Surviving Disaster – Why the need?
I found that I was woefully unprepared for surviving disaster and for the coming economic collapse after reading Crash Proof by Peter Schiff. I knew that I was not ready to provide for my family despite having a job making good money, some savings in the bank and gold in a safe place. I had always prided myself on being able to provide for my family but, suddenly, that took on a new meaning. I felt that there were many parents like me out there and I thought I could help by documenting my journey to prepare for surviving disaster when the SHTF.
It was July 2011 and Hurricane Irene was barreling up the east coast. New Jersey (where we call home) was expecting heavy flooding and high winds. Power outages from downed lines and flooding were expected across the state.
My first thought was of my mom as her home is in a fairly low lying part of New Jersey. In fact, her sump pump runs like crazy just when it rains normally. She’s had a few instances of flooding in the basement which is not ideal as the basement is finished. While a different level of surviving disaster, I thought that a power outage combined with heavy rains would likely mean a flooded basement or worse, a flooded first floor.
My plan was to get a portable generator and bring it to her in the event of a power outage. It was 4 days before the storm was expected to hit and I headed to Home Depot. Much to my surprise, they were sold out of any kind of portable generators. A lot of folks had the same idea as I for surviving disaster and had been there early in the morning to get theirs. I felt a bit foolish – like I should have prepared sooner. I wasn’t necessarily worried about my home as we had never had any water in our basement during previous storms. However, with the run on generators, I began thinking having one might not be a bad idea. I left Home Depot and headed to Lowes. Same situation. They were sold out early in the morning and it was unknown when they would have more coming.
I headed back home and decided to call around a bit to see if other stores in the area had generators. My surprise and frustration grew with every phone call. None in stock, not sure when they would get another shipment. It got to the point where I went to stores and asked certain staff members if they had heard anything. Finally, I got a tip that a truck was coming in 2 days from now and I should be there early. So, along with 8 other stressed out individuals, I stood outside Home Depot at 5am waiting for the chance to buy a generator that may or may not arrive.
Luckily, I was able to buy not one, but two generators for surviving disaster – one for my mom’s and one for my home. Good thing too because, as it turned out, we lost power for 4 days but my mom never did. We were able to keep the lights and refrigerator on at our home as well as our neighbors’ home. Fortunate was the word that came to mind.
Sign Of Things To Come?
Was this a story of surviving disaster? Not really. This power outage was a minor inconvenience and the fact that it happened in the summer meant we didn’t have heat to worry about. While it could have been a lot worse, it was an eye-opener for me.
What would have happened if it were winter? What if it was a natural disaster and supply lines were impacted? What if I wasn’t able to buy gas for my generator? What if the entire state had lost power?
On the surface you read those “what ifs” and say, it wouldn’t be that bad. However, let’s assume a natural disaster struck where roads and the power grid were so heavily damaged that banking, trucking and businesses were severely impacted. Let’s take one at a time.
Most grocery stores have 2 days worth of food in them and rely on trucks to deliver after that.
Losing refrigeration at grocery stores would cause food to spoil leaving only the non-refrigerated items.
If gas and electric were impacted, how would you heat/cook your food if you did have it?
If you were prepared enough to have a generator, you would need to get gas to keep it running.
Even if stations managed to avoid damage, they also rely on trucks to refill every few days.
How would you get to work each day with limits on gas?
Since we rely on credit/debit cards so much, lack of power would impact your ability to purchase needed items when surviving disaster.
Stores (those open) would begin to accept cash only – many folks don’t keep too much cash in the house.
Even if you were able to get to and from work, how would they pay you or how would you get it as cash?
As you can see, things could get a bit more than inconvenient fairly quickly. In addition, repair times for the power grid, roads and gas lines would be quite lengthy. Surviving disaster is not only prepping for catastrophic events, but you also will need to prepare for long term delays or inconveniences.
History Tells Us
It could be more than an inconvenience for us. Many great empires have fallen in our time on this earth. Obviously, the Roman Empire fell with the theories on the cause of the fall still in debate. The once powerful Soviet Union fell in the 1980′s. And the most recent has been the collapse in Argentina due to corrupt government. The Argentinian collapse has been well documented by Fernando ‘Ferfal’ Aguirre (and fellow blogger) who lived through this collapse and is an expert, in my opinion, on surviving disaster.
You may say “The United States is a superpower, with one of the largest economies. How could that happen here?” Well, I ask you what makes the United States so different from the “superpowers” above?
Remember, a minor power outage is one thing, a financial collapse and subsequent social unrest is another. Surviving disaster takes on a whole new meaning in that SHTF scenario.
Upper/Middle Class Immunity?
So, I began thinking “Hey, I could be scrambling to provide for my family in a crisis like this.” I always thought of providing for my family as making enough money for them to live comfortably. However, despite our assets in the bank/investment firms, I found myself questioning how I would do that in the scenario I painted above.
What good is a bunch of money/stocks in banks and investment companies if you cannot access it when things get tough?
Many of us in suburbia that are doing well tend to think HAVING money is the same as having ACCESS to money. You may be thinking “I can get money out from the banks in other branches in other states.” While that may be true, do you think others will be doing the same? Banks don’t have unlimited piles of cash. In fact, US banks are required to keep only 3% in cash reserves on hand.
Nature of Successful People
So, what advantage does an upper/middle class family have in this type of scenario. Well, it relies on the traits that most upper/middle class families relied on to get to that level of success. PLANNING.
Going to college was planning for a well paid job.
Investing and saving a portion of your income is planning for kids or retirement.
Purchasing a home in a safe area with good schools is planning for a good education for your kids and increasing home values.
Buying life insurance is planning for taking care of your family in the event of your death.
The common theme there? Planning. We pride ourselves on being able to plan for everything. So, why wouldn’t we plan for surviving disaster when things get tough and everyone else is scrambling?
We buy extended warranties for big ticket items, we buy life insurance just in case, why wouldn’t prepare for something as life changing as an economic collapse?
Ben Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”. With surviving disaster, failing to prepare is fatal.
Could It Be Worse?
Remember, the scenario we painted above is only one example. We are in the midst of an economic crisis the likes our world has ever seen. Massive unemployment, plummeting home values, huge inflation, protesting citizens, war (reword this) and a failing financial system has everyone on edge. You could argue that the US is about to see what the Soviet Union or Argentina experienced some time back. Are you ready for a run on the banks?
OK, What Now?
This is not designed to scare you. For me, it showed me a huge hole in my plan for providing for my family. It spurred me to action and I urge you to do the same.
The good thing is you’ve taken the first step by finishing this article. This means you at least see the potential hazard coming. So what now?
Take The Advantage
As I mentioned above, the upper/middle class have a distinct advantage as they have the means to prepare for surviving disaster. Many folks are preparing for a collapse and they have to do it gradually and, in some cases, have to be very creative.
Having access to money now allows you to prepare much faster than others as their savings cycle is shorter. For example, if someone with limited means wants to get a portable generator (a must by the way), they must save until they can afford it. Obviously, someone with the means can get one quickly. It is simply about redirecting your investments. Instead of sitting in a savings account in a bank, you may decide to purchase gold or silver coins or keep cash in the house.
You can start planning for surviving disaster by continuing to read this site and educate yourself on steps you can take. I’d suggest beginning with our Getting Started guide. I’d also encourage you to check out my SHTF Plan updates. You can become an extreme prepper, but you may find that could be a bit over the top for surviving disaster.
Start with small steps and you’ll prepare your family for surviving disaster. Don’t prepare to fail.
If you have any questions or suggestions for surviving disaster, feel free to contact me. Remember, everyone has their stories for surviving disaster and yours may be different from others.