful ‘dual-purpose’ items.
Probably the best thing is that I have learned how preparation pays off. It is one thing to prepare for social collapse; there are no rehearsals or try-outs. Society collapses or it doesn’t and you are prepared or you are not. In firefighting, I have learned first hand how being prepared before hand can affect things; I understand now that every night, without fail, my hat and keys go in the exact same place, that my boots, pants and shirt go in the exact same place, so that when I have 30 seconds to clear the building at zero dark thirty, I’m not frantically searching for my keys. My turnout gear is always painstakingly stowed in a very precise and careful manner so that when the call comes the 10 minutes I took to carefully stow it allows me to go from flammable to fire-proof in 60 seconds. My privately owned vehicle (POV) is parked with the radio off, electronics pre-set, etc. so that when I jump in to respond to a call and start the ignition, the tape player doesn’t come on blaring music that drowns out my fire pager leaving my in the dark about where I am headed. All little things to be sure, but tricks learned from repetitive experience.
How does this translate to preparing with my family? I have a much better understanding of how carefully thought out and meticulous planning can pay off in an emergency. - Regards, R.V.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

One of the recent phrases the media has used almost to exhaustion is, "dirty" bomb. A dirty bomb, or radiological dispersion device (RDD) is basically an explosive device with some element of radioactivity attached, or some other means of distributing radioactive particulate matter. When detonated, it releases radiation in the form of dust or debris, which is harmful mostly when inhaled, or introduced into the body by other means, (eyes, open cuts, etc.). The main terror use of such a weapon would be to contaminate emergency services workers responding to the initial blast. In the 1990s, Chechen rebels reportedly placed such a device in a park in Moscow, They used no explosive or other means to announce it's presence; they just let it sit there and expose passers by to radiation until it suited their needs to tell the Russians it was there. They could just as well have spread the material on the ground and let people track contamination wherever they went.
What if you live near a nuclear reactor/facility? First off, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission controls all nuclear facilities in the United States. The NRC strictly controls and governs safety and security of all nuclear facilities. They mandate a "layered" approach to security systems, with redundant perimeter controls, and a dedicated, heavily armed reactive force of trained professionals. The chances of a successful attack on a facility by terrorists is slim and none, and "slim" just left town. In addition, the safety systems are layered to provide backups to backups, especially the critical cooling systems. In the event of a release of radiation, the public would be notified, and given instructions to follow, such as whether to evacuate, or to stay in their homes.
Contrary to popular belief, a detonation/release of either type would not be a "death ray, heat wave" type situation. In both situations, the radiation would come in the form of particulate matter, and affect the population according to proximity and winds at the time. For example, in both situations, depending on the direction of the wind, you could be five feet away from the release and not be affected, or be a half-mile away and receive a dose. This is why winds are important, and are taken into account by emergency officials when evaluating nuclear events. This is why having both a "bug out" (which we will call, dramatically, an 'egress' plan), and a plan to stay at home are equally important. For example, have several routes planned for several different areas in at least two opposite directions. This takes into account wind direction, as well as other naturally occurring situations, (flood, fire, riots, etc.)
I'm sure some of us remember the "duck and cover" days (no, not me, I'm not that old), of the evil Soviet empire, launching missiles at our cities, envisioning Hiroshima-like mushroom clouds. There is an important lesson in the philosophy of those times, be prepared. Have a plan to deal with emergencies at home, while keeping yourself and your family safe, and one to leave your home, and go to a safe area.
Here, we'll discuss two strategies, the egress plan, and the stay at home plan.
Egress or "Bug Out" Plan.
In the event of a radiological release due to an incident at a nuclear facility or a terror detonation of a RDD type device. (This plan will also apply to natural disasters, rioting or other scenarios). Your best option may be to evacuate, leaving your home or workplace for a safer area as prompted by authorities. You'll notice I mentioned home and workplace. What would you do if you and your spouse are at work and the kids are at school? Do you have the means to contact them or retrieve them? What kind of emergency procedures do the schools have in place? Find out. You need to have contact numbers and be sure that everyone knows the plan. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you are leaving, everyone around you also has the same idea. This is why evacuation is to only be carried out if danger is imminent, and planning of at least two different routes to your safe area is critical. Picture rush hour with a "chicken little the sky is falling" mentality, that's what roads exiting a disaster area could resemble. A good idea is to have at least one of your routes on secondary roads, staying away from highways, as they could be generally congested. Your vehicle is critical. Keep it maintained. Think of your car as you would your duty weapon if you were a police officer. Take care of it, and it will take care of you. This means a spare tire, keeping gas in your tank and changing the oil, as well as regular maintenance.