Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No, You are Not Ready for an Apocolypse - or a Derecho

Five days after losing power.  No trucks. No help.  Just a road closure
(took them four days to get the sign and cones put up).
I've lived through a few dozen hurricanes - including a few rides through the eye.  I've seen a few waterspouts and tornadoes, and a few big snowstorms (say, over 30" in one week).   Yet, last month's derecho, a violent thunderstorm system that swept from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean in the course of several hours, rendering 8 million people without electricity, caught everyone unprepared.   No NWS warnings.  No forecasts. Nothing.

Tough couple of days. Well, six days, and then I gave up and left.

On the first night back in my house with electricity in about two weeks, I did a few pretty predictable things:
1. Adjusted the AC (it was still 104 degrees outside with 86% humidity, and had been 91 in the house until power was restored, and a friend stopped by and programmed the AC down to 85 for us)
2. Plugged the refrigerators back in.
3. Put several pitchers of water in the refrigerator - HOORAY ICE COLD WATER!
4. Went to the store and bought lots of high quality fresh meat and fresh fruit.
5. Watched the Yankees vs. Red Sox in HD while DVR'ing the same game. Then watched the highlights on DVR.
6. Slept in the air conditioning.

And not to go all "this fragile web called life" on you, but it struck me through this period that we are all pretty vulnerable.  Yeah, I know, you've got a week's worth of food, and well water, and a generator, and a garden, and a handgun and 2,000 rounds.  So what?  What happens to all of that when The Crazies (generally defined), or the government come rolling up in one of these?

Shoot on, Tex! Let me know how that works out, as 20 armed, hungry people pile on out of there, and into your house.  Hope that Glock doesn't jam (hint: it will)!

In all seriousness, though, the biggest and most immediate equalizer is the loss of power and fuel.  Now that generators are small and cheap (and dirt bikes and ATVs abound nationwide), we can all (or, most of us) stay relatively powered up for a while.  Until guess what disappears next? Gasoline supplies.  Next? Clean water.    But all that don't matter.  You got 4-wheel drive and can go as far as you need to.  Hmm. Except for all the downed trees and abandoned cars on the roads.

Now, you can think you're going to go all First Blood on any intruders, but let me ask, do you have a wall? A moat? Is your home on a defendable mountaintop, ridge, peninsula, or island?  Sure, maybe you can shoot the first 15 intruders.  Or paint yourself tree color and stab them with a giant knife.
It's embarrassing that this even happened in a movie.

What about the next 1500 hungry, armed bandits (or soldiers)? If you're really paying attention to this, you're realizing that your odds are looking pretty bleak right now.   The sad fact is, for those of us (99.9% of us) living on less than about 40-60 acres of defendable (or at least fenced) land, and the 99% of us who have significantly less than a full year's supply of canned goods on-hand, your best odds in a natural, human, or zombie apocalypse are to:
  • lay low!!!
  • have ample food on-hand
  • have ample water on-hand
  • be able to power up a generator, somehow, at least part of the time
  • have access to antibiotics
  • make good decisions about food and water usage 
  • do not wander off!
  • pray that order will be restored in 10 or 15 days, before other folks start coming after your stuff.
It's a tough world out there, and you're probably less prepared for it than you truly think. Have a real emergency plan in place and get some supplies together.  See you on the other side - and crank down the AC while we still have it!


Steve Zakur said...

And don't forget the top three rules for a zombie apocalypse:

1) Cardio
2) The Double Tap
3) Beware of bathrooms

Kirk Mantay said...

Sadly, Steve, the Zombieland rules are some of the most useful survival tips published in years, and the whole movie's a joke.

"Limber Up." "Travel light." "find a kick ass partner." "Avoid strip clubs."

Steve Kline said...

And as for that generator you think you can rely on when the going gets tough? Since it has probably been sitting in the shed with a tank full of gas (or rather, ethanol)since the last big weather event, it probably won't even start when you'll need it. Dang zombies put water in my fuel and fouled my carb!

Kirk Mantay said...

Well, exactly, Steve. In the case of hurricanes, you have DAYS to take the old gas to the haz mat recycling center, fill the tank up again, and test-run your generator.

Not so, with some of these other natural (and human) disasters. Surprise!

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