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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.