Just before Hurricane Rita made landfall I observed something that I probably will never forget, and that was a guy with a lowboy trailer loaded with 55 gallon drums. He was at the gas station filling up the drums – and we wonder why gas stations run out of fuel so fast during a disaster?
I am as guilty as the next person about panic buying. When the word comes that a hurricane is heading our way, my wife and I will take a trip to the local china-mart to pick up a few last minute items.
There is a difference in picking up a “few” items, and trying to stockpile several weeks worth of food in one trip.
Every time a hurricane comes around, people will kick into high gear panic buying mode. They run down to the store and start buying everything in sight.
As hurricane Ike was approaching a few years ago, I heard people at china-mart talking about how the store was out of this or that. The people that were talking agreed to buy “something”. That “something” was whatever was left on the shelves.
Its that “we have nothing, so we have to buy anything” desperation that makes the whole situation worse. People walk around china-mart, their eyes have a semi-blank stare, and their mouths slightly open, kinda like a deer in the headlights.
When my wife and I go to china-mart before the landfall of a hurricane, its to pick up some bread, maybe a gallon of milk, maybe some more bottled water,,,. Its not that we are out, or need the items, we just want a couple of extra.
Stress levels go up as the hurricane approaches landfall. The unprepared sheeple make the situation worse because they are in panic buying mode.
Some of the things to disappear during panic buying (from my observations anyway)
Camp stove fuel (liquid and propane)
Charcoal – for cooking with no electricity
Extension cords (for the generators)
First aid supplies
Lanterns (kerosene and battery)
People will buy anything they “think” they will need when the power goes off.
Right before Hurricane Ike and Hurricane Rita, people ran into china-mart, almost ran to certain sections of the store, then started throwing stuff into the buggies. One guy I saw had his buggy half full of charcoal. I guess he planned on doing a lot of grilling while the power was off.
Storms in the Northeast
Early July 2012 over a million people are still without electricity in the northeast. From the reports coming in, it looks like the majority of the people were not prepared for a week – 2 weeks without electricity.
Those storms have taught us at least two things:
1 – Our infrastructure is fragile
2 – The U.S. population is not ready for a major disaster
It took just one storm to knock out power to around 2 million people. Think about that for a minute, one storm, and around 2 million people were in the dark.
After Hurricane Rita pushed through southeast Texas, there were a lot of people without power for over 2 weeks. My family was without power for 18 days. Some people were without power for 3 weeks.
What kind of terrorist attack would it take to knock the northeast of out power for 2 or 3 months? Maybe blow up a couple of power plants?
If nature could put millions of people in the dark, what could an organized attack do? What could Russia, North Korea or China do with a couple of well guided missiles? How many power plants could be taken out; how many months would the northeast be in the dark?
Unprepared become angry at the government
After hurricane Rita and after hurricane Ike, as my family was sitting around a kerosene lantern listening to the radio, I heard the same thing over and over – how are people supposed to drive to the food distribution lines if they do not have gasoline?
The people calling into the local radio station had several days warning that they needed to get ready, but they failed to do so. Instead of accepting the blame for their failure to prepare, they blamed the government.
How is it the governments fault that people did not heed the warnings?
I guess the people have to blame someone, so lets blame the government.
Even with warnings people do not prepare
People should maintain a low level state of readiness. It is physically impossible to walk around in a constant state of high level readiness. This is why I suggest adopting survivalism as a hobby.
Its the people who maintain a zero level state of readiness that are the problem – the people who have no food in the house, no way to cook without electricity, no bottled water, no first aid kits, no flashlights, no radios, no spare batteries,,,,.
When disaster strikes, the unprepared kick into a high stress mode.
Human thought is divided into something like 8 levels.
First level – your immediate needs. If you are in a burning house, your first need is to get out of the house.
Second and third levels – are your needs in the very near future, what are you going to eat in the next few hours, where are you going to sleep tonight.
As we move up the scale we progress to education, relationships and appreciation for the arts, such as music.
The majority of people stay at the top levels. We have jobs, we have relationships, we listen to music, we go to parties,,, we try to live a low stress life.
A disaster that disrupts our everyday life brings us from level 6, 7 or 8 all the way back to levels 1, 2 and 3.
If your house is gone after a tornado, you have to find a safe place to sleep, that is level 2 and 3. As stress levels go up, people do not think or reason like they normally would. People in the affected zone revert to a primal state where they need to satisfy their immediate needs. When your stomach is hungry, and you have nowhere to sleep, who cares about the latest pop star on TV.
Back to the Northeast
The northeast was a worse case situation – Underestimated line of storms striking a densely populated area. Which combined with a lack of basic preparedness left the population awestruck and devastated.
[Related Article – Becoming complacent with disaster preparedness]
People (not just in the northeast) develop a relaxed attitude about disaster preparedness.
After nothing happened with several hurricanes, people in southeast Texas decided to ride hurricane Ike out in their beach houses close to Galveston. When Ike was finished, only a few houses were left standing, and dozens of people were dead.
Take time to prepare your family before disaster strikes
Never underestimate the forces of nature.
Maintain some kind of state of readiness.
Keep a stockpile of essential items – food, water, flashlights, radio, spare batteries, first aid items,,,.
Stay informed on the weather.
Have insurance that can help you rebuild.
Step up and take responsibility for preparing your family for when disaster strikes.
Feel free to post your comments and suggestions.