Letter Re: Hawaii-Specific Disaster Preparations


Greetings from another SurvivalBlog newbie. I discovered your site back in the spring of this year and all I could say then was “Wow! I think I’ve found a home!” I’ve been lurking here ever since. I’d been wandering in the wilderness of flame-filled newsgroups and not-quite-filling-enough survival/self-reliance publications since the days of “Survival Tomorrow”, nearly thirty years ago. Back then, I mostly spent time just collecting information on various survival topics while making only small, half-hearted preparations. At last, here is a site that has revived my slumbering interest in the disaster preparedness movement and inspired my wife my son and me to undertake concrete measures to improve our family’s Readiness Quotient (RQ) if you will. One of the first things I did was to send off a check for a 10 Cent Challenge membership (That’s right, the check is in the “snail mail”: No kidding.)

As a bit of background, I’m ex-Air Force and my wife is former Navy; we have one grown son. Like “SF” and “Hawaiian K”, I’m a resident of the islands (Oahu.) I’ve been here going on 40 years now, which makes me an old-timer or “Kamaaina.” My wife was born and raised here. However, our family’s situation may differ somewhat from those of the above-mentioned islanders in that we live in a townhouse development and, therefore, have limitations on what we can do in the way of emergency preparedness. (Correct me, if I’m wrong, gentlemen.) Nonetheless, we’ve not been idle.

A couple of months ago, we began our food storage program with an “extremely productive” visit to the local Costco. Our one mistake was that we loaded up on a large amount of, subsequently recalled, chili and sauce items which we must now replace. We also laid in a substantial supply of bottled water, and we also have several 6 gallon plastic water containers that were purchased several years ago, which can be filled in an emergency and stored in an available closet (they’ve come in handy during several past power outages and at least one hurricane.) We’ll continue to add to our stocks, buying a little more than we use each time we go grocery shopping. We also intend to purchase the food storage planning software you mentioned, in an earlier post. Then, we can computerize the associated record-keeping (with hardcopy backup…of course!)

Now, having food supplies is one thing; but, one also needs a way of cooking without electricity if necessary. For that, we have available that great Hawaiian standby, the outdoor grill. Currently, we rely on a large propane powered model with two tanks of fuel, but will soon back it up with a smaller, charcoal fueled grill or “Hibachi” for lesser cooking duties and to act as a substitute if propane becomes scarce or unavailable.

Our emergency lighting needs are handled with a Coleman propane lantern and several bottles of fuel, as well as several sizes of battery-powered flashlights and a more than adequate supply of batteries of all sizes. In the future, we will be reducing both the types and quantity of conventional batteries on hand and adding more rechargeables, along with both AC & solar chargers to keep them ready to go. I’ve also been checking into various types of indoor & outdoor emergency lighting, but, again, options are limited due to townhouse association rules.

Family survival transport consists of two late model SUVs for the wife and me. We’re evaluating obtaining/storing backup electronic modules for both vehicles as the conversion to an older points/condenser style ignition system is not a practical or affordable option for us. Supplemental cargo capacity is available via our son’s 1990s-vintage mid-size pickup. If the need to “bug out” arises, we’ll be able to reach relatives elsewhere on this island, or (now that a practical inter-island passenger and vehicle ferry system is about to begin operation) more remote areas of the “neighbor islands” – given enough advance warning. I hold a private pilot’s license; however, I’m not sure how much use that would be in a rapidly developing emergency situation. You can’t haul many persons and their bug-out gear in a Cessna 172, at least not if you want to go very far.

Our weakest area, at the moment, is in the realm of first-aid and medical supplies and training. I’d like to take a beginning first-aid and CPR course from our local Red Cross chapter, but considering their schedule of course offerings and my work situation, it’s going to require quite a bit of juggling; but, later in September or October looks like a good bet. Right now, we have only a few band-aids and some OTC medications on hand to deal with minor cuts and scrapes encountered around the house. Also, we need to acquire our basic health and medical library. I took a medical terminology course, but that was over twenty years ago and I haven’t had to use it in the last five years.

Speaking of libraries, our survival library is small, but growing; and, includes books by Joel Skousen, Gene Gerue (“How to Find Your Ideal Country Home”), and Ragnar Benson. We also have Internet access to several other survival and self-reliance related web-sites in addition to SurvivalBlog.com.

Home defense is one area of preparation we’re currently beefing up. We have one AR-15 rifle (one of those “mouse guns” you’re not fond of) and one .40 cal. S&W pistol with a couple of hundred rounds for each. Next up is a reliable pump-action shotgun; right now, I’m leaning toward a Remington 870. Planned additions include either an M1A or FN[-FAL]-type MBR. However, the cost of acquiring enough arms and ammo to equip each family member means that this aspect of our preparations will proceed at a slower pace.

Communications: Presently, that consists of FRS units for each family member; a CB base station – able to operate on either AC or 13.8 volt [DC] battery power – and one mobile [CB] unit in my SUV. Beside the usual emergency AM/FM/SW portable radio, we also have a trunking UHF/VHF scanner and a weather monitor with National Weather Radio/Specific Area Message Encoding (NWR/SAME) capability. All of these units have battery backup power. Our CB coverage is limited by the necessity of utilizing a low-profile base station antenna. (Again, due to townhouse association rules.) I obtained my Novice class Amateur radio license years ago, but never used it. That’s about to change as I will be upgrading to Technician and then General class within the next few months.

We are now seriously pursuing debt reduction. I will be eligible to retire from my present work as a civilian contractor for the Army in about three years. My wife also has 20 + years in Civil Service with the military. For my part, I’m not waiting for retirement, but have been preparing my resume and following job leads in addition to researching some ideas for a home-based business. Once the means of providing an income are more clearly defined, we hope to sell our Hawaii residence and relocate (as you’ve advised) to a more suitable area in the western mainland. I grew up a city kid, but with close family ties and much youthful experience in the Michigan countryside; I’m no stranger to farm life, though it has been a long time since I had to rise before dawn. My wife has a “passing” acquaintance with hard work as well, having helped to raise four younger siblings in a family of six while going to school and working in the pineapple cannery.

So, what would you say of our efforts up to this point, and what advice would you offer for the future; particularly with regards to our plans for relocation? I really enjoy my daily blog visits. I’m always anxious to see what you and your readers, especially, have to offer regarding their own disaster preparations and efforts to become more self-reliant. I urge you to continue to provide this timely and much needed service to those of us out here that have glimpsed the future and need your and your audiences’ experience and knowledge to prepare to meet it. Thank you, again, and as Michael Biehn’s character (the Colonial Space Marine corporal in “Aliens”) said, “Stay frosty.” Aloha, – Gandalf