*Originally Posted Feb 28th, 2009
The narrative is that “there are troubles ahead, but ‘just right’ troubles, the kind survivalists have the means to confront … imagined troubles always match the means at hand — or what is for sale to solve the problem.
Richard Mitchell Jr., professor emeritus at Oregon State University and author of “Dancing at Armageddon: Survivalism and Chaos in Modern Times.”
Two people concerned about risks in life and active in preparedness efforts for their families are Bob and Gary.
Bob has created a food storage room. It has racks stocked with canned food, shelves with carefully stored bulk grains, sugar, etc he and his family needs for survival. He has planned and worked this out over a long time and has built up a 6 month supply of food. He has 30 and 55 gallon drums of water that store enough to supply drinking and hygiene water 6 months as well. Bob carefully manages his inventory and makes sure the family eats the food regularly so that nothing expires and goes to waste.
Gary, who is also very concerned about preparedness and risks, did some research. Gary thought through what were the best and appropriate choices for his family. Gary decided to buy 6 months worth of freeze dried food which amounted to two pallets he stored in his house. He decided not to buy drums for water but instead purchased and stored five 100 gallon pillow tanks and a 5 gallon collapsible container. Gary also had a water purification filter and a rainwater collector. He had an attachment for downspout collection of water.
A crisis occurred (what kind does not matter if you are prepared for anything) that caused both Bob and Gary to be thankful they had prepared. Bob continued using food from his storage. Gary started to use his food reserve when food supply became intermittent. Both were able to help family, friends, and neighbors who were not prepared at the times when they were in dire need.
Then power from utilities started to become intermittent and fuel was scarce. Bob and Gary both had solar ovens they used to cook and heat small amounts water and store in insulated containers. However Bob and his family were challenged because at night and cloudy days the hot water they stored could not cook the food in their reserve. They began to grow worried. Gary and his family only really needed the hot water to make their freeze dried food hot, a real morale booster.
Due to the stress of shortages, social order was starting to destabilize. As the risk of staying where they were grew higher both Bob and Gary thought about their options. Fortunately both had remote cottages several hours drive away where they had long term relationships with other cottagers that would be a safer place to be.
Unfortunately as is the case in a prolonged crisis, events become unpredictable. One day it became urgent to leave their locations for their cottages immediately. Within an hour the highway would be jammed with drivers in a state of desperation, highly stressed out and emotionally charged.
Bob needed to pack as much food and water in the family van in next 30 minutes. Bob and his wife had packed clothes and essentials for the kids in case they had to leave quickly, so that was in the van in minutes. However Bob’s food reserve of canned food was large, heavy, bulky. Worse water weighs 8.3 lbs per gallon so Bob’s filled 55 gallon drums weighed 458 lbs each. Bob had no idea what to do in this short time. He decided to drain one of his tanks but there was no easy way to do this and avoid electrocution. So he shut the power off and dumped the water out on the floor ruining some grain, after removing enough with a hand pump to tip the tank over. This still took 40 minutes and when he put the empty drum in his van it took up too much room. All he could do was take his 5 gallon collapsible tank and fill it. Meanwhile Bob’s wife was loading cans of food in the in the van but was unable to choose a balance of food they needed. She hurt her back trying to lift bulk bags of wheat and was now writhing in pain. In the end they were only able to get effectively 3 weeks worth of food in the van but drove off because they had no other choice, leaving 4 months worth of food behind. Bob also did have a weeks worth of MRE which hopefully will buy them enough time to figure out how to survive at their cottage.
When Gary realized he only had 30 minutes he knew exactly what he and his family had to do. They had also packed an emergency clothes and supplies bag to leave quickly. Since the boxes of freeze dried food weighed little, with 98% of the water in the food removed, Gary was able to cart out his remaining 5 months supply on a dolly in 15 minutes. There was just enough room in the Van for this much food. More importantly his wife had already brought out an empty 100 gallon pillow tank and put it on the floor of the van (2 seats removed) and filled it. Gary had put the food, solar oven, rain water equipment, empty pillow tanks, and emergency supplies on top of the filled pillow tank and next to it.
25 minutes later Gary and his family were in the Van on the road to their cottage.
Flexibility and mobility are important to preparedness.