Seven Letters Re: Community Crisis Planning for Societal Collapse

Mr. Rawles,
I read with much interest the article on community planning for a societal collapse. It mirrors my own thinking on the subject and it is an issue I’ve given a lot of thought to lately. The reality of my situation is that I live in a small town (about 1200-1300 population) that lies on one major line of drift and two minor ones. The major line of drift is a major east-west interstate between two medium-sized cities and the two minor lines of drift are a state route that parallels the interstate (on the opposite end of town from the interstate) and a north-south state route that runs through the center of town. Here I am. I cannot afford to move to the boonies and set up well stocked retreat. I also have few options in bugging out. I am enough of a realist to know that if I tried bugging out, that I would merely turn my wife, two young daughters, and myself into refugees (albeit heavily armed refugees). My opinion is that J.I.R.’s outline is the most workable I seen or read yet. Its not that I am a socialist, or that I want to see people lose their property in confiscations (I have a fairly well stocked food storage room) but I realize in my present situation, my survival, and that of my family, depends on the survival of the small town we live in. I also know that I would not last long defending my house from hungry neighbors, or the golden horde off of the interstate. My town’s only option to survive is to work together.

I would ask the naysayers and “indignants” out there how long they could last on their own? No man is an island and no one person can store or grow everything needful for life in enough quantity to last for long. How long can you guard your gardens and fields? How long can you guard your livestock? Just my two cents, – Barry A. in Ohio


Mr Rawles:
I was truly surprised to read the comments about the original article. Do you guys really think the looters/army won’t get to you eventually?

Communist, socialist, statist? Do you really think those words will matter WTSHTF?

“[A]rmed gangs who pillage food and fuel stores to control them for their own purposes.”
If the mayor/town official is not locking down the food and fuel that is exactly what you will have.

Do you really think the looters will respect property rights in the first few months? If you have less than 10 well armed men guarding your farm/cattle/pigs you will be overrun by the hoard eventually, be they looters or military. Where can you get those 10 men? Hmmm, too bad we didn’t try to save the town… Those 10 men they shot for looting the Piggly Wiggly could be guarding your herd overnight.

I’m surprised, simply amazed.

I’m not a community gal myself, but sure hope somebody is doing the things that were advised in town when it happens, otherwise there won’t be anything but scorched earth by the time I come in to resupply.

Would you rather have the town standing and making a go of it or not? If you would you better hope the local government can make at least a few of the of listed items happen.

If you would rather have the town destroyed, good luck going-it-alone out on your farm when three hundred starving people band together and show up in the middle of the night. I’m sure you can get 50 to 100 of them with your firepower before they get you. It sure would be nice to have those townspeople to help you now…

At least I learned something. I was hoping any people who made it past the first few months would be coming together for mutual protection. Now it is clear that I will need to stay away for ALL folks from outside my network forever. Must likely all of you “ism”-haters will be out to hang me.

Hopefully my preparations and network of friends and family will be enough to keep me and my boys alive.

Oh, and by the way, most of the list was standard military occupation stuff, the kind of stuff your army is doing in Iraq right now. Don’t be surprised when they do it to you. – Paris


Mr. Editor:
As I read it, he is advocating the view that a mayor or some de-facto ‘leader’ of a city should organize a posse and have them ‘under color of authority’ go out and steal from everyone else. This seems to border on the insane. What makes him think people would in any way even consider cooperation under such a scheme?

Having asked that question, I believe the only ‘followers’ he would have would be those that have not taken the opportunity to prepare, you know, members of the golden horde. As we have taken the time to assess our potential needs, we have acquired, and in some instances plan to acquire, the tools, foodstuffs, medicines, seeds, and manual pump and such that we think we may need in a long-term ‘lights out’ scenario. J.I.R. and those of his ilk seem bent on becoming some sort of controller of a segment of the golden horde than a potential long term survivor. If the mayor hasn’t prepared in advance to work in a vacuum of power, food and fuel, it is not likely that he would have the wherewithal to survive a long term event. Plus even as his resource acquisition teams started going door to door confiscating other peoples lives, in the form of food, water, and medicine, I think people would immediately fight back and start taking out his people. It is human nature, and as Americans we have the right to defend our property.

If, on the other hand, he is pushing for us to pressure our cities and states to start planning for a prolonged lights-out scenario, he should know that each area would have to tax each person a few hundred dollars per year to build up and rotate stocks regularly to begin to have a viable system in place. Plus, it is my belief that even if they should start today that they would be far from having much more than a short term supply on hand when things go bad.

A better scheme, in my opinion, would be to do something like a mobilization done during the earlier world wars. Start a campaign to regularly point out to the general population that, while we have no major issues at this time, we have seen the effects of regional disasters and we, as a nation, need to prepare for unforeseen natural and manmade catastrophe. When I was a kid, in the 1950s and 1960s, some people made fallout shelters and storage food, etc.. Now, we see the potential for large hurricanes to take out large parts of our oil refinement infrastructure, which could lead to food and fuel shortages. We have seen ice storms cut off power in areas for days, and in some cases weeks at a time. If we rely solely on the government to ‘see to our needs’, then we will lose that spirit of independence that our grandparents and forefathers had. Instead, planning a program to educate people on what they should have to fend for themselves in a disaster situation, what foods to store, how much water to have, how to dispose of human waste, and what not to do, that may increase the chance of serious diseases, this seems like a better solution.

If everyone had a three month supply of food, a method / plan to acquire water and purify it, and the tools and means to cook without access to the grid, we should expect to see less panic when a crises erupts. I would recommend having much more, but it is a good start. We need to know that, in a widespread crisis, there is no one we can count on more than ourselves. The government, despite the trillions of dollars spent and the trillions of debt, will not be able to help more than a small percentage of the population. Here we are, years after Katrina, and we still see people dependent on government aid. No, we can’t (and should not) depend on the government, we have to take care of ourselves.

This makes more sense than going out and trying to confiscate what other people were wise enough to work and save for. Many of those that prepared for lean times, also prepared to defend themselves and their families. It seems to me, being prepared makes you part of the solution, while being unprepared makes you part of the problem. – C. M


Hello Mr. Rawles,
This is in response to the article regarding planning on a community level for crises response. I was impressed with the level of detailed analysis of the problems facing communities in a large scale disaster and even more impressed with the rational solutions he proposes. I was further impressed, or perhaps I should say surprised at the number of angry responses to his ideas. In my reading of his work he does not advocate taking/stealing/appropriating the pigs or grain from a farm, merely he suggests that this is an issues that will have to be dealt with, with community by-in and support. While I am a staunch defender of individual property rights and sovereignty his proposed solutions and ideas to the very real problems a community or town would face are the best (and some of the only) I have encountered yet. I would like to hear from some of those opposed to the original author their ideas for dealing with these issues, short of holing up in their fortresses and waiting for the rest to die off. In the meantime, the original article seems a fine starting place for ensuring the survival of as many as possible while avoiding the worst outcomes and consequences of dictatorial socialism and promoting the re-emergence of a free market as quickly as possible.

With respect, and special appreciation to JWR for hosting this blog and forum for such important issues, – Lumberjack


I read SurvivalBlog every day and really enjoy most of the articles. I have been a prepper longer than most people have been around,but it’s still great to see that other people are waking up to the fact that things are not going as well as the MSM would have us believe.The article on community preparedness really got my attention because it is something that I recently dealt with, or tried to deal with in this area. I live in a small rural Northern California community in the Sierra Nevada mountains, in a county with a population of 35,000, most of it centered in the county seat area, and a good portion of the population counted being inmates from the three prisons located here, two state and one federal. The town is accessed by two main highways, both of which travel through numerous larger cities before passing through or by here,and a county road leading from a major highway 20 miles away, also coming from a much larger city. Numerous dirt roads may allow access/egress depending on the time of year, but I don’t know that traveling them would be a good idea, if one considers the “golden hordes.” We are basically 100 miles from the nearest anything that could provide any type of support for us. A possible plus is the fact that a railroad runs through this area.

The town has a single grocery store, three mini mart/gas stations a restaurant and a pizza parlor and a bar, and a small hardware store, nothing more, and to boot, the grocery store is nothing to brag about, buying and stocking on a need basis, and not having anything in abundance.It rarely has over a weeks supply of anything. There are larger markets in cities 10 and 21 miles away, respectively, but getting to and from could be a big problem. We have no specific infra structure in this town: A community services board that deals with water and sewer issues and maintains the volunteer fire department, a single resident deputy, no medical or dental services and a sometimes ambulance service. The only “government/county” facility here is a road maintenance shop with some equipment and possibly 10 employees. You would think that people living in an area such as this would be aware of the fragile nature of their lot and would take pains to insure their continued existence.This is not the case at all. With the collapse of the economy and the demise of the lumber industry, many of the people in this town have entered the ranks of the unemployed, and are dependent on unemployment benefits or welfare. They seem to be happy with their lot and live on a day to day/week to week basis. They have the attitude that “someone will take care of me/us,” and I believe that to be true, but not in the way they think.

Some time back, I made the acquaintance of the head of the community service department. He and his three employees were expressing their fears that this country was in dire straits and was heading for even rougher times. They were talking of a collapse politically, financially and morally, and they were in the process of “getting ready” They had already come to the realization that they were well behind the curve. Beans, bullets and band aids were on the agenda, along with training and education, as well as trying to wake other people up and making plans to aid this community in the event of a collapse. Their desires and motives were admirable. Survivalblog was recommended to them, as well as other sites, and Gerald Celente was a regular part of their day. I was thrilled at finding other people in this area that were “enlightened,” and made regular contact with them, as my job as a deputy allowed me some degree of flexibility in making contacts. Other than these three persons, I had known of only one other serious prepper in this area and he was also introduced to the “community service” group.

The preparations of this group went on for less than a month. My first clue that their attitude was changing came when they started complaining about the cost of “things” and the amount of time and space that was required to get ready. Then their “main battery” was traded away for more “practical” lever arms and semi autos because they were more fun. At least they kept something. After trying,without success, to get their minds back in the game,I distanced myself from them. My biggest regret and fear was the fact that these “community leaders” now knew that I was a preparedness person, along with my friend. Who else did they tell? And they were aware of the fact that this community was, for all intents and purposes, out in the cold and on it’s own as far as the county government was concerned. I know this to be a fact because I am a part of the county government, and I know that there are no plans or preparations to deal with any emergency or contingency other than a snow storm or minor flooding. All the County resources, such as they are, are centered in the area of the County seat and are doled out from there. We are near the end of the line when it comes to getting anything, and this is not just from the County. It also applies to the State and Federal governments.They all want to be seen and heard in areas where they can get press coverage. (By the way, I was not totally truthful when I said the County had no preparations for “survival.” They did purchase several 5 gallon plastic survival buckets/toilets, 14 person I believe, which they strategically placed in various locations in various county offices. I don’t believe there is a “prepper or survivalist” among them. Great idea) I know for a fact that the County, and the Sheriff is the head of the County Office of Emergency Services, has nothing in the way of stored food-medical supplies-sanitation equipment. Their “preparedness equipment is 20 deputies, the road maintenance equipment, and a great dependence and faith in the bigger government. The powers that be in this county, and I’m sure in most others in California, are myopic, and truly believe that they will get the help they need from a larger government when the help is needed. They have made no plans beyond calling someone for the time when the SHTF. This thought doesn’t make me sleep better at night. JIR is totally correct when stating that most communities will perish in a crisis situation. I do not plan on being one of those that perish, but you never know. Bugging out was never really in my thoughts, but now bugging in may not be a good idea. In any case, great blog, great letters, keep up the good work. – Gray Fox in Northern California


I am enjoying the debate on Community Crisis planning. While I understand David D.’s point that “the best protection isn’t owning 30 guns; it’s having 30 people who care about you.” I would suggest that having 30 people with 30 guns who care about you would be the best of all. – Eric S.


I read this article, and all of the response letters, with great interest. However, I took away something different than most of the responses posted. I see J.I.R.’s article not only as a “how to”, but also as a warning. When a TEOTWAWKI event occurs, most of J.I.R.’s points in this article will be suggested by someone in power in your local community, or they will be brought up as “helpful suggestions”. If we disagree with J.I.R.’s proposed plans, then we must be prepared to offer counter suggestions and arguments to persuade our community leaders to stay true to our values, and not to just throw them out the window.

We, as preppers, have an advantage in this discussion: we have already considered the arguments, courses of action, and can persuade our community to act differently. When these conversations first come up, we have 3 choices. We can choose to offer up , meaning offer different choices that will work just as well, but do not stray from our values; We can shut up , and go along with the plan, or we can button up , go back to our residence / retreat, and refuse to be any part of it.

Shutting up is not an option for most of us. We would rather walk away than to betray our values. However, most people, caught unprepared, will be willing and eager to go along with seizing food, land, crops, and anything else of value. Furthermore, by shutting up, we put ourselves in danger, because someone will eventually bring up checking all houses in case anyone is hoarding. To not object in the beginning, then to object later on, will only bring dangerous scrutiny to ourselves, our families, and to our residences.

Buttoning up would seem like an attractive option, but I caution against it. It is human nature to pick the low hanging fruit first – this includes grocery stores, big box stores, general stores, etc. Anything that is not guarded or owned by a person who is physically present will be the first to be confiscated. However, as time progresses, and as the situation clearly becomes a long term one, all available potential resources will be investigated by those in power. This includes your house.

As stated in numerous previous articles, if you button up, the first contact you may have with the outside world is Priest or Sheriff, who has been appointed by the Mayor to check houses for hoarding. You would be hard pressed to turn them away, though you could fight if need be. However, since any community security force would greatly outnumber yours, the only viable options would be to slip away, leaving all of your food, weapons, ammo, tools, and such to the security forces; or, to stand and fight until either you die, or they give up. The problem is, they will not give up easily, and the more of them that you kill or wound, the more aggressive they will become.

If you lived miles away from everyone, truly out in the middle of nowhere, then you may be able to escape detection, or, they may decide it is not worth their time to go that far out for something that may or may not be there. I believe that this is unlikely, unless you live at least 20 miles outside of town in a very hard to reach spot. More than likely, they will send someone out to look around your house. If you resist, they’ll send even more out, only this time, they’ll be looking for blood.

Regardless if you are willing to take your chances of buttoning up, you’ll still want to establish contact one day – though it may be 5 years in the future, for no purpose other than curiosity or trade. Any sort of conflict between you and the nearest community will prevent that from happening. In addition, should you decide to sever all contact with this community, you can’t count on help that you may need later.

Thus, I believe that the only true way to prevent this from happening is to offer up suggestions that will work just as well as J.I.R.’s plan. We shouldn’t just withdraw from a community unless there is no other option, and we shouldn’t compromise our values either. As much as I disagree with J.I.R.’s plan, I thank him for writing it – even when I disagree with something, I still learn from it.

Thank you for your blog, and all the time and effort you put into it. Sincerely, – SLDV