Camping & Survival

Are You Ready for the Next Disaster?

Hurricanes can happen at any time. In previous posts we discussed different disasters that could take place, and how to start to prepare for them. In this article, I’m going to discuss what tends to happen after the feces has hit the fan. We have all seen the footage of the victims of Hurricane Katrina running through the local stores and looting supplies, supplies like plasma televisions, laptops and all the beer they could carry. Obviously, I cannot recommend this course of action. Having supplies like food, water and medicine beforehand is without a doubt the best way to prepare for this scenario. A looter puts his or herself in a very dangerous situation. Local law enforcement may not be available to protect you in a widespread disaster and walking out of the local mega mart with armfuls of valuables could lead to other looters taking supplies from you forcefully.

If you do find yourself in need of supplies after the disaster has hit, and if you are lucky, you might still have some options. During a deployment to south Texas during hurricanes Dolly, Ike and Gustav, my National Guard unit was tasked with setting up several points of distribution sites or, PODs. In conjunction with the Red Cross, we were able to get much needed food, water, ice, and medicine to thousands of people from the local community who were in dire need. The Red Cross is, in my opinion, is staffed with some of the finest people who have ever lived. They managed to turn our humble point of distribution site into a full-blown disaster shelter in no time. I have to say that the community was very grateful for the assistance as well. When they combine their efforts, it is amazing what the military and the Red Cross can accomplish. As a military individual, it was nice to do something that didn’t involve war for a change. Due to the overwhelming presence of troops, the PODs were fairly orderly and most people who showed up for help got exactly that. Operations such as these do however, put a huge strain on the individuals who run them. By the end of each day the troops were physically and emotionally drained. Seeing so many Americans who were just like us, going through a very tough time, is hard to deal with. If you do find yourself in need however, these PODs tend to be an effective temporary lifeline to get much needed supplies. I have to stress however, that individuals should not count on these sites being available every time. Sometimes supplies are needed long before authorities have the ability to get in place and running. I would much prefer to not have to wait in line for hours for simple things like food and water. It is better to be prepared. At a minimum, remember to have the following:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust Mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Remember if you have access to transportation, and local authorities are recommending an evacuation, I would strongly suggest that you do it. It is far better to have fewer people in an area that is affected by a natural disaster. Consider taking back roads however. The area surrounding Houston, Texas was gridlocked on all major freeways during Hurricane Rita. Don’t count on the government to supply transportation; you might be waiting for that bus for a long time.

During a disaster, certain things that are a bit out of the ordinary tend to happen. We are likely to see the best side of mankind when we are faced with a common threat. A hotel manager that had evacuated their entire staff stayed behind to brave the storm so we could have a comforta

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Comments (5)

  1. We also had one of the PODS set up in Kemah, TX. After 5 days with no power and no open stores, it was great to see the military and red cross handing out ice, water, dry and canned goods and snacks (canned goods had pop tops on them), and I even got a small case of MRE’s. Within a few days at home with no electricity, ice maker, or anywhere to buy ice, and 90 degree temps, the perishables were gone, and dry and canned goods were running low. These folks certainly helped us get by. Basic camping supplies come in handy such as a propane cook stove and the small disposable propane canisters. A small power inverter that plugs into your car lighter/power socket will help keep your phones and laptops charged. Laptops with some DVD’s help keep kids occupied at night.

  2. People can be such panicky idiots. I live in Houston and I stayed up until the very first bands of rain from Rita and Ike moved in, and when I left to head west ahead of the storm, I ran into NO traffic until I got into San Antonio. I hit no bad weather on the way out or traffic. Everyone had already left town and the mass evacuation had been over for almost 12 hours. Driving west on I-10 was like driving in a movie set, abandoned and burned cars, trucks and buses for miles along the highway. Most overheated and were abandoned, some caught fire and burned to the ground. I all cases, the fires were put out, no one hurt and the cars were pushed to the side of the road to clear after the storm. The town of Columbus served as a national guard or military stopping point where they set up in the grassy center median of the freeway to hand out water and 5 gallons of gas to the hundreds in line that had run out of fuel. It was surreal, but all due to mass hysteria.

  3. Thank you for your thoughtful story. It is good to remind people to prepare and not be dependent on the government. It is nice to hear about Americans like you being a GREAT American.

    Thank you for your service!

  4. What about sporting goods and flat screen TVs? Does the National Guard supervise their distribution during Natural Disasters now, or are we still on our own in that regard?

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