Normal Disasters

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I live in the
suburbs of our nation’s capitol and of course I want to keep
myself and family safe, so I have taken steps to mitigate and eliminate
the dangers of my area. My challenge for a while was getting my
new bride on-board with my preparations. She thought my supplies,
guns and gear were “weird” and she chalked it up to my
military experience and largely ignored it. If anyone else has a
similar problem getting buy-in on prepping from their partners they
may find this useful, it sure works better than arguing.

As Mr. Miyagi
said in the Karate
Kid 2
“Best way to block a punch is not be there.”
Your advice to move and live in a rural setting is sound, but not
practical for many people, so I do have the next best thing in a
retreat on some family owned land. It is occupied by some older
and retired family, so my preparations there both include and are
guarded by them. I make a point to drive there and back by as many
different routes as I can divine from a map reconnaissance that
do not include the interstate highways. It takes more time, but
it keeps us familiar with the routes and we notice any changes (Like
a bridge that was getting rather rickety) that may influence our
route choice if we need to G.O.O.D.
She thought this was a weird way to travel, but I convinced her
to go along with promises of new scenery, hidden treasures (Like
a wonderful greasy spoon off the beaten track) and a more relaxed
setting. I taught her how to read a military grid map and use a
compass for “fun” demonstrating my old and valuable military
skills. After she had been on all the routes though, she wanted
to do the interstate to save time, but I knew traffic in our area
is some of the worst in the country and decided to take advantage.
On a holiday weekend, prime time we set out to follow the herd.
It went exactly as I expected; a normal disaster. There was bumper
to bumper stop and go traffic for hours. I let her drive this time
and when the frustration set in, I threw in a “what if”
scenario at her where a disaster had even more people trying to
flee. There have been events in recent memory where people abandon
their cars on the road and take flight on foot – however ill
prepared they are to do so. She saw what I meant and recognized
the value of both her new map reading skills and knowledge of the
back roads. My back routes are no magic bullet, the Interstate was
still faster, but the images I put in her head made her a bit less
skeptical about my “weird” travel routines.

I visit there
often, and take interest in the workings of the semi-retired farm.
My wife loves it there, but thinks it strange I care so much about
taking care of the place, like the time I was on-hand to help retrofit
the windmill to make electricity once the water tower was full,
or why we keep the grain silos in good shape even without a lot
of livestock. We have a garden there, but a small one for now since
my family isn’t really up to tending a large one. There are
a few chickens and goats which are almost pets at this point but
can certainly be put to real use if need be. The pond is stocked
with fish and the woods give us a steady supply of firewood and
game (But we don’t hunt much – yet.) A few weekends of
sleeping in the quiet of the country and waking up to farm fresh
eggs, bacon and sausage from a neighboring farm and fresh bread
coming from the “weird” grain mill has her more excited
about eating there than at the fancy restaurants around DC. We cook
stews and barbeque outdoors, drink fresh water from the spring and
pick though the garden for fresh vegetables. She learned some “weird”
skills about canning and drying foods for storage from my aunt.
Once we were married, I even let her into the secret back barn room
that holds a family relic, which let’s just say has produced
good cheer for over a hundred years. The “weird” country
life became a vacation for her. I would like to live there full-time,
but with the relic only producing good cheer and not cash like it
used to (Too risky now!) I keep my city job.

She works in
a government office building and a few times they have been locked
down for potential outside threats – seems to be a normal disaster
lately. Every time has luckily turned out to be nothing but it has
put the thought of terrorism in the front of her mind. I pointed
out to her a real emergency could last more than a day and the office
vending machines wouldn’t keep everyone sustained for long.
She then agreed to store some food and water – but nothing
else I suggested in her office. After her office was issued and
trained on some cheap disposable gas masks and she saw people making
light of the flimsy things she realized the masks and extra filters
I had in my office, car and home were not so “weird”.
Sure enough she finally took the “prep” bags and all of
their goodies I had made for her to her car and office.

One summer
we got hit with a string of bad thunderstorms which had an uncanny
ability to knock out our power for hours. This normal disaster gave
me the chance to show her my generator and solar powered gear was
not so “weird”. My generator kept the fridge/freezer cold,
the sump pump going, the air conditioner cooling and even our computer
& internet connection going. My travel solar setup kept our
cell phones & “weird” 2 way radios charged as well
as ran a radio to bring us news and entertainment. It rained so
hard and so much the check valve on our sewer was forced to close,
eliminating our ability to use the plumbing for a few hours. It
didn’t last long enough to bother us, but my portable toilet
and old army sanitation manual about latrines were no longer “weird”.

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the rest of the article

January
13, 2010

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