There is so much to learn from hurricanes because each one reveals how truly thin the veneer of civilization is. Haven’t you noticed that even “Hurricane Alley” residents can always be seen in the hours before a storm hits, scratching in line for long-gone store batteries, water, milk, bread, and other needs?
Or the fist-fights in Lowes and Home Depot parking lots as Hurricane Alley residents who should know better scrap over the last pieces of plywood? And they do so even as they should be on the road!
Wasting time in a mounting crisis because you haven’t prepared is not where you EVER want to be!
A Microcosm of What Could Happen
Here’s our point: With economic collapse and many other “black swan” events looming, we can draw lessons from perfectly normal pre-hurricane scrambling by imagining this kind of mess on a wider scale – perhaps even nationally.
People without power for eight days or more. Bare shelves at the local grocery store. Widespread flooding up the East Coast and throughout New England. Hurricanes are a true disaster for thousands – if not tens of thousands – of individuals.
But even if you aren’t in the path of death and destruction, savvy, self-reliant individuals like you and me can still take away some valuable lessons from this event…
This type of storm can plunge hundreds of thousands into crisis mode when they could have weathered the storm much more easily with some basic precautions.
Irene: The Aftermath
We’ll use Hurricane Irene as an example. In some areas, eight days after Irene made landfall, people were still making do without power. Floods drove families from their homes, and falling trees, car accidents, and floodwaters killed several dozen people.
Damages from the hurricane and subsequent flooding were initially expected to come in between $2 and $7 billion. For many people, after a storm of this size, it may take years to rebuild their lives. And, in many cases, these same people added to their own suffering by not being prepared.
Even With a Warning,
People Don’t Know How to Prepare
Irene wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been, but even so, it caught plenty of people back on their heels, unsure what to do. This concerns us because a hurricane is one of those things you can see coming. The big problem that Irene revealed is that even with a warning, people simply don’t know how to prepare.
They descend on the grocery stores, buy up anything and everything they can get their hands on whether it’s useful or not, and then run home with the hope that stocking up will somehow miraculously make them ready to handle the coming storm.
It doesn’t. These types of people fall short when comes to preparation in a number of critical ways.
1. They don’t plan: Stocking up does not equal a plan. If you want to be prepared, you need to have a plan for what might happen. That means you need to know what it will take to shelter-in-place during different kinds of disruptions from bad storms to riots to terrorist attacks. What will you do for light, heat or air conditioning, food, water, medical emergencies, and news? If you don’t know, then you don’t really have a plan.
Having a plan also means knowing when you’ll hit the road for a safer place. What circumstances will drive you from your home? Where will you go? How will you get there? Do you have an alternate route if the roads you need are closed? How will you know whether or not the roads are closed? How will you communicate with the people you intend to travel with if they don’t all live with you?
Again, if you don’t know the answers to these questions, you don’t really have a plan. Unfortunately, millions of people have no idea what to do in an emergency, and they end up adding to the danger in the aftermath of a disaster or attack. So, ask yourself: Do you have a plan?
2. They don’t have basic skills: If you run out and buy first-aid supplies, but have no idea how to stop bleeding and safely clean a wound or how to immobilize a sprained or broken limb, then those first-aid supplies don’t make you prepared. You need to take a first-aid class or at the very least read a book on basic first-aid skills.
If you drop hundreds of dollars on a generator, but have no idea how to fire it up or maintain it, then you’re not really prepared to deal with a power outage. You have the tools but not the know-how.
3. They don’t take initiative: One of the serious downfalls of an over-sized government is that people think they can wait around for someone in authority to come to their aid. In an emergency like Irene, many simply head to emergency centers in hopes that someone will take care of them. Waiting for someone to take care of things for you is about the worst thing you can do! In fact, it’s a great way to get yourself injured or killed. But, that’s what millions of people do.
So, How Can You Be Different?
Nobody wants to be the one who is totally unprepared. Nobody wants to depend on a government shelter for food and security after a disaster or an attack. Nobody wants to cower in uncertainty, waiting for an authority to issue orders about what to do. At least, that’s what we hope. But millions end up being those people who are dependent, uncertain, and scared after a disaster, completely unsure of how to take care of themselves.
That does not have to be you! You can commit to doing three things differently that will help you be ready for anything.
First, make a real plan. Don’t just think about what you might do. Sit down and list out several possible scenarios, both likely and unlikely. Discuss each with your family and make a list of supplies you’d need to survive in comfort. Talk about the different demands various disasters would present, and how you can meet them. Determine where you’ll rendezvous in a disaster if you’re cut off from your home. Decide when a disaster merits leaving your home for a safer place. Make a list of what you’d take with you under those circumstances. A preparedness plan should involve everyone in your household, and each person should understand what’s expected.
If you don’t involve everyone in the planning stages, then even if you’re not panicked during a disaster, those you care about will be, and you’ll be pretty close to square one when it comes to executing your plan.
Second, practice! Any plan you make that involves alternate ways of cooking or using the latrine or heating your home is a plan that you should practice. Schedule a disaster-simulation weekend, and see how well you and your family do without power or running water, using the supplies you have on hand and the plan you’ve put together. This is important for two reasons. You discover what’s missing from your supplies or plan. And, you’ll learn to use the things that your life (or at the very least your comfort) may depend on in a real emergency.
Third, and most importantly, shun the idea that someone’s coming to take care of you. Sure, in the event of an emergency, government officials may show up, but you’re gambling with your life if you expect it. Plus, just because the government shows up, doesn’t mean they’ll be helpful! How many times have you seen a “government solution” that does more harm than good? Too many times to count is our answer.
You and your neighbors can start cleaning up the moment a major event happens. As soon as a hurricane passes, you can start clearing debris and taking care of the injured. As soon as a bridge collapses, you can put out flares to warn others of the danger. As soon as a terrorist attack concludes, you can find ways to help. You might not be able to stop what’s coming, but you don’t have to be a helpless victim in the aftermath.