…and I’m paying attention. I do not live where we have hurricanes, tornadoes, or flooding. Our most common natural disasters are winter storms, wild fires and the ever looming possibility of an earthquake. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t something to learn from the current disasters. Man made or natural, people and their pre and post disaster behaviors are one of the big factors that I watch. Panic buying a day or two before hand, evacuation issues, and then how they deal with the after effects of clean water, extended power outages, food, gasoline, medical, and other social scarcities… If nothing else, seeing, hearing, and reading these reports give us a good reminder to get our own stuff back up to snuff cause if you’re anything like me, throughout the year everything gets used, not put back exactly right, there’s a pile of stuff I’ll get to later, things I tell myself to remember to fix…
“Sheep only have two speeds: graze and stampede.”
Here is one pretty good report from a guy in Houston that I found. I’m going to bold a few points which I think are usually overlooked.
I am less than a mile from one of the media’s favorite flood scenes, but am unaffected.
My AAR as follows, but still in progress:
– don’t underestimate effort to monitor news and communicate to friends/neighbors, etc… this is also the primo way to get news cause the news stations suck at giving real info
– there is something other than a bugout bag and a get home bag — it is a small support bag i can carry with me that has just basic 10 items, knife, fire, phone, p cord, multitool, cash.
– 36 hours before the storm – stores are devoid of bread, water, milk, canned goods, cereal…and fruit. Plenty of broccoli, onions and other veggies including potatoes. All I did was go in and take pictures, bought some ice cream and fresh food to top up
– during the storm – almost the calmest part of the situation for me as we didn’t get hit bad. Not flooded and plenty of power/internet. Check you local risk maps when buying a place to understand your wind and flood risk.
– after the storm – every major highway closed, many key roads closed. If you needed to get somewhere, you had better know your way around and pick through side streets.
– I get a message from a friend “SWIMMING AWAY FROM THE HOUSE, LOST EVERYTHING” – now I can’t contact him
– after 5 days of storms – everything is still closed, people wandering around checking groceries and pharmacies, a rare convenience store open here and there. Some bars are still open.
– today I hear about sporadic looting events from friends around the city. Listening to online digital scanner, sounds like emergency services vastly overwhelmed – don’t depend on them.
– Levee breaks – even more flooding. Tough decision to let water downstream and flood people there or hold it….moot point now.
– tonight is our first curfew night. I spent some time pre positioning firearms, flashlights and fire extinguishers just in case….everything is locked down and alarmed.
– so far, we have nearly 10,000 in shelters in the city of houston and need space for another 10,000. It will be interesting to see how that plays out over time.
– the overall mood has been very respectful by everyone I have come in contact with…trading info about the storm, areas of damage, where have you tried to get supplies, etc…
– there is a sense of desperation/slight panic in some. Took a drive to check out my AO, stopped by the grocery…there was a young man there with a three year old….looking to get milk…the place was closed and he had this look of concern that is hard to describe. I think going to groceries and pharmacies might turn into a dangerous trip if this continues.
– saw “cash only” signs in a couple convenience stores.
My biggest surprise was how quickly supplies disappeared from the shelves within hours of the announcement… If you do not stock up and prepare well in advance, you are going to be one seriously hurting puppy.
I’m guessing Thursday or Friday I will need to dip into my gasoline reserves, other than that I could sure use a delivery pizza.
UPDATE: One week after the event:
– i have noticed a lot of hotels with “NO VACANCY” signs – even the formerly hourly ones
– Rental cars are getting scarce
– Car repair services seem a lot busier than normal
– The public storage was jammed like I’ve never seen it – the lady who runs the place says they have no more spaces
– The “green grocery stores” like Whole Foods were the first to close their doors and last to open… undependable.
– COSTCO did one hell of a job restocking quickly, providing much needed supplies like batteries, cleaning supplies and such. They had employees from other stores which had been flooded and these folks came to the open stores in Houston to work to help people….I have been a customer for years but now I am for life…they really came through. I saw the manager working with folks who were buying bulk supplies for relief efforts and handling it smoothly. AWESOME job.
– After five or six days, eating prep foods gets old, the milk and bread runs out and you’ve been couped up like a hibernating bear.. Some friends were getting “cabin fever” by the time it was all over. Keep busy, stay focused and take breaks away from the news.
– Constant vigilance creates a kind of burnout and coupled with a few sleepless nights I can see how the brain starts to suggest stupid ideas. If my house had caught on fire or a tree fell on it, I can envision degraded thought processes being a killer.
– Supposedly the airport is opening up…hope so, my wife is on an inbound flight.
– In retrospect, having an alarm system was helpful, but more as a perimeter detection system than a summoner of emergency services…they could not have gotten to me if they wanted to…too busy with real rescue.
– The curfew has been widely obeyed by most. I called police station and told them what I needed to go out and get my wife at the airport…they said go ahead and do it, just be prepared to explain to the officer if you get pulled over…so evidently officer discretion is very much in effect.
– Getting around was dicey….with all the roads flooded, it often required a very circuitous route to get from A to B….during something like this, be prepared to travel 3 times the distance and 3 times the elapsed time to get to your destination.
– Based on how difficult travel was and that you never know who you might meet at the empty parking lot of the closed grocery store (there were only a few shady ones)…. I developed a “travel bag” that included water, a backup gun with extra ammo, extra ammo for my carry, cash, a few small tools, a small hygiene kit, a small IFAK, some batteries, Hatch resistor gloves, a map of the city, flashlight, multi-tool, some Pcord, some candy, a few other minor items, a bottle of water. The goal of the bag is more operational support while you’re out and about locally, not sustainment. Focus on fast, light movement, defense and very basic support. If my wife was here during the event, I would have added comms.
I am guessing that the price of the following products will go and stay high for a while: gas, furniture, food, clothing, apartments, cars/trucks, construction supplies & tools, insurance.
I am wondering if we are going to have some kind of spike in health/hygiene oriented illnesses due to mold, sewage, spoiled food, wearing your clothes for too long, stress, etc…
Have not heard any updates on looting, and have not seen any national guard in my area. Power is stable, internet is experiencing degradation but is acceptable.
– Local authorities and FEMA are already saying “we will be here for years” to repair the damage.
This is what a real non-hollywood, not prepper dream disaster looks like. I think the tide has finally started to turn for most of the people who got into the survival state of mind around the mid-2000s. Its not all hoarding the best deals from Sportsmans Guide and Cheaper than Dirt catalogs, its beginning to see the real world useful items and hopefully, mindset. Not nearly enough of us use and are extremely familiar with everything that we do have, and that is not great but it is understandable. Being adaptable and knowing when you need to slow down, thin, read directions, etc is as important as having all that gas in metal cans and no way to safely transfer it into your generator. Being able to hook that gen set up to your well pump is probably one of those things you shouldn’t guess at being able to do right when the time comes by the way.
Stay safe. Stay vigilant and stay learning.