There has been some talk among government agencies, from FEMA to local city councils, regarding the possibilities of disaster, the preparations they think you should make, and what you can expect of them during (and in the aftermath of) a disaster. Hurricane Katrina taught us all valuable lessons about preparedness. Many of us also see looming financial disaster on the horizon. The coming Troubles may make Katrina seem mild and temporary in comparison. As our economy continues to implode, we may see it cause, and exacerbate, disasters. Our infrastructure is crumbling. Our power grid especially is in an inadequate and dilapidated state. Further, cities and counties are experiencing a shrinking tax base and depleted coffers. They are cutting their spending or increasing their borrowing, or both, to continue operating. With this, their ability to prepare for, and react to, a disaster is sure to suffer. Response times are sure to lengthen as resources stretch to the limit. Already municipalities are cutting police and EMS budgets. This is not Chicken Little. This is the way it is- reality. There are preparations that you should make now, physically, mentally, and spiritually, to cultivate means for the individual or family to survive, and perhaps comfortably weather, calamity.
First, acknowledge the reality and gravity of the situation. Examine your mindset and face the facts. Do not wait for someone to rescue you. Do not expect help soon in the wake of an emergency. Make appropriate preparations now, and when disaster strikes, act immediately. Do not sit around expecting someone else to feed you, to get you to a safe place, to keep you warm, treat your injuries, and to protect you from evildoers. They who do are naive and self-deceptive, and may not live through the experience. Worse, FEMA, the Red Cross, and most other do-gooders for that matter, are about control. They want to control you; and if you find yourself in a FEMA or Red Cross shelter, their control is what you will experience. They will disarm you and leave you at the mercy of the other “refugees”, for good or ill. Remember the debacle that was the Super Dome (the “murder dome”). Take significant steps to ensure that your family is never within their influence. Seek to be self-reliant, especially during and in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Make sure you and the members of your party have a plan, and the resources necessary to implement it.
Many so-called authorities on the issue, including governments, the Red Cross, and church groups recommend that individuals build “seventy-two hour” kits, which contain supplies to ostensibly last one about three days. Their argument is that it will take three days at most for government aid to relieve disaster victims. Do not believe it. It is false hope, to assuage the masses. Now, please understand, I am not opposed to having a three-day bag, “go” bag, “bug-out” bag, “Get-out-of-Dodge” bag, or whatever you choose to call it. It is not the bag and its contents that represent the deceit, but its name, the notion that one should assume that help is three days away. The unthinking masses that have had little enough sense to put such bags together may be in for a shock if there is no help by the end of the seventy-third hour. To that end, I recommend that people not refer to these bags by that name. It promotes an improper mindset, and cultivates fertile ground for losing hope at the end of those three days. It is better to conclude now that no one cares. The sooner that one understands that the government or the Red Cross might not come to his rescue, the sooner that he will overcome his denial. Then he can begin making his situation better. A defiantly self-reliant attitude, coupled with a sure knowledge of survival, often separates the people that make it through from they that do not. Get it in your head that you are a survivor.
I am not advocating a “Lone Wolf” approach to preparedness. It is too difficult to go it alone for most people. A fit solitary man, with adequate resources, could probably make a go of surviving a short-term disaster. There were stories of single men walking out of New Orleans and the surrounding areas in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. A man and wife with small children, however, would have obvious complications. Similarly, under conditions in which evacuation is not necessary or required, it is more difficult for one person to secure property, tend gardens, watch for looters, etc. The larger a person’s circle of trust is, the stronger his position. Choose friends carefully, because disasters, like wealth, do not change character, but reveal it. A mutual aid society, built after the structure of a neighborhood watch group would be a great benefit to prepared individuals and families in urban and suburban settings. Be careful regarding whom you reveal your preparations. An unscrupulous individual would certainly work to take advantage of your resources in these times.
One can easily make these preparations without drastically altering his lifestyle. Developing the proper attitude is the first step. Taking a step back and evaluating mindset and friendships is an important step in preparing for disaster, either natural or man-made. Planning and decisive action is often the difference between survival and not. Honestly evaluate your situation, consider ways to prepare independently, without the aid of the government or charitable organizations. Upcoming entries will address assessing risk, formulating and plan, acquiring resources, and cultivating productive relationships with like-minded individuals. With some small effort and prior planning, one can maintain a comfortable life even after many disasters.