*REFLECTIONS*
By: Marcinko
10 October 2003

Its noon on 9-18-03 the wind from Hurricane Isabel picks up to about 25 mph. light rain. We are kicked back on the porch watching it. Kids are nervous, "daddy, are we going to be ok?" ĎYes baby, we will be just fineí. That is a question that holds a lot of weight. With this question fresh out of your childís mouth, you start to think back. "Have I done enough to protect them?"

"Have I taught them everything they need to know?" It was a question that really set me on my behind.

I have been a survivalist for most of my life. I have planned and set aside preps for many many years.

We live our lives every day with preparedness first and foremost. We plan for every event and the circumstances that these events may bring. We have strategizing meetings trying to figure every possible scenario and the proper ways to respond to them. We buy our equipment and preps according to what we foresee happening. (As a survivalist family its fun to document your thoughts behind your preps. It is amazing how much they change over time)

Letís face it; preps are a HUGE part of any survivalistís budget. It takes discipline to set back the needed money. Buy the best you can afford. "Buy once, cry once" Along with these purchases needs to be some very educated decisions based on tried and proven FACT. That info is right here at your fingertips. USE it!!! The Rubicon family is the best resource you will EVER find period.

Include your family in on your preparations; after all it is THEM that you are preparing for. Those out there that have "non-survivalist" spouses can gain a lot of ground if you just give them the chance to be a part of it all. Tell them why you are preparing, tell them what you are preparing for and what you think you need to get the job done. Keep in mind, you will NOT win them over on every decision you make. They are going to think you are nuts on certain topics. Take it in stride; try to look at it from their mindset. (Yes, I know, thatís a hard pill to swallow at times : ) One of our "debates" was over the chances of a dirty bomb released in our area or close by. It took me a VERY long time and numerous "biting of the tongue" episodes to drive facts into the family about that. People are scared of things they know nothing about, educate them, and help them to understand.

Its 2:00 p.m. the wind is gusting to about 60 mph, its raining sideways and has been for a couple hours now. Neighbors are calling, "man are we going to make it through this?" Small limbs. Trashcans, you name it, all blowing by as fast as you can see. It is scary thinking about all the possibilities. But guess what? We are survivalists, we have planned for this event, or have we?

It is 2:30. CRACK BOOM there goes the lights. Trees are falling 2 at a time. The neighborís aluminum carport goes passing by. You can feel the house shake as the wind picks up and gusts harder.

We pickup the phone and dial, "Twist my brother, how are you holding up?" "Good bro, wind is starting to really pick up now" "stay safe bro and I will be in touch". We called each other just about every 2 hours getting up to date info on each other. We discussed that status of all VANCE members and any Rubicon member in nearby surrounding areas.

We started losing trees by the handful around here. Transformers exploding sparks flying, kids screaming. At about 6:00 p.m. I lost land line comms with twist. We used cell phones from then on. On last call from Twist he informed me that he was in need of a work party. At that time all hell broke loose and I could NOT even get out the to the computer house to inform everyone here that we had a rubie in need. I pick up the cell phone to make all the calls. Guess what? They went out along with the landline after a couple hours. Iím sitting here about to go nuts. Out of the blue the phone rings, "damn, how is that working now?" My wife runs to pick it up and just like the true friend he is, Sierra37 is on the other end, in that deep calm voice. He flirts with her for a bit (sorry bro, I had to throw that in there : ) and then I get on the phone. I give him the sitrep and he relays the message that got the ball rolling for twists work party.

FIRST major hole in my preps, and it wasnít that it was something that I had not thought about or something that I had not STARTED working on. HAM radio. Yep you guessed it, I do have a 2 meter here at the house, BUT I had NOT finished setting up everything needed for it. I got "busy" with school and work. EXCUSE is all that is. I know better. Whatís on my mind after that realization? "Wondering if my brother twist is ok and have I let him down by not having that HAM ticket taken care of. BAD FEELING knowing that negligence on your part may hinder any possible needed aid to your Team leader. This time I was lucky, no harm was done.

This is NOT a feeling that I want to have again. Note to self: get off your ass and do what needs to be done.

This storm is kicking ass, itís the worst that I have ever seen. I canít imagine this house holding up much longer. The windows rattle, the doors shake, you can hear every beam in the house "settle" "Jesus, did I make the right decision to ride the storm out here?" Yep I did, I had followed all the reports and weather models up to the minute in the days prior to the storm. The forecast had the storm passing on the west side of my area with the strongest winds about 30 miles away and to the west. Wanna take a guess where I got the BEST info? Right HERE, thanks to our dedicated team of pros. We have a group of people here that are into each and every news story, digging out the real deal and posting what they find. I have always said "I will bet my life on info that comes from the Rubicon" and that is just what I did, I put the life of me and my family in the trusting hands here on the board. They have NEVER let me down for ANY REASON.

That says a lot about the family I have gained here on the Rubicon. I donít trust the precious lives that I care for to just anyone.

There is a break in the action for about 20 minutes, during this time I sprint out to the computer house and hit the board, I see that the call for help has gone out and already there are responses to it. Thank you Sierra and Warlord and EVERYONE ELSE for getting that up so fast!

I make a few posts to Trip, giving him the sitrep on conditions he can expect on his journey. The man was ready to leave right then, as was Sierra. Friends donít get any better than that!!!!!

One thing needs to be mentioned here, you can NOT make educated decisions on routes that the work party needs to take unless you have done it BEFOREHAND. When the storm is blowing is NOT the time to be looking at the map. How do you get this type of info you ask? You meet Face to Face with the members here, you run your emergency routes NUMEROUS times from every direction, every dirt road every driveway. How many of you can get to a team members house if your main route is blocked? Everyone that I have met here can!!! You should be able to drive to Tripís house for example (6 and a half hours from here) and KNOW every exit in between and all the backup routes to get there. You should know each and every Rubies area that you will be passing through and have comms established with them BEFOREHAND. Again how do you do this? FTF people it is that simple.

After I make contact with the board I head back in the house. My wife has food cooking on the propane stove, and the kids are listening to the radio. Itís a wonderful feeling to walk inside your house during a hurricane and see life just as it was before the storm, normal.

There is so much going on with the storm that itís hard to keep track of, you look out and the entire city on the horizon is black, not a light in sight, not a car on the road.

The wife and kids have a job to do in circumstances like this. Itís their job to keep track of all the news posts on the radio. They are little news hounds. This also serves another purpose, it keeps them busy with something important, something that they feel is special to the cause, and it keeps them calm. I canít stress this enough. Give your kids some sort of task or job to do during times like these. Its NO fun trying to deal with scared children AND the storm. And again, PLAN FOR THIS BEFOREHAND!! You will be amazed at how much they remember during your "training" days. Kids are AMAZING, Do NOT count them out. They have a LOT to offer; hell they may even help YOU stay calm. We have a saying here in the Marcinko household, "Prior planning prevents panic". It is true in every word!! Donít know how you will react in a given situation? Test it out. Put yourself in that position (again you need other rubies for this, so FTF)

Warlord and so many others here have drilled that into our heads for a very long time. Your body will react to a threat as it has been trained to do. Donít know how to defend against a knife attack? Strap on the pads and go at it with one of them, I bet you will know how after itís done. Your body will naturally handle that situation if you are ever in it for real. But not if it has NOT been trained into you. The same goes with your mind. Think situations out the best you can BEFORE you need it. In a time of danger is NOT the time to say to yourself "hmmmmmmm, now what was that move that I read about?" cause you are dead at that point.

The storm doesnít let up at all. You can see people with flashlights running all thru their houses trying to salvage what they can. While you are sitting back taking it as easy as you can under the circumstances. Around 1:00 a.m. the storm lets up to tropical storm strength. You do a visual recon of the house and yard; write down any damage that you can see at that time. Feeling it is safe to go outside; I head out seeing what needs to be done to get my butt out of here and to Twists in the morning. TONS of trees down, EVERY road is blocked. From the damage that you see, you know that itís going to be weeks before anything is restored. You did plan for that didnít you?

We spend all night clearing the yard and driveway. ALL night. The kids are in bed sleeping like nothing has happened. "Boy will they be shocked when the sun comes up"

At first light, my little girl wakes up and looks outside. "Daddy come look NOW" you can hear the fear in her voice. "Daddy, it doesnít look the same" "yep, your right kiddo itís not the same, come on lets take a walk" We get dressed and walk outside. She looks around as says "oh my Lord dad" People, it looked like a war zone. I have never seen damage like that from a storm. We head back in; the wife has breakfast going on the burner and a hot cup of coffee. My neighbor sticks their head out and says, "How yawl eatin breakfast? We aint got no power" nothing needs to be said here.

I eat, wash up and head out to the car. Oops I forgot to put the solar panel back up. I stick that on the stand and make the connections. Holler into the wife "baby, whatís it reading?" "12.4 baby, I got it from here" and off I go. I hit the end of the street and wouldnít you know it, a MASSIVE tree has fallen AFTER the storm was over. Time to get out and get to work. A couple hours later the tree is out of the road and Iím on my way. My main route to Twist is blocked, I try the second, the third the forth, all blocked. So I head to number five. Headed in the other direction from where I need to go, an hour and a half. I get to the main road to his AO it is MUCH worse than anything in my immediate area. Trees are EVERYWHERE not just knocked over, but thrown from their roots to the other side of the road. It took five and a half hours to make a one hour and 20 minute drive. I make this drive once a week to his house; I know every curve and every bump in the road. Generally I know who I will encounter standing out in their yards while Iím passing through. There is nothing but devastation. Pure and simple. Iím trying to call Trip on the cell phone; I know he left his house about 4:00 a.m. that morning. I need to give him a sitrep. No cell phone reception to be found. And in about 30 minutes I see why, all the cell towers are knocked over. Power lines everywhere. I try the cb, no luck. BINGO you guessed it; my failure to get my HAM ticket is biting me in the ass again.

I end up at Twists house 30 minutes after Warlord. He has had to cut his way in, take cow fields around the damage. What a WONDERFUL feeling it was when I saw my FAMILY standing there safe and sound. The same family that I include in ALL preps that I make and they do the same for me. Friendships are not born that way, they are forged. Would I have had friends like this had I not went on a FTF? NOPE, they would have just been names on a screen. I thank God for them every day, and I love them like true family does. My life is MUCH better knowing them. Yours can be to, but you have to get off your duff and make it happen.

I get out, shake hands, we look at each other, and without words everyone grabs tools and heads off to work. There is no "starting point" the damage is everywhere. I was stunned at the amount of debris. He is one lucky man to have not had it any worse than he did. You just point yourself in a direction and setoff to work. Things go SO much smoother when you have taken the time to work with these people before. You know what the other person is going to do and what they need before they ask. The work just "flows" It went like clockwork.

EVERYONE worked their butts off that day. Twist, andshout, skid, Amy, Warlord, twists mother in law and myself. Let me tell you, anyone out there that doubts for one second that women canít work like men, BOY are you in for a rude awakening. "Andshout" and Amy worked like maggots right along our side, hand in hand. No fussing, no bitching.

"Andshouts" mother, well, I canít say enough about her, she kept 3 very young children (and twist) in line. She kept us all fed. She had never used a camp stove to cook on. Let me tell you, she adapted VERY well. That was some DAMN good grub.

After clearing things out so he can move his vehicles we all retire to the deck and just talk and laugh.

Night falls, and its time for me to head home. I say goodbye to everyone as andshouts mother is cooking dinner for everyone. I would love to have stayed, but I still had unfinished business to take care of at home. I always hate leaving there; itís like leaving "home". It only takes three hours to get home. The work crews had cleared all they could and driving was much better on the way back. One thing that stands out in my mind is the number of people that had flocked to the stores, lights off, everything torn to hell. Standing there like someone was gonna rescue them. Iím sure they are still standing there with there hands out instead of helping themselves.

I get home, and the family is in bed, its 11:00. I check the batteries to see if I need to top them off before bed. Yep they need a charge. I hook up the car to the battery bank and let it run while I sit down to smoke a cigarette.

Some thoughts that go thru my head:

Well, itís going to be some time before life is "normal" again.

What else am I forgetting?

I run thru my list of food preps. All quantities are written down as are their shelf life.

Food is squared away, thanks to the concept that Sierra37 came up with (please correct me if im wrong) the ticket concept works like this. If you need to bug out to a team members place, or to your retreat, you cant expect someone else to provide for you and yours so you start out with the "30 day ticket" that is enough food, water, fuel, clothes, Medicines, hygiene products and any other "special" needs that you and your family would need to live comfortably off of for 30 days. THAT takes some planning folks. The caloric intake of each family member needs to be figured in. One downfall that I have seen when new people start building their tickets, is they tend to want to hurry up and get it done NOW, and with that they buy the cheapest crap that you can buy. Listen, your ticket needs to be as close to a normalcy as you can possibly get it. Ask your self while you are buying these preps, "is this something that I would eat on any given day?" if not then you are trying to cut corners in your preps and it will bite you later. NOTHING worse than being stuck somewhere living off of your preps and having to eat something that you really donít like, just because you wanted to rush or save a bit of money. "Buy once cry once"

There are DOZENS of articles here on the Rubicon to show you the way. Use them!

After you build your thirty day ticket start working on a 45 or 60 day ticket. You will be surprised; it really doesnít take all that long to do. But it does take a long time to research what needs to go into it. Why not use the articles here to help you beat that learning curve? The knowledge here can NOT be beat, I dare to bet that you will NEVER run up on a pool of people any smarter, more knowledgeable, more willing to help those who help themselves than right here in the Rubicon. Increase your ticket as far as you can, BUT keep in mind, if you bug out, your "ticket" has to go with you : ) How are you gonna get your ticket from point A to point B? What kind of containers you gonna put them in? "I got a pickup truck it will hold it" at this point im gonna holler BS. Take all the preps YOU ALONE would need for one month and put it in that truck. If you are honest in the preps you will soon notice, that hey, there aint no room to get my ticket in there. Oops you got 3 more members of your family donít ya? : ) that truck aint so big any more. There is an entire section on bugout vehicles "BOV" and bug out trailers "BOT". Use them, they are here for YOU to use.

Get your ticket nailed down people. Go ahead and show up un announced or without a ticket at Vanceís gate, you wont get far : ) I will leave this very deep subject of "ticket" up to the proís here on the board, as I have said there a many many articles on here about it. Itís too deep for me to get into in this article.

Did I mention that you will eat out of boredom? : ) plan accordingly.

Ok my ticket is straight. No worries there.

Hmmm what else? Oh yeah, what about my "home ticket" YEP yet another ticket. Some people choose to buy a weeks worth of groceries at a time. Well I aint one of them : ) I set aside my normal amount of money for groceries then I add my survival items on top of it. I buy at least a week and a half worth every week. What are you going to do if lets say; you get sick for a week and canít work or get to the store? You have enough food to last that long? You didnít make any money at work since you were sick. Did ya save back any money just incase? Damn there is a lot to this survival lifestyle aint it? It is your lifestyle right? And not just a hobby? Guess what? We havenít even scratched the surface yet. It gets better : )

Yep, house ticket is squared away, or is it. Dammit where is that list with the dates of the stored water on it? Oh yeah here it is. Oh crap, I used 2 jugs of it at a VANCE campout and didnít refill it!!!! Thatís 12 gallons less than I thought I had on hand. Whatís that? Did I just hear the radio right? Did it JUST say that the water is contaminated in our area, and will be for some time to come? "Do not drink the water they say" "BUT, I need water!!!!" Guess itís a good thing that I learned to purify water here on the Rubicon aint it? Do you have any idea how to do that? Read the articles : ) better yet, get out and PRACTICE it with your family and the Rubicon.

So far we have used roughly 70 gallons of stored water. Did that match up with the consumption rate that we figured per person? NOPE about 3 gallons per person higher. (This is going to vary from family to family)

Ok, water taken care of. Let me see, what else. While im at it did I design my alternate power system like I needed? Ooops, you do have one donít you?

Well letís see, right now I need to run the fridge and the hot water boiler for showers. Hmmmmmmmmmm lets see, I remember how to do it, itís that chart that Warlord had in his article. How do I know how to figure that up? Oh yeah it was from learning on the board!!!! Let me tell you, there are some really good down to earth simple to understand articles on here written by tried and true professionals that will show you just how to figure out all this stuff.

Alt power needs some great deal of thought and planning. Use the resources HERE. Save yourself tons of money and time.

In looking back, NOPE I did not set mine up like I really needed it. I have 6 12 volt batteries, a 2000/4000 watt inverter. And one 75 watt solar panel (oh, did I mention the group buy we got on those things?). With a system this size, in a situation like this, you have to sacrifice. I can only run the boiler by itself. Anything else and it will kick out. So you make a schedule and rotate your appliances as needed. Not a big deal, but its something you need to know WAY in advance. I had tried this out many times before. I knew it wouldnít handle everything at once. And I made my plans accordingly. I will be buying more panels and batteries soon. Will this equip last thru this outage? You bet your ass it will.

Ok, hmmmmmmmmmmm gasoline. Hmmmmmmmmmmm I have both vehicles full and I have 35 gallons in reserve. That will get me thru. YEAH RIGHT. Guess again. Wonít even touch it. I will just go and buy more at the store. What store? Power is out, they canít pump gas either. Hmmmmmmmm how long can you store gas? Its like "Prego, itís in there" : ) there are articles all over the place about it. Cheer up; the gas stations will be open in a couple days. And you can expect to be rationed on the amount you can purchase when they do. Right now there is a 25 dollar limit per person per day. And yes they are taking notes : )

It takes a lot of thinking and hard work to be truly prepared doesnít it? : )

 

Well, its time for some coffee. Wonder how many propane tanks I had on hand and how many I have used so far. I get the water boiling; get me a nice hot cup of coffee. Walk inside to check the batteries to see if they are charged all the way, yep they are. Unhook the cables and turn the car off. Where was I? Oh yeah. The propane tanks. Right on the table in front of me is the log book that the wife keeps RELIGIOUSLY. Letís see, 15 propane tanks before the storm, and I have used 3 so far, we are only 36 hours into this thing. Depending on what was cooked, we use about a tank and a half for every three meals that are cooked. (Family of four) hmmmmmmmm not nearly enough of them huh?

Man this coffee is good. Up walks the neighbor from across the street with the flashlight bouncing all over the place. "Is that coffee I smell" "yep" "ya mind if IÖÖ." "Yep I do mind. I told you 2 weeks ago that this storm was coming. I told you the minimum of what you should have on hand." "but, I donít have the money to buy all that stuff" yeah I guess you are right, those beer parties and pizza deliveries should be holding you over for the duration of the storm" He left : ) sad but true, you can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink.

How does that saying go? "You can buy a man a fish and feed him for a day, or you can teach him how to fish and feed him for life" well some people are too stupid to bait the hook. Let Darwin sort those out for you.

There are always people out there that are survivalists that donít even know it. You can pick these people out if you try. If you find someone like that, take the time to talk with them. Broach the subject gently at first and then dig a bit deeper as the situation permits.

You just may be talking to your next team member.

I canít stress enough the importance of going to FTF meetings. That is how teams are formed and life long friendships are made. It takes a ton of work and commitment to form a team and keep it running. VANCE is blessed with having one hell of a team leader and a bunch of go-getters that donít mind hard work.

We are still a growing team and we still have a lot to learn but we have come a LONG way. Our primary focus now is providing training, support and networking for up and coming teams on the Rubicon. There are some VERY good teams on the Rubicon and they didnít get that way just by chance.
Marcinko



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