SHTF Survival: The Government and You

By CTD Blogger published on in Camping & Survival, Safety and Training

Who can you count on during a SHTF scenario? That depends on the scenario, but when doing your planning there are two at least forces you need to consider. Even in a SHTF scenario, the government will respond, maybe not as quickly as you would like, but it will be there. Second, you will be there.

Green clay container with the words Survival Skills on the outside

Inside this little piece of pottery is the most important component of any plan.

Planning your response to an emergency is critical. Some will plan for the long term, but all need to plan to survive until the government responds. You’ll also need to plan for you safety and security after the government responds. To do this, we need to understand the government’s response to a disaster. That means understanding the actions of the local, state, and perhaps the federal government. You’ll also need to know what you must do before disaster strikes, so you aren’t caught unprepared.

Government Response to a Disaster

The government will play a critical role before and during an SHTF situation. This will certainly happen at the local and state levels, and in a large enough catastrophe, from the federal level as well.

Here is a step-by-step process of how the government will usually react to large-scale disasters, so you can start making or updating a plan of your own.

  1. First and foremost, the federal government will only lend assistance to the situation after an official request has been made by the governor of the state. The President of the United States will then have to make an official declaration of emergency, and at that point, the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) will then react as quickly as they can to the disaster. The primary goal of FEMA is to provide relief to everyone who has been affected by the extent to the disaster.
  2. Before submitting a request for relief from the President, the governor of the state affected by the disaster will order a preliminary disaster report. The governor will then proceed to request that the President declare a state of emergency in the affected areas. It should be noted that while the governor can submit this request while the disaster is taking place, he or she can also submit the request before the disaster or when it is imminent (such as when it is obvious that a hurricane will soon strike the coastline).
  3. Once the President has declared a state of emergency, he will be able to send funds to the local and state government to help provide relief to those affected. FEMA will engage the services of a dozen different departments at the federal level. The very act of the president declaring a disaster is a clear sign that the disaster is major and beyond the capabilities of the state or local government to handle in its own. In addition, the President will provide assistance to both private and public relief efforts.
  4. The governor will also be able to request different kinds of assistance from the President.
  5. There are also many different ways in which the Federal government will be able to provide assistance, including the following:
    • Providing personnel, equipment, and supplies to help in the relief efforts
    • Loans and grants
    • Technical assistance
  6. Meanwhile, the state government will react to the crisis in the following ways:
    • Reviewing and improving local response efforts
    • Coordinating the state EOC to help in relief efforts
    • Determining if more federal assistance is needed
    • An activation of the state disaster preparedness plan (if a state of emergency is declared by the governor)
  7. The federal government will only become a source of resources for local and state governments if the disaster is so severe that local and state governments cannot handle the situation on their own. FEMA will then coordinate the implementation of the FRP (Federal Response Plan), which allows states to then work with FEMA in accessing resources and programs from the government.
  8. The FRP will also decide how the Federal agency resources and the American Red Cross can work together to provide relief to the site of the disaster. An EST (Emergency Response Team) will also be established in Washington to monitor the relief efforts from there.

These are the primary steps that governments will undertake in response to a disaster either before it happens or while it’s happening.

Your Response to the Disaster

Hurricane Katrina survivors

Do your preps include a plan on what you and your family will do during Martial Law?

Let’s say you’ll still be caught off guard, but you’ll at least have some time to make some preparations before the disaster comes to you:

What To Do 2 Hours Before a Disaster

Begin collecting as much water as you can by filling up your sinks, bathtubs, water containers, buckets, and anything else capable of storing water. Here’s how to build a water purification system in 10 minutes.

Double check your home stockpile: water, food, medical equipment, ammunition, personal hygiene items, and so on. If you are lacking anything that’s absolutely necessary, then you should consider making a quick run to the grocery store.

If you decide that you need to bug out, quickly conduct an inspection of your bug out bag and your bug out vehicle to make sure everything is present and in good working order. Most importantly, get in contact with each member of your family and have them meet you at your house.

What To Do 90 Minutes Before a Disaster

  • Get as much cash as you canfrom ATM machine.
  • Continue contacting more family members you haven’t gotten a hold of.
  • This is your last chance to pick up any additional supplies that you may need, such as aluminum foil or fuel or ammunition or prescription medications.

One Hour Before a Disaster

It might surprise you that the every day items you carry will help in a survival situation.

It might surprise you that the every day items you carry will help in a survival situation.

If you are going to bug in, begin placing your items at strategic locations. For example, have a bug out bag ready-to-go at the front door in case you need to suddenly evacuate without warning, and place firearms at key defensive locations in your home (depending on the situation). For example if a hurricane hits and you didn’t have time to evacuate, then get some of your supplies in the attic.

30 Minutes Before a Disaster

  • If you are going to bug in, then it is no longer safe to go outdoors. You need to have everybody in your home with the doors locked.
  • Have your emergency radio going to keep track of the news.
  • Have somebody in your family on watch for signs of trouble outside of the house.

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Comments (14)

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    Obviously, the author has never dealt with West Coast disasters, namely Earthquakes. If you’re not prepared to MAINTAIN the described preparedness level, then you might as well not bother. Oh, and go get some CERT training so that you can help put out fires, perform SAR and first aid, and identify homes with gas leaks (ie., fuel-air combustion risks).


  • Derek


    Ok, you are sooooooooo off!!!!!!!!!! I live in Florida, we were sold out of bread, batteries, water and gas 2 days before Irma made land fall in the Florida Keys. this is misinformation at best.


    • OldGringo


      Yep, very true. Water lasts a very long time, batteries last 10 years, gasoline with stabilizer easily lasts a year. Again, FEMA is not by design a first responder, their role is to help rebuild AFTER the disaster is over and if you have insurance you do not qualify for their low interest loans—forget about them. If you get rescued it will be your local fire department or national guard…..duh? And that part about getting cash at the last minute, I agree, a dumb idea. Put a little money in your gun safe and maybe a few roles of quarters….if you have local power, you can empty vending machines to add to your already piles of food. It is like all those of folk who go to change tire and find out their spare is flat—their own damn fault. I crawl under my trucks, motorhome, etc and check the air at least once a year, most people do not even think about it. If you have a cellar, or basement or garage or storage building, there is simply no reason not to have 20 gallons of water, a few batteries, and some cans of beef stew, lol


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