Five backpacks, which I got at the Good Will, because I am a frugal paranoiac. These are our go bags, one for each person for our family, plus an extra for my husband to keep at work. In his work go bag I also put a blanket, another billion-hour candle, and, in case he has to sleep at work, a comic novel. Something lighthearted, because if he’s sleeping at work I know he’s going to be freaking the fuck out. I considered The Road but decided that was unkind.
he bald snow tires on my ’06 Accord struggled to achieve the grip needed to summit Len Pense’s long, steep driveway. If the grid goes down the way he thinks it will, you’d need a tank to ascend the eroding gravel path because the 83-year-old Army veteran knows exactly which oak tree he’d fell across the route, lest the marauders come for his cache of, among many other things, 44 raised-bed gardens of food. One way in, one way out; that’s what sold Pense and his wife on the 21-acre hilltop property in Strafford some 25 years ago.
If the group became indifferent to Finelli’s leadership prior to his ouster, he became just as frustrated with their complacency. Preppers began ignoring his strict no cell phone rule. Few took concrete steps to be more prepared over the years, he says. He’d set out to develop independent thinkers, not apathetic disciples. “I mentioned to the group that at some point, Vinny may not be available,” Finelli says. “So be prepared at a moment’s notice.” That’s why he feels like he failed: He left the preppers unprepared.
When you go back to the last depressing days when we were in a survival mode, the last one the Y2K of course, before the 1970s, what had happened was you only saw this one element of survivalist, you know, the caricature, the guy with the AK-47 heading to the hills with enough ammunition and pork and beans to ride out the storm. This is a very different one from that: you're seeing average people taking smart moves and moving in intelligent directions to prepare for the worst. (...) So survivalism in every way possible. Growing your own, self-sustaining, doing as much as you can to make it as best as you can on your own and it can happen in urban area, sub-urban area or the ex-urbans. And it also means becoming more and more tightly committed to your neighbors, your neighborhood, working together and understanding that we're all in this together and that when we help each other out that's going to be the best way forward.
In the wake of these insights, I called a family friend in Ohio, himself half-a-Prepper, and he advised me to purchase a quantity of Silver Eagle coins as an inflation hedge, which I did. Not long after came the hundred-dollar, home-delivered month’s supply of freeze-dried food — in the standard and the vegetarian options — from Costco.com. I bought my wife, which is to say, myself, John Seymour’s homesteading classic, “The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It.” I began the conversation about acquiring a gun.
A HAM radio, provided you know how to use it, turns a prepper into a vital asset in any emergency where the communication grid has gone down. They are completely reliable transceivers and are worth more than gold when the SHTF. I personally only hold a BaoFeng BF-F8HP portable HAM radio in my prepper gear as it still provides a means of two-way communication when the communication grid is down is my area, works well when I am on the move, and is much less expensive than a traditional fixed HAM radio.
Finelli remained at the helm until he came down with pneumonia in late 2016. Months before, an interloper who claimed to have no Social Security number or driver’s license had driven up from Arkansas on nitrogen-filled tires, used to skirt a law requiring licensing for vehicles with air-filled tires. His name is Andrew:—he has no last name; he says adding the colon keeps him from being cataloged in “the system”—and his resourcefulness impressed Finelli, so he offered Andrew: the mic during his absence. He never got it back.
Jennifer didn’t get into prepping with a hurricane like Maria in mind. Her own personal SHTF moment — the calamity that spurred her to start stockpiling and growing food in the first place — was one that most people can relate to: the sudden closure of the law firm where she’d worked for several years. “We were down to only one income, so I said, ‘I have to really do something to help us get through this,’” Jennifer recalls.
"The BOR (Bug Out Roll) is incredibly well made, it exceeded my expectations by a huge margin, its one thing to hear you talk about #10 YKK zippers & industrial strength velcro, quite another thing to handle them in the flesh. These zippers are huge, & the velcro adheres like nothing Ive dealt with before. Youve got one excellent product and its worth every penny"
For my stockpile, I use several Aqua-Tainers with categorical labels marked on them for drinking water, hygiene water (dishes and showering), toilet water and garden water. My priority is obviously drinking water, but any dishwater I have I reuse as toilet water. While it might seem overkill, keeping an eye on your stockpiles is good practice to get an idea of how much your daily consumption rate is, and where you can find ways to re-use or use less water.
Popular at this particular show were bug-out bags, the vendors tell me, because the casual interloper can purchase a lot of peace of mind all at once. For $449, Lenexa, Kansas retailer Game Plan Experts sells a bag with waterproof matches, a flint fire-starter, energy bars, utensils, a camp stove, water pouches and filtration, a first-aid kit, masks, a survival whistle, a pry bar, a folding shovel, an emergency blanket, toilet paper, a toothbrush, a hand-crank radio, survival candles and more. For the über paranoid, they’ll find a discreet contractor in your area to dig a hole in your yard and install a doomsday bunker.
People in the disaster preparedness community often say they are readying for the “shit hits the fan” moments: some future calamity, however plausible or implausible, when we are forced to fall back on our possessions and ingenuity. Doomsday Preppers, the long-running National Geographic show that popularized the term “prepper,” introduced mainstream America to a slew of quirky individuals — mostly men with a love of pricey gadgets and the Second Amendment — and the highly improbable doomsday scenarios for which they’d chosen to prepare.
What’s on the list depends on which faction of preparedness you practice, pre-Y2K prepper and Seventh-day Adventist Church pastor Craig Wiles tells me. There are preppers, who anticipate an event like an ice storm or an EMP; there are survivalists, who arm themselves to face an enemy like a tyrannical government; and there are homesteaders, who grow their own food and practice self-sufficiency.
Whether Ancestral Puebloans had any preppers among them is unknown. But Kohler points out that in one fundamental way their response to disaster echoes our own: “People are really reliant on each other. It’s not just one household, one family against the climate, against the world. It’s communities, societies working together that will make for our persistence or our failure to persist.”
Three hours after I arrived, Andrew: senses it’s time to wrap up, but not before breaking into one last story about the Bigfoot footprints he keeps in the back of his car. The prints were collected in Arkansas in 1956, he says, and they belong to an adult male, a juvenile female and an adult female. He says he himself came from the “drug scene hillbillies” and that his ancestors had six digits.
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