Community and Disaster Preparedness, Part 2

Reader Contribution by Kyle Ferlemann
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Photo by Elaine Casap on Unsplash

Practical preparedness involves doing little things that will have a big impact in providing you with options and resources during and after a disaster. Part of being involved in a cooperative community is making sure that you can participate. What does this involve? You can make preparations before a disaster so you are able to sustain yourself and contribute (at least a little) to the group.

This is a simple thing to do. Keep some extra food, water, and weather appropriate clothing. All things that are around the house now or that can be picked up at the store when it’s on sale before things go south.

Here are a few simple rules that can help you plan:

  1. Store what you eat, and eat what you store. Don’t keep separate “survival rations”.  They will most likely go bad before you will use them and no one wants to survive on stale food.
  2. Two is one and one is none. If you will be depending upon an important tool or item in your plan, keep an extra one just in case. A good example of this is a hand operated can opener.
  3. Keep some for sharing and trading. A little good will goes a long way. Keep some extra of the supplies you feel are important and make up your mind that you will share. Know how much you can share and then be generous. It may be prudent not to let the world know you have extra, but be prepared to help where you can.
  4. Revisit your plan twice a year. Look at your plan and check your supplies twice a year. Once for spring/summer and again for autumn/winter. Change out your extra clothing, check batteries, test your electronics (weather radios, etc), and see that you have some extra food in the cupboard.
  5. Awareness is not obsession. Disaster preparedness should not be all consuming. Planning for a disaster is not the same as fearing one. Remember that a 20% plan is the 80% solution. A little planning goes a long way and including your friends and neighbors in your preparations will encourage cooperation and build realistic expectations in times of stress.  

Don’t add to fear with imagined threats

TV and movies make it look like society will completely collapse at the first sign of trouble. This adds drama to the story. In your story, you will not want that kind of drama. You and those in your community can chose to skip that drama through cooperation and strength in numbers. It is true that some people will take advantage of any reduction in the rule of law, but they will not last long. Also, they will look for those who are separated and alone. Thieves don’t like the odds for attacking groups.

The reality is that strong communities will do just fine.  During the Spanish Flu (influenza) epidemic of 1917 whole communities were cut off from the world. These communities did not immediately descend into violent anarchy. The people in these towns pulled together and helped each other even when contact with an infected home could bring death to their own. They were safe and careful, as well as kind and helpful. 

When the tornado of 1966 swept through Topeka Kansas, people descended by the dozens into the aftermath of the storm. Not to loot, but to rescue. They found wrenches and formed search lines, walking the destroyed neighborhoods turning off gas valves and rescuing people from the rubble of their homes.

These stories and ones like them are repeated hundreds of times throughout the last few decades. We just don’t hear about them. Looting in New Orleans and L.A. make for riveting news coverage. Next door heroes don’t make the evening news. 

Choose to survive ahead of time   

You can influence your situation to make it easier on yourself before a disaster. None of us can control nature, but we can control ourselves and choose to be civil and constructively helpful. By participating in and encouraging community interaction before a disaster, we can form friendships and civility that will turn into neighbor helping neighbor when a disaster does come along. Community civility and cooperation are the bedrock of community resiliency and it has many benefits prior to any disaster.

Community resiliency is not complex or difficult. Find like-minded people you get along with and spend some time to get to know them. Make basic plans for disaster preparedness and revisit those plans a couple times a year. Talk with your friends and plan to work together when disasters strike. Community and cooperation are the secrets to living through and recovering from a disaster.   

Make a plan and collect what you need to make your plan work.

For more details on practical preparedness check out – Disaster Response SMARTBook 3 – Disaster Preparedness, 2nd Edition. His latest book, Practical Preparedness, was published in June 2020 and is available in our online Grit Store.

Kyle is also a speaker for the Mother Earth News Fair Online. Learn more and register to see his workshop video today.

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