LISTENING TO KATRINA
PAGES IN THIS BLOG ARE RATED 'R' AND DO CONTAIN
PROFANITY, VULGARITY, GRAPHIC VIOLENCE, NUDITY,
SCENES OF HUMAN EMOTION, DEATH, DESTRUCTION, MAYHEM, AND VARIOUS
HYST - Land Ho!
When you finally manage to pull your lifeboat up onto the beach, it's important to have picked your beach carefully. I have already told you that at 10:15 PM on Sunday, August 28, 2005, after being on the road for 15 1/2 hours, we crash landed in Houston, Texas. This was both a disastrous failure of planning, and the best thing we could have done. Given the opportunity to do it all over again, I'd have gone to the same place - so the Gods of Luck were smiling on us that day.
Many other people were not so lucky. Some were finding friends and family to stay with, some were finding what few hotel rooms were available, and a lot of others were ending up in public shelters run by the Red Cross, FEMA and other government organizations, and a large number of churches and church organizations that responded to the crisis. More than a few people slept in their cars on the first night.
Remember on the last page I talked about what to do when your plane runs out of gas? Aviate, Navigate, and Communicate - or else what? God will find a place to park you.
That's true in the lifeboat metaphor too. You can't just drift in the ocean forever, so you're going to have to pick a beach. I recommend a beach with white sand, calm seas, some shade, and if you can manage it make sure you land near a place that serves drinks with the little umbrellas in them.
Remember that the end goal of your evacuation is to go Home. The beach you land your lifeboat on is important to that goal. If you do not chose wisely, you could find yourself in a war zone...
Landing into the middle of family feuds, ending up in a government camp, or being stranded in a single hotel room with 15 or 20 other family members is not a good place from which to launch your return home. Spending the night with thousands of other strangers isn't something you should choose to do, although a lot of people ended up there.
This page is about how to pick your beach.
The first thing to do is to appreciate where we are now. We have to assess our resources. If you have followed the plan so far, we should have a significant portion of our wealth in the lifeboat with us. I am going to leave off actually detailing that, because it's going to vary from person to person. The key to choosing your Bug Out Location is going to vary on several factors as well - and which factors take priority are going to depend on your needs, both immediate and long term.
You may also end up at some 'halfway' point where you stop for the night or otherwise take time to gather something, make a rendezvous, or simply have a rest.
You may already have ownership of your own BOL. That may be a little cabin out in the woods, a trailer on a stretch of farmland, some rental property on the other side of town, or that whole castle with a moat and laser guided sharks thing. If so, then you are way ahead of the curve, and the rest of this won't be of much use to you - unless your BOL is affected by the disaster too. I will address your situation in future pages. For now, let me simply congratulate you on having such a place. I'm jealous. As soon as I can afford the down payment on a little hunk of property somewhere, I'm there, dude. Unfortunately, most working-class people never achieve the 'second home in the middle of nowhere' dream, and so the rest of this page covers that.
Rather than drag you through a long discussion of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs, let's just list some basic purposes that a Bug Out Location serves, and detail some of the needs that such a location should meet.
The first thing to consider is the nature of the emergency or disaster itself. If your house burns down in the middle of the night, your best course of action might simply be to check into a hotel for the night, and make some other more permanent arrangement (like renting an apartment) in the morning. It's not necessary (or at all desirable) to drive 300 miles to get away from a simple house fire. If you manage to get out of town before a nuclear bomb goes off and you are never going home again, the same considerations apply.
The BOL (Bug Out Location) should be outside the immediate area affected by the disaster.
If your house burns to the ground, but your detached two car garage is still standing, then maybe all you have to do is inflate some air mattresses and there you are. If a tornado takes out your neighborhood, then you are going to end up outside that zone. If a hurricane threatens, you want to be 75 or 100 miles away from wherever it is that the eye makes landfall.
The BOL must not be too far away from your house.
I drove back and forth between here and Houston a number of times - 360 miles each way. That distance is not optimal. It's too far for easy driving. 100 miles is a nice round figure, but I didn't have good options in that range. It would be optimal to have a BOL that would accommodate the role of an operational base from which to conduct your rebuilding effort (if needed.)
The BOL must be able to accommodate your special needs.
If you have medical needs, then you need to be in an area that can provide for them. If you have pets, you need to go to a place that will accept them. Likewise with kids.
The BOL must be safe and secure.
That may mean that you have to provide the security, but you don't want to end up in some inner-city neighborhood where you can't be safe at night. Remember that your lifeboat represents a significant portion of your mobile wealth, and it needs to be safe. You may need to leave your kids at the BOL with your spouse while you conduct rebuilding efforts at your house, so you want them to be safe while you are away.
The BOL must be able to support you.
'Support' means many things. You shouldn't expect to throw yourself on the mercy of family, friends, or strangers and have them joyfully feed you for the rest of your life. You need to be able to support yourself to some degree. That's only responsible. The BOL, though, has to be able to support you in other ways. If you escape to a place with your spouse and 17 kids and there is only one bathroom, then you are overloading the BOL.
The BOL must be emotionally supportive or emotionally neutral.
If your mother-in-law hates you with a purple passion, then bugging-out to your mother-in-law's place is not a good idea. Ever. Dealing with negative family issues while you are trying to put your life back together is a recipe for murder-suicide.
That's the basics of the basics. The bottom line is that your BOL must be optimized among three elements: Location, Security, Support. Using that as a ruler, we can 'measure' each BOL and place a value on it. These values are, of course, relative. A place with excellent Location and Support is desirable only so long as the Security is not uncommonly low. This will be so obvious to you that I won't spend any time on it.
We can, however, examine the various arrangements that occurred during hurricane Katrina, and make the assumption that the same or similar arrangements would occur during any wide-spread disaster.
This covers places like the Superdome and Convention Center. These were places where people were given shelter (and I use that term loosely) during the storm, and where people were deposited after being rescued off rooftops and out of their attics. These are short term solutions to emergency situations. They are usually populated by the least prepared and/or least fortunate people. We already know that you do not want to go to a Government Camp
FEMA & Red Cross Shelters
These are the big shelters like the one at the Astrodome. We are going to be talking about these in some depth on another page, but for now let's just list these at the 'bottom' of the shelter options. Not because they were particularly bad - because they weren't. They just aren't optimal if you have somewhere else to go.
While some crime occurred in these places, for the most part that was limited to petty theft, despite all the hysterical stories told. When you go to one of these shelters, you have to live by their rules. Your firearms will be confiscated, for one - which is reason enough for me to never go there.
Church Shelters & Other Small Shelters
Many churches and other charity organizations set up small shelters all over the place. These are better than the 'mass' shelters in some ways. They vary widely in services offered, but the people who run them try very hard to accommodate disaster victims. If you don't find a place to spend the night at one of these shelters, it is possible to get a meal and find other relief support in these shelters.
Hotels and Motels
Many people found shelter by checking into a hotel or motel. FEMA picked up the bill in many cases, and so this was OK for many people. I don't think that this is ideal for a number of reasons, but it can work well on a short term basis. Problems arose in that there really weren't enough hotel rooms to accommodate everyone, and families ended up sharing rooms. It was not uncommon to hear about 15 family members and all their pets sleeping in a single motel room. That is not an optimal situation. This can also be an expensive option.
Renting an Apartment
This is an option if you have a large family, but it can be counter-productive to sink money into an apartment lease away from your home town. Remember that your strategy is to go Home. If your house is truly destroyed and you are going to find a job in your city of refuge, then this is probably the best option because you can just go ahead and start building Home right away right where you are.
A middle-of-the-road idea is to find a 'corporate' apartment, which is a small furnished apartment usually rented to corporations who need temporary housing for project workers. They can be less costly than a hotel room, but more expensive than an unfurnished apartment for obvious reasons.
Family & Friends
If someone has a spare room and can put you up, this can either be an ideal situation or a total nightmare. That will depend on several factors such as personalities and past history among others. I will discuss this across several pages later in this blog.
Many people were quickly supported by their companies. This was especially true of larger corporations who needed to re-open large facilities in the area, and so they provided housing to evacuees, and then worked to provide local housing while people recovered. If you work for a large corporation, you should find out if the company has a disaster management plan and what you need to do in order to work within the plan. Again, we'll discuss that in detail on another page.
Rather than organize shelters as such, some churches (by way of their individual members) extended invitations to others of the same faith (and even others not of their faith) to come and stay in their individual homes. There can be, of course, certain limits set by the homeowner. "We can accommodate a single family with one child.", for instance.
Clubs and Social Organizations
If you belong to a club, social organization, or secret society, there may be some support for you available through those resources. If you belong to the Water Buffalo Lodge, Water Buffalos through the organization in your city of refuge. We were contacted through the AANR and offered a condo to stay in, but it was 12 hours drive, which was rather far away for us so I declined. You might be surprised at what is available through some of the various clubs and groups, so don't be afraid to call and ask.
Head for the Hills!
You always have the option to go live somewhere in the wilderness. Turning your bug-out into a camp-out can work in the short term, but campgrounds fill fast and wilderness areas aren't good bases of operation for your return Home.
There are some other options, but not too many. As we get further along down the timeline, I'll be covering each of these in turn. The larger and more widespread the disaster is, the more complicated the equations become.
My purpose in presenting them here in this way is to start you thinking about where you will go, where you will stay, and what your living conditions will be like if you have to evacuate your home. It's time to do some work in your workbook.
The first thing to do is add contact information into your address book for the state and national headquarters of churches, clubs, and social organizations that you belong to. They really can be a good resource, and you will want to have the contact information handy if you need it.
The second thing to do is print out a few copies of the workbook page for this entry: WB010.PDF It is self-explanatory. You will want to put in the address and contact information for the potential Bug-Out Location, the distance from your home in miles, and any notes about the location and the people there. It's also helpful if you organize the locations according to direction. That is, have a sheet for each direction - North, South, East, West. In my case, I cannot go South, because that would put me in the Gulf of Mexico... If a storm is coming to the east of me, I am going to go west. If a storm is coming to the west, I'm going to go east. It's handy to have the possible beachheads organized in that way. You may organize them any way you like. In the NOTES area, rank the BOL according to how it rates on Location, Security, and Support. Try to have at least one BOL in each compass direction (roughly), and at least one in each of four ranges.
Range 1 is close to home. The neighbor's mailbox as the meeting place for a house fire, for instance. Range 2 is between a long walk and a short drive. This might be a particular hotel, a friend, or a relative just across town. Range 3 is a good drive - between 25 and 50 miles. This is 'out of town'. Range 4 is any distance beyond 50 miles. This is your hurricane escape zone.
It's not necessary to do much more than organize them at this point and start thinking about the places you have available (or potentially available) to you should you need to escape or evacuate. We will do further work with these in the next few pages.
Remember: LAZY PEOPLE DO NOT PROSPER!