5 Lessons We Can Learn From Recent Natural Disasters

As the US still reels from Hurricane Harvey which ripped through Texas with a fury not seen in over 50 years, we brace for the aftermath of yet another onslaught from Hurricane Irma.

Natural disasters are getting worse.  In both frequency and ferocity.  This month following the eclipse seems to be especially disturbing. Some people blame Mother Nature, some cite climate change and blame global warming, fossil fuels, some say humans shouldn’t even be on this planet, period and some point to the bible and prophecies foretold thousands of years ago.

Whatever belief you subscribe to, we have undoubtedly seen the gradual decline in human affairs for years, and have been patient in trying to warn others that it’s all going to come to a head in a very bad way, sometime in the very near future, and that we need to prepare now.

The citizens of Houston were warned the hurricane was coming.  As with many natural disasters, some felt it wouldn’t be as bad as it was, and decided to ride out the storm in their homes.  Many did try to prepare. With conflicting reports however, that’s not always easy. With rain initially forecast to be around 20 inches, many surmised that their homes would be safe, and decided to hunker down and ride it out.  This proved deadly for some, and certainly a harrowing experience for others, as homes slowly filled with water as the rain fell in excess of 50 inches.

The entire city was drowned in a deluge of water, debris, sewage, critters, and every other thing you might imagine a flood could bring your way. Many awaiting rescue saw daylight turn to night as they sat atop their housetops waiting for help that didn’t immediately come.   Phone lines were jammed, and rescue teams were stretched to their limits.  Volunteers- brave Texans, took to the flood waters in their own private boats, canoes, even jet skis, rescuing people from their homes, cars, campers and businesses where they had become stranded.  Texans are well known for their rugged individualism, and many citizens shone brightly, using their well-equipped monster trucks with oversized tires and raised air intakes to pull out even National Guard vehicles which were mired down in the murky flood waters.

What are we learning in real-time about survival during these massive natural disasters?

1). Don’t underestimate the ferocity of today’s weather patterns and disasters.

As the people of Harvey can attest, one’s world can change in the blink in an eye. Almost a quarter of a million Texans are without power as this is being written. Be prepared.  Know where you live, and what to expect, and never assume you’ve already seen the worst.  You haven’t.  If you do have warning of an impending danger, take it seriously and be proactive.  Beating the crowds at the store and traffic on the highways will put you in a far better position to survive.

If you live near a coastline, have a plan for what you will do when things start looking ugly.  Have Bug Out Bags with supplies to last a month. You and your family could be on the run, or trapped- for weeks, maybe months. Some people will lose everything they have and have nothing to go back to at all.  Be prepared to leave with more than you might think you need. Have fully equipped Bug out Bags and survival supplies already waiting by your door, ready to grab and go at a moment’s notice.  The last thing you want to do is frantically run around your house trying to figure out what to grab when you are already in a state of duress. The time to get those items ready is now, when you are calm, collected and have plenty of time to find those items you are lacking.

2).  Don’t assume stores will have what you need when disaster hits. They won’t.

supermarket-665049_960_720After seeing what the good folks in Houston went through, the citizens of Florida are desperately wanting to save themselves many of the same heartaches. They are leaving the state in what is the biggest mass exodus in the history of the USA. Many aren’t going far, as there simply wasn’t enough fuel to meet demand, and most have been left with what they had in their car when the storm hit.

During a natural disaster, most everyone else in your town is going to want the exact same supplies you do.  In Florida, bottled water sold out in record time. Plywood, food, batteries, lighters, and flashlights were all gone. One woman on the verge of tears told reporters that she always kept plenty of emergency food and gasoline on hand in case of an emergency, but that because  things had been financially tight recently, they dipped into their reserves with the intent on restocking after their next paycheck. When it was time to restock, there was nothing left to buy at the stores. Have everything you need ready to get out quickly all year round, with specific supplies pertaining to your most likely threat scenario accessible.

3).  Don’t count on anyone adhering to the ‘Golden Rule’ during times of crisis.

In times of distress, the best and the worst in people come out.  Heroes arise from obscurity, and unscrupulous people with vacuous morals will leech whatever

they can from those in distress.  Price gouging has been widespread and have broken out over superfluous things such as simple as parking spaces.

Volunteer forces in Texas have reported witnessing ‘a total breakdown and collapse of society, and that neighborly humanity was gone’, with looters on the prowl, some even trying to lure volunteers away to remote areas.  ‘It was like the movie Walking Dead’, one group of volunteers reported, as local police forces enlisted citizens to help guard property from looters.  The bottom line? Those with a strong family/friends support system, and plenty of weapons were able to stave off roving gangs, and come together as a strong united front against anyone wanting to take advantage of those effected by the disaster.

4).  Have a Place to go.  And Don’t let it be a FEMA Camp.

For the people escaping the onslaught of these hurricanes, they are finding out the harsh reality of any quick escape plan.  Hotels are fully booked, with limited payment options – such as refusing cash – and no way of knowing the duration of ones stay, options are slim.

With almost a quarter of a million people without power in Texas, many have been forced into nearby shelters. Stories coming from people who have experienced these shelters have not been glowing. There is no privacy, and little security.  Bathrooms are deplorable, and fights are commonplace.  Food and water are severely rationed. Cooped up with hundreds of other strangers, many already suffering from mental illness and disease. This is nothing new, as Hurricane Katrina will tell us.

If you are lucky enough to own a second home somewhere, or a bug out location then you already know where to head when the SHTF.  But what if you don’t have one of those?  It’s time to coordinate with your family.  Who has the best location (furthest from a major population center), who has the most room?  Even if your extended family won’t get on board with your prepping ideology, talking about coming together during a crisis, could be a very important conversation to have sooner than later.

5).  Don’t assume Disaster Help Agencies Will be There to Save You.

As many have learned, in times of crisis the different government agencies and other humanitarian organizations can be just as disjointed as the rest of us.  Reports of military teams having trouble coordinating with various local help groups, police and rescuers abound.  ‘Red Cross was nowhere to be seen’ reported a member of a volunteer Houston rescue crew. Advising people to stock up on water purification, storable foods and rice.

Further reports of National Guard trucks defending banks and private businesses rather than assisting the needy have also arisen.

The lessons learned during these recent disasters? If you plan on someone coming and bailing you out, defending you from predators or supplying you with food and water, you’re going to be severely disappointed. Stock up now, have a plan and have a means to protect your potential life-saving supplies.

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