Camping & Survival

SHTF Survival: The Government and You

Green clay container with the words Survival Skills on the outside

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.
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (14)

  1. 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).

  2. 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.

    1. 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

  3. Learn how to build and practice cooking with a solar oven. That increases the range of food you can prepare w/o fuel.

  4. When they start showing up in the neighborhood to confiscate weapons, that is the time for everyone there to begin to “push them out of your area” with force.

  5. Guys, getting cash from the ATM is a no go. Most atms are not stocked with enough cash to handle multiple people withdrawing max daily amounts. You have to have an alternate plan when it comes to cash. In a disaster, banks with close up quickly. Consider solutions such as barter items such as Silver Eagles, or keep a stash of emergency cash.

  6. The time line for “Your response to the disaster,” is way off. What the article said to do 2 hours before should be 24 hours before. “90 minutes,” should be 12 to 24 hours before! “One hour before,” 6 to 8 hours before. “30 minutes,” 4 hours before. Actually, the only thing I would leave until 2 hours before is having a watch posted. Pretty much everything he listed would have been done 12 to 36 hours before any disaster.

  7. NPS (Non-Primary Power Source, made by Hatz-Diesels was/is designed originally as a Independent Power Source for the M1 Abrams Tank. To power the Tank’s Turret independently of the Gas-Turbine. A 1-cylinder Diesel rated at ~10kW @ 28 VDC, measures ~16,050 cid (~69.5-liters) and weighs ~380-pounds. But “Sips” Fuel at ~0.96-gallons/hour using either JP8, DF-1,DF-2, DF-A, JP-4, JP-5, NATO STD F-34, F-35 or F-44 Fuels. Hard to come by, but well worth it when you can find one. Cheap Units usually require some Creative Maintenance and Expensive Ones “Pricey” $$$$…

  8. People think I am silly for having 2 generators, really? Why do you have 2 guns, how silly? Cell phones, always go down, either the towers or too many people on line. So, wife and I got two different carriers, does not always work, but increases the odds. Gasoline, duh, figure at least 5 days for the generator. Most gas stations do not have generators, so power goes out, no gas. Spam is not that great, but a half dozen cans are better than nothing, and go pretty good with eggs. Granola bars, can last a year if you put them in a container. Nuff said about water–never too much.. Lost power and pump for several days once, 360 gallon hot tub stayed warm for days. Funny how great a good soak can feel when you are humping it to take care of business. If you think the local gestapo may take your guns, for your own safety, or other good reason, perhaps you should stash another one with that second little bug out bag…maybe an old cheapo 38 special and maybe an old single shot 12 gauge and a few slugs, buckshot and birdshot. Amazing how big a deer or elk will fall to a 12 gauge slug….and a few $20 bill stashed in that bag, can always be spent down the road, oh yea a couple of thoughts. First the fire department will always beat the cops, I always hated driving 100 mph to get to a call and have a fire truck already there, And secondly, FEMA is not a first responder and contrary to all that political hype about them not being on the spot their job is to help communities rebuild after the disaster is over, they do not owe us a damn thing. FWIW

  9. Agreed…thin on the article. Don’t forget FOOD…Propane is a GREAT source to heat. I live in South Florida, so we have a Generator…*Gas Cans a must!

    A decent Cache of munitions but remember, local PD is on high alert…open carry around our property was enough to deter unsavory neighboring people…hopefully I’ll never have to find out.

  10. Doubt the author has lived near or survived a SHTF scenario to warrant heeding his advice. Most hurricanes leave houses without roofs (those left standing), so why would you want to move your sh#t to the attic before it hits? Upstairs and in the attic is the last place you want to be.

    1. I think he’s referring to the possible flooding aftermath of a hurricane. Something the folks in Houston are very familiar with. Head to the attic to avoid floodwaters but be sure to have tools to break out if water gets too high.

  11. On the flip side the government might be the last ones you want showing up. If they know you have stores of food, medical supplies and weapons it is highly likely they could be seized.

  12. VERY THIN article. I have lived through several hurricanes… Katrina being the most recent and your article hits the highest points and, rest assured, it is the LOWEST points that are the most difficult to deal with.
    YOU NEVER MENTIONED WEAPONS. In our case there were looters (benign and avaricious) before, during, and after the storm. I heard of other criminality but did not experience that.
    It is a dirty little well known “secret”… in New Orleans AFTER the storm the military went door to door confiscating firearms. Prepare for that. So, for all you guys that have said confiscation will never happen here in the good old USofA… IT ALREADY HAS!!!
    You have a decent start to a SHTF article but what you wrote is by no means exhaustive. It makes me wonder whether or not you have lived through such an event or your take on the subject would have been more thorough.

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