Letter Re: Prospects for the Eastern U.S. in a Societal Collapse

Mr. Rawles,
Can you provide more detailed information on what you believe will happen East of the Mississippi River in and around major population centers in the event of a collapse.  You briefly addressed this when you were interviewed by Michael Ruppert in his Collapsenet podcast program last year.  Most of the population simply can’t relocate to the Western mountain states much less realistically get out of debt.  As I believe it was stated on your web site some years ago it will be a “Come as you are collapse” and that is what we all will get.  I’m perhaps half way to where I need to be in preparations, having moved to a small farm about 40 miles away from a major population center in Ohio.

Thanks for your work, – J.H.

JWR Replies: I realize that the majority of my readership is in the eastern United States, and my oft-repeated “Go West” advice antagonizes some folks. If I were a people-pleasing opportunist, I could probably get away with claiming that some selected areas in the East are “extra safe because of geographic isolation”, and they therefore were “ideal retreat locales”, but I simply cannot do that with any intellectual honesty. No matter how anyone tries to sugar coat it, the population statistics are like the proverbial “elephant in the room.” So I’m standing by my longstanding advice to relocate. Granted, in a “grid up” situation, large portions of the Eastern U.S. will indeed be fairly safe places to live. But if the power grid goes down, then your chances of survival will be pitiful. There are simply far too many mouths to feed. I don’t think that even northern Maine will be safe. Statistically, your chances will be substantially higher in the lightly-populated western states, particularly in the American Redoubt.

Just how bad could it get in the eastern states? Here is a quote from the fictional Provisional Government President Maynard Hutchings from one the novels that I authored:

   “My fellow Americans: The United States is slowly recovering from the greatest tragedy in its history. I have recently been provided a detailed report on the extent of the catastrophe from the administration’s chief scientist. Some of the report’s findings are as follows: In the past three years, an estimated one hundred and sixty million of our citizens have died. Most died from starvation, exposure, and disease. Of the deaths by disease, more than sixty-five million were caused by the influenza pandemic that swept the eastern seaboard. Without antibiotics available, the disease simply ran rampant until there were no more hosts left to attack in the heavily populated regions.”
    “At least twenty-eight million are estimated to have been killed in lawless violence. In addition, more than five million have died of complications of pre-existing medical problems such as diabetes, heart disease, hemophilia, AIDS, and kidney disease. Hundreds of thousands more have died of complications of tonsillitis, appendicitis, and other ailments that were heretofore not life threatening. The distribution of population losses ranged from in excess of 96 percent of the population in some northeastern metropolitan areas to less than 5 percent in a few areas in the High Plains, Rocky Mountains, the inter-mountain areas of the West, and the Inland Northwest….”

If you are serious about providing for your family and protecting them in a societal collapse, then the wise thing to do is to move out west, soon. But if you cannot because of either work or family obligations, then I recommend that you stock up to the very best of your ability, arm yourself, get the best training available, and harden your home. In the event of a grid-down collapse, you might have to hunker down in a blacked-out house on a property with spring water or a shallow well for 18 to 24 months. This will necessitate living with absolutely no outside contact or resupply. Unless you have the requisite deep larder and a big wood (or coal) pile, then you are likely to become a statistic.

Why 18 to 24 months? I predict that it will take two winters for your neighbors to eat up all the food in their pantries, then the local livestock and wild game, then their pets, and then perhaps even each other. In the absence of grid power, only after the population has dropped to a reasonable carrying capacity will there be any chance of a recovery and a return to law and order.