Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Anatomy of a Breakdown

I thought this was a great article.  Tess Pennington analyzes just what happens when you are caught up in a large scale disaster.  

She outlines the stages that are experienced when people are separated from the electrical grid, from clean water, sewage, transportation and/or gasoline, and normal food and water distribution.  You should probably read the article as it is good and informative, but not hard, but I'm going to give a short outline of it if you are pressed for time.

1.  The Warning: 

There usually is a warning, and often times the warning comes several days in advance of the disaster, earthquakes being exempted from this generalization.  Tornadoes sometimes only have scant warning.  For one reason or another there is a part of the population that decides to stay behind.

2. Shock and Awe: (1 to 2 days)

What a great phrase, but accurate.  It is hard to wrap your mind around the colossal forces that are unleased by these huge and/or violent storms, or the earth moving around like a carnival ride.  It is so far out of our experience that we can't comprehend it.  Those that stay behind are almost always somewhat unprepared for what overtakes them, and the majority are very unprepared.

3. The Breakdown: (3-7 days)

Here is the time when people run out of water, out of food, out of fuel.  The find themselves stranded and shocked by the loss of home and community.  Many of these unfortunate are the ones that the news guy sticks the mic in front of and asks how they feel.  Duh....not great.  Those news guys can be so annoying.

People are expecting things to go back to normal, but with powerlines down, substations trashed, often water mains broken, pumping stations damaged, things don't come back to normal very soon.  The roads might be torn up, rescue resources are stretched to the max and people are hungry, thirsty, cold/hot and very pissed off that their entitled needs aren't met.  Looting begins. You are pretty much on your own then.

4. Recovery: (8-30+ days)

Sometimes this takes years, and things are never the same.

We have a long history of self sufficiency, but we often are lulled into complacency as well.  Lots of times we think that a year's supply of food is a ridiculous amount to have, or we despair that we can hardly afford to pay for this weeks food, yet alone to build up a reserve.

We can't do it all at once.  It is a day-by-day process.  We have to learn to eat differently.  We have to take advantage of all the little resources that are at hand.  Often a good source of food is to process the food that we normally would throw away as being out-of-date, or fruit that is a little soft or bruised.

You can dry it, bottle it, make soup out of it, and bottle the soup.  We throw away hundreds of milk and beverage conatiners that would work just fine to store water in.  We throw away many glass jars that can be used to can jellys and jams, many with pop up lids can be used again and again (we will talk another time about what can be safely bottled in what jar), but you don't always have to buy brand new jars.

WalMart has a hundred camping items that will work pretty well in an emergency.  Buy one per week. 

Try to get by even for a night eating out of your food storage, cooking and lighting with your alternate sources of heat and light.  We had a power outage for a couple of hours early in the Spring.  We were fine for the essentials but couldn't sew, couldn't blog, couldn't surf, couldn't watch TV.....how embarrassing that was.

The truth is that is we don't prepare ourselves for troubled times, we will be unprepared, we will be afraid, and we will probably have to go out into the crowds of frightened and anxious people and won't be able to stay quietly in our homes.

Just a few thoughts.  Read the article, there is a lot more there than I have.