Finelli sits across from me at the food court picnic table inside the Sam’s Club on Sunshine Street, where he requested we meet. The retired computer systems designer-turned–radio show host and homesteader has salt and pepper hair, wears a plaid shirt and jeans and carries a .45-caliber automatic firearm on his person (he won’t say where). Below his strong jawline hangs a leather bag full of crushed sapphire, meant to enhance his overall health.
This group consists of people who live in tornado, hurricane, flood, wildfire, earthquake or heavy snowfall-prone areas and want to be prepared for possible emergencies. They invest in material for fortifying structures and tools for rebuilding and constructing temporary shelters. While assuming the long-term continuity of society, some may have invested in a custom-built shelter, food, water, medicine, and enough supplies to get by until contact with the rest of the world resumes following a natural emergency.
We get that creature comforts will be ever more important as the things that used to make us happy slowly break and crumble around us. But do you really want to put a ton of effort into opening a bakery when everything is going to shit? And we hate to be the bearers of bad news, but no amount of odor elimination is going to stop the uncivilized world from smelling really, really bad.
And while most of them will tell you they got into survivalism out of an interest in self-reliance, that spirit by no means excludes a sense of cooperation. It’s there in the endless churn of blog posts, advice columns, Pinterest boards, Facebook groups, online classes, and digital marketplaces these women use to connect and swap information every day. And it’s here at Wild Abundance, in the open-air living room, where a woman with short hair and tattoos balances two tall boards of wood on the ground as another starts screwing in the shelves that will connect them into a bookcase.
I connected with Jennifer through Daisy Luther, the Virginia-based writer and survival preparedness expert behind the blog The Organic Prepper, which boasts more than 30,000 followers on Facebook and roughly 32,000 monthly visits on Pinterest. Jennifer says she learned a lot about prepping from the site and is a member of its affiliated private Facebook group, which Luther says is nearly 77 percent women. (Luther and other bloggers I spoke with for this story say that while they approach survivalism from a female perspective, they’ve encountered no small number of men who are interested in these practices as well.)
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Here’s an idea that is very useful. I found at the dollar store some space bags. I used one per person and filled it with winter gear, a multi tool, matches/lighter, a small solar light, a bit of emergency food, an emergency blanket, some basic first aid supplies, etc., then removed the air. If you pack it right, you will be able to fold it over and (I used a bungee cord) place over a strap for easy carry. Now you have an instant (and weather proof) instant kit. I also did this with a pillow (small personal one), blanket, sheet, towel, etc. Not only are they portable and protected, they store in less space.
The government has repeatedly stated that there is no need for alarm, and that it expects to strike a deal soon with the European Union. An agreement would probably invoke a “standstill” transition period, during which few Britons would notice any changes until December 2020. The European Union says it, too, wants a deal, and it has made positive noises lately, though talks over the weekend failed to produce a breakthrough.
Also in 2011, Finelli started running the Get Prepared Expo series at the Ozark Empire Fairgrounds, bringing in hundreds of exhibitors and more than 70 preparedness seminars. Before doors opened, he’d host a get-together at Ziggie’s Cafe on North Glenstone, which he soon moved to Jimmy’s Egg on East Battlefield to accommodate the crowd. At Jimmy’s Egg, Finelli found another platform from which to preach preparedness. He started drawing a crowd—more than 330 on expo weekends—so Finelli made Jimmy’s Egg a weekly affair. On Monday nights, his radio instructors showed up or Skype’d in to mold the minds of 50 to 100 students. The meetups—a name borrowed from Ron Paul’s 2012 community get-togethers—were also social events, although Finelli kept the BS to a minimum.
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And now, there are Democrats. Fear of the Trump administration is largely responsible for an urban and liberal renaissance within prepping; left-leaning Facebook groups and urban survivalism YouTube channels brim with freshly paranoid Americans who attend the same expos, talk the same shop and wipe with the same bulk supply of toilet paper as the conservatives who voted the other way. That said, I met no openly liberal preppers in Springfield.
What Jennifer, a self-described prepper who declined to share her last name for security reasons, didn’t anticipate was the sheer force of Maria’s rains and 155 mile per hour winds — and how little the storm shutters would do to protect her home. “I was taking water out of the bedrooms, the living rooms, the hallways,” she says. “The house was flooded.” At one point, a piece of debris flew off a neighbor’s roof and got stuck between the outside wall of Jennifer’s pantry and the storm shutters, ripping off a pair of windows in the process.
It was not by chance, Mr. Edwards said, that prepping first took root in New York in the black community: he himself is black, and in the 1990s he became a frequent guest on “The Open Line,” a call-in radio show on the “urban adult” station WBLS. Around the same time, he started giving classes in disaster preparation at the National Action Network, the Rev. Al Sharpton’s civil rights group. “Obviously,” Mr. Edwards said, “because of our history, black folks know that bad things happen.”
Rather, this preppers supplies and gear list is meant to cover all of the items that a normal person would need in order to survive virtually any disaster. Since there are multiple items which can perform the same task (such as matches and a flint both being able to start fires), I’ve divided up the items into categories by the survival task that they perform.
And so, while I don’t think I’m newly paranoid, I am newly...prepared. Fortunately, the internet provides both camaraderie and online shopping for people who can vividly imagine literally every terrible scenario, and I quickly found myself down a rabbit hole of opinions on what I, my husband, and two small kids need, for, say, two weeks in an apartment with no access to food, water, heat, or medical attention. Or what we’ll need for a fast skedaddle out of town. But I persevered, and bought what I think is the bare minimum for health and safety in the event of a disaster. Below, everything I have in either my emergency supply kit or our “go bags,” or both.
The trouble with the prepper movement’s rhetoric of self-reliance, Mitchell says, is that it’s based on a faulty premise. Just as the homesteaders who settled the Great Plains were a lot more interdependent than American mythology typically chalks them up to be — frequently relying on bartering and income from jobs in town to take care of their nutritional needs, rather than growing everything themselves — surviving a true cataclysmic event requires collaboration.
No! They’re buying less! Way, way less. The market is way different. If Hillary would’ve got elected, then it would’ve been completely different for our market — more guns, more bullets, more everything. It would’ve continued what was going on during Obama, for sure. But now people are happy and comfortable. It’s not that they aren’t buying; they’re just buying when they want to have purified water at home.
DIY home surgeons will be excited to know epinephrine can actually be used with lidocaine (a numbing agent) to restrict blood vessels for faster wound repair. (Note: Cracked in no way condones performing self-surgery.) When sanitization resources become limited, the speed with which a wound can heal will have a drastic impact on survival rates. The longer a wound stays open and bloody, the more likely you are to get infections. Infections have historically been some of the most deadly and difficult-to-treat medical conditions, and even today they are not always easily survivable.
Personal defense items – such as rifles and heavy firearms – are going to be increasinly hard to manage the farther you move from steady supplies. Ironically, it’s firearms that help acquire more food, provide personal protection, and deter others from attacking. In a SHTF scenario, heavy armament is only good within fortified areas. If you want to stay highly mobile, switch down to a .22LR polymer rifle such as the Savage survival rifle or similar. Lightweight, collapsible, and perfect for hunting game. Loaded with subsonic rounds, it can also be a lot more efficient than heading off a target with a loud 30-06.