Letter Re: Suddenly Homeless on the Potomac–Some Preparedness Lessons Learned

Jim & Company,
I thought that I would communicate an interesting story for your web blog. As I write this, I’m holed up in campground/RV park near the District of Columbia (DC) Metropolitan area. How I got here was totally unexpected. My roommate is female, a former army buddy and suffers from chronic depression—maybe bi polar disorder. We maintained a platonic cohabitation for two months until she swore a Temporary Peace Order against me because she felt “threatened”. In the liberal pest hole of Maryland, that’s all it takes. No battery, assault or actual threats—I just yelled at her to clean up after her dog (perhaps the 20th time she didn’t do this) and, in the span of 24 hours the deputies came, gave me 10 minutes to get some things, then escorted me out of the property that I co-rented. That means I was instantly homeless and without the time to assemble my preps.

Fortunately it was payday and I had money for a hotel, an attorney, and what not. But the unbearable part was having my Bug Out Bag and supplies in a residence that I could not approach or enter under court order which gave me a very sickening feeling of what a fast and unplanned for emergency can produce. My preps are centered around an emergency that is slow coming with warning. Save for my camping/bug-out gear, most of my preps cannot be moved rapidly (like 5 gallon buckets). Further, my emergency plan calls for me to hunker down at my place of residence until things stop moving and I have time and latitude to maneuver and get to my bug-out site for the longer duration. Being under the supervision of two sheriff’s deputies put a damper on grabbing my survival gear.

Grabbing my emergency cash, which is well-concealed (Go MI!) was problematic.

Through my attorney, I was able to pick up much of my camping/bugout gear from the former residence. Tell ‘ya what, having a good set of quality camping and survival gear that can be hastily put together is a real boon. I purchase good gear and 20+ years (and counting) in the military has given real appreciation for quality equipment.
Not that an urban campground is primitive: hot and cold water, wireless Internet and a laundry make it a perfect spot for temporary emergency stays and at $40/night, much cheaper than a hotel room (in the DC Area, plan on $100 per night minimum for a single room with a military discount). It sucks that I only have a tent to come home to, but it beats living out of my Jeep Cherokee or in a box (or with the Housemate from H*ll)

Yes, I was homeless that fast and a week of hotel living would have cost me over $1,000. But having ready camping gear, for both camping and survival, insured that I had a home of some sort and was able to take care of myself. No homeless shelter is going to put up a white collar professional.

Because my emergency required a lot of communications between me, my attorney and the landlords of future domiciles I needed Internet access and voice comms. My cell phone is unlocked and uses a pre-paid SIM card and can access almost any cellular network. From Vermont to North Carolina I have cellular voice communications. A GSM smartphone is in my future as it can provide a secondary e-mail channel (PACE). A laptop with Wi-Fi is almost a necessity in urban environments. In slow rolling “grid down” situations, or a Balkans-like future for America (which is probable)—communications infrastructure will be available, albeit intermittently. Without my survival preps, I would have lasted two weeks in a hotel room until I ran out of money. But now I can live virtually anywhere as a homeless white collar professional. All of the trouble aside, it took me a week to adjust from living in townhouse with all the amenities of modern life, to living without many of those amenities.

Being a survivalist, I took this as a learning experience to test both my material and mental preparations. I forgot things when I had to vacate my premise, like a can opener, but I did remember I placed several P38 [compact military folding key ring] can openers throughout my gear and truck sometime ago—just sprinkled them around. That was real relief. An additional relief came from the box of matches I keep in the emergency box in my truck—believe me, after I left my old digs, I was inventorying everything I had in the truck—another prep was the $500 in cash that I keep to get me to my Bug Out Location.

Preparedness pays immense dividends that are not fully appreciated until you need them. – Mark in Maryland