By Ron G
The economy has collapsed, the world is in turmoil and someone discharged a nuke in New York City, He shares a well-stocked Bug Out location and has made the decision that it is time to get out of Dodge. He has carefully prepped the truck and camper over the last couple of days. He talked it over with his close knit and like-minded Crew of 5. They all agreed, now is the time to Bug Out.
The Crew of 5 consisted of two military buddies, their spouses, and him. He was single and twice divorced. None had kids still at home or even close by. Several years ago they all went together and bought an old farm in eastern Tennessee. They got together several times a year there and after many late night discussions had decided it was a prudent idea to start planning for a brave new world, a new world with a very rough beginning.
The decision was made early and getting out of town was easy. No crowds and no check points. He was now two hundred miles down the road, off the Interstate and Highways and had 50 miles to go on county roads. The crew should start arriving tonight and over the next couple of days. He listened to the radio as he drove. The radio was full of people talking about New York, talking about who could have done this, talking about a failed US foreign policy, talking about war in the Middle East, Asia, and Eastern Europe. The President has just declared Marshall Law and has asked all citizens to remain calm and in their homes. Reservists and National Guards are being called up. Reports of widespread rioting were coming in. Food stores, liquor stores, gun shops, and gas stations are experiencing looting. People are killing each other.
As he rolled down a steep grade the truck unexpectedly sputtered a bit but kept running. He thought he saw a bright flash of light but was not sure. The radio instantly filled with static and he couldn’t find anything but more static, on AM or FM. As he drove up the next hill, in the rear view mirror, he noticed a strange large cloud building up. It rose quickly and he slowly recognized what he had only seen in old films and sci-fi movies, a mushroom cloud, A Nuclear Detonation.
He pulls the camper truck over and gets out. He stares back at the mushroom cloud and slowly asks, “Where is that”? “Who got hit”? Slowly he realized that Atlanta Georgia is no more and said a short prayer that came together one word at a time and ended with “amen” repeated five times. Time had stopped and he stood there frozen. His mind raced. He heard a sound, not very loud, like a boom, or lightning, or something. Then the leaves rustled with a gust of wind and then quieted down again.
He got back into the truck and realized that the light he thought he saw was the detonation, the sputter in his trucks engine and static on the radio was the EMP. The sound was what was left of the blast and the sudden breeze was the wave passing by. He mentally reviewed everything he knew about nuclear bombs and asked, “What’s next”? The answer was fallout and he realized he needed to get going.
He got into the truck, turned the ignition key, and nothing happened. No lights. No static filled radio. Dead.
A series of questions ran thru his mind.
OK! Let’s stop our story here and discuss this situation with a few Q’s and A’s.
Question: “Where is the fallout going to go”? Answer: “Where the wind blows”.
Question: “What was the weather babe saying on tv this morning”? Answer: “A low. A low was moving thru the Atlanta area and traveling towards the northeast”.
Our subject realized that he is north east of Atlanta, about a hundred miles as the crow flies.
Question: “And the winds were what”? Answer: “Surface winds were 5 to 10 miles per hour, but what are the winds up there where the fireball is”? Answer: I do not know.
Question: “What should I do”? Answer: If the low is moving northeast so is that fireball and the fallout that will come out of it as it cools off. The winds may also have different directions and speeds at different elevations. Most likely it will be moving at a faster speed then the surface winds. You need to find some protection.
Note: In the old days the National Weather Service provided information that averaged out the speed and direction of those upper level winds that allowed us to roughly predict where and when the fallout would arrive, it was called a RAWIN Report. I don’t believe that info is gathered or made available any more.
Now back to our story.
He gets out of the truck and begins to push. In a few moments he is again on a downgrade and gravity takes over. He jumps in and just before he gets to the bottom and out of speed he pulls in to a dirt lane, into some farmers field, coming to a stop behind some trees. The truck finally stops rolling. It is the end of the road for the truck.
Slowly he gets out of the truck and surveys the site. He walks back and climbs into the camper only to come out a few minutes later with a G.I. issue, fold up spade. He unfolds it as he walks to the front of the truck and then starts digging. Never in his wildest, after leaving the service 20 years before, did he ever think he would be digging a foxhole again. He dug for a while, took a break, drank some water, and then started digging again. He dug a foxhole with a sitting bench big enough for two men. As he dug he took the excavated soil and put it in four piles. The ones on the left and right were bigger then the other two. The sun was starting to set when he finished.
He again climbed into the camper. This time he took everything out of the cabinets and stacked it equally over the floor. He was glad that he had all of these cans and jars of food and cases of water. They were denser then the dehydrated and freeze-dried provisions he had stocked up on at his bug out location. They would provide some shielding.
He strapped on a 40 cal, semi auto, Smith and Wesson with 6 magazines, selected a few MRE’s, a half dozen bottles of water, a small LED flashlight, an AR with 5 magazines, a emergency radio, and a rain poncho, and then exited the camper. After placing the items, other then the S & W, in the foxhole he pushed the truck forward a few more feet. The truck was a king cab and the foxhole was directly under the back seats.
He opened the doors and began to fill the back of the cab with soil excavated from the foxhole. When it was about 2 feet high, on the floor and the seat, he stopped and filled the front seat and floor, again, about two feet deep. The rest of the soil he banked up around and under the trucks body. Filling in the space between the trucks body and the ground. The exception was about a two-foot wide area directly in front of the truck. Here he took a blue work shirt. Tied the arms thru the trucks grill so that 6 inches of the long shirttail lay on the ground. This was his exit and entrance.
It was dark as he crawled under the truck, covered the shirttail with soil so it stay put and slid into his foxhole. He ate a little bit of some MRE crackers and cheese, drank some water and fell a sleep. Right after midnight he took the Mil Issue poncho and covered up with it. Glad he had a liner on it. Glad it was spring and not winter.
Morning came and he waited as long as he could before looking out. After blinking his eyes in the sunlight a few times he saw “stuff” had fallen out of the sky. It looked like a gray ash and also small gray particles. He realized that over night the fallout had arrived.
Keeping the poncho on he slid out from under the truck. He quickly climbed into the camper, started a pot of coffee on the propane cook stove and then got out and went off a ways to take care of several body functions. Before crawling back under the truck he shook off the poncho, re-entered the camper, shut off the fire, grabbed the pot of percolating coffee and a canteen cup. Back under the camper he drank coffee and nibbled something from a MRE, he thought about everything he had been taught about surviving on a nuclear battlefield. He thought about what Atlanta use to be like, his friends, and his former life. He thought about the retreat and the welfare of the Crew of 5.
He remembered that radiation from a nuclear detonation dropped off at a regular rate but he couldn’t remember what that rate was. Since he had no way to measure the current level of radioactivity he figured it really didn’t matter too much anyway. He guessed that he would have to stay where he was for 5 or 6 days just to be safe.
Time out boys and girls.
Here is what the guy in our story couldn’t remember. It’s called the 7-hour rule.
At 7 hours after detonation the fission product activity will have decreased to about 1/10, or 10%, of its amount at 1 hour. At about 2 days, or 49 hours, the activity will have decreased to 1% of the 1-hour value! For example, a 500 rad level can drop to 50R in 7 hours and down to 5R after 2 days (49 hours). In other words, if you have shelter with good shielding and stay put for even just 7 hours you have really increased your chances of survival.
OK, class over and back to our story, which is already in progress…
For the next 5 days he stayed under the truck, going out each morning for about 10 minutes to take care of bodily functions, brew a pot of coffee and grabbing a can of fruit or whatever from the camper. During the day he urinated in empty water bottles and disposed of them the next morning. He tried to sleep as much as possible. Sleep was not easy and never lasted long.
On the 4th day he found a signal on the emergency radio. Broadcasting from Chattanooga the news was limited and what there was was not good. Nuke strikes on Savannah, Jacksonville and Charleston. Rumors of more destruction northward up the seaboard. No news from the west. The fed government was stuck in some hole in the ground in West Virginia and pretended they were in control of something
When day 7 arrived he decided it was time to move out. After his morning ritual he repacked his bug out bag with items from the camper, thru the poncho over it all, shouldered his AR, and headed down the road. He had not seen or heard another human being for 6 days and figured the road would be the easiest and fastest way to get to his bug out location. He hoped whoever came upon his truck would be good people and appreciate the supplies he left behind despite the dirt he had thrown on top.
As he started walking he thought about how good it felt after sitting in a foxhole for a week. And the sun on his face only made it better.
Here is how this chapter in our story ends: Our hero makes it to the retreat, on foot and in 4 more days. Other then dead livestock and wildlife he saw no one and heard no one the entire way. On day 3 he started throwing up, only keeping down water and a few MRE crackers. But he made it. His crew was there. They stripped him down, ran him thru a quick decon, then brought him in and put him to bed. He slept for 22 hours. When he woke up he ate chicken flavored ramen and learned the Crew of 5 was now 4. One of his buddies didn’t make it but his spouse did. Then he slept again.