*Hurricane Katrina - A Wake Up Call*
I just returned home after passing over the Martin Luther King Bridge in my AO. The significance of this is that the bridge goes over Interstate 10 and the interstate is bumper to bumper with cars fleeing from New Orleans and the wrath of hurricane Katrina. My AO is normally located four hours east of New Orleans. These people have been on the road since 8:00 a.m. It is now 9:00 p.m. They are tired, stressed, depressed, and desperate and are in my town. A thin veneer of civility stands between them, me and my family. As I passed over the bridge, I prayed for each of them and all that they were facing. I then began to reflect on my own life and whether or not I was really prepared to face a similar situation. Am I really prepared? Am I in good health? Would I really make it to that retreat? Would I be a refugee wandering aimlessly on a crowned interstate in the middle of the night? It is time to answer some hard questions.
Ever since I read Bluster's classic article "Too Fat To Run", I have not been able to ignore the fact that, while I have plenty of guns, gadgets and goodies, I do not really have the essential elements in place to carry out an effective survivalist response in the event of a real threat. In short, I have let myself and my preps fall into a state of disarray. Instead, I sit here in front of this computer, day after day, pretending that all is well and I am prepared. It is time to take a realistic look at where I really am versus where I need to be.
I have Crohn's Disease. I have insurance. Nevertheless, I am not under treatment at this time for the disease. Why the heck not? I erroneously reasoned that I needed to figure out how to deal with the disease without medical intervention because someday I might not have insurance. That is stupid. What I really need to be doing is taking advantage of my insurance to have the best care possible so that in the event of a SHTF scenario or loss of insurance, I will be healthy and have medicine stockpiled.
Solution - I'm calling my doctor today to make an appointment. Whatever medicine he gives me, I'll take it and stockpile extra. I will take the Remicade treatments on schedule even if I have to drive to Houston. Period. End of story.
I am really out of shape. I weigh 195 when I should weigh 170. I reasoned that a survivalist should carry around a little extra weight in the event that he cannot find food. Yet, I am taking blood pressure medicine for high blood pressure and get winded when out in the heat for more than 45 minutes (Toprol will do that). Guys, I am only 36.. I know how much better I felt when I lost from 230 to 195. Why not lose the rest of the weight? I got down on the floor yesterday and was able to squeeze out 20 pushups, 10 situps and 10 pull ups. How many can you do right now? Iíll be blunt. My belly sticks out farther than my dickey do.
I am fat. If your belly does the same thing, you are fat too. Period. It is one thing for me to parade around in my air conditioned house with my weapon and gear congratulating yourself on how formidable I look. But can I march for 10 miles through the woods in the middle of summer with all that stuff? No, I can't. If you can't either, it's time to do something about it.
Solution - Lose the weight. Do as many push ups, sit ups and pull ups as I can each day with the goal of doing at least one more of each per day. I will first walk, then run for an hour per day with the goal of making 3 miles in one hour and then decreasing the time it takes to complete the three miles. I will become fit.
Food ,Water, Medicine and Gasoline
At one time, I felt pretty good about these preps. I several cupboards full of canned goods, meal replacement drinks and mixes, vitamins. I also had gallons of water stashed throughout the house. I had plenty of antibiotics, Vicodin and other essential meds. Where is all that stuff now? I've either consumed it, or it is borderline passed its shelf life. I fell for the typical survivalist trap that I've got food, water and meds covered. I am prepared. Well, you are never prepared with respect to these CONSUMABLES. All of these have to be consumed, rotated and replaced. I consumed, but did not replace. Sure, my grocery bill was next to nothing for several months, but look at me now. I am going to have to spend a lot of money to replenish the stocks and it will all expire about the same time.
The other thing is that there are some things that I bought that I never really got around to using. I bet many of you are in the same boat. I mean, how many of you have cracked open one of those vacuum packed cans and actually ground your own flour? How about those MREs? Which ones give you diarrhea or indigestion? Do you really like Dinty Moore Beef Stew? Are you allergic to penicillin. How does Vicodin affect you? I don't know about you, but these are not things that I want to be learning about while sitting in my safe room with nothing but a five gallon bucket to go to the bathroom in.
Solution - Store what I eat and eat what I store and replenish the stockpile each month. Inventory everything in the fall and in the spring. Treat the fall and the spring as sort of a survivalist spring cleaning. Why fall and spring? These are usually the most mild times of the year.
As Katrina rolls ashore and oil is above $70 per barrel, I have both vehicles half full and a lawn mower that is empty. I once had over 60 gallons stored in addition to what was in my vehicles, ATV and mower. What happened? I used it and did not replace it. Sure, I saved money for about a month. But look at where I am at now. I wouldn' t have enough gas to make it to my retreat. How about you? Is that gasoline fresh? How bout that case of motor oil?
Solution - Fill one gas can a month until the stocks are restored. Rotate one can out each month. Yes it is a PITA to hand fill your truck with a gas can once week, but it sure beats not being able to move your vehicle to higher ground in the event of a flood.
Gear, Gadgets and Goodies (Not Including Weapons)
These have really gotten me into trouble. I do not know how many times I bought a piece of equipment in lieu of learning a skill and declared myself to be prepared. I mean how many of us have actually made a fire with a bow and drill. Sure we' ve all read about how to do it. When it comes down to it, we pull out the Zippo. Do you have a generator? So do I. Does it run? I do not know because I haven't gotten around to testing it in the last eighteen months. How bout that Wally World water filter you have? How's that water taste? Have you filtered ditch water through at and had it tested? Me neither. Do you know how to use a compass? The government can turn off GPS with the flip of a switch. Have you ever really sutured a wound? Do you know how to use those gadgets? Can you (or I) really repair that ATV with a Leatherman multi-tool?
Solution - I will actually use these tools to do everyday things now while there is no pressure on me to survive. I will quickly learn what is quality and what is crap.
Now we've hit the Holy Grail of the survivalist. I have called myself a survivalist since the early 1980s. But that was just so that I would have an excuse to collect vast quantities of firearms in an abundance of colorful and obscure calibers. The only positive note that I can say about this area is that I've sold a lot of guns over the last 24 months. I now view them as tools and not objects of worship. I have standardized my long arms and am just a hair away from standardizing my pistols. I now can simply leave my reloading press set up to load 9mm and crank a few rounds each time I pass by the press. My practice ammo consists of four large bins of loose ammo (9mm, .223, 12gauge, .22LR). I do not have that wall of ammo that resembles something from Cal's Gun Store. How about you? How many calibers do you have to stockpile? Are you really going to be able to forage for 45-70 or 41 mag at the local Wal Mart or your neighbor's abandoned house in a post SHTF scenario? Is anyone really going to want to barter 100 rounds of 25-06 for a gallon of gasoline? If you have to bug out, are you going to load all those various and sundry guns and ammo boxes into your truck and leave?
Solution - Standardize weapons and calibers. Parts should be interchangeable and ammunition should be of a common caliber so that it can be scrounged from local retail stores or reloaded from available components found at abandoned shooting ranges. I mean when have you ever been to a shooting range and not been able to find .38 spl, 9mm. 40sw, 30-06, .223, or 45 ACP brass. Furthermore, lead can be salvaged from backstops. I can attest to that as I have done so and cast the salvage bullet metal into new lead projectiles.
The problem is that I can't remember the last time I lugged my AR15 through the woods for any length of time. I have not seriously qualified with any long arm since November of 2003. This is unacceptable. How about you? When is the last time you actually went out and shot that gun show bargain? Does it jam when loaded with hollow points? Can you even clear the jam with proper technique? Try shooting some of those extra hot reloads you've been telling your friends about. Do you really want to have to use those in a firefight? I don't know about you but I want my gun to function without jamming or breaking. I need to know that I can put that bullet where I intend to place it. As I sit here, I can do neither.
Solution - Qualify myself with one long arm and one pistol each month. Since I have standardized my firearms, I get two for the price of one in most practice sessions.
I could go on and on about saferooms, NBC gear, alternate energy. But, I think that I have made my point to myself and, perhaps, to those of you who are in the same boat as I am. I really beat myself up during the writing of this article. Perhaps I've beat a couple of you up as well. Writing this article has been embarrassing for me in that I am exposing my failure as a survivalist. I do so with the hope that others will be inspired to get up, dust themselves off and journey back to the state of preparedness that we all should be living within. The good news is that survivalism, while not really a religion, is a lot like Christianity. You can wake up one day and decide to do better.
As I watched all those refugees flee hurricane Katrina, I have recommitted myself to the goals of every survivalist - To be prepared for the sake of myself, my family, my community and my country.
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