by Dave Robinson
Fall 1999. Preppers everywhere were cautiously making plans for something called Y2K. Some computer geek somewhere opined that computer chips everywhere were going to freeze up at one second after midnight, December 31, 1999. The idea caught on and spawned a movement to prepare for life without computers or chip-driven electronics. I won’t go into detail but the concept made some sense. Enough so that several folks considered the possibility of the electrical grid collapsing and knocking out every computer and electrical component on the planet. As a result thousands purchased generators.
I made a call to my buddy who happens to be an electrical engineer. My logic was that he was the best qualified person I knew who could answer my question. The conversation went something like this:
Me: I just bought a generator and would like to know the best way to hook it into my house.
Him: Why did you buy a generator, for Y2K?
Him: Well I’m glad you bought a generator, but you’re not going to need it for Y2K.
Him: You’re going to need it for the earthquake.
Me: What earthquake?
At that my friend schooled me on the ongoing seismic activity of the Cascadia Subduction Zone and the very real likelihood of a major earthquake and subsequent tsunami impacting the coast of Oregon. I learned due to the geographical structure and soils composition coupled with the several dozen bridges that would be damaged, our region would be completely cut off from any assistance for a considerable time.
No electricity, no phone service, no trucks coming into the area carrying groceries or anything else for that matter. Yes indeed, a generator was going to come in handy!
Likewise a shortage of consumables like batteries, toilet tissue and other needed items when stores can’t get resupplied. Not only will our lives be disrupted, but first responders will be unable to respond. Fire fighters, police officers and EMS (ambulance) personnel are going to be so overwhelmed that your emergency will be way down the list. That’s when you will become someone’s hero. Every neighborhood will need good Samaritans to check on the elderly, the injured and the stranded. Mapping Your Neighborhood will become more than just a “feel good” exercise, but the reality that lives are being saved just because someone had the foresight to organize their neighborhood.
Not too long ago someone asked if there was some kind of warehouse with a stockpile of food supplies. The answer is no. The only supplies available are those each person has on their pantry shelves. There are a few food banks serving the needy, but those supplies come from fragile streams of donations and some government programs and would soon be wiped out.
The best time to prepare is BEFORE the disaster! Don’t be lulled to sleep by the gentle music of the “Procrastination Symphony”. Next time you’re at the store, pick up just one extra non-perishable item. Just one item! Set it aside and then keep adding to it. Just in case!
This column is a direct descendant of that conversation with my engineer buddy. Maybe your preparedness will hinge on a similar pivotal moment, like reading this.
As always send your questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Previous columns can be found on my blog at www.disasterprepdave.blogspot.com.
Dave Robinson is the Postmaster in Bandon, Oregon, and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us”.