Letter Re: Questions on British Berkefeld Water Filters and Eastern U.S. Retreat Locales

My wife and I are ready to make a purchase of a water purifier. I have taken your advise as a reader of SurvivalBlog and researched the Berkey products and I also looked at Aquarian. I have decided on the Berkey and am leaning toward the Travel Berkey Water Purifier that is listed on Get Ready Industries web site at $199.
This unit appears to be usable on the go and as a purification unit in a retreat situation. I would like you thoughts on this unit when you have time.

For your information we live in eastern Kansas about 50 mile south of the Kansas City area. In the event of an emergency situation we intend to head to southwest Missouri to join with family in a rural area where we all grew up and farmed. My wife and I want to distance ourselves from the general population from the city as they will eventually be on the move depending on the circumstances.
I have noticed that Missouri is not on your list of the top 19 states for retreat [locales]. I was wondering why. Is it the upper air currents in the event of a nuke?

Thank you for what you do! God bless you and your family, – Bill

JWR Replies: The Travel Berky filter is a good choice. It is designed to last many years. British Berkefeld filters are available from a variety of Internet vendors including two that are SurvivalBlog advertisers (You already mentioned Get Ready Industries.) They are also available from Ready Made Resources,

In answer to your question on Missouri’s retreat potential: After much consideration, all of the eastern states were intentionally excluded from my retreat potential analysis because they are all either downwind of nuclear targets and/or they are in areas with excessive population density. This wasn’t just the result of subjective bias. I try to use the dispassionate mindset of an actuarial accountant. I discussed the following in a SurvivalBlog post on August 5, 2005, but with so many new readers, it bears repeating::

Take a look at The Lights of the U.S. photo map at: www.darksky.org. This montage of satellite photos makes it clear that most of America’s population is east of the Missouri River and is highly urbanized. The population density of the U.S. is dramatically lower west of the Missouri River. In troubled times fewer people means fewer problems. In the event of a social upheaval, rioting, urban looting, et cetera, living on a farm west of the Missouri will mean a statistically much lower chance of coming face to face with lawless rioters or looters When The Schumer Hits The Fan (WTSHTF). Furthermore, the northeastern states depend on nuclear power plants for 47% of their electricity. (South Carolina is similarly dependent.) This is an unacceptable level of high technology systems dependence, particularly in light of the emerging terrorist threat.

You must also consider that virtually all of the eastern states are downwind of major nuclear targets–most notably the USAF missile fields in Montana, the Dakotas, and northern Colorado. (Take a look at the fallout prediction maps hosted at Richard Fleetwood’s excellent Survival Ring web site. As you can see, the eastern U.S. would be blanketed in fallout in the event of a major nuclear attack ) If for one reason or another you are stuck in the east, consider New Hampshire or Vermont. They are both gun friendly and have more self-sufficient lifestyle. But unless you have some compelling reason to stay in the East, I most strongly encourage you to Go West!

The other startling thing you will notice when looking at the Lights of the U.S. photo montage is that even in the western states, Americans live in a highly urbanized society. Roughly 90% of the population is crammed into 5% of the land area, mostly within 50 miles of the coast. But there are large patches of the west where there are virtually no lights at all–particularly in the Great Basin region that extends from the back side of the Sierra Nevada mountains to Utah and Eastern Oregon. (It is a desert area with highly localized water sources.) The average population density in this region is less than two people per square mile. While on a tri to visit some consulting clients, I recently took a drive through eastern Oregon on Highway 97. There is a fairly prominent sign just north of Madras., Oregon. It reads: “R2 Ranch, No Hunting or Trespassing, Next 32 miles.” The ranch does indeed extend for 30+ miles on both sides of the highway, section after section. (For the benefit of our foreign readers more familiar with hectare land measurements: a section is 640 acres–one mile by one mile square.) This illustrates the grand scale of western ranches. Much of the western U.S. has plenty of “elbow room.” The tradeoff is that it takes a lot of acreage to support just a few cattle in an arid region.) Here is another example of the low population density of the west that I often like to cite; Idaho County, Idaho: This one county measures 8,485 square miles–bigger than Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. But it has a population of just 15,400. And of those residents, roughly 3,300 people live in Grangeville, the county seat. Who lives in the rest of the County? Nary a soul. There are far more deer and elk than there are people. The population density of the county is 1.8 people per square mile. The county has more than 3 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land, BLM land, and designated Federal wilderness areas. Now that is elbow room!