Be Ready For Infrastructure Collapse – Part 2, by J330

(Continued from Part 1. This concludes the article.)

I also want to leave you with one example of the scenario that I fear the most happening in my localized area. Let’s just say that there was a 7.0 or higher earthquake on the New Madrid Faultline. (I am in an adjacent state that would be affected, per the research by experts.) I ask readers to ponder the following situation:

Powerlines are down in the majority of 3-4 states. Underground power lines could be disrupted. Substations could be damaged. Supposing that parts vendors have enough inventory ready to go, are the interstate highways intact to get them delivered? Is fuel available to run trucking lines? I’ve seen tornado damage in my area take weeks to be repaired enough to get power back online, from a storm that only damaged a few square miles. If the gas stations have gas, they don’t have power to pump it or to process your credit/debit card transaction. The scope of earthquake damage would be much worse.

Also, most of the waterlines in the ground will be broken. My small local water system has around 200 miles of PVC water mains in the ground. These range in size from 2 inch to 10 inch diameters that are usually installed in 20 feet joints. Maybe some could be saved and reused if they are slip jointed, but certainly not all. We have four elevated water tanks that will possibly be lying on the ground, emptied of over half a million gallons of water, so what mains that are left intact will be empty. Not to mention that our water supplier, the treatment plant that provides potable water to us and several other systems, affecting hundreds of thousands of customers, is in the same shape we are.

Can we get the pipe we need to rebuild the system? Will the electrical grid be up to run the pumps to get the water from our supplier if we do? Will our supplier even be able to treat the water safely to furnish us water when we can get back up and running? And guess what, the service lines from our meter to your house could be broken too. Good luck finding the pipe and supplies to fix your side.

Gas mains could be broken underground too. The fires that could result from damaged gas supply lines will be hard to put out without water in the mains. I don’t know very much about the natural gas industry, but I assume that it is somewhat dependent on electricity for distribution.

The Mississippi River ran backward and flooded a large area in 1811-1812. I don’t even know where to start to detail the consequences of that happening again. But I know that the area affected the last time is now densely populated and heavily industrialized. Besides the horrors of lives lost, and homes and businesses destroyed, there will be no guarantee that public utilities will be restored within the normal parameters of time that they have become operable in the past. The ramifications of that one possible event are terrifying to me personally, but any scenario in which the electricity grid as we know it collapsing could have catastrophic results. I realize that an earthquake may not cripple the entire country, and there are other situations that could, such as an EMP, a nuclear event, or another country attacking our country’s grid.

Mitigating Risks

I would like to say that I have solutions to this problem, but I really don’t. I read the articles on this blog that do offer solutions to common problems and it is always very reassuring. There are so many competent people who submit these articles to help others and I enjoy them immensely. But this is a situation that is only going to rectify itself after the fact. As a consumer, we have little input into the decision making that would impact a system that is in essence a monopoly. But I can tell you a few of the things that I am personally trying to do to improve my own situation, in regard to my own preparedness. Of course, all these things are contingent on time and money, and there never seems to be an excess of either at my house.

  • Develop some kind of photovolaic power set-up with a battery bank. I know we can’t build a large enough system for things to match our present electricity demand, but at the very least, maybe we could have enough to keep a ham radio communication setup going. Or an electric fan to stir a breeze.
  • Try to break dependence on freezers. I have started canning, but I am nowhere near where I need to be on this front. And with canning, not only do you need the experience and knowledge, you better have lots of supplies stored away. In my area, jars and lids are very scarce right now.
  • Get water catchment systems in place. We have a few thousand-gallon tanks set up to catch roof runoff but we would need more.
  • Install a manual pump in the well.
  • Build a root cellar and a spring house. The weather here would make it very challenging to keep food from spoiling in the summer months.
  • Increase my supply of batteries and battery-powered LED lights. A sick person or animal in the middle of the night requires good lighting. I also need to stock up on candles and candle making supplies, and oil lamps and oil and lamp wicks.
  • Fuel storage. When the power is out and the internet is down, gas and diesel may be unavailable to access or purchase, even if available.
  • Secure more old tools. I don’t relish the thought of using a manual drill rather than my rechargeable cordless drill, but it would beat nothing.
  • Work on learning about some outside cooking methods, such as solar ovens, grills, smoking pits. And securing more cast iron cookware.

As someone in my early 50s, I have never been without modern conveniences. When I open the fridge, it’s always cold. When I flip a switch, I have all the light I need to read or prepare food. I’ve heard people older than myself tell of curing hams by hanging from the rafters in their house, using outhouses, and waking up to snow coming through the chinks in the walls. But they are only stories to me. Older people who weren’t born into a house with electricity may call that complacency on my part, and that would be true. But it could also be considered “the world as we know it”. Because for most adults, it is all we have ever known for as long as we can remember. And in the last six months, we have all been presented with a pandemic that we always knew was possible, but didn’t think could ever actually happen to us, in our lifetime. Yet, here we are.

Just look at how stunned and clueless that most people seem to be about dealing with a worldwide pandemic. When someone is used to buying ready-made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off in a little plastic wrapper, and suddenly the grocery store or the convenience store is closed because the power is out long-term, and the power provider and the water provider and the gas provider can’t get the parts to fix their systems, that sudden change will hit hard.

I don’t expect that many of the readers of this blog will be shocked to know that someone who works in the utilities feels that the industry is in a precarious situation. A lot of sectors are struggling right now. But the ins and outs of the utility industries may be something that we don’t really consider, because it has more or less hummed right along throughout our lives.

I know that we are all already prepping for the disruption of power and water, and have surely experienced an outage. But in my experience, it has always been short term. We pull out the generators, the crews load up the trucks, pile in and get it going and everyone is happy and brags about how they enjoyed camping at home. But just be very aware that some long term disaster situations, maybe some that we have never given much thought to, could happen unexpectedly, and for different reasons than you thought.


  1. Good points. I’m personally still working through the handy list that you included in your article. My old asphalt shingled roof is being replaced with a metal one hopefully this month. This will enable me to better channel and utilize water runoff from the roof. If I can somehow get the good gutter guy to come out here I’ll also have gutters with detachable downspouts done as well. I still need to acquire some more ways to hold rainwater. It’s tricky as winter lasts a good half the year here so I need to be able to store some of them underground(deep) or in the small cellar.

    Trying to reduce my dependence on the freezer; the pressure canner finally arrived but i still have to learn to use it! I’ve always only water bath canned but if I’m not able to freeze veggies or use an electric dehydrator I sure would like to be able to can stuff like corn, peas and beans.

    I’m casting around to acquire a heavy duty metal grill to use outside on a fire. I have materials to build a small sun-oven using a cardboard box, aluminum foil and glass. Do need to buy a glass cutter! I know these work as I used to build(and use them) with my classes.

    1. Really like the idea of a portable grate for in-ground cooking with fire.

      An idea to add… If a poured patio is part of the property development plan, a “park grill” is a neat idea. In addition to other cooking areas, we have one of these installed. It’s stable, sturdy, and readily available for use. Because it sits atop its own post (and is secured in cement), no bending is required (and this means it’s comfortable, and with aging and the risk of any infirmity in mind, it’s accessible). The downside is that it’s not mobile. Once secured, moving it would require a major effort.

      Hope this helps other SB readers!

    2. Ani, you can cook in a discarded BBQ grill. People buy the fancy propane grills and toss out the charcoal. I bring home the old equipment and cook with wood, using a couple of pipes or bricks to rest my pot on. Added benefit is then to bring the pot full of hot food into the house on chilly days, thus reducing my dependence on external/expensive sources of fuel.

      I have also canned many quarts of vegetables over a wood fire. Just gotta monitor the pressure more closely. Move the pressure canner or withdraw wood to lower the pressure.

      Solar cookers are low priced on Craig’s list. No need to build one, though the practice is useful. You can support the use of solar cookers in developing countries by buying one new from Solar Cookers International.

      What a fabulous selection, eh.

      You can dry food without electricity. I use old fiberglass window screens that I put up in the rafters. One thing…never, ever store food that is not completely dry. If in doubt, let it dry another day or two. Of course, some folks (maybe you?) have been known to dry food in a parked car.

      Carry on in grace

  2. Thank you for an informative article. As a young girl, one of the lessons in history that I always remember was that the Mississippi flowed backwards during the New Madrid earthquake. I never realized though that it was a series of quakes and not just one until recently. An earthquake in the New Madrid zone would affect a large portion of the US. The main oil and gas supply line that could be loss would cut off supply to the Northeast and surrounding areas. The electric grids are tied together and a New Madrid quake destruction of grid power may cascade into other grids causing shutdowns. There would be a major disruption of supply chain issues due to road and bridge damage which would affect a huge portion of the country. New Madrid quakes have occurred at the bottom of each Solar Minimum. I highly recommend John Casey’s book Upheaval for those that are interested in GSM and earthquakes.

    1. Thank you, sewNurse! Will check out John Casey’s book UPHEAVAL. You are right. The potential consequences of a severe quake along the New Madrid are severe.

      Also recommend Ben Davidson’s book WEATHERMAN’s GUIDE TO THE SUN. In addition to the solar cycle, our solar system is feeling the early effects of contact with a plasma sheet that originates from the center of our galaxy. Combined with the magnetic reversal underway, and we should anticipate a whole host of increased risks (earthquakes, hurricane activity, and even what has been called a solar excursion which could be far more severe than a Carrington level CME).

      In fact, Ben Davidson is working on a new book related to the causes and effects of a solar catastrophe, and it should be very informative.

  3. “Just in time inventory” is America’s Achilles heel. Companies have shallow inventories and depend on others to have what they need when they need it. Utility companies are no different. Power generation plants depend on a constant stream of subcontractors to keep the plants operational. The actual generators are made to order and have at least a 6 month lead time. It may take longer now that GE is getting out of the power generation business. Your article reminds us of how easily, life as we know it, can be gone in a matter of seconds. Hence, we prep.

    1. JG, you might like this Oct 3 event note.

      Tara Ross: This Day in History

      On this day in 1835, the Texas Revolution begins! Did you know that the first battle was fought because Texans decided that the Mexicans would have to pull an old, small cannon out of their cold, dead hands?

      Does that fact, alone, explain my home state?! 😉

      The Texas Revolution wasn’t fought entirely over one old cannon, of course. That cannon was just the straw that broke the camel’s back, prompting a skirmish that came to be known as the Battle of Gonzales.

      In 1835, Texans (or “Texians”) were concerned about the increasingly dictatorial Mexican government and its army. But the town of Gonzales found itself in the crossfire for a rather unexpected reason. It possessed one small cannon that had come from San Antonio de Béxar in 1831. Some thought the cannon was loaned, others thought it had been given. Either way, Gonzales felt that it needed the cannon to scare off local Indian tribes.

      As tensions between the Mexican government and the Texians escalated, the Mexicans decided that Gonzales could not keep its cannon anymore. The given reason was that the cannon had been given only as a loan. But perhaps the real reason is that the government wanted to disarm citizens? Either way, town officials were notified that the cannon must be returned.

      The alcalde, or mayor, of Gonzales called a town meeting and a vote was taken. All but three people agreed: Gonzales should keep its cannon!

      Nevertheless, Mexican commander Francisco de Castañeda was sent to retrieve the cannon.

      The Mexican force reached the Guadalupe River on September 29, but then it got stuck. Recent rains had made the river difficult to cross. Complicating matters, Texians had taken all the boats from Castañeda’s side of the river. Eighteen Texians were now guarding the river on the other side. In the meantime, Gonzales was calling for help from nearby towns. Its citizens buried the cannon in a nearby peach orchard.

      Come hell or high water, they were not giving up that cannon!

      The Texians managed to stall for a while. Castañeda wanted to talk, but the Texians noted that the talks were more properly held with the alcalde, Andrew Ponton. (Surprise, surprise. He wasn’t there.) Even when the Texians did engage in talks, they just shouted across the river at Castañeda. At one point, a single Mexican was allowed to swim back and forth with messages.

      What a scene! 😉 Naturally, the delay mostly ensured that the Texians got reinforcements.

      The stalemate continued until October 1, when Castañeda moved his men a few miles upriver. By now, the Texians were getting tired of the situation. They dug up the cannon and created shrapnel from anything they could find. They hauled the cannon across the river and approached the Mexican camp early on October 2. A thick fog hid them from view.

      A few shots were exchanged during the early morning hours, but the more serious fighting began after sunrise. Naturally, the controversial cannon was brought into battle. The Texians had created a white flag, which waved proudly over the cannon.

      You guessed it. The flag bore the words: “Come and Take It.”

      The fighting itself was more of a brief skirmish than a true battle. In the end, Castañeda quickly retreated because he thought his orders required him to do so before the conflict escalated into war.

      His retreat came too late. The Texas Revolution was on.

      “Time doesn’t stop. Your life doesn’t stop and wait until you get ready to start living it.”
      ― Wendell Berry

      Carry on

    1. It all depends how you store them. I put my full jars back into the box they came in and only stack them two or three high in our storage room. Some folks build shelves with “fences” (sorry it’s early and I just cannot think of a better word right now), around the edge of the shelf to hold them in/crib them in. I’ve heard of folks putting towels or cloths between jars for cushioning. There are plastic bins created specifically to store canning jars in to protect them from breakage from earthquakes and other type of jolts.

        1. Yes, Yes, of course. When I commented, I had just woken up! Can’t remember everything, important, instantaneously. 😉

          Thank you for chiming in.



      1. Where I live earthquakes are unusual but do happen every several years. Just in case I wanted to protect my canning jars. I didn’t have the boxes the jars came in as many were given to me or purchased at garage sales. I had a lightbulb moment when visiting a liquor store and watching the cashier put the plastic mesh sleeve over the wine bottle. Why can’t that be done on canning jars? After I returned home I placed an order on amazon for 500 wine bottle mesh sleeves. They work like a charm and at a reasonable cost. At least if there is an earthquake my jars won’t clank together and break creating a mess all over the place.

    2. We get lots of used bubble wrap, and those bubble wrap Amazon shipping envelopes. I slide an envelope over each glass bottle in storage.

      Bubble wrap layers between canned jars of food.

      Just as important: bubble wrap all those empty jars individually. I layer things together rather than individually wrapping each one by weaving the wrap in-between jars.

      We are in the Cascadian Subduction Zone.

      God Bless

  4. Good article, interesting. I’ve read up on the happenings of the New Madrid earthquake and have wondered about what if and how things would be during and after the earthquake happening. I live appox 500 mi from your area and I worry and wonder about it too.

  5. SCGal, you make a good point. Nothing is 100% safe, but JWR has frequently urged us to secure storage shelves securely to walls, and use a retaining device across the front of the shelves – possibly a rubber bungee or two, hooked into eyelets on the legs of the shelving unit. There are many ways to mitigate the risk, but in the end, survival always requires an element of luck (or, as I prefer to think, Divine Providence).

    “Pray for the best. Prepare for the worst”

    Best from TX!

    1. Another excellent tip and reminder from JWR and SH in TX… Safely secure shelves to the walls. This is important for quakes, and for child safety too. If a shelf falls, the injuries can be very, very serious — and some are killed in these kinds of accidents.

  6. For good information on the fragile state of the grid read the book “Lights Out.” Even industry officials say that it is not a matter of if the grid goes down but when. And industry projects 2-5 years to get it back up.

    1. Mama Bear… This is an important reminder related to survival time required. The 72-hour supply is a great place to begin, but many disasters will require much longer time horizons. Think long term shelf-stable storage combined with the ability to produce fresh produce, eggs and other protein. The lower the tech involved the better, but this does not necessarily have to mean no-tech. Much of what we know how (advancements in science and technology) can help us develop low tech solutions to long term concerns. The use of solar panels and battery storage for power is just one among these recently discussed here at the SB. When a disaster is sufficiently wide spread, help may not be coming. We should all be working toward longer term survival strategies.

    2. 2-5 years to get it back up? That really means never. The EMP Commission has continually reported that if we “lost the grid” that 9 out of 10 Americans would be dead within a year.

      Even without an EMP, loss of the grid for any length of time, would result in chaos, upheaval, and civil unrest, that recovery would be virtually impossible.

  7. Hi J330, in all sincerity, this is one of the best articles I’ve read on SB all year and if I were trying to get someone interested in prepping, this is the article, above all others, I would print off and hand to them. Not only do you present an informed first-person account of how fragile the systems are that make modern life possible, and one of the many ways they can be dealt a serious blow in a heartbeat (the New Madrid fault), but you also point out the consequences when they do fail. Things nobody can argue with. Then you present a list of things that anyone concerned about these failures should be doing to help mitigate the problems that will arise when these systems do fail, as they invariably will at some point. What more can anyone ask for in a Prepper 101 lesson? Good job! 🙂

    The only comments I would make on your list would be on the cast-iron cookware you mention, I’d be sure a Dutch oven was included in that. Once you learn to cook with one, they’re wonderful. Jars and lids: people should be saving every jar they get and using those when they can’t get mason jars and lids. (Have your non-canning friends give you theirs too.) Most sources on the internet say you can’t reuse lids and don’t even think about using non canning jars because they’ll break in the canner. Those of us with experience know that’s 100% malarkey. I can buy pasta sauce for 99¢ when it’s on sale. The cheapest mason jars are 75¢ so if you are reusing pasta sauce jars, then the pasta sauce only cost you 24¢. That sounds like a great bargain to me. The one-pint salsa jars I use for my yogurt have sealed 52 times now. I save all store-bought jars “just in case” and all my pickles and salsa go into store-bought salsa and pickles jars I saved 10 years ago. Another nice thing about reusing store-bought jars and lids is that the lids are one piece, not the pain-in-the-neck ring-and-lid version.

    Your idea of various solar cookers is excellent and is something I don’t often hear discussed on SB. The sun is a HUGE resource, even without solar panels, so I’d think more people would take advantage of it. No doubt lots of folks are tired of hearing me say it but seems to me we should be learning to live without some of our conveniences and experimenting with other methods so we can get experience with them now instead of hitting the learning curve wall later when we really need the things. A good example is food dryers. All I ever hear mentioned are electric dryers (and Ani’s car with the windows rolled up (go Ani!) which is a great idea,) when a solar dryer is less expensive, has a much higher capacity, costs nothing to operate and we’ll have it when electric driers no longer function. There are DIY solar cookers you can melt solder with. Remember in grade school when we took a 2″ magnifying glass and burned our names into a piece of wood? Solar cookers are like that on steroids. When the SHTF and firewood becomes scarce, rocket stoves and ovens will be a much smarter way to cook than over an open fire since they use only 1/10th the amount of fuel. But how many of us have them and know how to use them? They’re easy to build and would be a fun family activity to build and then use them once a week or once a month just to get experience.

    You mentioned solar panels, then said “I know we can’t build a large enough system for things to match our present electricity demand, but at the very least, maybe we could have enough to keep a ham radio communication setup going. Or an electric fan to stir a breeze,” and later “A sick person or animal in the middle of the night requires good lighting.” Bravo! Somebody gets the point.

    I’m going to get up on my solar-panel soapbox one more time and then I promise I’ll take my croquet set and go home. I have yet to hear, this week or any other, a single rational argument for not having some sort of a PV system (or wind, hydro, etc). At the very least it can be as simple as the one mentioned in J330’s article to provide the simple things she listed. On the other end it can be slightly more elaborate like the one I mentioned in my article this week. The thing that makes all the counter-arguments fall apart is the fact that we’re going to spend the money ANYWAY on electricity. Why hand it to the power company when we can just as easily hand it to the solar panel guys and then have free electricity after 4-8 years? The counter-arguments talk about the unlikely possibilities instead of the actual probabilities. Concentrating on the possibilities leads us to irrational, emotional thinking. Concentrating on the probabilities leads us to rational thinking and actions. Even if your system quits the third month after TEOTWAWKI hits, which is highly improbable, you still got to use it all those years pre-SHTF for free electricity. People aren’t thinking creatively and out of the box. If you’re worried about hail and vandals, mount two leaned against a building with two sliding doors you can pull over them at night or during a hail storm and keep two more ($180 each) in the root cellar. My dinky little 3,000-watt grid-tied PV system has no batteries yet, but has an inverter that will still let me pull 1,500 watts of AC when the sun is shining, so batteries are nice but not necessary. If you have them, that’s just icing on the cake. It requires a little timing on my part but I can still run my countertop oven, microwave, water pumps, shop tools, AAA/9v battery charger, etc. In the near future I’ll have a well pump that hooks up directly to solar panels, no batteries, inverters, or fancy doodads needed, and will be filling my 250-gallon water tank whenever the sun is shining.

    To the solar-panel naysayers, I challenge you to go out a week from today and turn off your water main for 30 days, the main breaker in your electric panel for 30 days, and see what life is like over the next month without using any kinds of non-renewable resources. As part of the challenge, also cut a cord of fire wood without renewable resources that won’t exist post-TEOTWAWKI. That means hand saws and axes unless you’re already making your own ethanol and have your chainsaws converted over. THEN let’s have a discussion in 30 days when you can speak from experience. It won’t be as romantic as you’re imagining. While you’re hauling water from the creek or pond, filtering it and purifying it, using a disgusting anaerobic outhouse because you can’t waste water flushing the toilet, heating water over a fire to take a bath or shower, and trying to produce that cord of wood with hand tools, all very laborious tasks, I’ll be yawning as nearly-normal life continues: recording the day’s output from my solar panels, taking hot showers, providing my neighbors with water, cutting that cord of wood with an electric chainsaw, working in my wood shop, and smiling that I bought solar panels. Most of the naysayers would change their minds before the 30 days was up and then go spend $750 on at least a minimal PV system. Unless of course they didn’t think TEOTWAWKI was a real possibility in our lifetimes. And it may not be. That’s something we each have to decide for ourselves.

    Got my croquet set and soap box loaded up, heading home now.

    Great article J330 and thanks for taking the time to put it together.

    1. @ St Funogas

      Solar cookers are pretty cool. I’ve built a number of them with my students. You can even heat water high enough in them to render it safe to drink. I own a very small rocket stove but have never used it; do need to try this. On my list. And have now accumulated enough glass to build a solar dehydrator. I figure if the grid goes down I can just put my fancy electric dehydrators in my car to do solar dehydrating or use the shelves in the glass one that I build. Or I can build dedicated shelves for it. It’s a project on my “to do” list.

      1. Hi Ani, I love the fact that you use your car as a solar dryer. 🙂 I strung a bailing twine matrix on the ceiling of my SUV and can dry a ton of herbs at once. I use one of the bottom branches as a hanger and hang them upside down. I’d love to see your solar cooker and DIY solar dryer when it gets done. Too bad we can’t post photos here. I used corrugated polycarbonate greenhouse on my two dryers and it’s shown no issues even after hitting 170°F.

        I have very fond memories of my two youngest daughters and I building a rocket oven one summer. I can still see them with their shorts on, standing in the wheelbarrow mixing the straw and clay with their bare feet, like two Italian beauties stomping the grapes. It has a stone masonry base and unfortunately there was no way to move it when I bought my little homestead. We cooked pizza, bread, and rolls in it and the preheat and cook times were the same as a propane oven, all on a fistful of sticks. We loved it. 🙂

    2. Hello St. FUNo’gas,

      If I did not feel it necessary to improve my night vision capabilities at this time, I would be buying more solar panels. A war against us has begun, so I do urge all to take a hard cold look at their defense plan. I would rather have too much capability rather than not enough. The supply is thin, and will be harder to get after the election forward. Security will be job #1. Without an adequate security plan, we could loose what we currently have. I would much rather live without the high tech conveniences and comforts, so that I may better defend my stuff. I already have lived, and can live like a pioneer, and have lived without the modern conveniences for so long that I do not miss them. Have many redundant ways to generate electricity, deliver water, and cut wood:


      Gas generators
      Bicycle powered alternator
      Wood gas generator

      (water ‘purification’: 4 different filtration methods, chemical, and boiling)

      Gravity feed
      Solar water pump
      Bucket, and water tanks on wheels. ( creek is less than 100 yards away)
      220vac deep well pump on propane generator.
      Two gasoline powered water pumps.(these can be converted to wood gas)

      Wood Cutting

      Chain saw
      Buck and ‘D’ saws
      2 man hand saws
      Gas powered mill
      Possible diesel powered buzz saw.

      One of the big advantages of having a small place to heat is that much less wood is needed.

      1. In the water pumping department, I forgot to include a ram pump. This is only a home made of mostly PVC pipe and fittings. They are not as efficient as a cast iron ram pump. The gate valve may have to be replaced every season or two, but it does work. And it does have a 1 inch galvanized drive pipe that is fed with 2 inch poly pipe to increase head. The advantage of this home made pump is that it can quickly be adapted to low volume water flows at the end of the season by incrementally installing 3 smaller waste gates that are check valves. This pump is intended to be an alternative to a Dankoff solar pump. Solar water pumps are hard to beat.

        At this time, instead of focusing on this sort of thing, I would do I all I can to improve my night fighting capability. Odds are that an attack would come within the first hour before dawn, and within the hour before dark, or in the twilight hours. Night fighting does not have to include night vision if you cannot afford that, but of many other methods that are relatively inexpensive in comparison. Anything one can do will be a significant improvement.

      2. Hey Tunnel Rabbit, do you have a specific night vision equipment you’d recommend that’s not too expensive? I definitely need something. I still haven’t gotten that tax refund (stimulus) check but when I do, night vision is tops on the list.

        I’d love to see some more articles on your methods of doing things.

        I’m interested in wood gas generators you mentioned, as well as biogas since I have such a huge compost pile every year. The biogas systems look like they’re a cinch to build but I have so many projects going on at the same time it’ll have to wait its turn. I’d hate to lose the ability of cooking on my propane stove after the SHTF and biogas would be a feasible alternative. Talk about putting weeds to a good use. 🙂

        You mentioned bicycle power. It’s hard to beat staying in shape while getting some tasks done. I talked a friend out of one that was headed for the thrift store. I’ve love to be able to interchange it between powering my Country Living grain mill (which already has a pulley wheel on it), an alternator, and a pump for pumping water to a second story. I lived in a place where guys would ride around on bikes, yelling out, “Cutler! Cutler!” People would bring their kitchen knives out into the street, and the cutler would then put his bike up on the center kickstand and use bicycle power to run his knife sharpener. We can learn a lot from so-called “poor, dumb, backwards” Third World inhabitants and the ingenious ways they accomplish some things.

        1. About cheap night vision. Some thing is better than nothing. Although it is an older model, and the image clarity is not as good as some others, it is trail tested by hog hunters and remains popular for a good reason. It is easy to use in the field.
          Look up the many reviews on You Tube for the Sightmark Photon 4.2. Pay extra and get the model with the 940nm illuminator that cannot be seen. The 850nm illuminator can been seen inside of 50 yards. You could also look at a blem PVS-7 on Amazon or elsewhere. Prices are up 1K or more, and there are now waiting lists. Also check on Amazon for Thermal scopes that come in at round 2K.

        2. One can also use IR led lamps in the kill box, or as area lighting so that an IR illuminator does not have to be used. 850nm flood lamps will overwhelm Gen 2 and 3, and make the NODs useless. This means you can see, but they cannot. There are many ways of getting the job done. I’ll be able by wire, or by trip wire, to set off high power flash bulbs and other nasty stuff. And if one cannot afford NV, then used as much LED high power flood lamps to light the place up on demand. This over whelms good NV, and puts you on the same playing field inside a perimeter or a kill box. In low lighting, or in lighting mentioned, use a red dot sight as your front sight will be hard to see. Perhaps in few months I’ll be bored enough to detail some this.

        3. This is about as low as I would go. If I had paper assets to sell, and could pick up the best I could afford, this is not what I would buy. this is the 4.5x9Sx42 with the 850nm illuminator. I have the 4.5×9 (no ‘S’)x42. The absents of the ‘S’ indicates that it is the model with the hard to find 940nm illuminator that I recommend. The glow from the 850nm illuminator that I do not recommend, can be seen in the dark inside of 50 yards, and certainly is noticeable inside of 25 yards. Do not get any model with 850nm illuminators for up close work.

          SightMark Photon RT 4.5-9x42S Digital Night Vision Riflescope

      3. Tunnel has more than one method of obtaining water. The Water Tank on wheels is a good idea. (Water weights 8.34 pounds per gallon)

        On the links at the top of the this page for SurvivalBlog is the link for Resources. Under that heading is the following information for: Getting Started. … In part =

        “Water List”

        “House downspout conversion sheet metal work and barrels. (BTW, this is another good reason to upgrade your retreat to a fireproof metal roof.)

        Drawing water from open sources. Buy extra containers. Don’t buy big barrels, since five gallon food grade buckets are the largest size that most people can handle without back strain.

        For transporting water if and when gas is too precious to waste, buy a couple of heavy duty ~~~>two wheel garden carts–convert the wheels to foam filled “no flats” tires. (BTW, you will find lots of other uses for those carts around your retreat, such as hauling hay, firewood, manure, fertilizer, et cetera.)

        Treating water. Buy plain Clorox hypochlorite bleach. A little goes a long way. Buy some extra half-gallon bottles for barter and charity. If you can afford it, buy a “Big Berkey” British Berkefeld ceramic water filter. (Available from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. Even if you have pure spring water at your retreat, you never know where you may end up, and a good filter could be a lifesaver.)”
        The two wheel Garden Cart carries the weight on the Axial; the person just balances the cart once its moving along. … A wheelbarrow will strain the back quicker with a lot of usage. … Wheelbarrows are designed for construction sites.

        [The old gals ~wisely use Garden Carts now days for a reason.]
        The hand pushcart on Two Wheels has a long history of carrying things for people. The men pushed the pushcart all day long; not too long ago. People are designed to push things easier than pulling them along.

        God only gives people one back, that should last a lifetime, when people are careful.

  8. I/we (my family) have had a battery cart with a couple inverters that I call my “mobile power cart”. I/we have a 200 W Solar charging system sold by Renogy that I can break out to charge this system and 2 very large golf cart batteries on it. I keep a spare MPPT charge controller too. It can power interior lights, the freezer, charge a power wheel chair, operate a hospital type electric bed, and the 8 camera night security system for 2 days before recharging. The batteries were expensive. I/we have recently ordered the Tesla Power Wall series system and 36 solar panels and 3 PWs, and we have sized it to operate off grid a very long time. As long as EMP doesn’t take it out and the sun is shining we should have power for decades. It is not cheap yet going to cost less per month the California PGE bill we currently pay and take our PGE to the net metering charge of $36/mo. The latest series of power safety shut offs (PSSO) and the fires here sold me on the purchase. I will keep and maintain the mobile power cart but you can keep your property completely operational with your security cameras and well pump and everything else that is needed including freezers and ice makers. The tech is here for that… but always be ready to go pre-electric should the crisis arrive. I always try and remember to keep layers and fall back positions and options. Water is life so I/we have our well and will be able to power off grid, plus, we have district water and finally a Amish type well torpedo for worst case if a earthquake and EMP take out everything. James Rawles always teaches redundancy is vital.

    1. Hey Dave, it would be great if you could put an article together showing photos and usage of some of your excellent methods, as well as more detailed explanations.

      Lehman’s has well buckets (well torpedos) for $90 but here’s a link I have in my bookmarks showing how to construct your own for $40. I’ve also used some with a simple rubber flapper valve in the bottom (similar to what’s in your toilet) which would shave $25-$30 off the cost of a DIY PVC one, and undoubtedly fills instantly as opposed to the slower on in the link.

      Also, having a pulley set up above the well hole so the rope is going directly down in the center of the pipe will not only making pulling the water up easier, it will more importantly save wear and tear on the rope.

      As you mentioned quoting JWR, redundancy is vital.

  9. Keeping stuff on the shelves when it shakes. I have found that a pretty easy fix is to drill a blind hole a couple of inches up from the shelves on each side about 5/8 deep. Then cut a piece of wooden dowel 1 inch longer than the space between the sides. I use 3/8″ dowel, it can now be bent to install the “Fence Rail” to help secure the items on the shelf, and is easily removable for moving items in and out.

  10. For anyone who lives in a travel trailer/RV for weeks to months at a time this is all second nature. Effectively our infrastructure has collapsed and we need to always find and store water, fuel and food and we have to find some way to discard our waste. Less true for those who only camp at RV resorts with 50 amp power and air conditioners running all the time. But even more true for boondockers. Because of this I know exactly how much water I need for showers or cooking or drinking in hot weather. I know how long 20 lbs of propane will last and how to carry adequate food that does not need refrigeration. I also cook over a fire most days and have multiple backups planned for every necessary function. It reminds me of a quote that was common back in the military; “We Have Done So Much with So Little for So Long, that Now We Can Do Anything with Nothing.”
    Survival is the convergence of experience, preparation, attitude and knowledge. Boondocking in a small trailer is training for that event.

  11. So many people do not realize how important water is. I’m always storing bottles of water (old 2 liter/3 liter bottles) around the property as I do not have a large storage system yet. Wife thinks I’m weird. We do have a stream about a mile down the road and several others within a couple of miles. I lived off grid two summers ago and was able to get by on just over a gallon a day most of the time. It was not hot enough to sweat much though. I am working on larger storage and will have it in place by next Summer. I am aware that my bottles of water will probably have to be boiled/ treated before I drink, but still better than no water. So many things are taken for granted until they disappear.

  12. Your scenario about the New Madrid fault brought back to my mind an experience I had on a mission trip several years ago. Puerto Ayacucho is the capital of the Amazonas state in Venezuela, population 41,000. While we were there, the Orinoco River flooded (a not unusual occurrence). The city’s water treatment center was flooded by the river water. 3,000 gallon tanker trucks were hauling water directly from the river, and bringing it into the city to be distributed to water tanks on the roofs of houses and businesses, including the hotel in which we were staying. This untreated water was for toilets and “bathing”. Your great article brings up some good thinking.

  13. Thank you to everyone for the positive comments. I appreciate the encouragement and all the great ideas being discussed. Every day, I look forward to the informative ideas on this blog and knowing I will be learning something new.

  14. I just started reading a book last night that is apropos to this article and the comments on both days. This book is called “Surviving Off-Off Grid”(Michael Bunker). The basic tenet is that he is promoting the switch to living a lifestyle that not only isn’t dependent on the electric grid, but also minimizes the use of fossil fuels and alternative energy systems such as PV.

    I’m only part-way through it but it’s an interesting read. I do have to caution though that had I only formed my opinion on the author based on his video rants I’d never have read it(zero tolerance for rambling video rants). I did elect to get a free sample of the book on Kindle and enjoyed that a lot so I decided to read the entire book(on Kindle). I also have had my troubles with some of his discombobulated religious ranting etc, at least in the early parts of the book so I just skip over that! He REALLY needed a good editor that would have forced him to remain on-topic! I don’t ascribe all the problems in our country/society/world to electric grid power as he does but I do recognize the great impact it has had, for better or worse. As well, the horrific impact it would have if it were to suddenly disappear(grid failure) is difficult to contemplate. So I’m reading this as I’m interested in exploring his ideas and solutions. I already had decided on my own that my “back-ups” to grid power, now that I live connected to the grid, were going to be non- alternative energy methods as much as possible anyway.

  15. October 2nd, 2020
    Eugene, Oregon:

    To see all the beautiful trees changing color, we like to drive east on the scenic two-lane parkway of Highway 126 along the Mackenzie River, then south along Cougar Reservoir. At Oakridge, we turn west on Highway 58, and back to Eugene.

    Yesterday, up Highway 126 to Leaburg, about MileMarker 13 or so, we noticed some burned hills off in the distance.
    Everything seemed slightly-off but nearly-normal, none of the usual semi-trucks coming down from Bend and Boise.

    At MileMarker 18, we saw the first homestead destroyed.
    Vehicles burned, concrete foundations with only air above them.
    River-rock fireplaces, their firebox inserts intact.

    We realized the devastation as we saw miles of electrical and telephone wires melted.
    Oddly, the telephone poles seemed functional despite no trees surviving near them.

    A child’s red strip circus tent, intact, next to burned vehicles.
    A steel Conex shipping container without walls or roof.
    Parks for semi-permanent RecreationVehicles, reduced to piles of metal.
    Neat circles blown from over-heated propane tanks.

    Everybody in our group was silent.
    Televisionprogramming or photographs on the WorldWideWeb convey very little of the impact… by design, only showing one direction of a limited view, nothing of the smells or silence.

    Hundreds of homes and businesses, flattened.
    But this was only our two-dimensional view from the highway; the burn extended back each direction into the mountains for miles.
    And miles.

    Miles of dented guardrails, dozens of snaking trails of sawdust showing the path of chainsaws clearing the highway from the fallen.
    Thousands and thousands of trees chainsawed into neat stacks along the highway.
    Thousands of stacks of burned trees.

    Heading west past us were caravans of forestry crews, racks atop vans and four-door pickups brimming with shovels and axes and jerrys of fuel.
    The folks inside looked quiet.
    On a flash-pass, we couldn’t tell if they were contemplative or exhausted.

    To the point of this column, I emphasize the fifty miles of melted electric lines we saw.
    I have no way of knowing if each telephone pole must be individually tested for integrity, or prudently replaced automatically.

    We made it up Highway 126 to the Cougar Reservoir turn-off going south.
    We turned around to head back down to Eugene.
    That road south was blocked by bureaucrats enforcing ‘residents only’ access.

    I lived and worked all over this particular planet.
    I can imagine living without running water, without clean clear drinking water, evacuating my bowels into a cat-hole.
    I do not want to exist that way for months or years.

    Rumors circulate about some / all of the West Coast fires were started by arsonists.
    A satellite map of the mid-2020 fires certainly leans in that direction… the forest fires terminate abruptly at the border, seemingly lacking a passport to travel into Canada.

    Miles of melted electric lines.


    For experiences of a ranching family in the Sierra Nevada mountains, please read the column in the Chico Enterprise-Record newspaper of a couple-three days ago.

    I believe arsonists do not deserve prison.

  16. Typically most of these kinds of fires are indeed started by arson. Usually they know when lightening or campfire is the cause before they even deploy a fire crew. The media will play up the dried forest/grassland/brush which of course it true but it is true every year in the fall and true in all the places on the West coast where there was no fire. The real problem, typically in California but this year in Oregon and Washington too, is high winds. This makes the fires almost impossible to control and put out. All they can do is evacuate and wait until the winds die down. The arsonists know this and that is when they choose to start the fires. It would be interesting to know if anyone gathered the highway video for the hours before these fires started. A perfect example of this is hwy 126 that largemarge referred to. There are few alternatives to driving to these locations where the fires started and almost no other routes. To get there you had to drive hwy 126.

  17. One condition along areas near the Mississippi River that will prove disastrous should an earthquake like the New Madrid Earthquake occur again is liquefaction. It is my understanding that a massive earthquake can cause the water table to be pushed upward and that it will turn the surface into mud. Houses will tilt, become unstable, and collapse.

    The liquefaction problem could be a disaster of Biblical proportions in Memphis, a city without a seismic building code. Large sections of the city may become unlivable.

    I have to think that liquefaction will destroy water mains and the delivery of water to households and businesses.

    The “go-to” Cal Tech person for earthquakes, referred to by the press as “the earthquake lady,” has said that when the inevitable, massive earthquake takes place on the San Andreas Fault, it could take up to a year to return water service to all parts of LA.

    Four years ago, I asked my secretary if she and her family had stored any water, and she said no. I asked her what she was going to do for water after an earthquake. She asked, “You mean like go to the store?” I said, “No. I don’t mean like go to the store.” I told her that if she didn’t want to store water that she should just be prepared to stand in line behind the National Guard truck each day and to get her two gallon jugs of water. I could tell that my comment had no impact on her.

    This mindset is no doubt irritating to people who read this blog but, unfortunately, it is all too common.

    1. Survivormann99, you’re no doubt aware of the irony of California earthquake victims not being prepared as you mention, then when a big earthquake hits, they rush out afterwards and stock up on supplies. They least need to stock up right after an earthquake because the fault has released its tension. Those supplies that people stocked up on get used up and not replenished by short-sighted people, and with each passing day they are getting closer and closer to the next earthquake for which they will, again, not be prepared having learned nothing from the previous one. Are we a great species or what?? 🙂

      1. St. Funogas,

        George Carlin once said, “Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that.” You can apply that view of humanity to an endless number of situations.

        It is the human condition that so many people living in areas that are threatened by Mother Nature do nothing to prepare for a calamity. On the Gulf Coast, they wait until a hurricane is barreling down on them before they head to Home Depot to buy plywood or generators, expecting everything to be in stock and ready for purchase.

        In the Northwest, many people have no effective plan for evacuating coastal areas, expecting the roads to be clear of other motorists when they need to get to high ground. After all, “the authorities” have placed signs for them concerning the route to high ground. It has been demonstrated by tsunami experts that clogged roads will cause a very large loss of life.

        In California, a public service announcement is often heard that encourages people to have three days of food and water in the house in case of an earthquake. This is a preposterous underestimate of what people will actually need when The Big One hits.

        Yet, I suppose that the powers-that-be believe that if they tell people to have two weeks of food and water, much less, say, a month, even fewer people will prepare even a little. They will simply spend that money on the next shiny object in their life, not on food and water storage.

        As for stocking up after an earthquake, in the likely situation where the power is out, no one will be able to make credit card or debit card transactions. And, as everyone found out in March, when everyone wants something, whether its toilet paper, paper towels, or cans of soup, the shelves will be bare in short order.

        1. @ Survivormann 99

          So this might sound harsh but to some extent it’s survival of the fittest. If someone is too stupid or lazy to prepare, despite being given warnings to do so, perhaps they deserve what happens to them? Nature has a way of removing animals from the flock that aren’t cautious and take undue risks. We humans have set up so many social service programs and others which constantly bail out people who can’t(or won’t) take proper care of themselves. I’d posit that this has become untenable. And no, I’m not talking about refusing to help elderly people but recognizing that the younger perfectly healthy folks who’d rather spend their money and time on cigarettes, beer, video watching and gaming perhaps need to face the consequences? Mother nature is a cruel mistress!

  18. Wonderful article. I live 3ish hours northwest of New Madrid. We forget that before, that area was not very populated. One statistic I’ve read is 7 million people will be displaced if the same earthquake were to happen today. If half of those people are on my side of the Mississippi river, that will be a lot of desperate people needing help. I understand your concern as I have pondered on how to handle the earthquake issue, also.

    Three things I’d like to address in your article. First is storing glass jars. I cut cardboard and place in between the jars if I don’t have the original box. This helps keep the jars from “clunking” together and hopefully will stop damage if the New Madrid goes off, or we need to move them quickly.

    Second was your mention of gas line fires. Around Sept. 16 there were three gas explosions in a 24 hour period. First one was in Piedmont OK, second in Fort Smith AR and the third in N. Texas. At the time I questioned if they could be earthquake related, but it was reported the cause of the fires were not related. I’ll keep my opinion of the mainstream media to myself.

    Third is water storage. We find old, but still good stock tanks on Craigslist and have them stacked for if the electricity ever goes off. Our plan is to pull them under the eves of the shop, barn, sheds, etc… and tilt them slightly out so the was flows away from the building. We currently have two 25 gallon tanks catching water from the downspouts on our goat sheds. This supplies most of their water needs with us only needing to supply water if it doesn’t rain for a while. We do dump them if the mosquitoes invade. If the time came where we needed the water, we have a supply of bleach to keep the mosquitoes at bay, or we could retrieve the water into jugs for storage. We have ways to filter the water to make it safe for drinking. Not ideal, but just another layer to our water supply.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I enjoyed your insight.

  19. Tunnel Rabbit, I liked your list but would like to know what type of night vision? Handheld or one for a long rifle. And who do you think will be attacking?
    PS-I liked your soap box

    As to the preps for Earthquakes, my strategy is to move after the event. To rebuild in an area will take years. The fires that devastated huge tracks of homes in Northern California have maybe 10% built and they were in 2017.
    Our strategy is Earthquake insurance. I asked my agent do I need to rebuild in a area just flattened and she stated no. The company just sends you a check and where you go and when you resettle is up to us.

    I have lived in the Bay Area when the Loma Prieta in 89 was a wake up alarm. Sadly most people do not have such insurance because of the high deductible at 10-15% but 85-90% payment for damages is nothing to complain about.

    My friends brother that survived the Paradise fires, used his insurance and moved to Nevada and he came out of the tragic fires whole.

  20. Solar power isn’t nearly as difficult as folks appear to be trying to make it. 200 to 300 W panels are relatively cheap now. Inverter technology is cheap also with new types of field effect transistors that make it easy. Old fashion lead acid batteries will last for years With a little care and are cheaper than newer technology if you merely need to store energy not cycle it in and out lots of times. If you grid tie, with batteries as well, you can actually make a five or 6% return on investment, which is better than you can get in the bond market! When you buy bigger panels you get far more watts per dollar then when you buy rinky-dink tiny panels.

  21. I’m afraid we (my family) are a long way from self sufficiency. We are taking what most peepers would refer to as baby steps, we are a long way from where most of you are.

    We see nothing in the future that will not fail. Next step for us is water. Though I think the government (politicians) are the people NOT to listen too.

    Great article.

    God Bless you all.

  22. Solar lights. Outdoor patio/path lights. They may not provide a lot of light, but any light is better than none. You can also change the batteries out for better ones.

    1. @ BWL

      And if you put the little solar lights into something portable you can bring them inside at night to use. A canning jar works well unless it’s a really tall light but you can always cut down the stake part of it to make it shorter.

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