Preparedness: Now What? – Part 2, by O.C.

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

Into The Pentagon

After nine years or so as a defense contractor around the DC area, I was able to secure a job in the Pentagon as a civil servant in the Directorate of Special Access Programs. There I learned about Continuity of Operations/Continuity of Government (COOP/COG) for the first time. It’s fascinating. Although Nancy Pelosi originally claimed that she was not taken to a secure location, she indeed was, based on COOP/COG protocols. I won’t say exactly where, but I think it was [a hardened site] not far from D.C.

I heard about COOP/COG  in a book called “This Is Only a Test: How Washington D.C. Prepared for Nuclear War”, 1st edition. It’s no longer in print and a used copy will set you back $130 on that unnamed website. It’s a fascinating book. All the information inside was gleaned from open sources and Congressional records. About one third is just the citations for the data presented. The rest concerns ideas, concepts, funding sources and execution of building out a COOP/COG physical infrastructure with communications capabilities in what’s called the Tri-State area. Did you ever wonder why the National Institute for Health is in Maryland and the CIA is in Virginia? Answered in the book. Wonder why novel bedroom communities like Reston, Virginia, sprang up? Answered in the book. Be warned, it’s the driest thing I’ve ever read, and I have two Master of Arts Degrees worth of college books under my belt. Regardless this is my way of saying COOP/COG programs are alive, although drastically different than when they were started during the Eisenhower years. If you’re really interested in this kind of information, I highly recommend trying to get you free library to get a copy. Or save up I guess and buy it used.

I didn’t consider my work preps to be part of what I did at home. They influenced some of them, but “at home” preps were another item altogether. In the beginning, other than electrical outages from ice and severe snowstorms (frequent in our older neighborhood), I had little preps to speak of. I had solved the power outages with a large generator and heavy-duty extension cords. Running them all night if needed brought many complaints from neighbors about the noise and some didn’t have electricity and didn’t want to buy a generator themselves. I fixed this by buying a Honda 2000-watt inverter generator and then a Westinghouse 1800-watt inverter generator. I cut some holes in my old metal shed and ran the exhaust out the far side of the shed. I cut fresh air inlet holes in the shed’s near side.

I bought an outside storage locker and eight two-and-a-half gallon gas cans. I used STA-BIL to keep the gas fresh as long as possible and when two year marks arrived, I ran it through my old RAV 4 and replaced it. The shed knocked down the noise quite a bit and I never had another complaint. I sold the big generator to help pay down the inverters. I tried to keep a whole weeks’ worth of canned foods and bottled water on hand. I hadn’t done anything about 9/11 “what ifs” at the house. Thanks to the SurvivalBlog, JWR’s books and checklists, and the like I had a decent knowledge of a starting place. I read more dystopian books, like 299 Days, the “Home” novel series, and many others. I researched the silver markets, freeze-dried foods, aftermarket MREs, and the best canned food for storage.

The first thing I did was buy extra cases of bottled water. I keep six cases on hand for the wife and me. I bought a Berkey water filter and spare filters. We used the Berkey a lot because the taste of Fairfax water isn’t so great. I started a nonperishable food inventory and always maintained a set amount on hand. I expanded it to include foods to eat with minimal or no preparation needed even if we didn’t routinely eat them. (Rotated through based on “best if used by” dates) I bought extra propane 20-pound bottles for the grill as a supplemental cooking appliance. As I could, I bought 90% junk silver and silver bullion in one-ounce rounds and bars. I built up to a certain dollar amount based on spot price and now only buy when the price is low.

I developed a three-level food supply goal. Canned foods for 3-4 weeks, commercial MRE or similar food for an additional two weeks, and freeze-dried food for 60 days. Every time I went to the grocery store, I added some more canned foods from my inventory list. I purchased commercial MREs from companies advertising on the Survival Blog. Freeze-dried from that source too. Why only three or so months of food? I lived less than 20 miles from D.C. in a heavily populated suburb.

My neighboring area was once much more rural. My neighbor who purchased her home when it was first built in 1969 often told me how they wanted to live in the country and there was only a two-lane road to the housing development. Now that two-lane road is a six-lane highway with turn lanes and Dulles International Airport is less than 4 miles away. Therefore, I considered two basic scenarios to base my home preps. First was nuclear attack of D.C. Living so close I figured I’d see the flash and that would be it. Fatalistic but reasonable. The second was a real disaster regardless of whether it was an EMP, CME, terrorist attack or just a complete breakdown of society. We’d have to shelter-in-place. The Blue Ridge Mountains were due west a full tank full of gas, in traffic. I doubt that it would be a place to try and sustain yourself with so many people trying to escape the D.C. metropolitan area. We had nowhere to go. I estimated that after three months we’d be overrun and unable to protect ourselves anymore. Right or wrong, it was a decision I was at peace with.

To that end, I had appropriate arms for my wife and me with plenty of ammunition and maintenance supplies for them. I prepared a house security plan with fields of fire and ranges. Our house was mostly brick so some protection was available. My wife is an avid reader and I kept extra empty boxes in the garage to make barricades using her books. I also purchased a portable toilet (disabled devices work great) and supplies, plenty of toilet paper and black plastic bags. Disinfectant, bleach, and other needs to keep sanitary. I picked a place in the backyard (small by most standards) and kept the ground clear and soft (think flower beds) to bury the waste bags. As I learned more, and items came available on the marketplace that I could afford, I added items to support our preps based on my scenarios. I thought that given our circumstances and our  age, I had done a good but not perfect job of preparing.

Retirement and A Planned Move to Texas

Retirement eventually came due to health reasons, and old age has changed things. We are at the point where we need the help of our children. My wife is now house-bound, and my own physical abilities have deteriorated substantially. We decided to move to Texas to be near one of our kids, a daughter who is a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have about 10 acres outside a small town that is not too far from Austin, where we will be getting our health services. She is currently learning and doing her own preps. A “small farm” with a few cows, some chickens for eggs, and pigs for a potential food source. We will be putting a small mobile home on their property to be close to her. Frankly, Austin is so far left and expensive that I don’t see how anyone can move there unless they are indoctrinated in that lifestyle.

Along with what we have for preps, I’ll be helping her with her preps. I’ve previously sent all our kids a 30-day supply of freeze-dried foods to get them started and maybe thinking in that direction. I’ll be adding another 90 days to my daughter’s family stock. Because of Bidenflation, I’m tapped out on Social Security and pension funds for day-to-day living expenses and that’s all I can do at the moment. She and her husband work full-time and they have kids in school. There are times when no one is around the “farm”. I’ll do what I can on there and plan to provide a presence for security purposes when she and her family are gone.

I’ll be planting an above-ground garden with alternative water source (captured rainwater) as an educational endeavor for both of us at first. Doing vermin/predator control too. I’ll also do a security plan. I plan on putting up known distance markers and things like that. Why? With a few hunting positions that won’t look out of the ordinary to use for predator control and wild hog harvests when necessary, the known distance markers will make it easier for humane kills. My daughter has already lost several young pigs to roving bands of dogs/coyotes and at least two groups of chickens and ducks to raccoons and other critters. Gotta watch out for rat snakes, they like eggs too. So predator control will be a priority when I get there.

This has been my prepping journey to what I’m calling my “Now What?” stage. Not everyone can live in the American Redoubt, or on a small family farm in the Midwest, or own a fallback position in the woods. But we can all tailor our preps to our existing circumstances. I did, and I still do.

When it’s time to meet my Savior, I hope I can say I left things better than when I found them. I believe in Faith, Family, and Charity as a way of life. I learned this from others by their example, so I stake no claim to coming up with it myself. It’s a great philosophy to live by.