In Response to Sara’s “Anti-Prepping” Post

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Yesterday Sara posted “Why I Don’t Have a Bug-Out Bag” and injected a dose of reality into the prepping-for-the-apocalypse mindset. I’m no prepper either, but the last two weeks have taught me that it doesn’t take an apocalypse to truly benefit from a BOB (bug-out bag) and some prepping best practices. Eastern Washington got hit hard by a freak windstorm on November 17 and most of the area around where I live was an electricity-free disaster zone for 3 to 10 days. For me it was 13 days without power because my house was hit by a falling tree. Later this week we’re moving into a rental while repairs are being done, which will take a good two to three months. . .

In fact, hundreds of homes were hit by large trees. It’s hard to be, as Sara said, “hunkering down in my warm home” when a tree has just turned the previously-indoor kitchen into an al fresco disaster. In winter. Falling trees don’t just target houses though. Cars were smashed. People died. Cell phone towers were taken out by trees or just the winds, and many of the surviving towers had no power. The end result was that the next few days were insane around here.

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Sara mentioned she can always drive home: “But what if you can’t? In a Jeep?” Can’t doesn’t always mean off roading. After the storm, gas stations couldn’t pump gas because they didn’t have power. The few that did ran out of gas in the morning the day after the storm. Gas lines were LOOONNNG and people were not pleasant. This is far from an apocalypse though. We’re still law-abiding folks and there’s no societal meltdown. Your firearm is not going to help you get gasoline or resolve a “that guy cut in line” scenario. If you don’t have enough gas already, you’re just SOL.

The lines at the Starbucks that had power? Forget it. Hours. Lines at operational fast food restaurants were around the block. People were charging phones in really weird places because there was no power at home. Every hotel in the general region was booked to capacity the first day after the storm, as people realized they could easily be out of power for a week or more given the unbelievable quantity of downed telephone poles, transformers, and power lines all over the place and the amount of timber that needed to be removed before repairs could even begin. Traffic was nuts because streets were blocked by downed trees every-freakin’-where.

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My new backyard reality

Oh, and it has been below freezing even during the day for the past couple of weeks, so many homes simply weren’t livable after a day or two without power.

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Back to the subject matter at hand — I’m not a prepper either. I think the idea of a BOB is cool, but, like Sara, I don’t want to buy a bunch of stuff and never use it. I own most of those BOB-type items, but they aren’t just chilling in a bag somewhere in a closet. Worse, I ignored warnings and feel like I was caught with my pants down by this freak storm. We just don’t have disasters like this here. Heck, these were 100-year-old trees being snapped like twigs. They’d never seen weather like this either. So we didn’t take it seriously enough ahead of time and the chance to prep when we really should have was mostly wasted.

The night it happened, my wife’s rig, which is the one with the kids’ car seats in it, was on E. This put us in a crappy place as we needed gas and couldn’t get it. A real prepper doesn’t let his/her car ever get under 1/2 full … just in case. I wish we were like that. Or, at least, with news of a storm coming, we should have filled up the vehicles’ tanks plus all of the spare gas cans we have. I’m still kicking myself for not doing that. Getting gas for the wife’s rig and more gas for the generator over the next couple of days sucked. Heck, even after things mostly normalized it wasn’t pleasant to keep a generator running at a house I wasn’t even living in just to power some space heaters to keep the pipes from freezing.

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‘Tis but a flesh wound!

Speaking of generators, if you didn’t have one before the storm, you weren’t getting one after. The nearest Home Depot sold its entire stock of 136 generators within 20 minutes of opening the morning after. Flashlights and lanterns, space heaters, batteries, blankets, tarps (mostly to cover holes in roofs), chainsaws, propane tanks, gas cans, and especially ice and dry ice…the stores that had power to open up sold out immediately. All of the things you might put on a “prepper” list? Yeah, if you didn’t already have them when you needed them, you probably weren’t going to find them anywhere in the region.

Ahead of the storm I did buy some extra water jugs and pulled out flashlights and stuff. Having the lights handy — fresh batteries installed, too — ended up being quite helpful. We had to pack up our clothes and a couple days’ worth of supplies and the dog and scram out of the house without electricity and in the dark of night after the tree hit, and that process sucked. The one-year-old, the three-and-a-half-year-old, and the dog were about as helpful as you’d expect.

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Play through?

Again, while what happened isn’t even scratching the surface of some sort of apocalyptic event, with power out everywhere, phone lines (landlines) ripped down everywhere, spotty cell service, no alarm systems working, peoples’ garage doors unlocked so they could open and close them manually without electricity, and hundreds of houses — heck, blocks of houses — left obviously empty for days while residents stayed somewhere with power, there were fears of looting and related property crime. Plus people were desperate for generators, gasoline, coffee, and a place to plug in their cell phones.

Apparently no looting or burglary actually took place, which I think may have been due to the below-freezing temps, but the prepper practices of securing home and person were not lost on me either.

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My suppressed CZ Scorpion Evo SBR in a Blackhawk Diversion Racquet Bag kept me company, with 90 rounds of 147 grain HST loaded into three magazines. In my opinion, it was the perfect mini-apocalypse companion.

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You know how they say a liberal (or non-gun owner) is just a conservative (or gun owner) who hasn’t been mugged yet? Well, I’m still not a prepper, but I’ve moved from being closer to Sara’s side of the readiness spectrum toward the prepper side of things.

You see, it turns out the apocalypse can actually come in many shapes and sizes, and a bit more preparedness would have helped me weather the storm, so to speak, significantly more smoothly. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to “bug in,” there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get any supplies you may need after “it” happens, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get more gas than you already have on hand, there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to charge (or even use) your cell phone, etc., etc. And this was just a windstorm.

comments

  1. avatar Cliff H says:

    I suspect that there is a significant difference between being prepared and being a “Prepper”.

    1. avatar Katy says:

      One of the keys to being prepared is identifying alternative shelter. We live extremely close to the neighborhood school, which is equipped to emergency generators and other shelter basics. That is our first fallback option. Second is the fire station where I volunteer and third is our church. They are ordered that way because of ease of access.

      We have enough food for about 6-9 months (a year if we’re careful), water for a week, and gun food to protect hearth and home. We have a sustenance BOB, but it is focused more on what is needed if there is a weather emergency – we may need to dedicate some ammunition to that bag as well. We also have 72 hour food kits to supplement that.

      It sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t that hard to be prepared. I certainly don’t think of us as Preppers.

    2. avatar Daniel in NC says:

      I agree with your statement. I would, however, add that there is not a significant difference between a “prepper” and being significantly prepared.

    3. avatar mark s. says:

      Cliff ,
      It was only a generation or two ago almost everyone in my state was a Prepper .
      How long have supermarkets been around ? How long have freezers been in American homes ? How long have we had freeze dried technology ? Packaging technology that allows for monthly storage of foods ?
      My parents canned most of the vegetables I ate as a child , and I learned how to preserve foods as a child by helping out in processing of them . My grandparents canned their garden harvest , raised , butchered and smoked their own meat and bought their sugar and baking supplies in bulk . They also drew their water from a hole in the ground .
      I am now considered a prepper today by doing what was common practice only 90 years ago in most of America .
      We are , as a whole , less prepared today , than at any point in the history of humanity . We rely on technologies that are fragile and vulnerable to attack by our enemies . Our children cannot read maps , fix the machines they rely on for sustenance or survive without the aid of assistance .

  2. avatar Jim says:

    I also live in Spokane. The storm was unreal for us, storm of the century. 8 days without power and the items that came in most handy were – Coleman camp stove (did a lot of meals off this), generators (1 day Amazon shipping for the win), lots of flashlights and batteries, ordered some long running Streamlight lanterns that really helped, being able to hook up gas furnace to a generator in order to get heat, lots of canned soups.

    Additionally, we had multiple nights of suspicious activity in the neighborhood. Cars going doing street with lights off, guy on foot shining lights into windows in the wee hours of the night, people in car parked in front of our house after midnight. Cops said they were probably listening for opportunities to snatch generators. Needless to say, I am glad I have invested heavily into firearms and training since 1 incident put us into alert and police were called once by us and another time by the neighbors. Both times were 15 minutes plus response time which is an eternity.

    Lesson – you never know when you are going to need your gear and training. Be prepared.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      In a weird way, I’m sort of glad to hear about the suspicious behavior haha. Everyone I’ve spoken to expected it — just too tempting — but I hadn’t seen any mentions of it in the news or from anyone else. Not that we want that sort of stuff happening, of course!, but it was just so hard to believe everyone was apparently on their best behavior?

      The storm itself was so weird and freaky and with power going out and trees coming down, I was half expecting wild animals and dogs and whatever else going nuts also.

      Suppressed 9mm SBR in innocent looking case. Check. (errr, Czech?)

      1. avatar Bill says:

        I like the idea of transporting it in an innocent looking case, and on a normal day a racket bag looks like it belongs. However, in the 0.0001% of times when things are not normal, and you are bringing out your family, a backpack or two and….a racket bag? Are you stupid, its a sharknado, what do you really have in there? Wouldn’t a small gym bag serve the same purpose and be even more discrete in such a situation?

        1. avatar Jeremy S says:

          LOL yeah that’s true. But most people don’t notice anything anyway. And if the ones who do are doing to be curious what might or could be in the bag, great. Keep ’em cautious and wary of me, even if they just think I’m crazy for saving my tennis equipment during a disaster hahaha

        2. avatar mark s. says:

          maybe dismantle it entirely and pack each individual part in a separate box wrapped in Christmas paper .
          Sorry , I’m a douse bag for opportunity to pounce .
          I appreciate your point .

    2. avatar B says:

      I love those Blackhawk gun cases. I have one in every color.

  3. avatar Silver says:

    Prepping just seems like too much trouble for the simple reward of surviving. Worst case scenario? A dystopian wasteland where survival results in just a drawn out, painful, slow death. Best case scenario? The government uses whatever happened to take away the rest of your rights, so not much to look forward to there.

    I dunno, the world just isn’t doing a good job these days making me care about it or its reprehensible occupiers, much less go through the painful trouble of living to suffer another day. Call me jaded.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Well yeah, I agree with much of that but the main point of this post is that there’s a HUGE chasm between normal daily life and the scenario you described. In fact, it’s in that entire gray zone that a certain degree of preparedness really pays off, and is also significantly more likely to actually pay off since finding oneself in that gray zone isn’t that unlikely at all.

    2. avatar Stinkeye says:

      I think you missed the point of this post. Being prepared isn’t about surviving an apocalypse. Just let that go, that’s mostly a media creation, and very few preppers are actually like the morons on “Doomsday preppers”.

      The whole point of prepping is being able to support yourself through short-term disruptions in normal life. Things like, I don’t know, a freak storm that knocks out power for a week, or being evacuated from your home for three days in the middle of the night because of a chemical spill. There are tons of things that can happen (and do happen, everyday, to somebody) where a little preparation can make the next few days an inconvenience instead of unbearably stressful.

      In my grandparents’ generation, there was a name for being prepared to take care of yourself and your family without expecting someone to come take care of you: daily life. The fact that people today are ridiculed for doing it is shameful.

    3. avatar mark s. says:

      Silver ,
      Don’t prep for yourself , this will only lead you into lala land , always do everything you do in life for someone else . Whether it’s for your Mother and or father , or your girlfriend(boyfriend ) or wife(husband) , or your children , or significant other . Always do for someone else and always do for God . If you don’t have someone else to live for , find someone or organization you can do for and if you do not know God , find Him too . He is the foundation for everything .

  4. avatar TheBear says:

    Personally I just wonder why Sara is a TTAG writer.

    It seems like every one of her articles is 200-300 words of, “This is my opinion about something random.”

    I don’t even read them anymore.

    1. avatar Broken 3ight says:

      That’s why I stopped reading the “Random Thoughts on _____” series. I read TTAG for firearms reviews and news, if I wanted random thoughts I’d be on Twitter.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        This post was pretty much random thoughts.

        1. avatar ButtMunch says:

          The three posts above this are from retards, Sara is pure awesome.

        2. avatar Broken 3ight says:

          This was a story about how you lost power and had a whole bunch of stuff happen, with some opinions thrown in.

        3. avatar neiowa says:

          Bunch you are confused. Sara is a resident of Kalifornia. That covers the issue.

        4. avatar GusMac says:

          The difference is I didn’t hit a spot in your piece where you quit making sense. A bug out bag, or simply extra supplies to help last even 3 days without outside help may seem silly and even be unneeded for most.

          Fair enough.but I stopped reading the post from Sarah once I hit the hunkering down in my own home creating WOOD smoke as some kind of end all solution. Yes staying in your home/property for every threat is preferable if it is viable or your only choice. I would be surprised if this was not covered in the other post but if something gets bad enough where you are defending your home with firearms in a social break down 99% of homes are easily burnt down or breached. Wood smoke source will lead them right to you. That is how criminals hiding in bunkers have been found.

    2. avatar RockOnHellChild says:

      I’ll take these over the “Look at this over priced, useless widget you should buy for no good reason.”

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        You mean gear and gun reviews? 😛

      2. avatar Desert Ranger says:

        Exactly. There is really useful dialog here. Congrats to Sara and Jeremy S.

    3. avatar Vv ind says:

      There’s gold on TTAG and there’s ramble, just like everything. It’s easy enough to sort through….

  5. avatar Former Water Walker says:

    Great response Jeremy-you need a raise(lol). I literally having nothing to add except being prepared(prepping?) for 3 guys in an SUV…we had a windstorm/tornado last year and even though our power stayed on much of the area was without for up to 10 days…something about hundreds of mature trees being in the way. I remember an ice storm in the 90’s when folks were literally frozen on I-80(in Indiana) for 4 days…let alone civil unrest/hurricanes /tornadoes or jihad…

  6. avatar Ralph says:

    I’m prepared to hunker down for thirty days in my home. But go somewhere? Where? I’ve been without power for almost a week as the result of a downed power line during a heavy winter storm. I had water, food, sterno burners, coffee, kitty kibble and litter, battery operated lights, all the comforts of home (except heat). It was fine.

    It’s my home. I’m not leaving. Then again, unlike Jeremy S, I don’t have a wife, two young kids and a dog to look out for. If I did, I might have a different point of view.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Yeah, little kids changes the game. And relatives living minutes away made it easy to relocate immediately. But it’s also much more difficult to hunker down in a house that’s missing roof and wall and usable kitchen. We have quite a bit of food stores — not specifically for “prepping” purposes but because the wife shops in bulk and a lot of it is shelf stable, plus she pickles stuff and I hooked the chest freezers up to the gennie and blah blah — and bottled water and booze for days, but when the house is damaged it’s no longer a viable hunker down location. Maybe if it was a corner room that could be closed off, but with the kitchen located where it is, it wouldn’t be practical or particularly possible to seal it off from the rest of the home. Especially when we would require regular access to the rest of the home were we living there…

    2. avatar Former Water Walker says:

      Aw c’mon Ralph-you’re OLD. Of course you’d feel differently. I’m getting there but refuse to go away. So what pay scale do you TTAG folks make-he he…

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        Define “pay”

        1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

          I said HE HE…my wife has a very successful decorating blog with 3 million hits and 5000 followers. Everyone thinks she’s getting rich-she AIN’T…

        2. avatar Geoff PR says:

          “Define “pay””

          Lots of gun food, company trips out of town to Las Vegas (where coincidentally a major ‘adult entertainment’ convention happens on the exact same week as the SHOT show), occasional guns gifted by the boss (Dan’s black SP101 BBQ gun and Nick’s custom 1911), minor celebrity status in the ‘Gun Kingdom’, a chance to build an actual portfolio of published writing, here and there test and evaluation items…

          Am I on the right track? 🙂

        3. avatar Jeremy S says:

          Well…

          To be fair to TTAG just in case I gave the wrong impression, I do actually get paid in actual money by the brass here. There’s also free gear and such when companies send it for review and don’t want it back. They do so with the knowledge that any review will be no-holds-barred, of course, regardless of whether the item in question is a loaner or is “donated.”

          Very little gun food, though. With the cost of ammo, doing reviews is probably a financial wash when it’s all said and done haha. It’s by far my biggest expense for this stuff.

      2. avatar Ralph says:

        FWW: Say it loud — I’m old and I’m proud.

        With apologies to James Brown.

        1. avatar Former Water Walker says:

          Eck-the only thing good about being 62 is getting a meagre check-at least I don’t need Viagra!

    3. avatar mark s. says:

      I have lived off grid for 18 days in the blizzard of 1993 on my rural farm in WV and waited for the WV national guard to dig a 190 foot long 6 foot deep drift off the access road . I was already considering myself a Prepper and after those 18 days I found out I was a pretender , and learned a great deal that March . I am prepared now to live permanently off grid if I need to , on my farm and could survive for a month or two at my residence , so my greatest dilemma will be the 42 mile trek from point A to point B . I have made precautions for this possibility as best as I can but it could still prove to be a challenge so I have made a back roads ATV coarse over gas lines and power line right of ways that will get me to point B with only one intersection of a major state route .

  7. avatar Julio says:

    We had a pretty severe outbreak of wildfires two summers ago (2014)–right before I left for Afghanistan. We had bags packed along with my “sensitive items” at-the-ready and the vehicles fully topped off in case things got too close. We’ve backed off since then–but a potential earthquake is always in the back of my mind. We have ample water (4×5 gal jugs and a smattering of 1 gal jugs), canned food, and ammo. Flashlights, propane grill, hand-held shortwave radios (with rechargeable batteries), sleeping bags, Coleman lantern, igloo coolers, and ton of other camping gear round things out. Not ready for TEOTWAWKI, but more prepared for a disaster-oriented scenario (natural or man-made). We gave our generator away to the in-laws. I’m considering one of those 3 panel, 15 watt solar kits that you can run in series to get 45 watts.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Back home snow storms were the top of my list. In CA I encountered the loma prieata quake of 89. Guess whats at the top of my list now.

      Floods will make you leave your house. In a hurry.

    2. avatar IN Ken says:

      I work for an electric utility and help support customers with new solar arrays, mostly on their homes. I have a standing gripe with solar installations that I’ll condense to this: be careful shelling out money for solar. 45 watts is small, enough to charge your phone and maybe light up an LED light bulb. Be aware, that 45 watt rating is a peak output (full sunshine hitting the array at a 90 degree angle) add clouds, inclement weather, ice, sun not directly overhead, etc and the output drops off in a hurry. I tell people that if you just want to have a backup power source, invest your money in a good stand bye generator and make sure it is exercised/maintained regularly.

  8. avatar Ken W says:

    I do not prep, no use for me to since I’m a T1 diabetic. I do make sure I can handle problems like outages and hurricanes but a long term problem like a collapse of society is not in the plans. After my ability to keep insulin cool runs out I’ll be waiting for my stock pile go bad . If I did figure a way to keep it cool I’ll still run out of insulin in a year or so even if I used every trick I know to conserve it.

    1. avatar Julio says:

      Depending on your geographic location, a root cellar might work. It’s the same concept that worked during our Pioneer/Westward Expansion Era.

    2. avatar aaron says:

      get a propane refrigerator and an extra large propane tank. it will last for 2+ years if that’s all you use the propane for

  9. avatar Cole says:

    This same thing happened here in PA after Sandy a couple years ago. I was out of power over a week, gas stations were out of gas, and generators were sold out or selling on craiglist for crazy prices. I don’t believe in the crazy apocalypse prepping but it is definitely good to be prepared to go a week or two without power and normal resources.

  10. avatar ACP_arms says:

    Sara,

    I’d like know what your opinion on prepping is now?

    Reconsidering it maybe?

    1. avatar ACP_arms says:

      Comment is not intended as a insult.

  11. avatar Tex300BLK says:

    Standing Ovation

    1. avatar Tex300BLK says:

      Meant to add on to the end of that, hope everyone is handling the relocation as well as can be expected given the circumstance, and best of luck with getting everything back to normal.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        Yeah it’s not so bad. Insurance makes the relocation fairly easy and as painless as possible, actually. And the house we’re going into is quite a bit nicer than our own haha

  12. avatar John Davies says:

    I feel for everybody who suffered and is still suffering from the Spokane wind storm. It was a doozy, mainly because it lasted so darned long and was so widespread. Avista reported more outages than any other event in its 125 year history.

    Coming from 30 years in Puget Sound, earthquake and volcano country, I am pretty anal about emergency prep, to the normal amusement of my wife. We lost power for only 48 hrs and we only lost a few items from our second freezer which thawed out, barely. We had no trees come down on the house, because I intentionally picked a home with no large trees around it. No trees, no smashed roof. No damage at all, except all the neighbors leaves and loose items like grill covers ended up drifted in the lee of my backyard.

    I used up about a fifth of the fuel for the generator – I still had ten gallons remaining. It’s only a little 1000 watt Honda, but it can run my furnace, fridge and freezer one at a time if I ration electrical power. It sips fuel and you can’t really hear it running. If I had run dry, I could easily siphon out of one of my gas vehicles, which were topped up 24 hrs earlier.

    My gas furnace kept the house warm, my gas fireplace in the living room runs independent of electricity. My city water never failed, but if it did, I have days of drinking water stored in the basement.

    There was PLENTY of warning about this storm. The weather folks were talking about it a full day before its peak winds hit, it was not a mystery! I emailed my family members 12 hrs before it hit so they could be sure to fill up the cars and food stocks.

    The only real surprise was the brutal intensity and general carnage it caused. Two people killed by falling trees, mostly big old shallow rooted blue spruces. Pretty but deadly trees. Yikes.

    Again, I feel for those who struggled, but come on, be prepared more than you were. Buy a generator, even a little one!

    John Davies
    Spokane WA USA

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      I think one reason we didn’t take it very seriously was because we had two other “major” wind storms in the past 12 months and they were complete and total non-issues where we live. Same stuff on the news the day before and the morning of predicting damage and whatever else, and we just had high winds. In fact, I think both of those storms sent emergency alert weather notifications to my cell phone (for blowing dust, poor visibility, wind damage, etc). This one didn’t even have that. Seemed like it would be less severe and we mostly blew it off. The tree that hit the house must be 80+ years old and was perfectly healthy. Never saw it as a threat haha

  13. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    Jeremy’s experience illustrates how precarious “everyday life” is. The fact that he owns and carries firearms clearly demonstrates that he prepares for some of the uncertainties in life. And yet this event caught him with his proverbial pants down.

    I don’t know Sara’s life story. Perhaps she has lived her whole life in Central California where environmental extremes effectively do not exist … thus the idea of catastrophes creating widespread and persistent disruptions to electricity, phones/data, travel, and gasoline are silly in her mind. Think about it. Central California (away from the coast) effectively never gets:
    — hurricanes
    — tornadoes
    — windstorms with winds exceeding 60 m.p.h.
    — floods
    — massive snow storms
    — ice storms
    — intense lightning storms
    — devastating earthquakes
    — volcanic eruptions
    — tsunamis
    — sinkholes
    And a good portion of Central California doesn’t even get significant forest fires.

    Pretty much everywhere else in the nation, however, faces one or more of those environmental disasters on a regular basis, with massive disruptions happening every 25 to 100 years or so. Experience tells us that when such events happen, it is prudent to be prepared with a few basic supplies and, of course, firearms to stop human predators from attacking during such vulnerable times. Experience also tells us that roads often become impassable in such events.

    And we haven’t even addressed man-made events … like the Northeast Blackout of 2004. Be prepared and have one or more firearms.

  14. avatar dcj says:

    You bought water jugs and flashlights but didn’t fill the cars with gas? Have you not lived in Spokane very long? Days long ice storms without power are not that uncommon.

    Good to hear that none of you are injured or worse for the wear and hopefully you will remember all of these lessons.

    Thanks for sharing for all to learn from your “challenges”.

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      I lived in the area during “Ice Storm” as well. And “Fire Storm” back in 1991. We’ve now added “Wind Storm” to the list so I suppose the next one is bound to be “Earth Storm” or “Water Storm?”

      Ehhh, my rig had a full tank and I bought the extra water on my way home in the early evening. I had no idea the wife’s ride was literally on the E line until we jumped in it to head to my parents’ place. The car seats could have been moved into mine if it was necessary. Mainly though, none of that would have been a concern but for the unexpected and uninvited arboreal guest crashing our party. We were prepared to ride out plenty of days in the house without power. Bugging out was never a real consideration. It eventually got cold enough in the house that I gave up on the space heaters and hooked the gennie up directly to the gas furnace to run its blower. That would have happened right away if we were staying in the house, but since we weren’t the only concern was keeping it above freezing inside.

  15. avatar AJ187 says:

    I agree with most of what you said. Hardly do I ever read the token gun girl contributions of my favorite gun blogs. I just don’t find them to be that interesting.

    1. avatar triple banger says:

      Amen. I try not to say it because I don’t want the banhammer, but a certain “gun girl’s” posts here really cheapen the atmosphere.

  16. avatar Avenger says:

    We should all be prepared for emergencies in our lives. Having the proper tools and knowledge on how to use these tools is vital to our survival. I live in Spokane too, I was out of power for 5 days and was not really effected much. I had a large generator, plenty of gas, propane, food, water, etc. I noticed and smirked at the people waiting in those long lines, thinking to myself “I am so happy right now that I don’t need anything…”

    Having a basic stocked bug out bag can save your ass! Think about your spouse getting into a car accident on their commute home. He/she is life flighted to the nearest ER/OR. You are notified, you also have 2 small children in your car. What do you do? Go home? Take the kids to a baby sitter? If you do, you are wrong! You haul your ass to the place they took your spouse! Wouldnt it be nice if you had a few items in your car to take with you? Food, water, aspirin (you will probably have a head ache!)? How about your kids?? What do they need? Toys perhaps? What about a wet nap or two?? Small things that can be packed (very small) can be a real life saver in those emergencies.

    I am a prepper. I am not a lunatic prepper you see sensationalized on TV. I am not a gun touting madman awaiting for the zombie apocalypse in my mountain top bunker. I prep for events that actually happen to people EVERY SINGLE DAY. That wind storm, happened to me. I was able to help others, because I was okay, I was not a victim, I was not a burden on others. I was helpful to others.

  17. avatar BigDinVT says:

    ‘Been through a few wind storms.

    Two generators; three five gallon gas cans; three 25 lb propane cans; propane powered space heater; two Kerosene cans; kerosene space heater; five chainsaws; no less than 100 rounds for each long gun and pistol….

  18. avatar Rusty says:

    I think this article begins to explore the main issue with Sara’s article.

    If “prepping” means buying stuff you don’t need, you’re doing it wrong. Plus, her article perfectly demonstrated the trap of black-and-white thinking. I still don’t consider myself a ‘prepper’ but I definitely have supplies for what may come in life–job loss, tornado, health insurance, ice storm, power outage etc.

  19. avatar AM says:

    I wasn’t a prepper until Sandy hit were I was living at the time, Oceanside Long Island, (get it, Oceanside). Try no power for close to a month, cold, no food in the area (the army was handing out MRE’s and drinking water), and no gas or a car to put it in. Even if you had prepped, say you had a generator and had stored food, the flood took care of all that for you leaving you with a generator full of salt water, and food contaminated with raw sewerage.
    Prepping is not the whole answer, nor is having a Bug-Out-Bag, because you might not have a place to bug out to and your supplies could be destroyed, now I live in an area that is no where near an ocean and have on hand supplies to last what I consider sufficient to sustain my family and I through any disaster.

  20. avatar Anonymous says:

    I’m not into the CZ scorpion Evo. Too much plastic, proprietary mags. Pass.

    Now – the TNW Aero survival rifle? I can do that. Barrel even comes off to fit in a backpack. Takes glock mags. 9mm carbine.

    1. avatar int19h says:

      IMO, if you want a really tight packing rifle or carbine, and are okay with 9mm / .40 S&W / .45, then your best choice is Kel-Tec Sub-9000. It folds precisely in half, one half being the barrel, so you end up with a thingum that’s just over 16″ long, and that can be unfolded and ready to fire in a single movement. It takes magazines from popular handguns, so you can carry the same mags for it and your sidearm (so long as it’s Glock, Beretta or CZ). And it’s really light, at 4.5 lbs. Price-wise, you can get a new gen2 one (with better iron sights, railed forend and other improvements) for $500, or gen1 for $400-450.

      Another interesting option is Extar EXP-556 with SIG brace. It’s a 7.5″ 5.56 pistol with polymer receiver – weights 3 lbs unloaded, or 4 lbs with a full 30-round PMAG. It has the recoil spring in the receiver, and hence no buffer tube, so it’s very short without the brace/stock. It uses an adapter for the brace, which allows it to be easily attached and detached without tools, so you can store it with the brace detached in a very compact way by threading the barrel through it. That way, it fits inside a tennis racket case. And yeah, 7.5″ is really short for that caliber, but there’s ammo that still works reasonably well, like Barnes 64-grain – it will reliably expand out to 150 yards, which is way more than you’ll get out of 9mm.

      1. avatar Jeremy S says:

        My carry pistol is a Beretta Nano, so there isn’t going to be magazine compatibility with a carbine. At least the Scorpion uses the identical ammo that I load in my Nano. The Scorp mags are lightweight and while I “only” plunked 3, 30-rounders into this carry bag I do have enough Scorp mags to have a couple hundred rounds loaded up. It fits in this silly racquet case with the suppressor installed, and that’s my main requirement size-wise. It’s also very quiet and completely hearing safe w/ suppressor, which cannot be said for a 5.56 SBR. Kel-Tec Sub2000 is very hard to thread for suppressor use due to the skinny barrel, and it actually isn’t as quiet as the Scorp since the action opens up faster. Cut down and SBR’d it would be nifty, but I’d have a hard time spending the $200 for the tax stamp to SBR a Kel-Tec, just given the “cheap” nature of the Kel-Tec to begin with.

  21. I have two houses, one city and one in the woods. I see advantages either way. I also see how I could get my ass shot off in transit. I prolly won’t bug.

  22. avatar Rakrom says:

    I’m in Spokane as well and we were out of power for 6 days. Luckily I had most things on hand to be prepared for it. I’m no prepper either just from camping gear I had most of the stuff we needed like lanterns, a generator and other various things. However if my wife hadn’t went to the store two days before we would have had no food in the house. Definitely could have been a lot worse. Makes me want to atleast have some dry food in storage for situations like these. As far as a full blown BOB goes I don’t think I’ll ever get to that point, and that might hurt me someday but I just don’t see the need for that still. I dont know too each their own I guess.

    That first picture with the crushed camper I put in a bid to fix that guys roof.

  23. avatar tirod says:

    Since moving to another home in SW MO circa 2003, we’ve had a tornado, two ice storms, a wind event, a 19″ snow storm, that following summer a record setting 30 days over 100 degrees. And then Joplin had it’s EF5 and I worked 6 day weeks from May to September at my job.

    It’s normal.

    We don’t “prep,” we used our propane powered camp gear and cooked on it, heated with it, and didn’t worry about powering things with gasoline, which is expensive, dangerous, and inefficient. We have a working fireplace and keep stocked up on firewood. We know to close off unused rooms to minimize having to heat it all. We used ice to keep the refrigerator cool and grilled the frozen stuff first to keep from losing it. If anything the first few days after most of those events was one big grill party.

    The tornado we had (first up) was basically two days of chainsaw work to make it 150 yards up the lane to a paved road. And then I got injured, badly. If you have never worked wood, you are in more danger from your own ignorance than anything. Since that time I’ve cut a lot of it, and it’s not getting easier with a bad back from the first incident. I can cut down 54″ trees now close enough to hit the house. And that was preceded by days of thinking it thru to make sure all the angles were covered.

    Yes. our neighbors all moved out to motels – we stayed. Our house was relatively undamaged and there was really no point being away. Even in the ice storms they abandoned ship. It took the 19″ snow for some to face what they needed to do. And once the EF5 hit Joplin with thousands literally homeless with the clothes on their backs, motels were booked up for miles. Don’t count on them – count on what you have and can do.

    You either are prepared or are going to be a victim. We are a lot more prepared than in the past – and continue to do things to be prepared for the long haul. It’s not being prepper to have alternate ways to cook, make heat, or take baths – if you don’t trust the grid in the first place. It WILL fail, electricity is a fair weather friend who will leave you in the lurch just the way the middle class fled New Orleans. Birds of a feather –

    When you see the roads clogged with SUV’s heading for “safety” you are actually seeing a real zombie invasion. Don’t be part of that.

  24. avatar Charlie says:

    We had one of those. In early winter 1995 this region was hit with the mother of all ice storms. Trees were down everywhere (there were five blocking our access to the highway). The electricity was out, but the phone, public water system, and natural gas still worked.

    Since we didn’t have power we took all of the food from the fridge and put it outside in ice chests. The frozen food went outside in cardboard boxes on the picnic table. We put quilts across the doorway to the hall and bedrooms to cut down on drafts, started a fire and lit the cooktop, and spent the night in the den.

    You can actually heat a 1000 sq/ft den and kitchen in sub-freezing temps with a fireplace and gas cooktop. Light was courtesy of various flashlights and an ancient Coleman lantern. We ate cereal, canned soup, frozen deer/squirrel/steak/hamburger and garden stuff. We had a battery powered all-band radio for weather reports and my guitar and croaky voice for entertainment.

    On the second day I put the chain saw in the truck and helped the neighbors clear the trees in the road. When we got to the highway it was an ice sheet, so we went back home. There was lots of timber down, so no shortage of firewood. It wasn’t seasoned, but I don’t think anybody cared.

    Five days later the freeze broke, but we were still no power. I went to the ice house in town and got 40 lbs of dry ice, and filled up the truck and gas cans. My mom who lives in the city was still without power.

    On day seven my mom’s power came back on. We packed the kids up and dumped them at her place. It was nice to be back to civilization for a while. Then I loaded up on food and beer and headed back to the country.

    Things slowly returned to normal. Although we were still without power we had hot water and food. Showers, heat, and food prep were never a problem, but we couldn’t wash clothes. Going to work became a pleasure if for no other reason than to be in a place that had electricity, other people, and mechanical noise!

    On the 16th day I came home from work and there were lights in the neighboring houses. I went to the electric panel and started flipping breakers, and one by one the appliances came back on. This was Blanchard, LA in 1995. Blanchard is a dinky railroad town 17 miles northwest of of Shreveport, and the electricity went out every time a gray cloud crossed the sky. I cursed SWEPCO and KCS each and every day, and vowed that I would never again live behind railroad tracks, or be without a natural gas standby genereator.

    Charlie

  25. avatar Geoff PR says:

    The wind damage you got was very similar to what we got here in 2004 when 3 hurricanes visited in a 5 week span.

    In this pic I live just above the triangle where the storm tracks crossed:

    http://soundwaves.usgs.gov/2005/02/HurricanesLG.gif

    Spent a total of 11 days without power, as I lived at the end of a feed with few people on it.

    The power companies are pretty strict as to who gets their power first, after emergency services they focus on what work will get the most customers restored first.

    Parts of our county didn’t get power restored for 6 weeks.

    Being Florida, the trees were never drought-stressed enough to make them seek deeper roots, so the big ones just toppled over, taking the powerlines with them. Add to that the local utilities had gotten lazy on keeping trees trimmed so they (and us) paid for that error. For a few years after, contractor tree trimming trucks were a common sight.

    Same experience on the generator situation, none to be found. One local guy provided a refrigerator semi for his neighbors, that was a big help for them.

    The Publix supermarket chain is headquartered here, and they learned from the experience, now every last Publix has a brand-new big honkin’ Caterpillar 12-cylinder diesel generator out back.

    Wal-Mart had a good system to keep riots from breaking out in their stores, they allowed only 100 people in their stores at one time. They told the people to go directly to the items they needed and then check out.

    Worked like a charm, no riots.

    The biggest upside to your experience is that you will be better prepared for the next one.

    🙂

    1. avatar Jim says:

      Definitely agree Geoff. It made is really thing about what is necessary and what was missing from our supplies. I think 2 weeks of food, water, and supplies may be a reasonable amount to store up for natural disasters without going full on TEOTWAWKI.

  26. avatar PeterK says:

    Welcome to the club. I was brought there by a childhood of hurricanes and religious leaders encouraging preparedness.

    Not all “preppers” are weirdos, just people trying to provide a little insurance for themselves.

  27. avatar triple banger says:

    “BUT BUT BUT it could never happen here!”

    It is NOT paranoid nor wasteful to have:

    1) Enough stored water to last the entire family 72 hours (at least.)
    2) TWO ways to purify more water.
    3) Backup heat sources and TWO ways to light anything that needs to be lit.
    4) Enough food to last the entire family 72 hours (at least.)
    5) Flashlights, batteries and chem sticks.
    6) A VHF/UHF HAM radio, a license, some operation experience and a list of local repeaters/emergency channels.

    This list is not exhaustive, but it is essential. It is not unrealistic and is in fact prudent.

  28. avatar Kap says:

    this whole scenario boils down to four simple words,{what do you trust} with your life, are you
    dependent on some one else or your self? It is amazing how much people will give away for a little security! food in hand is better than trying to eat a promise!

  29. avatar peirsonb says:

    Great article, but I think it misses the mark of being a rebuttal in favor of a bug out bag. Sara argued in favor of being prepared IN the home, so does the above…

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Well we were forced out of the home by the tree, much to our surprise. We were decently prepared to “bug in,” but really had no provisions for bugging out. It didn’t take a societal breakdown for us to find ourselves in need of a BOB and preparations (full gas tanks) for getting out of dodge.

  30. avatar Brian M says:

    Novan here. We tend to have a situation every couple of years or so, but seldom anything truly major. The last I heard of anything significant, it was Hurricane Sandy that took the power down for days, though some earlier stuff had knocked out the power for a few days in the summer. Given that such things have happened and are likely to only become more problematic, it makes sense to be at least moderately prepared. We have enough preparations, all thanks to me, to not be totally buggered for a day or two of disruption.

    My ideal list of things to keep on hand (in no particular order):

    1. 91/30 + non-corrosive ammo (defense, hunting)
    2. M57 in 7.62×25 + non-corrosive ammo (defense)
    3. 1L 40%ABV vodka (water purification, disinfectant, remedy)
    4. 1gal fresh water. (drinking, cleaning)
    5. Peanut butter, almonds, canned vegetables, canned fish (food)
    6. First aid kit w/ bandages, tourniquets, tape, gauze (care)
    7. Ibuprofen, Aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, Epi-Pen (health)
    8. 4 yellow glow sticks (marking, signaling)
    9. Sapyorka (digging, utility)
    10. Tea towels (utility)
    11. Claw hammer, AK-74 bayonet, pliers (utility)
    12. Reusable hand warmers (comfort, hypothermia)
    13. OZK radiation suit (shelter, weather)
    14. GP-5 gas mask + 4 filters (hazard)
    15. Signal mirrors (signals)
    16. Compass

    Things I actually have (in no particular order):

    1. 91/30+ammo
    2. M57+ammo
    3. Vodka
    4. Peanut butter + canned food
    5. First aid kit
    6. Ibuprofen
    7. Glow sticks
    8. AK-74 bayonet, pliers, hammer
    9. Hand warmers
    10. Radiation suit
    11. Gas mask + filters
    12. Compass

    What I’m actually grabbing if we have to move out:

    1. M57
    2. Vodka
    3. Peanut butter
    4. AK-74 bayonet
    5. Ibuprofen

    1. avatar int19h says:

      >> 1L 40%ABV vodka (water purification, disinfectant, remedy)

      You can one-up this by getting 95% Everclear. It’s more expensive, but you’re getting more than twice as much ethanol for the same volume & weight, and so not lugging around unneeded water. For bonus points, it burns really well, so it can also double as fuel (in those small alcohol stoves) and firestarter. And you can still drink it, as is if you aspire to be Chuck Norris, or diluted with water to the desired proportion otherwise.

  31. avatar MeRp says:

    I came up an visited Spokane on the weekend after the storm. I hadn’t even realized how bad it was up there until after I got there. Luckily I didn’t head up w/o a hotel (I had booked before the storm) or I would have had to head back home.
    What I noticed about Sara’s article is that she seems to dislike the idea of being a “Prepper” more than actually being prepared. She doesn’t know the term for it, but she clearly DOES want a Get Home Bag (she called it a Bug In Bag). I think the same is true for you, Jeremy, though you put it a little differently. And I think I fall in line with that thinking as well. I really am not that interested in trying to compile a bag that I can use to survive for 72 hours while I go somewhere else; I can’t foresee any eventuality where I live where 72 hours of independent survival will help me significantly over just being able to get by for a day, which one can usually do with a much simpler set up (like a get home bag).

  32. avatar pres stone says:

    no one seems to be saying this: they are many different types of “bags” not just bug OUT, but also “Get home” and “bug in” scenarios that should be addressed. alot of people carry a bag in their car with enough supplies to get them BACK HOME, should something happen to a road way and its not traversable via vehicle. Some people can NOT bug out and must “bug in”. My friend that is paralyzed below the chest is in this group. his needs are completely opposite of a bug out bag. simply developing an opinion based off what other people simply say is not the best way to rationally think about or address a subject. also, a bug out bag is not just for “running away in the woods”, it could be used to supply you with enough to get by incase a house fire or flood and the bag is all you have time to grab. Again, things like bug out bags are for the millions of reasons we CAN think to have one, but MAINLY they are for the few reasons we CAN’T think of.

  33. avatar Spectre_USA says:

    This is wild. I saw that home with the wrecked RV and home while driving from my no lights
    neighborhood to a friends where I rode out the last weekend.

    6 days and 20 hours later, I was back in the warm home way, just in time for Turkey day.

    It sounds like you were one of the last of the 180,000 to get power hereabouts, which is a
    dubious honor at best. Thank God for friends, as the B.O.B. was not needed, this time…

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      Yeah, the tree in our backyard took out the lines from the telephone pole to our house and smashed the tower on our house where those lines connect. Also took out the electric meter and junction box thingie. So, even when the neighbors finally got power back two days before Thanksgiving, our house was out for another week. The tree first had to be removed, then an electrician had to come out to repair all of the damage on the house and had to put an entire new panel in, and then the power company was able to repair the line and turn the power on. Of course, getting a company to remove the tree and an electrician to do that work and a contractor to fix the damage to the house isn’t easy, as everybody else in town desperately needs all of these services also.

  34. avatar Charlie says:

    Most of the timber I see down in your pics is pines. I’m going to offer some unsolicited advise: Get rid of all conifers within fall distance of your home! Conifers are soft wood, and they don’t stand up worth a damn under a load.

    People around here are planting those stupid ornamental pear trees. They can get 30’ish feet tall, and split or fall at the first sign of a wind. Ditto magnolia trees (a nuisance at best), and any other tree of Japanese origin.

    Charlie

    1. avatar Jeremy S says:

      This whole area is dense pine forest. The thing is, stuff like this doesn’t happen because we don’t historically have weather like this. The trees that were falling — most of them snapping somewhere on the trunk rather than being uprooted — were mature and healthy. 50, 80, 100+ years old. Unless they died for some reason, they’ve never proven to be falling concerns. Obviously people are looking at them differently right now and there’s going to be a lot of pruning and tree removal in 2016 for sure.

  35. avatar Desert Ranger says:

    Generator, gas, chain, and shotgun…

  36. avatar LordGopu says:

    We had an ice storm here in Montreal in 98 and the weight of the ice crushed the towers supporting power lines. Lost power for a few days to a few weeks depending where you lived.

    But at least because everything was icy there didn’t seem to be much in the way of looting. I guess even the looters couldn’t get around to loot.

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