Beyond Supplies : Timeline-Based Disaster Planning

This guest post is By John R  and entry in our non-fiction writing contest .

Background

I started prepping in 2008 and as many of you have, I periodically (ok, almost constantly) rethink my strategies. Initially, I had no clue what I was doing. As I bought supplies, I subconsciously associated the extent of my financial expenditures with preparedness. So I generally just bought what people suggested and stacked it up in my basement. I bought things without preparing for a specific disaster and to be honest it was sort of random. I could get talked in to buying almost anything and would immediately feel like I was accomplishing something.

I think I really started to see the light 4-5 months ago. Ironically, I feel that I have learned as much or more from watching Doomsday Bunkers and Preppers shows and seeing what NOT to waste my time doing, than from people suggesting what we SHOULD be doing to prepare. Around that time, I determined that I was not as prepared in 2012 as I thought I was 4 years earlier.

Scenario

I decided to primarily prep for anything that would decimate our infrastructure and require 100% self-reliance very quickly. This would include things like the grid being down, a pandemic, massive natural disasters, etc. Slower resolving events such as an economic collapse would cause the time frames to be extended considerably. In making this plan, I effectively had to plan somewhat for many short term situations. My goal was to make sure each phase prepares for the next. In addition, I wanted to obtain all important resources 1 step before everyone else. Now, obviously I store a fair amount of all the things I think of obtaining. But realistically I have 5 months or so of food (more of grains but less of other) and less of other things, so I will need more of virtually everything. I wrote this as a timeline primarily for my group so I could address any gaps in my plans and preparations. For my family, the worst case timing is when I am at work and my kids are at school. So that is what I plan for.

First 2 hours after SHTF

Stay calm. There will be a million things going through your head, especially for those of us who plan for disasters. Expect that communication will be difficult. When the networks are stressed, sending a text message is better because it is a relatively tiny amount of data. Text messaging will also retry until it succeeds. You may not be able to keep a connection long enough to make a normal call. Secondly, you can send a text message to multiple people at once.

Do I need to get out immediately? On 9/11, I was working in a building downtown that was 1 block from a large federal building that houses much of the Dept. of Homeland Security. At the time, there was no way of knowing whether there would be more attacks. If there were, that building might be a target. My employer said anyone could leave if they wanted. I left immediately and got home within 30 minutes. Then as many more people went home, there was an early rush hour and other people spent 90 minutes to get a similar distance home.

For me, I start with my get home ‘bag’. For me this is simple. I live 30 miles from work. I drive a 4×4 truck and never let it get under half full. In my truck box I have a Glock 19, a coat, a pair of shoes and socks, some water, a small backpack, and a map with walking directions to get home. (I also keep other things in my truck like a baseball bat, a machete and rope that I would have but I don’t of this of as part of my SHTF supplies) I do not plan to go fishing, start a fire, or knit a sweater so I don’t bother with the tools for those that some people pack in get home bags. I have 3 kids so I always have some kind of snack but realistically I won’t desperately need to eat. I feel that it would be highly unlikely that anything could keep me from getting 30 miles in less than 36 hours so having much food is unnecessary. I also was a very competitive wrestler in high school and college and have experience not eating much for a few days. The backpack and map are in the event I am forced to go on foot. As far as traffic is concerned, I honestly I think that the scenario depicted on the cover of “The Walking Dead” is unrealistic unless there is an earthquake (or actual zombies), but it brings up the point that you don’t want to get stuck in traffic. A few accidents in a congested area and it may not be far off. Examining my route, the highway I take has a grass median and shoulder that starts about 2.5 miles from down town. So, my plan is to take side streets to that point and then stay out of the middle lane so I can go off road and to side streets if need be.

Another member of my group works nearby but takes the bus to work. So the plan is for us to grab our bags and meet at my truck. While I park in a parking garage 3 blocks away, I park on the first floor. I can take a skywalk the whole way, which is what I would likely do to avoid as many people as possible. At the same time, my wife has to pick up 2 kids from school, which is 2 miles away from home.

On the way home, we will use all means of communication available (but primarily texting) to contact loved ones and assess the situation.

3-24 hours after SHTF

It is possible that we will not know the extent of the impact of any event within the first 24 hours. In any case, priority 1 is getting safe. If your medium term safe zone requires bugging-out, this is a tricky time where you must decide whether that is necessary or whether the situation is not too bad. Wait too long and it may be too late.

Back home, it will likely be pretty safe at this point so we may travel short distances if need be. Personally, I live in a small neighborhood in a rural area outside of town so we will get/stay there. As the situation warrants, I may stop for something on the way home. A massive act of God or viral outbreak would mean getting home immediately. For something like a grid failure, I might at least drive by a store that uses backup power and see whether anything is available without crazy crowds. Speaking from experience, hurricane Ike came through our area and knocked out power for most people for 7 days. Most people in our neighborhood stayed home for the first couple days as they had food for that time. When they did go out, they either went out to eat or left to stay at a hotel or with family. Regardless, it was largely reactionary. They didn’t try to get food till they got low and realized it was going to be a bigger deal. Some people did go out and buy gas and generators, but that’s about it. For most events, if it’s not apparent from the first instant that it will be a long term situation, stores should largely be available. If this is the case, we will stock up.

At home, I will focus on my power solutions. I am still developing my system, but it will generally consist of a bank of batteries, an inverter generator and 2500 watt solar system. Currently I only have 2 panels and a couple batteries so this is a big work in progress. This is primarily for my freezers (2x 550 watt) and for tools. The freezers are to store food longer term that is not as easy to store in cans or mason jars. Especially in a SHTF situation, all generators are not created equal. Inverter generators are more ideal because they can be throttled and are much quieter (and really cool technology), but they are pricey. I believe I can be most efficient with my power if I power batteries rather than devices directly. I will likely run the generator only in an emergency when extra power is needed. The batteries are left in my basement and connected to a charger so they are left fully charged when the SHTF. The solar panels will be my primary power source to hopefully be able to maintain an adequate charge.

2-7 days after SHTF

Assuming a level of personal security is established, it’s necessary to evaluate how serious the situation is. At this point there may still be order at stores (esp. early in the week) unless power and communication have been out long. Gathering supplies is always risky. During our hurricane experience, electric was out in places for 2 weeks. The grocery stores were almost completely bare. The natural inclination is to go for food, water, and gas. A Local grocery store had people lined up for a couple hours just for water. For gas, I keep 4 5-gallon jugs for my lawn mowers and I rotate them. Sitting in line for an hour or more for gas is not an efficient or safe use of my time. I store enough food that it might not be worth the risk to fight people for short supplies of food. If I go for any traditional food, it will be for things like canned goods that last a long time. I would generally look for longer term needs in the event that the situation continues and will avoid the short term things that are most in need now (and which I should have stored). These are also things for which a small volume is very valuable and I can gather a lot at once. For example:

  • Seeds
  • Hygiene products (soap, toothpaste, Feminine products)
  • Vitamins
  • Over the counter medicine
  • Batteries,
  • Ammo in any caliber
  • Spices – low value now but could be extremely valuable in a few months.
  • Kitchen disposables (bags, foil, containers, etc)

Other things can be added to this list if time permits or if the situation is known to be very bad

  • Small vegetable plants – tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, herbs, beans, peas. We normally build our garden from seeds but depending on the season, it may make sense to pick up plants already started while the masses are going after food.
  • Car Batteries
  • Solar Panels – I have mapped out the locations of a few dozen solar panels in public areas and on publicly accessible buildings
  • Electrical components (inverter, cables, etc) and tools

Similarly, these are things that I have, but could be very expensive to buy in large quantities pre-SHTF. The last things I would look for is items that require freezing. Since a power outage means the majority of people don’t have refrigeration, things like meat won’t be the first things they go after.

Unless in dire need, hospitals or pharmacies should be avoided at all cost. There are very short supplies of medical equipment and they will be way understaffed if staffed at all. I read that hospitals would start running out of basic supplies within 24 hours without constant shipments in NORMAL situations. In a SHTF scenario, it would likely be less. People dependent on medicines will start panicking and these might be the first people to lose it. You don’t want to be near that. Additionally, there are other things I think we should NOT worry about

Clothing, cookware, blankets, tools, garden equipment – all things that will become available in ample quantities as population decreases.
Generators – Unless you have one, don’t bother trying to get one as they will be to scarce now and later they will be too inefficient to use. Generators are rarely a long term power solution.
As the public will run out of food soon, our group needs to be together and ready to hunker down. I have 9 other people that will be packing up everything and coming to my house (which was chosen primarily due to location and size).

Related to solar power, I have made a map of 22 locations where there are 1 or more solar panels. These are located along roads and on top of businesses. If it is determined that we have a long term event to the extent that I have no issue with stealing, I will try to gather as many as I can. One could argue that I should do this beforehand. Though the price has gone down, they are still slightly over $1.10 per Watt of power. So for a larger system, they are not cheap. In addition, I don’t live in the south so I will likely get about 4.5 equivalent hours of full sun on a summer day of power. In the winter, it will be much less. Since we won’t have a grid to tie back in to, we have to assume the minimum. Even for my basic needs. I will need several panels. Factoring in that there is no repair store, I will want to have spares and parts as well. So, gathering any extra that I can get to will be helpful.

1-4 weeks after SHTF

This is when the actual SHTF. If an event is long term/permanent, we will know by now and this will likely be the worst of it. Public order and morals go out the window as the many people run out of food. Those folks who primarily stock weapons will probably be crazy. I would not be surprised to hear gunfire within a mile of my house fairly regularly. I debate whether this might be the time to pack up everything and stay in a more remote location for a while. The biggest concern I have for this time is any bands of people looting areas one house at a time. Hopefully this will be limited by the fact that automotive travel will nearly cease. My group is still debating what to do about this. We have considered making warning signs that anyone crossing a certain point would be shot, but that obviously draws extra attention. This one is still a work in progress. Obviously there is no fool proof solution.

At this time, I will start cautiously surveying the neighborhood. Who has left the area? Who has not survived? Depending on where you live and how many people you have, 1 person should be spending all their time monitoring the surroundings for security and to see who comes and goes. As it becomes more apparent that it will be a long term situation, nearby homes should be scavenged for the most basic needs and other things inventoried. I live in a small neighborhood. I have a strong feeling that a few specific families will leave quickly. Several older couples will leave or won’t last long. So I would want to be the first one to their house. The others are kind of wild cards. I feel like we will likely band together with a couple other families at this point or get out of the area. I know a couple of them are fairly armed and while they would likely not have much food stored, It would probably be better to have them with us (to make a 20 person group or so) rather than against us.

Getting supplies from stores is very risky, so it has to count. For me this would be plants and food-related supplies; Things that were not a priority for those going hungry such as flavoring (spices and bouillon cubes, salt). The most heavily frequented locations are a bad idea so remotely located gas stations and drug stores might have things available. Vacated homes will also have these supplies available.

5-8 weeks after SHTF

Security is still the number 1 concern. By this time, we should have a strong knowledge of the folks that are left in the area. The vast majority of people have run out of food, all public medical supplies are depleted, and there are few safe sources of water. As a result, many of those left will be sick. If it is possible to obtain any livestock, this would be the time to do it. I suspect desperate roamers will have taken all these out, but there is always a chance. Finally, this will be the time to address when the food stores will be depleted and where a longer term solution (planting) will come from.

2-6 months after SHTF

While “bugging-in” will often be the short term right answer for many people in large cities, it is not realistic as a permanent solution unless you are a very avid survivalist and forager (though I imagine some of you may disagree). For those living in downtown areas, it might be good to hunker down for weeks or even a couple months, but storing enough food for longer or attempting to grow enough food to live on without being noticed may be difficult to impossible.

Regardless of where you re, personal food stores will be diminishing. If there is no outside support now, it’s probably not coming and it is the time to begin implementing permanent plans. Depending on the time of year, seeds and any plants available should be planted by now. This is fairly safe as it will take time for them to grow and by the time they do, security won’t be as big an issue.

6-12 months after SHTF

A massive global catastrophe would eliminate the possibility of outside support. If no outside support is available, the reality is that the population will have substantially dwindled. Crime will be a less significant, but still present, concern. Most of the time at this phase will be providing for long term basic necessities. Even those with significant reserves will have depleted much or all of it.

Gathering supplies never really ends, but it will diminish considerably. Most people now should have a good sense of the people around them and new relationships with them should be built for mutual security and support. People can again specialize in specific trades (cooking, farming, electricity management, security)

Seeds from plants should be gathered, dried, and stored for the next planting season. This is of paramount importance.

This is a rough outline of my plans. Obviously there are things I can work on but I use this to outline what supplies I need most and when I will need them.

This contest will end on October 10 2012 – prizes include:

  • First Place : $100 Cash.
  • Second Place : $50 Cash.
  • Third Place : $25 Cash.

Contest ends on October 10 2012.

Comments

  1. Thomas The Tinker says:

    Thank You John R. Should you be in or around my part of the ‘hood’ .. just identify yourself and we’d be happy to ally our efforts. A SHTF event is a total crap shoot for us all. Some less intense event.. well shucks .. that would make the odds easy to ponder and act on.

    I like the ‘Survivor’ analogy … I hope to make it at least as far as the jury stage of the game. That is, We may not end up on top but we will in fact make it to the very end less visable but far cleaner and better fed .. ergo … in better shape and not asking .. or begging .. for the vote of others to ‘Survive’.

    Good Luck John R. See you on what ever the ‘Other Side’ of what ever the hell that may be, may be.

  2. John , good article lots to think about. Looks like according to calcualations the critical period will be the 6 week to 6 month period for all the things and people to shake out of the way.
    Really like your battery set up , I have a couple of deep cycle marine batteries for fishing and six 6 volt ones I can pull out of the golf cart. Have a 400w, 800w and 1500w inverters and an honda inverter genny. Figure I can hook the batteries to the inverters to run the fridge and freezers and then charge back up with the genny or hook up the inverter to the truck and then run the charger off that, at idle the truck won’t burn a huge amount of gas. I do need to look at some bigger solar backup though, have a couple of solar trickle chargers but have not tried them out and don’t know how fast and how much they will top up the batteries. I also keep about 20-25 gallons of gas on hand and a 3/4-full tanks on two other vehicles so in all most times have on hand about 60-75 gallons on hand at one time. Don’t know how long it will last in a shtf or endof scenario but would definetley try to conserve. Thanks for the article and the push to think aobut options more.

  3. It’s good to have a plan like this. We will also take a look at your plan and together come up with our own.

    Thanks.

  4. Very well thought out. Mirrors my mindset pretty closely. Went thru the Rita evacuation, no, no! Only the receiving end! Will not be trapped on a highway or urban area when “it” hits! At least not if I can help it!!

    • Stoopid ipad… Didn’t wanna hit submit yet! I really agree with the picking up stuff on the way home, if conditions permit.

  5. OK, I’m going to be a devils advocate and think some of this stuff through.

    With up to 20 people crashing with you, and if the grid goes down, what will you do for sewer/sanitation? There are systems you can make that use a couple 55 gallon drums and some PVC pipe buried in the ground, but they are designed to receive the waste of only 1 or 2 people. You are going to have so much poo, you will all get sick real fast unless you figure out what you are going to do with it. In order to get your waste away from your house, you will probably eventually have to have someone go out into the world with a bucket of poo, and dump it somewhere, several times a day. Or dig an outhouse, but if you are also gardening you don’t want that poo to be anywhere near where it can wash into your crops, until it composts completely. How big is your property and do you have a place that is downhill from the house where you can put an outhouse or poo-dumping place?

    Are all those 20 people going to expect to be able to take daily showers? If they don’t at least take a cat bath daily they will start to stink very quickly. I suggest having at least 2 gallons of water per person per day – one for drinking and one for bathing and washing underwear and such. Then you will want more than that, if things get protracted. Rain barrels can provide water, but will you get enough rainfall to provide for 20 people?

    How many people are there going to be per room in the house, and will they get on each other’s nerves? Do you have enough bedding? What if the bedding gets bugs in it? Do you have a way to sterilize 20 people’s bedding? What if someone shows up empty handed? Like they had to run for their lives and all they had was what they were wearing.

    Is anyone who is crashing with you likely to try and take control over your house on you? Possibly kick you out and take your stuff? Suggest you establish a set of rules and consequences and go over them with each person you plan to have crash at your house. And then there’s enforcing the rules…

    If there’s a pandemic and someone in your house gets sick, where will you put the sick people? You can make a negative pressure safe room for them using a squirrel cage fan and HEPA filters, but if someone is in quarantine you will need to have them be able to use the bathroom, eat, and clean up in there, and possibly people will need to come in and tend to the sick. Or you can put them in a tent in the yard, but there are several possible problems with that that you can probably imagine.

    If you get caught stealing solar panels you will likely spend the SHTF in jail, so be careful. Electric power is one thing it’s pretty easy to do without, compared to heat and cooking fuel. Or you can buy some Harbor Freight solar panel kits and an inverter for a few hundred bucks and then not steal. That all being said, do you have the knowledge to string together the solar panels? And you will also want a bank of deep cycle batteries that are all the same to store the power, don’t forget that stuff.

    If a lot of people starve or kill each other in a zombie apocalypse scenario, there will be stinky rotting dead people all over the place. Or (God forbid) someone in your house might die for whatever reason. Do you have body bags, a way to dispose of their bodies, etc. in a way that will minimize the demoralizing of your 20 new housemates? What if you shoot an intruder and he is lying there dead in your garden? What will you do with the body? What if he has the plague? You will need body bags, rubber gloves, etc.

    What if more people who know your 20 guests show up? You need to decide where to draw the line on helping outsiders, even ones you know.

    I know I sound kind of negative, but one must think of these things. I don’t have answers to all of them yet in my own plan. I hope you have a lot of land – it would make all the above easier.

    • Dang, you’re good PP!!

    • Both John R and Penny Pincher make good points – and ones I’ve had to consider since I’m trying to take care of my family and the neighbors. I live in a very rural area, so there are not many neighbors (thankfully); And at least with the neighbors, they will have their own homes.

      Since we are all on wells out here, unless we get some electricity, we will depend on my 5-275 gallon containers and creeks – which is only about 45 days worth and that’s not watering a garden.

      This morning while I was showering I also remembered I need to get things line additional toenail clippers – I don’t know how many times someone (within my own house) borrowed things like that, and I never got them back.

      I’m always finding new things I need – now I just wish I had a second income – Mr. Michele – where are you?

      • Michele,
        There are options, if you have a well, but so much depends on the depth of that well. there are well kits for a windlass and bucket, if it is shallow.there are pumps that run on 110, that could be operated off of battery and solar, if shallow…I am also rural, not in the very best location, but on high ground within my area.
        Water.. has been and continues to be our major hurdle…our well is very deep. It looks like having a 220 power supply is our best option @ present.Solar?/ Generator???..( More than 500ft.) but I can remember as a child, my Uncles attempting hand dug wells over several areas on the property, some of which had water that was in soapstone, some had methane in amounts to make the one in the well ill. Years ago we had a dug well that was 30 feet deep, but about 40 years ago my dad filled it in,( safety issue, that he could fore-see being a major repair…and a pair of twins into everything.) with the concrete curbs that surrounded it…And all the ” I wish”…can’t unfill it. Lots of good points in PP’s comments, and some others in the origional post, I had not considered. When considering the Poo plan, you must also address the water supply, because of possible contamination of the water supply with the former…esp with those who have a limited land area. You must also consider known land use prior to you obtaining…ie, is your subdivision built on a dumpsite? was household chemical bottles buried in it 40 years ago? So much more the reason to have water tested, no matter how deep it is… Sounds like your neighbors need to address the water issue with their own storage containers..and someone needs a working method to replenish that supply…even if it was a 220 amp generator, that was reserved for operating the pump, if all chipped in with storing fuel and provisions it would reduce the costs per household…
        . And JUst Considering..the possible theft of solar panels? I’ll buy mine,THank You,even learn to make them, can be done much cheaper, than Harbor freight model,the major expense for us, the battery bank……and RE: the theft, God will be watching you, so you won’t “get by with it” and unless you are very quick, some ONE will beat you to them…your timing would have to be perfect to avoid arrest…and who said if there was chaos in the streets you would be arrested ? If you were caught OUT-right, you might be summarily executed WROL. Then where would your family be?Are they prepared to function without you?and more important will they mimic your errors?

        • Solar power for a 220 well pump is something I’ve looked into. First come the solar panels. Then you need an inverter for 220 volt well pumps. The inverter is 500 bucks and as always 2 is 1 and 1 is none. Then comes the battery bank and redundancy for that. It can be done but not cheaply. All things considered it might be cheaper to just replace the 220 pump with one designed to work with solar.

          http://www.aimscorp.net/5000-watt-power-inverter-12vdc-to-240vac-60hz/

      • Michele, you may want to look at manual deep well pumps you can build at home. People in 3rd word countries use them on a daily basis.
        I remember my grandpa’s farm didn’t have running water ( yea, that was a LONG time ago). He had a black 55 gallon drum mounted on a 7′ stand. The shower was underneath and the water heated by the sun. Once you took your shower you had to replace what you used by drawing it from the well. That was fine for the warmer months in Oklahoma. In the winter you had to haul water, heat it and bathe in a galvanized tub, usually set up in the kitchen.
        You can change your existing electrical system to a manual system in a day, although I would suggest one build the hand pump and place it in an unused well (if you have one) to see how it goes. Use that well for the garden. You can also install a large water tank up as high as you can and pipe that into the house. That will provide the pressure you need to operate your commode, assuming you’re on a septic system?
        I’m pretty lucky. I have wells on both my properties, neither being used.
        Utube usually has some petty good information. Check this one out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_RqQ3elzNU

    • Wow, Penny P,
      You don’t mind ripping that ole boy a new one do you? However, you bring up some very valid points and I think even John R will appreciate them. We thank you for the commentary.
      Rex

      • SurvivorDan says:

        I believe PP meant that as instructive and thought provoking. It was very helpful, I’m sure.
        I thought about my own preps for waste disposal and multiplied that by 10, as in this case,…..yikes!

    • Very good, Penny! I, too, think dealing with the poo will be very important, especially if this all happens in the wintertime and the ground is frozen ~ what are you going to do with all that poo? How are you going to bury a body with the ground frozen? What are you going to do for heat? Cooking?

      Take a day, a normal day, and each and every time you do anything, and I mean ANYTHING, stop, write it down and then that evening ask yourself how are you going to do THAT, and THIS and THAT if the SHTF? Find your weaknesses NOW while you can still do something about them!

    • As you stated in the beginning of your reply, you are playing the devils advocate…
      Going through a list, one needs to contemplate both the pros and cons of each line item, and PP, I believe you have identified a number of very good counterpoints to the great start that John R originally posted.
      As with most lists and preparations, the items continue to get fine tuned.
      I know our plans include 20 people (16 adults), but that is spread through 4 homes on a cul-de-sac if we decide to hunker down. In an evacuation situation, there are too many variables that will throw a wrench into the best laid plans.
      Good stuff from both John B and PP :O)

  6. Tim Guerrini says:

    You have obviously spent a lot of time on this scenario and I commend your thoroughness. But I do have some questions.
    1. The scenario is a complete infrastructure failure and you expect many people in your neighborhood to abandon their houses. So where are all the people going and why? In other words, why would they leave a bad situation that they know for a bad situation that they don’t know?
    2. You only mention water briefly, and that is in the context of panic buying. If the pumps are not working, for towns and cities only gravity systems will work and they cannot be maintained without pumps. Without food for a few days you are hungry, without water, you are dead. This is a major issue for a 9-20 person group and will force people out of cities long before your timetable.
    3. #2 repeated but for sanitation.
    4. You also mention getting seeds and plants, but omit the garden tools and space. To feed 9 people, you will, depending on your weather and soil, probably need at least 7,000 sq. feet of garden. That is a full time project and much more important than gathering solar panels. Likewise, firewood if you live in the north.

    • A lot of non prepared will be in the fight or flight mode, most people will ‘flee’ to the safety of the country. Most of them will wind up dead on a guess. First they are not welcome and second they have no skills to trade for food or shelter. Ask non preppers what they plan to do WTSHTF and the answer is always go the country/get out of the city.

      • livinglife:

        If you want to amuse yourself, ask those who plan to flee: “And then what?” And watch the facial expressions. Having done this more than once, I get answers like: “We’ll they HAVE to take care of me!”; “That’s where it will be safe (but no specific destination).”; “All the farm/ranch people have lots of food and big houses, they’ll share.” “That’s what FEMA is for (one of my favorites)!”; along with the “monkey doing a math problem” look.

    • I am quite sure a group that large is going to need a LOT more than 7,000 sq. ft. of garden area to feed them. We just more than doubled our growing areas – from over 23,000 sq. ft. to over 50,000 sq. ft…and it might almost feed our group of 6, in a really good year, with rigorous succession planting and growing in hoophouses in the fall/winter/spring. That is, if you also count the other areas not included in the 50,000 sq. ft.: The 60-tree fruit orchard, the vinyard, the hops yard, the chicken coop and pens, the two goat barns and pens, room for future pigs, pasture/browse areas for the animals, the walnut trees and the 19 acre forest full of natural foods. But even then, not enough room to be totally self-sufficient in food for us and the animals. I had thought for sure we had plenty of room – until I got out the Ball Blue Book, various food storage calculators and other books and started doing the math. EEEK! We plan to clear at least another acre (another 43,000 sq. ft., which will take us up to about 93,000 sq. ft. – just over 2 acres) to give us a better chance and already have an agreement with our neighbor to use his 10 acre field. And even then, our long-range plans center on making potent potables and being the trading post/tavern/medical center, rather than depend just on subsistance farming.
      Remember, when you and you alone are responsible for feeding yourself and your family, you can’t grow just enough food for one year…bad weather, crop failure due to insects/diseases/animals, sickness/injury or whatever means you need to grow and store enough for at least a couple years, each and every year. Plus enough more to ensure you have a good stock of seed to plant for at least a couple years.

      As soon as you suspect TS has HTF (hopefully well before), you should plant food in any available square inch you can find…don’t wait months to start! It would be much safer to keep as much food growing at all times as possible – even in the winter in the north…see Elliot Colemans great books “The Winter Harvest Handbook” and “The Four Season Harvest” (or something similar). Sure would be easier to get every available inch of ground prepared now with power tools (tractor, rototiller, etc.) than wait and do it with a shovel and rake later!

      • “our long-range plans center on making potent potables and being the trading post/tavern/medical center, rather than depend just on subsistence farming.”

        Interesting concept that will surely bring both profit & many unwanted visitors. Been thinking along the same lines, however, I do not want people lining up at my gate daily 24/7 trying to exchange S*#t for sugar.

        My idea, after about three months of suffering (maybe less) would be for the small (now gated community) to establish a Farmers Market (currently none exists in the rural part of the redoubt that I plan on falling back too).

        This market should not go more than three times weekly IOT give suppliers time to produce/craft/harvest/raise their offerings (traders who do not reside in the gated community would be restricted to camping outside the gate until market day, which should encourage them to avoid the area until the market is open, since they would just be a static target for marauders).

        Security will have to be tight, as the market should be located on the fringes of the gated community (think encompassing a small town). Anything/everything would be offered for sale (this actually happens at farmers markets in some areas) (no slaves obviously).

        An idea to keep on the back burner for sure…

        • During the initial dangerous phase, our trading post will only open one day a month – the first Sunday of each month. I don’t think I mentioned we will also be “the church”, the library and eventually “the school”. People will be too busy surviving and it will be too dangerous to leave their places very often in the beginning. People will do their trading in the early morn, then go to church, then have a potluck dinner and maybe a dance/music/ball game/horse race, etc. This will foster community and provide a bit of stress relief. Then as things get safer, we will go to every other Sunday, then every Sunday. Once things are fairly safe, then we will open the trading post/tavern daily.
          Until things settle down, nothing will be stored at the trading post and potent potables will be made and stored offsite. Items will only be brought to the trading post on trade day, where extra security will be provided. To facilitate this, I plan to have a couple large school-size blackboards, divided into categories of things/skills folks have to trade, things/skills folks are looking for, folks needing help with projects (threshing bees, barn raisings,etc.), apprenticeship/hired hand opportunities and communication beween folks. Trades could be arranged ahead of time, so folks only have to transport things they know are needed. Trading in a controlled, secure environment will be safer for everyone.
          Contrary to popular opinion, I hope to draw folks in, to speed up the process of rebuilding our community and increasing security for all. The quicker we can band together, the safer we all will be. And larger groups make a better defensive force and will have a better chance of having folks with all the various skillsets we will need to thrive. One thing I am doing is buying every large bell I can find…after TSHTF, will be keeping the big one and trading/giving others to the locals to use in time of attack, fire, etc. to summon help. And will be using the smaller ones (not so loud) to call folks to meals, etc.
          After TSHTF, information will be “king” – and our trading post/tavern/library/medical center/church will be the information hub of the community. To this end, I also have plans to set up a group of traders to go out into the community to serve those who can’t travel, have another group that will visit surrounding communities and one final group to go long range on the rivers and lakes. This will also bring in critical info of what is going on elsewhere, raw materials or finished goods not available locally and help bind us together on an even wider scale. And even more importantly, increase our access to a wider gene pool for people, animals and plants…critical in the long term.
          This idea would be more dangerous in a populated area…but our state only has one thin bridge entering from the north and no east/west roads connecting us with other states (shhh, don’t tell). Our county has only 14,000 folks and 65% of those are retirees…so if TSHTF in fall or winter when many of the old folks go south, we will be left with a population of around 6,000. There are some farms, but mostly forest, and quite severe winters…so not a prime area for those hoping to “bug out”. And the first winter will kill most of those who don’t already have a heated shelter set up and deeply stocked. A big plus for us is that my family has been here for 7 generations on one side and 6 on the other so pretty much everyone is related to us or knows us. I couldn’t even date in my local high school without dragging out the genealogical charts to see just how closely (not if) we were related!
          I didn’t dream up this idea…just read history back as far as it goes and discovered what has worked in the past, over and over again. Added in a few modern ideas and there is our plan to thrive! Was interesting to see the new show “How Booze Created America” with Mike Rowe…validated my thoughts! Well, that and the fact that one of my great-grandfathers was one of the largest bootleggers east of the Mississippi (hehe).

      • Plant Lady, I second the recommendation of “The Winter Harvest Handbook” by Eliot Coleman. It is full of info. If he can grow in the winter in Maine, you can probably grow anywhere…well, maybe not Alaska…without supplemental heat, which, BTW, can be done in a hoop house with a small cast iron woodburner… just sayin’.

  7. I’m sorry I haven’t gotten through the article yet. I’m not usually the nit picker type – more of a big picture guy. But this article says:

    “… On 9/11, I was working in a building downtown that was 1 block from a large federal building that houses much of the Dept. of Homeland Security. At the time, there was no way of knowing whether there would be more attacks. If there were, that building might be a target.”

    Wasn’t the DHS created as a result of 9/11? I’m guessing the author worked in the area for a long time and back on 9/11/01 it was a Federal building which then later housed DHS. While this statement as written does not necessarily have to be inaccurate. A reader trying to follow along John R’s timeline sure can get confused.

    Maybe an english teacher or editor can straighten this out…

    Now to get back to reading listening and learning – editing and critiquing does not suite me.

    • One thought I have had but not put into practice yet is the idea of ‘bait’ for the looters and armed but unprepared. MY guess is they will be more likely to grab and go than be real thorough. Mix common household toxic chemicals into canned or dried vacuumed sealed bags in plain sight. Rubbing alcohol mixed with cheap vodka, no one will know the difference. Fruit canned with radiator fluid, d con in dehydrated stew mix…
      There is the danger of someone you know stealing it as well or someone in the group not paying attention.

      • OMG! The first thought I had reading this was some parent stealing food to feed their children – d-con in stew??? Radiator fluid in fruit??? There’s GOT to be a better way!

      • This is a horrible idea.

        If on further reflection, you do not see evil in such a course of action, then at least consider all the ways this could backfire on you or someone you care about. They are many.

        • Tactical G-Ma says:

          Lantana,,
          Early on I dismissed booby traps (other than temporary). They must be gaurded closely or friendlies get hurt or worse. That isn’t to say that certain well placed food or drink items might not be useful but survivors will be suspicious and I would have you eat and drink anything I did if I was robbing you. I strongly advise holding off making anything like that until an event actually happens. A crash course in chemistry might be beneficial also. I have a trick or two up my sleeves that I share with no one but DH.

          • Like I said, just thoughts. I hate to say it but its like being back in combat, them or me.
            This would be a SHTF prep, not something sitting around.
            At some point the semi prepped will move into the predator category. I don’t see the difference between shooting someone/booby traps vs poisoning. It’s survival mode.

            • It’s because you’ve never seen violent death that you don’t know the difference. It’s not survival it’s predatory.

      • I think people who do that are going to die just as ugly a death as they are wishing on others. Your lack of humanity is very telling. I sure hope you don’t live anywhere near me.

        • Encourager says:

          Agree completely Mexneck! If we get to the point of this kind of depravity, I don’t want to still be here on this earth. Just the fact he is ‘thinking’ of doing it is bad enough, but actually encouraging it? Evil. Pure evil. That is not what life is about. I can’t condone that, not under ANY circumstances! Ever!!!

      • Encourager says:

        What?!?! I can sure tell you are not a regular here at the Wolf Pack! What you are suggesting is demented. Evil. Completely evil! It makes me sick to think you are actually planning to do this!

      • Folks, in case you are wondering why I allowed the above comment… it shows the thinking and mentality of people. Not everyone but a large part of the population. This is a reminder for everyone to watch their six at all times.

        • livinglife says:

          No one is wishing death. It’s called survival and its its ugly at its core. If you are not prepared do defend yourself both passively and actively by all means to ensure your (self, family, group) survival, you may want to reconsider your defensive plans.

          • livinglife,

            My defensive plans are in place and practical, but those plans do not include poisoning children (yes children would likely be eating the food that you poison) or premeditated murder. I’ve actually made plans to help everyone (discreetly) that I can.

            • Tactical G-Ma says:

              M.D.
              After sleeping on your comments as well as others posted here, I believe we as preppers need to be aware of the fear, darkness, and extremes some people feel they must do. This isn’t just something that will occur WTSHTF, but to some degree is going on now. There are people without ethics, integrity, conscience, and humanity.
              If one considers stealing, scavenging, looting, and raiding realize that we as humans can rationalize just about anything. I know I am capable of taking a life but it is not without a greivous injury to my soul and something I will take to the grave. There is much I will do for God, for country, for family, and for self but there should always be a line that cannot be crossed. Thank you for helping me reinforce my personal convictions.

            • Encourager says:

              Amen to that M.D. If I can help just one child to live and have a future, it is worth all the pain and struggle to get to that point.

              Life is not just about “survival”. It is about being able to stand before the Lord when my time on earth is finished and not be ashamed of what I have done. I want to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

              If your plans are to survive by any means, including murdering children, killing anyone who has the audacity to cross your perceived line, poison the starving; perhaps put fellow human beings into slavery to use and or serve your purposes including rape, you are one sorry excuse for a human being, and you are not a man, you are an animal. And you play too many violent video games, thinking they are actually portraying real life. Grow up.

            • Encourager says:

              Ack! That last paragraph was directed towards ‘livinglife’, not M.D. !!!!!!

            • AntiZombie says:

              To survive at what price? To kill without remorse,and to take what is not yours makes you what we all fear will be coming for us in the SHTF afterlife. If we degenerate into a life of moral bankruptcy while trying to survive are we qualified to build a new society on the other side? Survive, yes. Plan for every contingency, yes. Yield what is yours under threat of death, no. Help others (especially children) when humanly possible, of course! I remember my Dad telling me during the depression one of his jobs was to wipe the chalk mark off the curb that the hobos would leave for the next weary traveler after my grandparents feed them whatever they had extra. I hope that this country has the moral fiber to respond to severe adversity the way we did durintg the last test of this countries metal.
              I know that all that we have stocked and planned for has cost us time and treasure, but as an educator I can’t imagine not feeding a hungry child. My only hope is that when we all have nothing, nothing will count more than the way we treat each other.

              • AntiZombie,

                “To kill without remorse,and to take what is not yours makes you what we all fear will be coming for us in the SHTF afterlife.”

                I think that you have me confused with another poster…

                • AntiZombie says:

                  MD,
                  Indeed I must have posted in the wrong thread. I certainly don’t think that you condone what I have stated. As I read the posts preceeding I thought the discussion was about not deteriorating into mindless folks who would put out “bait” to poison or kill others. I was not accusing you of killing without remorse but rather suppoting what you said about helping as many others as you can. Sorry if I offended.

                  • AntiZombie,

                    No offense taken. I just wanted to be sure we were talking about the same thing. It is easy to get confused when reading through 100’s of comments… It happens to me more often than I care to admit.

          • Bulloney. It’s called sicko fantasy. What, you don’t think that people remember this kind of thing? I suggest you do some reading on the siege of Stalingrad and the Holocaust. The Nazis who perpetrated those kinds of crimes against humanity are still being hunted without rest. There will be a reckoning.

            Sorry MD didn’t mean to feed the trolls but we must stand together against this kind lunacy, IMHO.

        • Encourager says:

          Thanks M.D., it IS important to get a wake up call from time to time. We need to be aware that few people out there have the same mindset or morals that we do. Our purpose in life is not to take care on #1 (ourselves) by any means necessary. Those with no moral compass would never understand the previous statement, because it is ALWAYS about them.

          • This latest discussion reminds me of the poem If by Rudyard Kipling ” If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you-if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you and make allowance for their doubting too. ….. please lookup this poem.Its exc.
            I pray that I will be able to discern between the evil and the good and help the good and thwart the evil doers. May God
            help me to follow the Golden rule when I can and to fight when needed and shoot to kill when I and my loved ones are in the sights of those w/o conscience. Many fine lines and un chartered terratories (sp?)
            In the Movie Gandhi when a Muslim killed a Hindu or vice versa Gandhi said for them to raise that persons children in the faith of the parent they killed. In our case the power hungry and the Radical Muslims have war w/o honor.
            Arlene

            • Arlene, I agree. And I think the goodness in our hearts will be part of what gives us the ability to know the difference between evil and good, Some folks call it “the discernment of the Spirit”

    • I know it has been a while but I GREATLY appreciate all the comments here, it has helped me prepare my plan more thoroughly and identify some gaps. As there were multiple similar questions, I have tried to answer or respond to at least the most popular questions.

      1) Bathrooms – Sanitation is definitely a concern with a 20-25 person group. To be perfectly honest I had not given it much thought. So, I searched online and designed an outhouse sort of similar to this one> http://www.instructables.com/id/Outhouse/. I dug it 6 feet deep and its 8 feet by 4 feet. Also, I built the 4 walls and roof but they are not attached. I leave them in my shed. I built a separate waterproof lid for the hole for now.

      2) Showers – As for showers. That’s not the utmost of my priorities but I have extra 55 gallon drums. Based on the size of my roof (with 4 downspounts) and the amount of annual rainfall we get here, we could conceivably collect 8 gallons per person per day. The winter is definitely more difficult but since I have 2 wood burning stoves that together can more than heat the house, I should be able to open the 4 attic access points to heat up the roof and melt all the snow on it.

      3) Drinking Water – I do have a plan for this but it doesn’t really add to what others have mentioned more thoroughly. In short I have stored water, portable and long term water filters, ample supplies for building fires, and a manual pump well.

      4) Stealing (Solar)– Its impossible to address all the possible variables. If there is some order of law and there is a curfew/martial law, then stealing them would not be worth it. As for the morality of it, I would not be stealing from people. Just companies and/or the government which would defacto not exist in the scenario of me stealing them.

      Also, there was negative reaction to my mention of stealing but I encourage those responders to read the context. It was regarding solar panels, not food from peoples moths and stuff from people’s houses. 2 businesses I know of have about 50 of them on the roof. Along roads there are a number of them used to power traffic signals. Literally a 10 minute drive and I could drive by a few hundred of them. I wouldn’t be confrontational about it. If there were people there, I wouldn’t go.

      5) Neighbors leaving. – On the note of expecting that many neighbors would leave. I imagine that as people run out of food or water, they will make the obvious decision to go find it. Different people will think differently. Some may start going door to door nearby. Others who have family that they have not been in tough with will seek them out (ignoring that they would likely be in a similar state.

      6) Garden tools – I omitted mentioning these among many things I either have or are not concerned about. My wife and I already actively garden (Ok to be fair I till and move things from point A to point B and basically anything else that is mindless manual labor and my wife gardens) I do have a few extras bit in a major disaster I expect them to be an easily scavengeable item.

      7) Garden Size – Our garden now is small. This spring I will be extending it considerably. I previously bordered it with 4x4s but will be making one with a proper fence around it. Non-SHTF, it will be about 1500 SF but I have plenty of room to make it MUCH larger in the first SHTF spring.

      8) Department of Homeland security – It was pointed out that I referenced the HDS which was not technically created till after 2001. While correct, it wasn’t really new. It was the reorganization of a number of existing agencies into a unified department. So I could have better stated it that the building housed agencies that are now part of the DHS.

      9) Getting Children from School – There was discussing on getting kids from school. While definitely a concern, I don’t think my thoughts on the subject were worth adding. Of course I would get them ASAP and I would be armed. Only a small percentage in our area would be though. Trying to determine how it would play out would be pure speculation.

      10) Grocery Store Availability – I completely agree that when there is chaos, going to the store would be ignorant. But this would be completely a circumstance driven decision. Lets take a grid down situation. I have been through 3 instances of the grid being down. It was several hours and in to days before grocery stores got cleaned out. I honestly believe that grocery stores will be ok for the first couple hours after almost any emergency. The key to this is having more of a knee jerk reaction than others. I am not saying it’s any measure of a guarantee. Just that it’s a possibility folks should not ignore.

      11) Medicine- I do have an amply medical supply for what my group will need but I don’t wish to publicly comment on it.

      12) Testing my Getting home plan – I have since done this and am finishing up an article on my experiences

      13) Testing Solar / Freezer – This was a great point. I had not tested it and when I did one night it would not start both my freezers. I had to unplug them both and could start 1 of them. I had to tie my generator to it to get the freezer started and then the battery bank would run it. I tried again during the day, and the additional solar input was enough to start my freezers 1 at a time. Not sure whether I will make a chance to support this.

      14) Security concerns with people coming – I don’t take this as a big concern as they are all family and not the type to challenge.

  8. Judy, another one says:

    I want to add a question to Penny Pincher’s devils advocate response. What are you and your wife going to do when the school refuses to release your children in a SHTF incident?

    School officials are told about this stuff before any of the rest of us hear the news. I, personally, believe each child is better off with their families but I don’t make the rules. So I’m very curious how you or anybody else will be handling this.

    • Warmongerel says:

      If I had to guess, I’d bet that there are going to be 500+ frightened people outside the school demanding their children. I will be one of them…and I will be armed. In that situation, they’ll have no choice but to let the children go or face a riot. People will storm the place and take their children. I’ll respect the “authorities”…until they try to keep me from my daughter.

      They can make all the plans that they want. They won’t stand up to the reality of the situation.

    • Judy, another one:

      If I may…We live in a relatively small town (33,000). I have met the school principle, I am a known quantity to him. Now these are my grandchildren, but in a SHTF incident, and I show up, there will be no problem with me picking up my grandsons. If my demonstrated attitude toward socialist hand-wringing isn’t enough for them, the 45 on my hip and the AR on my back will gently persuade them that I am not there to hold hands, sing Kum-Bi-Ya, and have a length discussion with them.

      Honestly, part of your planning should include the officials in charge of your children’s care and education. Be firm with them, make then understand they are YOUR children, not property of the State!

      • Two of my grandchildren go to school here locally, as they now live with me. The country people here in El Dorado County (remember Placerville was Old Hangtown) are a pretty tough breed, (which of course does not include the pansies that live in Cameron Park, our one city like area), and many would come armed to the teeth to pick up their children and grandchildren. My guess is, the school officials would allow us to take our children, without a second thought as many of them live up here too.

      • If there is a crowd of panicked parents strugglinng to get their kids, then some non LEO shows up strapped with an firearms may be adding fuel to an already growing fire. Just because YOU may be calm and composed doesn’t mean everyone else will be. That could compromise your safety in being overwhelmed by desperate parents and disarmed. Then with your firearms in panicked hands, every other parent as well as all the children could be in danger. All this assuming you’re not detained by actual LEO first, as you would be drawing much attention. Hopefully everybody here will consider the avalanche that one small act like this can cause. You’re no good to you pack if you’re arrested or dead.

        • L.A. Mike:

          I see your point. Doesn’t change my mind, but I see your point. It would be a bigger problem in LA than Montana, though.

          • JP:
            ROTFL…. Yep. Wyoming and Montana thinks being armed is normal, especially in an emergency. Kind of like having tire chains, a shovel and a sleeping bag in your truck. God Bless, Cos

          • SurvivorDan says:

            Out here in the sticks of AZ it would be the same non-freakout reaction JP. Folks here are more accustomed to good folks (with a calm demeanor) carrying openly. Only the visiting East/West ‘coasties’ freak out at the mere sight of a firearm.
            But discretion is the better part of valor at times and a slung AR might make some nervous. Perhaps a Ruger ranch rifle in .223. Or a nice 870 Remington 12 gauge. Or a Saiga 12 gauge with a drum mag on a one point sling? When TSHTF, my grand kids are going home when I say so and not when the state says so. Sick of politically correct bureaucrats….

        • LAMike- if you sense an imminent problem coming keep your children home ” sick” – or pick them up once in awhile earlier than usual and see what reaction you get from the school …
          remember its always the parents right to take the children from school-no matter what hassles you get. Arlene
          PSWe were fortunate that we could educate our children at home for various reasons.This was 25 years ago and we had to fight for this right as we were the first in our xommunity to do so-now many educate at home

    • What school “official” would dare stop a parent from removing their child from the facility? The only reason I could remotely imagine would be if an actual event was actively occurring in proximity to the school facility itself causing the entire area to be locked down… no one in or out.

      • I wouldn’t count on all school officials having or using enough common sense to override what their procedure manual tells them to do, or to keep people from pullings kids out in an effort to maintain normalcy.

      • Tactical G-Ma says:

        You guys, no one is going to stop you from taking your kids. They’ll probably want you to take someone elses as well. Educators and public servants in general all have families too. They want to pick up their kids. Remember how almost all the police and firemen bailed when Katrina hit N.O.? There are very few who will put your family’s welfare above their own.

        • Tactical G-Ma:
          Ma’am, I have to disagree with you. Here in the People’s Republic of Kalifornia, we have what is called LOCK DOWN at our public schools. Something like a shooting 3 blocks from a school has them lock down and not let anyone come or go until the issue has been resolved. God Bless!, Cos
          (NEVER DOUBT THE STUPIDITY OF A BUREAUCRAT!)

          • Tactical G-Ma says:

            Cosmolined,
            Sorry, I forgot how superior the CA and NY people are to the rest of us and if it is just a shoot out in the street I agree but if the grid goes down or we are hit with emp, human nature takes over. That does not mean your children will be abused or abandoned. I just believe there are many teachers who will want to get to their own families as quickly as possible and people are only human. I have two DD’s who teach and have young children.

  9. Hey John,
    You had some good ideas in your plan. I got a few nuggets to keep. I would like to offer some thoughts for you and I can qualify them.
    I am a retired LEO and went through the worst Katrina had to offer. I am also retired from the military in AF Disaster preparedness/emergency management. I know not everything is a hurricane but with any disaster or event, don’t base any planning on stores. You made several references to it and I want to make sure your readiness status is 100% store free. Im not saying it cant happen, just dont plan on it. Yes a hurricane gives warning. Anytime one comes into the Gulf I top off all gas supplies. I am not losing money here. I really cant buy anything for shorter term emergencies. I have much to do too. I do not have solar but have heat, cooking, defense, water, some medical, and shelter covered. Solar is top of the prepping list. Like you my first priority is refrigeration and some lighting.

    If it is and instant type event, remember if just one percent of the population goes to the store, it will be a zoo. There is 200K folks in my county and maybe 12 full size grocery stores. That’s 200 desparate folks added to the grocery store you are headed to. That is 2 Walmarts. They can handle a few folks but the other stores would be a complete riot. We just had an Issac scare here but it went to Louisiana, The stores here ran out of items. Gas stations ran out of gas in some places.

    Penny Pincher made great points.

    In short, I applaud your efforts, just try to get you long term needs covered before anything happens. You will get there in time. I was ready for Katrina and fed 20 plus folks for 10 days but that was because I knew it would not last forever. I have since moved off the coast to acreage and will be more stingy if it looks long term. Anyone who knows my stocks is stocked themselves.

  10. Tactical G-Ma says:

    John R,
    Thanks for sharing your views. I agree with much of your prognostication.
    It has occured to me that I live in the perfect local and orientation to use solar panels. But wouldn’t that make me a target for robbers? You point out what I figure many people will do – scavenge and pilfer. Is there a way to obscure the appearance of panels without impairing there exposure?

    • Tactical,
      The panels don’t necessarily need to be mounted high, so they could be screened with privacy fencing or your house or outbuildings depending on the layout of your house and buildings, open space, and nearby roads. I’m not sure how they could be obscured otherwise. If you can’t really hide them, One alternative would be to store them until things settle down. I believe food and water will be on most raiders minds in the early post-SHTF days, and unlike the panels John has targeted, which he hopes will be unattended, someone will have to get very near your house to get yours. Obviously though it would be best if you can figure out how to hide them. There’s a lot of hay grown in your area, you could even try to get your hands on some of the large bales and use them to mount the panels behind. The downside of that would be if they create a blind spot and cover for anyone approaching you.

    • Check out LDS Prepper on Youtube. His recent setup is really worth checking out. His whole channel is, actually.

  11. Well thought out basics.

    I like the understanding that when people aren’t there or dead, it ain’t stealing because you need it and they don’t.

    As well this plan sits well with me because it’s on the premise that you are prepared, you are not the “predatory prepper” and you plan to avoid violence if at all possible, but are ready for it, a very smart way to go.

  12. M.D.,

    How’s Faith? With as much prayer as we all sent her, she should be flying, not just walking.

    • Michele,

      She has been twitching her feet – I think that is a good sign… Thank our lord.

      • :)

      • I’ve heard of spinal cord bruising. Apparently that’s when you injure the bone or surrounding tissue and the swelling pinches off the cord, resulting in temporary paralysis.

        Hopefully this is all it is and as soon as she heals up it will take pressure off the spinal cord and she’ll be right as rain.

        Hopefully the foot twitching is a sign that her bruising is healing up and taking pressure off the spinal cord.

  13. Hopefully after 12 months , everything will start to improve in the nation , if not ……….good luck to everybody .

  14. There is no end to what one could do to be prepared and I would encourage everyone to do as much ‘prepping’ as they can reasonably take on. On the other hand each of us should not allow all the what if’s that one can imagine to take over your life. Whatever time each of has on this earth is finite and we each need to decide what is most important to ourselves and LIVE each day as if is is the last one. Only you can make these choices but try to reach a balance and enjoy the day, thanking GOD for his many blessings.

    • Gotta agree with you, Notsomuch!

    • Thats the million dollar question isnt it …………at what point do you stop .

      • TR – depends on your situation-number of people, roomto store food, sustainability of your growing zone etc. Better to be over prepared than under prepared as various diasters and locations can affect our ability to grow food .
        When the house begins to lean or burst the walls- maybe- smile !!
        We need some laughter ….
        We have enough for 5 people for 18 months -ideally we want to have enough for 8 family members plus a couple of strangers maybe for 4 years.So we continue to build our supplies -as $ allow.
        Arlene

  15. To John R. and the fellows that commented…..Great Job!
    Bill

  16. John R: TY for this thoughtful, thought-out essay! My family and I are thinking things through similar. You have helped us to think about a base line / foundation; something to build from as the scenario changes. Blessings, david

  17. Medicine for 20+ people? Do they have prescriptions? Diabetes, high blood pressure, inhalers? Are they able bodied to help in the 12th month garden, tend livestock, or even clean up. If you have spotted the solar panels it is a sure bet that someone else has to. Be ready for a fight.

    One thing I like about having your “pack” around is that there is saftey in numbers. Bands of 5-10 will surely think twice before they take on a armed compound twice their size.

    It has always been my experience in working with civic groups that of the 100% of memebership involved, 20% (and it’s the same ones) do 100% of the work. It just works out that way. Do you have a pre-elected “President”? Hold an “election” when the SHTF will result in a incendiary issue in an already volitile senerio. If I had a compound (and probably will) I would want to have a “constitution” already formed as a condition of staying. You may even want to have some sort of dispute settlement process in place for the long term.

    These are just a few thoughts I had after reading your excellent article. You are light years ahead of my plans. Good Luck!

    • AntiZombie, folks lived in communes for thousands of years before governments came along and screwed everything up. There were variances on the theme, but every one operated very smoothly. There was usually a head man and a head woman that directed the efforts of each group. Work was very well defined and is probably why men take offense in doing what’s termed “woman’s work”. These two folks were natural leaders and gravitated to that post rather than being elected. Elections kinda got us into the the mess this country is in now. People tend to elect the popular one vice the one that knows how to do stuff.
      Everyone works, everyone eats, everyone stays safe. The ones that won’t work or complain too much will be kicked out eventually. Back in the day that was probably a death sentence unless said moron could find a group willing to take them in, but a good group would be hesitant while a rogue group wouldn’t.
      Bad things like murder, rape were dealt with swiftly, usually by killing the offender. Note the difference between killing and murder. No thought was given to their well being and rightfully so. At that point they were considered monsters for being ABLE to do the thing(s) they did.
      Just food for thought.

      • Survivor-well said -Holy men and Holy woman are usually disinclined to be leaders.They know that so many times “power corrupts and absolte power corrupts absolutely.”
        Integrity …followers of the Ten commandments are whats is needed .
        Whomever posted the suggestion of using something tainted in the food and water to kill the enemies -I dont think thought about the possibility of children.
        I wish we could establish good groups now so we could all protect one another from the bad guys when the SHTF.
        I keep prepping and praying.Thank you all for your ideas and thank you MD. Arlene

      • AntiZombie says:

        Survivor,
        Thanks for the input. Letting natural leaders rise to the top is of course what will happen but to let it happen without the group as a whole acknowledging it is a recipe for disaster. Multiple people armed with weapons 24/7 need a process to buy into the structure of the group or am I to understand that you believe that all of the group will be satisfied with who rises to the top? I have managed folks in large organizations and civic groups that dissolved into chaos over who leads and who doesn’t resulting in no work done until the issue is resolved. All I’m saying is that to have a structured hierarchy in place decided by a majority of the group will help to nullify issues related to final decision making. If you are going to let majority rule in dealing with serious “bad things” without some kind of dispute system then whats going to happen when a majority of “like minded” folks dissagree with YOUR interpretation of whats acceptable? After all it’s YOUR compound. are you prepared to shoot it out with your own members? Surely you can see how this could deteriorate into a bad situation. Leaving it up to natural selection is a bad idea. BTW, our peaceful election system is what has made this country different from every other form of government tried to date. Haveing a set sytem of determining who and how they are in charge will allow the group to funtion smoother and with less friction.

  18. I re-read the post and your getting-home plan seems sound to me. Have you walked it yet to get used to it if you had to walk home? I read someone else’s account a few weeks ago of 2 guys practicing walking home from work and they determined that they needed a lot more water and a few more pairs of socks. I can’t remember, maybe it was on the Other Blog.

    You might consider getting a used bicycle if you are as many as 30 miles away from home at work. You could maybe keep it at work if they’ll let you, and ride it at lunch for exercise. With a bike you will still be able to get past traffic jams. I bartered with a bike repairman and had my bike refurbed this year, just in case we get $10/gallon gas, and I also found a really light golf bag caddy for $5 I plan to turn into a bike trailer.

    • an inexpensive trail/mountain bike is my back up transportation for o fuel, it can also power a dc generator with some modification. They are quiet, easy to store/hide and will last for years with basic maintenance. Along with that, ride regularly so you are prepared to ride if push comes to shove. being physically fit is part of being prepared.

    • PP,
      You mention the bike and trailer… I have a good mountain bike and a trailer, which will go into the back of my truck. However, the other day I saw someone with a trailer that was a truck bed tool box… he added an axle and wheels on the bottom of one end, and the hitch to the bottom of the other end. It was a solid container with locks. After seeing that, I am seriously considering selling the trailer I have to get a truck bed tool box and duplicate those efforts myself.

  19. I’m very interested in your plans to complete your solar power setup. I have an inverter and one deep cycle battery. I would appreciate more information on what equipment, other electronics, etc. you will eventually have, and how it will be connected, to provide you this power source. Thanks.

  20. Excellent post!
    – Water will be your biggest controlling factor; you did not mention it in your scenario but it will be the biggest lynch pin for survival. I assume you’ve got a H2O plan and for brevity ommitted it.
    – I love the maps and pre-marked locations.
    – Your get-me-and-me-only-home-from-work bag is purpose driven and excellent in its simplicity, as well as the routing of ideal travel routes from your specific work location beforehand. I would caution that it seems a little too narrow a focus.
    – Solar is a great idea, but if you haven’t actually attempted it yet then you need to see if your inverter can START your freezer (or other heavy) load without fault tripping; starting load current draw is higher than the equipment’s normal operating load. It is even more of a concern when you plan on running more than one load (you mentioned double freezers) at the same time since you’ll have to start one while the other is already running.
    – Sanitation, hygiene and waste management will be a big concern, and should not be considered second-tier status if you plan on ‘tribing’ up.

    Overall you sound like you’ve got a good and thought out plan that best fits your situation.

  21. John, good read, man! I do want to make comment on one thing you mentioned – “Getting supplies from stores is very risky, so it has to count. For me this would be plants and food-related supplies; Things that were not a priority for those going hungry such as flavoring (spices and bouillon cubes, salt)”. That last one is, IMHO, very important. Salt is required in our diets. The USDA reccommends 2,300 milligrams (about a teaspoon) of salt every day. 1,500 milligrams for folks with high blood pressure. Additionally, if you’re talking about a long term SHTF scenario you’re gonna wanna get a bunch of salt to use as a preservative for meats and fish. I’m planning on no less than 300 lbs of straight salt and 50 lbs of iodized salt. Sam’s Club has bulk salt – 25 lbs iodized salt for $4 and 40 lbs of (pool) salt for $5. Matter of fact, the Mrs is picking it up this weekend. It’s cheap now, but just wait. Sequoya, inventor of the Cherokee language, made his fortune in Oklahoma because of his salt operation.

  22. John R -exc article re time line. One area though I feel you need to
    consider is-if its an EMP or Nuclear hit then you will not be able to use your vehicle so 30 miles may take much longer than 36 hrs. I hope you can find an alternative for this possible scenario. Arlene

  23. Thanks, John R, for the great article. You sure got my brain thinking. Your weaknesses:
    1. Water and the obtaining of it for 20 people, plus watering a garden, plus water for cleaning/cooking. Oh, and if you are walking home in the summertime, you will need more water than when it is cooler.
    2. Sanitation. Where are 20 people going to ‘go’? Do you have plans to build an outhouse? Where? You going to have indoor potties for the kids or do you expect them to go outside in the dark at night? How are you going to sanitize those indoor potties?
    3. Have you made a list of all those expected to come to your place with a list of their allergies, meds, talents, what they will be bringing to contribute?
    4. Who will have the final say in any dispute? Are all those coming agreeable to be told what to do by you? Or are some of them planning on doing their own thing??
    5. Is everyone in your group firearm trained? Are they expecting to be on a rotating patrol even in bad weather?
    6. Is everyone in your group able to work all day either in the garden or with the animals? Everyone will need to pitch in; do they know this?

  24. Thanks for the article, John R. Very interesting to have the scenarios of different time frames and the needs that will come along as the event progresses in length. Lots of information for planning.

  25. John R
    Good overall plan, seems like you didn’t go into too many specifics ,opsec?,on certain things,like water,sanitation,and medical/decon. A bicycle is a great idea for getting home from work,or running around for supplies.A ‘trigger event’ should also be discussed as the time to hunker down or to bug out,do not wait for permission to go. Safety is of utmost importance as is staying under the radar,warning signs are just an ad that you have supplies.The best thing you are doing is getting to know your neighbors,evaluating strengths and weaknesses ,who can be counted on, and who must be watched. An alternate secure area to bug out to,with differant routes to get there should also be considered. All in all a good plan to grow and modify to suit differant senarios.

  26. John R.

    Great article, I would look forward to more of your writings. You’ve
    apparently done a lot of thinking on survivalism as it shows in your article.
    I, as you, started prepping about four years ago and have stocked up on things that I may not necessarily need when SHTF. There will only be four in my group but we are all preparing for the worst case scenerio and, hopefully, will be able to ride out any kind of storm we may encounter. Each of us is well versed in marksmanship and we know how to cook the beans and rice, etc. that are in my storeroom along with all the canned fruit and vegetables. My main worry is water. I have very little stored as compared with what will actually be needed so this will entail hauling. There are, however, several swimming pools in my immediate neighbor-hood so I’m certain I’ll be able to access at least one of them unless, of course TSHTF during winter when the pools will have been drained. There are still many things to think through and scads of planning to do to be at a level of preparedness I would like. Thanks for sharing your views and also thanks to MD for the great blog.

    Jack

    • Jack-good for you prepping well. Are the pools near you public or private? If private you may be shot for stealing water. Please store
      as much water as possible-.If you have a yard-get a pool -even several barrels or kiddie type pools.(maybe a neigbor or friend can help you store water in exchange for food someday) Water is essential for survival.-
      keep some in your vehicle- just looking out for you-Arlene

  27. The article and subsequent comments are very educational and helpful for me. I appreciate all of the knowledge everyone has.

    Back during the Depression, my grandparents lost their farm and found work on the railroads. It was an alien environment to them and the transition was difficult as they lived in tent cities, moving every few weeks. They rode the rails for over 2 years with children in tow, and eventually found permanent work in the city, and adjusted to a different type of life.

    Planning via a timeline is a good idea. I am going to do that, I want to stay rural.

  28. charlie (NC) says:

    Good article… as far as i read. I have to confess i bailed out when you said your primary means of communication with your wife, post shtf would be texting. That is not to say you are wrong, I just stopped reading until I can imagine a SHTF scenario worthy of concern in which texting would still be possible. In any event I can think of from a tornado to a EMP to a full out military attack on the homeland, cell phone comms will either be down or so jammed with traffic as to be useless. I sugest you re-think that strategy unless your shtf scenario is a 6″ snow emergency.

    • Good point, Charlie. I think any plan ought to provide for a scenario where there is no phone or text communication available.
      But a very good and thoughtful article, John.

    • Charlie, around these parts (upstate NY), 6″ is a minor annoyance. I was just thinking about how a real blizzard would affect planning, especially mobility. Cold weather would speed up some of the earlier postulations quite a bit, and throw in infrastructure failure, and you’d have a lot of people in trouble a lot faster.
      One the one hand, the unprepared hordes heading for the hills would be culled all that much faster when you throw in cold weather and snow, as well as limiting how far into the hinterlands they go before collapsing. On the other, desperation will occur all that much faster as well.
      Preppers in those areas with regular yearly snowfall will know what I’m talking about here. I lived through the Blizzard of ’77 (tons of fun for a kid, not so much for an adult), along with numerous other snow emergencies out in the Intermountain west. The most recent and notable event I base my comment on was what we called the October Surprise back in ’06. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Storm_%22Aphid%22
      This is what its like when everyone is caught with their pants down, and we’re USED to heavy snowfall. There were tree limbs and wires down everywhere, cars stuck in the middle of the street (including my 4X4), just a whole mess.

      • charlie (NC) says:

        Rick, a minor annoyance was exactly my point. At anything beyond a minor annoyance you can’t depend on ANYthing being as it was and you need to be prepared to operate as if it was 1912 if not 1812.

        I wasn’t trying to be rude or mean spirted in my remarks. I’m just trying to drive home the point that depending on a text message to initiate your flag event response is probably a bad plan and it goes beyond that. What if the power is off in the parking garage, the attendant is gone and those pesky tire cutters are deployed on the exits?

        It’s a good article. I wasn’t kicking it. I’m just trying to kick the thought process up a notch.

        • Didn’t say you were, Charlie. I just wanted to make a point that you have to plan for your own particular regional microclimate. Where I live is at the confluence of two Great Lakes. One of the hardest places to forecast weather on Earth, or so I’ve been told. That was all I meant.

      • Rick,

        I hear ya on the blizzards of ’77 and the Oct. surprise. I wasn’t affected by the 2006 storm in Rochester but I helped get supplies to Buffalo for some family members – mostly kerosene heaters, camp stoves, lanterns/lighting and fuel for all. The power outage seemed to last forever with all of the damage done. Living in that area and used to storms, they all had plenty of long term food but ran short on perishables like milk, eggs, etc. Also took lots of gallon jugs of water for cooking, drinking. Made two or three trips.

        Now, 1977 is a whole other story! We made it through just fine because we were young and hippies and anti-establishment so we were already almost living off the grid. Heated and cooked with wood and propane, didn’t even own the convenient electrical toys like toaster and vacuum, mixer, etc., other than a stereo (had to have Jimi Hendrix and ZZ Top and Led Zeppelin LOL) We regularly used oil lamps and had plenty of food stored up. The worst part for us was cabin fever. I still look at the photos we took of the snow up to the electic wires! You grow up tough in that part of the country (o:

      • Rick -we also remember those storms here in upstate NY.We are trying to meet other NY preppers. MD has my e mail if you or anyone wishes to communicate . Are you aware of others in NY?
        We know folks are prepping but most are under the radar and not into meeting others I sense. After watching the tv program Revolution I believe our only hope will be in a united front of others
        who are prepared well. Arlene

        • Thanks Arlene, I’m one of those people who try to stay under the radar as much as possible (although posting here or anywhere tends to negate that). I know a few others who are quiet preppers, some of whom don’t even know I know. I also know a truckload of d-bags who think a roomful of guns and ammo will solve their problems if the balloon goes up. They’re the reason I lay as low as possible.

  29. In response to encourager, that’s a great idea! I will start doing that. Thank you John R. Very informative and very good ideas!

  30. Irish 7 -thank you for your exc. explanations to me re a hand gun. I will take your advice and look into a .38 revolver after I get my safety course and permit. Arlene

  31. I think we have to worry about getting through just the winter before we start worrying about anything else. I suggest if you do not have a plan that puts you at least into March at this point you will need to step it up. Why?

    Nov “elections”
    Dec Romney wins = civil unrest by the welfare .5 and the idiot occupy people that met with the president of iran.
    Jan = TDL “I cannot step down right now, half the nation demands that I continue change”. Election nullified, TDL becomes UN world leader. 2nd civil war begins

    Dec: TDL wins = The immediate suspension of “hate speech” 1st Amendment, 2nd amendment because of those right wing terrorists.
    Muslims gain more prominent positions in the administration in department of Homeland Security and Defense.
    Habeas corpus suspended for Americans
    WW3 begins over Israel.
    If you have not seen The Project on GBTV or 2016 now would be a good time to see what a second term by TDL looks like.

    • Mexneck:
      Brother, I hope God keeps you and yours safe. I agree with you. Things are going to get uglier. God Bless, John

    • Good post, Mexneck. I too am contemplating what each of those scenarios may bring. And none of them are very good!
      Good point about making it thru the winter first, and being prepped to carry us at least thru March. Thankfully, DH and I are well past March. But who knows what all may happen.

      • As Romney gains ground and the Libya cover up spins out of control I think they are getting desperate. As someone mentioned, with the military tied up with other obligations it may be up to us to stop whatever the true masters have up their sleeve.

  32. Good article John. A timeline based plan makes perfect sense if we
    Umderstand what a plan is and what it is not. Seems a few folks don’t.
    It is also interesting to see the way your article was attacked not for what it said but rather for what is did not mention. Odd behavior for the Pack. I presumed your piece didnt mention water since that was not your topic. Never crossed my mind that you were stupid. Again, thats Strange behavior for the Pack.

    • Ron,I believe John did mention water being a concern. John did an exc article and a few of us want to help him by mentioning suggestions-thats called being supportive. Arlene

    • Encourager says:

      Sheesh, Ron. No one was ‘attacking’ John. No one called him stupid (except you). Are you new to this blog? If you are, we always make suggestions and/or corrections to each other. That is how we learn, how we improve, how we fill in blank areas. We trust each other.

      @John: did you feel we were attacking you? If so, sorry! That was not the intent, not on my part and I am sure on anyone else’s part.

      • I very clearly said “attacked the article” and I never said anyone called John stupid. However when a response goes on and on and on about water, which John had not asked about, and as if it John has no clue… one has to wonder.
        Me New to the blog? Not hardley. I may not post a lot of chit chat but I have had several articles printed here.
        I have noticed an influx of new comers (thats good and I welcome all) butI hope and suggest they take the time to actually read what has been archieved here over the years and NOT assume they have new answers.
        Now if you dont mind, lets drop this topic and get back to what we are here for. Thanks.

  33. John:

    Excellent article & obviously OPSEC is in effect, so much that even a blind man could discern it.

    Just wanted to offer some planning advice up in structuring your actual plan.

    Just ran an evacuation scenario due to a volcanic eruption and have divided the “bugout” whether from work to home, or from primary residence to secondary residence (safe haven):

    1. Immediate Evacuation: Less than 24 hours from major event to impending disaster. Immediate Bugout with prepared bag/vehicle/family & whatever else you can grab to either you primary residence or safe haven.

    2. Phased Evcauation: More than 24 hours from major event to impending disaster. Planned evacuation to either your primary residence or safe haven, evacuating or preparing as much of your supplies/belongings, etc. that you can safely remove or gather.

    Establishing a phased timeline for after the disaster, as you have done, is a whole another planning process, which is obviously a hit-and-miss excercise, since there are very limited references to go by.

    Good luck!

  34. DHS was not established until DEC 2002, they were not around as you claim to be during 9/11

  35. Great article. One question, I thought the Department of Homeland Security was formed after 9/11?

  36. Amaury Murgdo says:

    The great thing about an article like this is it creates a dialog. It gets people thinking, critiquing, and wondering. It adds to the continuing debate about preparedness and what to do. A great read that has generated some well thought out comments.

  37. Steal Wat Ulack says:

    Plan to steal what you don’t buy beforehand? Good way to get shot…

    Why is it so many think stealing is OK after SHTF?

    If it is wrong before SHTF, it is wrong after SHTF!

    And just how is it you will know to the hr when SHTF starts? Is there a secret podcast or something? Secret decoder ring?

    Sheesh, this has to be one of the worst posts I have read on this blog.

  38. DJV,Yes discernment and intuition are gifts we need to pay attention to.I believe the Holy Spirit gives us both. Arlene