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Reader Andrew Teague writes:

As an amateur outdoor enthusiast, I enjoy a little obsessive gear prep. Then Hurricane Harvey dumped over a year’s worth of rain on my parents’ house in less than 48 hours, flooding their home to roughly two feet above floor level. That provided me a unique opportunity to test out my packing list beyond the requirements of a weekend camping trip.

In the storm’s aftermath, a firearm has been on my person at all times while navigating the freshly-minted swamp that is west Houston. I live a ways away and drove down twice. The first time was to evacuate my folks. I’m here now to help clean up the neighborhood.

The first day of cleanup involved a half mile walk/kayak trip from the closest accessible parking lot, navigating through a graveyard of submerged 4WD trucks in the streets. Yesterday we were finally able to reach the house in my truck. Our objectives have been general cleanup, mold mitigation via demo of the lowest 4 to 5 feet of the house, and moving personal property to a dry location.

In preparation, I packed a small arsenal of firearms to fend off a worst-case scenario. Through it all, I learned a few lessons that I hope will benefit you if you find yourself in a similar situation (I’m looking at you, Floridians).

Portability, size and weight

If you can’t carry your firearm for a good distance, hands-free, and still have room on your body for the other items you need to transport, it’s useless. This is literally the “a .22 in the hand is better than a .45 in the safe” concept.

Even if all you’re doing is evacuating, the weight and bulk you can carry is very limited. More so than you think. Evacuating into a kayak or canoe, then in the backs of trucks with a dozen other people, means everyone has only about enough room for a large backpack.

Then, on top of all the required survival items you’d like to have, you may receive orders from your significant other that you’re not going anywhere unless the very old silverware set she’s never used is in your backpack. My folks are more practical than that, but oh, the stories I’ve heard.

The good news is that the situation has to get really desperate before people turn to widespread violence: imminent death, prolonged food/water shortages, or reactionary political/social outrage may drive that scenario. Fortunately, I have yet to see any instance of aggression post-Harvey worse than routine selfishness. Exactly 96.9% of the folks I’ve interacted with have been absolutely friendly, kind, and motivated to rebuild their lives.

Threat level and firepower

Consider the temperament and values of those within a 100-200 mile radius of you. I’ll brag on Texas a bit, but much of America is the same, populated by honest, independent, helpful, and selfless people. Of my modest arsenal I brought, I ended up carrying a mix of the two or three “weakest” guns due to comfort and ease of carry, corrosion resistance, and the minimal overall threat level. But additional firepower was generally within reach.

Ease of maintenance

An event that causes you to worry about a dirty gun probably means that more than just the gun is filthy. Fall in dirty water, walk through mud, endure a rainstorm, etc. and your entire body is going to be ripe–at this point, you’re more concerned about the threat of illness or injury to yourself and any loved ones than the cosmetic appearance of your carry gun.

Every second not spent tending to your firearm (even two seconds to wipe it off with a paper towel) is time you can spend being productive or drying off your face to keep the sewer/river water mix out of your orifices.

Mechanical reliability

Does the slide cycle with authority such that you have confidence it will consistently slide into battery with your carry ammo? How about while it’s wet or gritty? Do fired primers show deep indentations with your carry load to allow for some slippage should the firing pin hole get clogged? MAC or some other YouTuber has probably torture tested your gun in just this manner. You need to have confidence in what you’re carrying.

Secure grip

I used to chuckle at folks who took a factory polymer grip that already had stippling or serrations and added more. Now I get it. A G20 Gen4, XDs, and LCR with an extended Hogue grip have proven capable. I doubt a smooth OEM-gripped Ruger Vaquero would fare as well. The NAA Black Widow in my pocket is borderline. The threat of grungy water, blood, and mud coating your firearm in a situation like the aftermath of a hurricane is very real. Disasters are disastrous; your hands, the handgun or both are going to be filthy if or when you need to clear kydex. Speaking of which…


In an after-disaster situation, Kydex is king. I do enjoy some fine oiled leather cuddling a custom 1911 on my hip, poised to slay steel on a leisurely Saturday afternoon at the range. However, even well-maintained leather is going to absorb moisture and mud, then rub that gunk into the sides and crevices of your firearm.

It’s like having wet socks inside your belt; long after the rest of your clothes have started to dry out (they never really dry out, they just go from dripping wet to damp), your leather holster will be a sponge on your hip. Comfort aside, Kydex is easy to maintain. You can literally hose it off if necessary and dry it in seconds. The less gunk retained by your holster, the less that gets transmitted to your firearm.

OWB (nominally concealed under a loose t-shirt when walking into a Kroger, or proudly displayed when on my parents’ property), is far more comfortable than IWB. It also allows the handgun to drain and dry faster.

Law enforcement support

As you’d expect, law enforcement  and government support pour into localized disaster areas, providing a solid layer of threat deterrence. In Houston, they’ve been extremely helpful, courteous, and vigilant. However, in the case of entire neighborhoods that are only accessible by boat or careful wading, LE just isn’t capable of responding to my individual crisis in time to save my life.

The LE mentality here in Houston towards general display and carry of firearms in this area has been outstanding.

But in the event of a national disaster, I echo the words of preppers across the interwebs: LE is going to be overwhelmed with larger scale tasks and won’t have time for individual threat situations. You may not be able to communicate your emergency, or they may not be able to reach you.

If LE officers just down the street manning road closure checkpoints had heard a gunshot yesterday, it would have taken them a good 15 to 20 minutes to ewalk/wade my way or commandeer a boat to reach me. That assumes they’re able to pinpoint the location of the noise, or receive an instant 911 call to correlate data. It would then take another 20-30 minutes to get my sorry ass out of there and to drivable roads. A person can lose a lot of blood in that amount time.

Moral of the story: Learn basic first aid and how to keep yourself or a loved one alive long enough for help to arrive. And know that may be a significant amount of time.

(Side note: Jon Wayne Taylor’s andFoghorn’s previous TTAG articles on tourniquets and first aid gear influenced what I keep in my first aid kit. My dry bag has enough to plug and disinfect a couple serious wounds. I’ll ditch the extra socks before I ditch the medical kit.)

Manual of arms/controls

Ensure that you can manipulate your firearm without your muddy fingers slipping around trying to disengage a safety. Extended or textured controls help, though I prefer as few controls as possible. If I end up emptying a mag, I’m most certainly going to slingshot the slide, using those deep serrations and a firm grip, rather than fumble for a 1/8-inch wide slide release. Double action revolvers and pistols without a manual safety rule.

Have a spare carry gun or two

Many a prepper article suggests having extra firearms to lend to family. My skepticism of that suggestion vanished when my dad was worried he would ruin his primary carry gun, a compact 1911, while wading to a rescue boat. He left it inside the house on a top closet shelf.

My mom made it out with two polymer framed pistols on her person, and we have brutally teased my dad for the past week. I armed him up as soon as we met up, then asked if he intended to leave it at my house when we returned to clean up. He’s never going to live that down.

Along the same lines, depending on the situation, you may find yourself carrying a firearm that you’ve never handled before, much less shot. Maybe, for some reason, you think that all Ziploc bags and firearm cleaning products in state of Texas have mysteriously vanished and you decide to your pistol on the top shelf of your closet. Your son then hands you an unfamiliar handgun. It can happen.

Take a page from Clint Smith and learn that gun’s manual of arms as soon as possible. Even better, familiarize yourself with enough guns to be able to pick up a variety of firearms and know how to load them and make them go bang. A 30 second YouTube video of someone loading, shooting, and reloading a firearm will teach you most of what you need to know. I got dad to the range with the pistol I gave him before we returned to Houston and he says he’s keeping it.

Other indispensable gear

As is my standard practice (just ask my wife), I grossly overpacked for this safari into a disaster zone. Firearms aside, here’s what I found essential.

On my person: Streamlight headlamp (lightweight, bright enough), O-Light S10 Mini, Streamlight ProTac 2L, Spyderco Endura (VG-10 is valiantly corrosion resistant), earplugs, thin work gloves, length of 550 cord, and my wallet/phone in a ziploc bag.

In a dry bag always within reach: Spare shirt/shorts/underwear/2x socks, towel, water, snack food, LED lantern, signal mirror, small bottle gun oil, 1 set spare batteries of each type, phone charger/cable/auxiliary battery, multi tool, first aid kit with common OTC meds, medical gloves, face wipes, alcohol wipes, and hand sanitizer.

Clothing: Water shoes with occasional breaks to clean my feet with alcohol wipes was easier to maneuver and lighter than muck boots or waders. This being Houston in August, the water is warm and comfortable, though surely infested with all manner of critters and disease. 5.11 synthetic shorts dried out quickly and provided pockets for all my EDC gear. I brought a wool long sleeve shirt for warmth if I got stuck in the wild overnight and never had to use it (due to the immense hospitality of the owners of dry homes who let us crash there).

Remember, stuff is cheap. Your life is not. If your only handgun in the world is a Nighthawk Custom paired with an engraved leather holster, don’t hesitate. Use and abuse the hell out of it. That’s better than being unarmed. That said, an ounce of prevention now — another relatively inexpensive but supremely reliable firearm that you don’t mind ruining — is worth a pound of cure (detail cleaning and replacing ruined parts on that Nighthawk).

A final note: A hearty thank you to everyone who donated or transported supplies to the Houston area. I arrived with a truckload myself and was turned away at multiple shelters and neighborhoods. They had received so much water, food, clothing, and other essentials that they literally didn’t have room to store any more.

As I drive around, I see stacks of bottled water sitting outside schools and churches acting as shelters. I have never witnessed such overwhelming generosity. As I’ve heard from multiple sources recently, aid organizations could now use plain old cash to help stretch their resources into the future.


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  1. “I’ll brag on Texas a bit, but much of America is the same, populated by honest, independent, helpful, and selfless people.”

    To me, the most inspiring part of the Harvey aftermath was the unselfishness of the “Cocks Not Glocks” feminazis from UT. What a great bunch of gals! They really saved the day — by staying home, reading Sylvia Plath and keeping their damn traps shut for once while decent people did the work.

    • ” . . .but much of America is the same . . .”

      Yes, it’s called “flyover country” by the cosmopolites in the coastal maga-cities. It was almost comical to see the wonder the national media expressed at seeing that there were people in Houston who had the initiative and skills to actually take care of themselves without “official” direction.

  2. Very very good article.

    From personal experience, I’ll add that a good boot is always essential. Even a decade after no longer getting them more or less for free, I’m still partial to Bates ICBs and Jungles. When you’re wading through a couple of feet of swamp, you’re never going to have as sure a footing as you like. That makes it easy to roll your ankle and wind up seriously injured. I’ve found the angle support to easily justify the extra weight.

    One other up side of high boots is that when combined with a set of boot bands and full length trousers it is possible to completely seal your legs against creepy crawlies floating around in the water. You’ll more than regret the extra comfort of shorts or short shoes the first time you have to get a couple leeches off your thigh.

      • I’m not a big fan of waders. They tend to trap moisture and aren’t exactly easy to move in. My dry bag standby kit just has a bundle of boot bands, spare trousers, three PT rolls and a dozen spare pairs of socks.

        • I’ve seen folks wearing the whole line of water gear. Waders would have been useful on day 1, but it was also hot and I think I would have sweat a puddle into the bottom. Some photographers were cruising around (from California no less…the open carry everywhere amused them) in chest-high waders and they looked miserable.

          I’ve destroyed a few pairs of combat or flight boots in various training programs, from basic training to an arctic survival course, and I fully respect their protective capability. The water we crossed was isolated/stagnant (not actively fed by an upstream source) and we moved as quickly as we could to dry ground. Additionally, since there was very little “hurricane” to this flood, there was minimal debris in the water; no broken tree limbs, sharp objects, etc. Washed up silt was the worst obstacle inside the water. In this very specific situation, I would choose light water shoes again.

          Had there been any debris or a current that required more solid traction, boots would have been a necessity. For future safaris, I will pack them as I cannot know in advance the water will be so calm.

        • Agreed. Waders are fine for standing in one place and casting a line. When you are moving around dangerous submerged terrain, you are going to trip and fall over at some point – you do not want to be in waders when that happens.

      • My father had a phobia about waders filling with water and pulling you down if you got into deepish water.

        I don’t know if that’s a valid fear or not. But I know that I could swim in combat boots. Not so sure of the waders.

        • It’s a valid fear but if you have quick disconnect suspenders attached and remain calm, it shouldn’t be an issue.

        • I can see where that thought crosses your mind, but I’m thinking water inside the waders has the same mass as water outside the waders. The only thing that may matter is whether waders float or sink. Sinking, heavier than water waders is the only thing that will (literally) weigh you down, if they are indeed heavier.

    • Today was the first day we could drive all our vehicles from dry ground to dry ground. Our vehicles all have decent ground clearance, light trucks and SUVs. Tomorrow it may allow some neighbors with sedans to drive. We’ve been carpooling from a nearby parking lot.

      Anyway, that meant today was the first time I wasn’t working with wet feet. A huge improvement! Demo is 90% done, so now it’s onto transporting personal goods.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Teague for the lessons from your experience. God bless you and all those who volunteered to help others during this crisis !

  4. Probably the fastest and easiest gun to break down for a quick cleaning is a Glock. Dragging your gun thru that sludge and crap is going to make a quick cleaning more important than ever.

    • That’s the pistol I handed my father. I inspected it after each evening the first couple days and it hasn’t flinched. A paper towel for some damp internals and a drop or two of oil is all I needed.

  5. In addition to the valuable lessons, this is the best personal account on the situation in Houston I’ve read.

    • Another lesson learned: most guns I own don’t have a built in lanyard loop. I can drill a hole in the polymer, but I’m not sure about the LCR’s hogue. I may get the G10 grips for it and drill a hole.

  6. After reading this article and Andrews experiences one thing I could suggest, and I know already this will be met with a certain if not a large amount of derision, would be to purchase a Hi-point in whatever caliber you are used to carrying and having that ready for whatever drastic conditions you may face in case of a natural disaster. As clunky as they are they can take rough use and keep on firing. If for some reason you lose it the financial hit is minimal and when the archeologists dig it up in a 1000 years they will have a working pistol they can use on whatever aliens might be attacking the planet at the time. Since I am a sensitive soul I will not be coming back to this thread for fear of the remarks coming my way and yes, I have a Hi-point in .45 caliber, it makes a good truck gun.

    • I’m not gonna give you (much) crap on that idea.

      But the bottom line is, HiPoints are *heavy*, and that reduces the amount you can carry in that environ…

      • Take some clear nail polish and spread a drop around the case mouth and edge of the primer pocket. Takes 2-5 seconds per round. NATO spec ammo comes this way.

  7. BREAKING:.POS Governor Mapp of USVI backtracking speaking to Tucker Carlson after the NRA threatens lawsuit. You HAVE to see this. What an IDIOT. The American Revolution was started for less 😡

  8. 90% of the article saying “put a glock in a holster”.

    10% of the article on the probably more important gear, techniques and supplies.

      • I can just say “Carry a Glock In A Holster” in less than 750 words. Carrying a pistol just isn’t that complicated. If so, how were thousands of other Houstonians and visitors carrying firearms without all the over-analysis?

        And why are you talking about boots, waders and trucks in the comments section at a firearms centric website.

        • In 6yrs of reading TTAG I have yet to see an article you submitted. Please provide us an example of your work, in article form, as a beacon of literary inspiration. Your writing style may influence others, so that you never have a reason to (consistently, embarrassingly, unproductively) complain about TTAG’s articles.

          There, troll happily munching on his slop. I’m waiting on a trailer load of stuff to arrive, then I’m back at it.

        • I don’t get into virtue signaling contests.

          I can’t wait to see Taylor out-virtue signal you over your two admirable Houston recovery efforts.

        • There it is, the accusation/redirection, and the out. It only took a while 3 messages this time, you’re getting slower.

  9. Thanks for sharing what has shaken out for you in an actual crisis. I’m now even more confident in my USP40c and its kydex holster for any similar emergency situation. I’m glad to hear you seem to be doing well, and the strangers around you are almost all behaving themselves.

    But mostly I’m glad I live in DFW, and not in Houston.

  10. Great article. I’ll keep it short and simple. So I choose a snub nose revolver. Now I know it’s low round count but while traveling through water/mud and being rescued not once did I ever feel out gunned much less I never felt like i printed on my wet clothes. And If the first round didn’t go off I know the next round would.

    • I’ve ended up adopting the same thought. I have an LCR on my hip and an NAA Black Widow in my front pocket. I have confidence both would fire after a mud bath, though the grips on the Black Widow may be a little too slick to allow one-hand cocking of the hammer.

      • Try their grip holster…the one that replaces the grips and the gun rotates into the shroud. Gives you a slightly larger grip, protects the trigger and should solve the slippery problem. I’ve got one and it is great.

        • I tried it on a Pug and Black Widow, and it didn’t feel comfortable to me. I imagine it would provide a more tactile grip though, so in this case it probably would have been worth the discomfort. I forgot I even had that back home, good suggestion.

    • Rolando,

      All handgun platforms have different strengths and weaknesses: a snub-nosed revolver is no exception.

      As you pointed out, it is a revolver:
      good — if it doesn’t fire, simply squeeze the trigger again
      bad — low round count

      Compare with a semi-auto pistol:
      good — higher round count and FAST reloads
      bad — if it doesn’t fire, you have to tap the magazine, rack the slide, and pull the trigger

      We could even consider snubbies versus full-size revolvers.

      good — small and light, easy to carry/conceal
      bad — unpleasant recoil, one less round

      full size revolvers:
      good — pleasant recoil, one more round
      bad — large and heavy, harder to carry/conceal

      A snub-nosed revolver is a fine choice, as are many other choices. The most important consideration is that you had an effective self-defense tool!

  11. Great article and very uplifting. As I sit here waiting for Irma to hit in Southwest Florida. If I have time tomorrow, I think I’m going to go look for a Kydex holster…. All I have are leather.

  12. I’ve heard Harvey called an 80 year flood event and I heard it called an 800 year flood event. I do not know the history of “Texas Flood’s” but it has to be the worst in the last 100 years. We had our own issues with Floyd and Fran and could have issues with Irma but one thing’s for sure with our without a hurricane and flood, ” LE is going to be overwhelmed with larger scale tasks and won’t have time for individual threat situations.” Never have and never will. Forewarned is forearmed.

    • Harvey was well above the 100yr flood mark, by at least a couple feet. I’ve heard various remarks from locals, anywhere from 500-1000yr flood. I don’t know much about how flood levels are determined past 100yrs old; how do you say how high the water has gotten in the last 1000yrs if there’s no record of water levels in 1017?

      • A simple answer would be: Look at all the photos of Arctic, Antarctic and Greeland ice sheets diminishing and disappearing over the last decade. Then ask yourself where all that water will eventually go? That’s right – onto all the low lying areas on land. Where roughly 90% of the Earth’s population and productive industries exist. There are going to be some big problems in the next 50 to 100 years if we last that long (sperm count depletion). Climate change is real, and it is happening evereywhere. Here in New Zealand my lawn was mowed for the first time in three months due to the constant heavy rainfall all winter long. I may invest in an aqualung. Thank God I live above sea level.

  13. “Double action revolvers and pistols without a manual safety rule.”

    Has anyone mud tested revolvers? Considering that a high primer will lock one up solid, I’m a little skeptical they do very well in muddy environments.

  14. If you want a light, inexpensive and reliable gun, buy a Smith and Wesson Shield
    They are going for about $300 here in South Florida
    You will not be too sad if it gets ruined or lost
    I have a Bersa Thunder cc as my disposable gun
    If it gets stolen from my car in a gun free zone I won’t cry too much

  15. This is an exceptionally well written and informative article. Covers both lessons learned and an after action review.

    MEGA kudos

  16. Thank you for this important After Action Review.
    The Henry AR7 survival rifle might be the best under the circumstances. It floats, long enough for you to recover it. Its mostly made of a plastic type material. And its light weight.
    Its a 22, but the 12 gage or AR15 is heavy and they will sink to the bottom it dropped over board.
    I have one already. And there have been floods in this area before.

    • I have an AR-7 under the truck’s front seat, all day everyday. It shoots a variety of hyper velocity and subsonic rounds surprisingly well, so I have a couple mags loaded with each flavor and a stock pouch with a 50rd box of Velocitors. Handiest little rifle ever, more so than my takedown 10/22. Excellent put!

  17. Might wanna toss an MRE or two in that day pack. If nothing else you can always use it as currency or drop to someone that you can’t pull out with you for whatever reason and some of the stuff inside can be pretty useful.

    • Kudos to my parents for dragging a couple MREs with them as they evacuated, and back as we returned. I had the luxury of a vehicle for most of my travels, so I carried freeze-dried camping meals, a tiny/cheap propane stove ($5 or so on Amazon), and a small butane bottle. It’s tastier than MREs, but the drawback is that you need a flat and relatively dry spot to boil water.

      • just gotta know how to fix them MREs to make em tasty.
        1. ALWAYS add cheese to the main entrée.
        2. ALWAYS heat the cheese before adding to entrée.
        3.Tabasco sauce helps.
        4. Mix the peanut butter with cocoa mix and creamer then heat in heater pouch to make a quasi chocolate pudding.
        5. The “bread” and crackers are more for tearing up an adding to the entrée than making an actual sandwich.
        6. Add the seasoning packet (if so equipped) before cooking.
        8. NEVER trade the cheese or peanut butter unless there’s bacon cheese or jalapeño cheese on the line.
        9. Eat it now taste it later.
        10. The toilet paper is useless if all else fails just eat it.

  18. Good article, thank you. As far as floods go I torture test all of my carry guns. Mud,rain,sand etc. I do not care if it beats up the finish or gets a little rust somewhere. I just want to know that if I need it it will shoot. Added Hogue grips to all of my daily carry guns. Really helps when regular grips would be slippery.

  19. The right mindset, some military experience and one or more guns. That’s what it takes.
    Once you’re into that frame, you can work out better, finer solutions, but you’ll most probably survive.
    In the end, it only takes a man/woman able to think as such and not as a left minded, politically correct, unable-to-survive-the-world city dweller.

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