Why We Prep

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Some people prep because they are worried about an EMP attack, or martial law, or a Super Volcano erupting.

We prep because we have been through a majority of natural disasters ourselves and with the current state of the country, we feel that Economic Collapse is inevitable.  Sometimes I think that natural disasters are attracted to me…or maybe I am just always in the wrong place at the wrong time…..or maybe because I am prepared, they don’t seem as big a deal as they do to other people.

While my mother was pregnant with me in Spokane, Washington (and my father was stationed in South Korea with the Air Force on a TDY), Mt. St. Helens erupted. My poor mother was well over 300 miles away when the volcano blew its stack, but ash rained down on Spokane and the entire state of Washington. Airplanes were grounded, traffic impeded, water ways blocked, and deadly life-choking ash clogged the air. Everyone had to wear masks on the faces to prevent ash inhalation. My mother had to lock the dogs inside the garage to keep them from going crazy (they obviously knew something was VERY wrong, and proceed to claw the hell out of my mother’s Pontiac). Clean up was extensive and recovery took awhile. Years later (obviously after being born), we visited the Mt. St. Helens National Park and saw the still-active and smoke-spewing volcano. Now, geologists and vulcanologists are tracking the volcano’s growth and expect her to blow again in the near future.

I remember living in the Upper Pennisula of Michigan as a small child and snow piling up to the roof line after one blizzard! Us kids thought it was great because we could climb up the mountain of snow and walk on the roof of our 2-story house- our parents, not so much. It caused not only damage to the house and roof, but completely shut down the power and the nearby town.  It was a good thing we had a wood-burning fireplace and food & water stocked up.  The next summer, a lightening strike caused a wildfire to break out and nearly engulf KI Sawyer AFB (which we were stationed at with the Air Force at the time).  I remember my father coming and going, smelling of heavy wildfire smoke on his clothing, as he and the rest of the military personnel battled the wildfire to protect the base.  It wasn’t until I was older, after speaking to my father about it, did I find out just how close the wildfire had come to the base  and how we all almost perished (the wildfire had spread so quickly, completely surrounding the base, that air evacuation was the only option- no one was going to drive out of that area through the wildfire.) Thankfully, God made american soldiers/military personnel resilient, tough, determined people who would never give up!  The military got the fire put out, saving the base and many, many lives.

When I was a little older, we moved to California with the Air Force, only to experience the 1989 Loma Prieta quake, the 1994 Northridge and the 1996 earthquakes that left not only Los Angeles, but the entire San Joaquin Valley in disarray. There was looting and rioting abound and a slow recovery.  On top of these two major seismic events, California was in the middle of a 7-year drought that brought wildfires, crop loss, and rolling brown-outs to the area. (Brown-outs are usually intentionally done by the local and state authorities by reducing the electrical load to prevent a Blackout or complete loss of electricity. Brown-outs are known for their dimming effect as the electrical load “sags”). Because of the extreme drought, food prices were elevated; electricity and water were rationed.  If you want to know what a state-mandated water ration is like, especially long-term, all you have to do to experience this is to tell your family they can only run water for 15 minutes total per day. You get to decide whether everyone is taking a quick 3 minute shower today or whether you are washing clothes and filling water jugs that day, because you can’t do both! And forget about watering your lawn or garden, it didn’t happen!  The vast canal network in California it uses to maintain the irrigation for its year-round crop production was strictly monitored and smaller farms went bust because they could not afford the elevated water prices…only the corporate farms could.

I’ve been through a variety of tornadoes in Oklahoma, Ohio & Tennessee. Those are always fun- trying to guess whether your town is going to be hit or missed by Mother Nature and all her fury (can you hear my sarcasm out there?).  Tornadoes, while scary (yes, they do sound like a freight train barreling down on you), in some ways have an up-side (compared to other natural disasters)- tornadoes are usually over pretty quickly (even if damage clean-up takes awhile), while other natural disasters can last hours or days.

While I was in the middle of earning my college degree at the University of Tennessee, 9/11 happened.  Now, for those of you who don’t know where UT in Knoxville is located, it is only about 20 minutes west of Oak Ridge, TN.  What’s in Oak Ridge, TN you ask?  How about Site Y12. A little history for you- Site Y12 is where the government enriched uranium to manufactured the first atom bombs that were tested (Manhattan Project) out in the Nevada desert before atom bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan during World War II.  After WWII, Oak Ridge continues to be the only national security complex in our nation that manufactures atom/hydrogen bombs (my Nuclear Chemistry professor worked there when not giving lectures at UT).  Yep, the ONLY place where we make “the bomb”.   Back to my story- 9/11 happened.  The Twin Towers had just been hit and the country was freaking out.  Two other planes were still in the air (the Pentagon and the field in Pennsylvania had not been hit yet).  So imagine being less than 20 minutes from a crapload of nuclear bombs in a nuclear facility!  Talk about complete lock-down!  Our college campus went nuts! Classes were cancelled, professors went home, students who lived locally abandoned ship to return to their homes and families, and the rest of us who were out-of-staters (students who were from another state, attending college in Tennessee) were making plans to bug out.  After the Pentagon was hit, everyone assumed that Oak Ridge was high on the list of possible targets for the terrorists.  The freeways quickly became clogged with traffic.  All airplanes were grounded, so the airport was on shut-down.  My younger brother and I were quickly plotting out on a map, back roads over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we would go!  My grandparents were on the other side of the state, roughly a 6 hour drive from UT.  It took a lot of time, planning, patience, and map reading to get us to Memphis from Knoxville, without using the freeways, but we managed to do it.

Fast Forward:  A couple years before I met my husband, he endured Hurricane Floyd in coastal North Carolina. He lost his home, his SUV, furniture, everything. He filed his FEMA claim and you know what the government said the worth of all his lost property was?  $900. They sent him a check for $900 that was supposed to replace his house, his vehicle, and everything he lost in his home. Lesson learned?  Don’t rely on the government to bail you out or help you in any way. They are not your friends. And don’t count on your home owner’s insurance to pay for everything either. They have so many loop-holes to get out of paying for damages caused by storms and flooding, you wouldn’t believe it.

About 4 months into our wedded bliss in our small apartment, living the coastal beach life in North Carolina, Hurricane Isabel hit us. Everyone knew it was coming, thanks to the National Weather Service and the Coast Guard.  We were already preppers, but went down to the local Walmart to get a few extra supplies.  When we got there, it was a madhouse. We got to see exactly what civilization decays into at the very threat of impending doom. The shelves were completely bare, the camping aisle look like a tornado had hit it, and there were people fighting each other over the last can of beanie weanies. It was insane. People were running around in a panic like chickens with their heads cut off. The gas pumps had already shut down with a long line of customers waiting because no more gas deliveries were being made (due to the hurricane coming). If you hadn’t left town the day before, you were stuck there. We didn’t evacuate the area because we didn’t want to be one of the thousands who would be stuck on Hwy 70 out of town in a traffic jam. We managed to get a couple more canned goods, another water storage container, and a couple of Sterno cans. But that was it. Less than 48 hours till the hurricane was going to hit the coastline and Walmart was bare of supplies other than freezer goods (which no one would buy because they knew the hurricane would knock out the power).  Then Isabel hit with full force of a Cat 5 hurricane.

We lost power, had roof and structural damage and flooding. Our tiny town was damn near wiped off the map by the hurricane, but the news only portrayed the damaged caused to the shipyards in Norfolk, VA. They completely ignored the damage to the Carolinas. FEMA never showed up and certainly did not send anyone a check for hurricane damages.  Both our places of employment were completely shut down due to damage and flooding. Unfortuntely, when a storm shuts down business, you don’t get to collect unemployment, because you haven’t been fired and your work is not seasonal. You are just screwed on your paycheck until the business repairs damages and puts people back to work, or worse, goes out of business completely because repairs are too costly.   Thank God we had some money at home (banks and ATMS didn’t work- no power) and food and water stored. We would have been in a far worse boat if we had not been preppers. We even managed to give some of our prep supplies to our friends and neighbors who had not been smart enough to stock up before the hurricane hit.

Years later, we found ourselves living in Michigan (my second TOD to the Wolverine state!) and a bad thunderstorm with high winds came off of Lake Michigan and hit our little town, knocking power out for 3 days.  I was 5 months pregnant at the time with our son, and feeling like a beached whale in the hot humidity. (No power means no air conditioning!)  The hubby hooked up our gas-powered generator (running off our stored gas supply) and we were the only people in town to have lights and a cold, running refrigerator!  Well, almost the only people in town- the casino down the street that had its own back-up generators was happily taking gambler’s money and feeding a massive crowd at the buffet.  We kept the air conditioning off to save on electrical load (which made my bloated preggers body miserable), but we had lights and we happily ate a dinner I cooked in our home while everyone else was trying to find someplace that was open to purchase a meal (the grocery store was closed, everyone’s power was out, and no restaurants were open, save for the casino).  Being prepared has really paid off in our lifetime.

So what have we learned from all the natural disaster we have endured?  To continue to Prep and to always be Prepared!  Prepping has saved our lives more than once and has even helped us through periods of unemployment!  It has also exposed us to survival scenarios and how people react under pressure.  Prepping can save your life too if you start now!  You can learn from us, we teach Prepper and Survival classes to the general public for reasonable fees.  Just visit our website to find out more info.  www.schoolofselfreliance.wix.com/schoolofselfreliance