The extended power outages in Florida after Matthew were due to downed power lines, mostly by wind-fallen trees. Hospitals and other essential services were given priority for power restoration. People who lived near these essential services were more likely to get power restored first. Your proximity to key services might be a good factor to consider when purchasing a home in a suburb or city.
After Hurricane Matthew, the city water was cut for an extended period due to the roots of fallen trees damaging city water lines. The two cases of bottled water we had bought for drinking would have run out within the week had city water not been restored. I do not think you can over estimate the need for potable water for survival. Multiple backup provisions should be made for this life giving substance. Looking back, we should have also utilized the emergency bath tub water storage that I had. The experience of Hurricane Matthew has made it clear that a source of raw water and water purification is absolutely essential for human survival. I plan on purchasing numerous rain barrels for water collection off of the roof and dual Berkey water filter systems for filtration.
When the city water was cut, the toilets would not refill in order to flush. We used rain water as a flushing tool. Simply pour the rainwater into the toilet tank and your toilet can then flush. Luckily, our neighbor had left out his large plastic garbage can and it had filled to the brim with rain water. A bucket located next to the toilet solved the flushing problem.
Looking back, in the case of sewage system failure, a provision for an outdoor toilet would be essential. A camping toilet should be purchased for this eventuality. Something like the Reliance Products Luggable Loo Portable 5 Gallon Toilet for $15 would seem to be ideal, since for $30 you could double your purchase under the two is one philosophy.
The most apparent effect of a power outage is the lack of lighting. It turns out that the inexpensive little solar lighting units were very handy. The little solar lights with built-in motion detectors would snap on the minute I walked by, needing the extra light to find my way. Technology can be a wonderful thing! As part of my regular preps, I had in storage a fine Coleman battery powered lantern for reading. Unfortunately, after the storm I could not find it. This emphasizes the need to have your preps organized for easy recovery. One item that was very handy was a battery powered head lamp. I would wear it just walking around the house for hands free lighting on whatever I was doing at the time.
After the hurricane, the kindness of strangers noticeably increased. Drivers actually obeyed the speed limits and would come to a full stop at broken stop lights, courteously observing the right of way of other drivers. Neighborliness increased. Our neighborhood pitched in together to clear the roads of fallen trees using chainsaws. How long this state would continue, if prolonged, is an open question. If a disaster is localized but long term prospects for recovery are slight, escape would be best accomplished during this interim period. Think ahead after the event as to how the situation unfolds and act when your judgement says to, before the situation becomes critical.
The criminal predators were out almost immediately. Several gun stores were targeted by thieves. Looters almost immediately appeared in the hardest hit neighborhoods, causing an increase in police patrols in those areas. Some neighborhoods in our immediate area had strangers knocking on doors late at night in the darkness when power was out. If someone answered, they would ask if their phone worked or some other innocuous question. Just as easily, this could have turned into a home invasion situation. Having a firearm readily accessible for immediate use, and that means in your hand, would be essential in combating the predators when power is out and services are non-existent. Leveraging your neighbors to watch for strangers would be an essential long-term asset when it comes to protecting your family in the long run.
Soon, the city water was restored and regular cold showers became a substitute for air conditioning. Next the power line workers, who had come in from all over the country to work, began restoring power. Once the roads became cleared and we started driving around, my wife would clap and cheer every power line truck that we drove by. These men (and yes, most were men) were professional and efficient. In our increasingly emasculated society, these strong utility workers should serve as a reminder as to the value of masculinity in crisis.
Private property owners quickly placed big plastic blue tarps on damaged roofs to protect their real estate investments. We also observed that diligent business owners were rushing to open their businesses to customers who needed food, coffee, groceries, and just about anything else people would desire. First to open were the small business owners, who personally manned their stores.
John Locke observed in his “Two Treatises of Government” that “property” was essential for man’s survival and co-equal to man’s life and liberty. This observation rings true; wealth protects lives. The resilience of our society is really a thing to behold. Freedom and capitalism have created great wealth and independence in America. The wealth of the American nation is what protected us from deprivations that descended on Haiti, where over 1,000 people were killed. In contrast, only 12 people were reported killed in Florida as a direct result of Matthew. I question even that media statistic. Two of the people in our local area were killed by carbon monoxide fumes from their portable generator, which they were running in their garage. Another fatality was due to a heart attack. The only one in our area that could be directly attributed to Matthew was a person who was killed by a falling tree while walking a dog. Wealth protects us with quality housing, protection from starvation and disease, protection from flooding, and in countless other ways understood only too well by our ancestors. Unfortunately, many people have forgotten these important lessons, and they wrongly advocate for wealth-destroying socialism and confiscation of private property.
Soon, the consumers were back to complaining again about having to wait in lines or that a particular establishment had not yet opened their doors. Incivility returned to the roadways as people rushed back to work. Neighbors are complaining that there are still trees and branches that have not been collected from the side of the road ways. People have already forgotten the lessons that were being taught.
If I am being honest with myself, I must admit that in the event of a catastrophic calamity– a true TEOTWAWKI event– Florida is not the place to be for two reasons: food and population. If resupply was not promptly available, I suspect that the huge Florida population would turn on itself, and the thin veneer of civilization would be stripped away very quickly. This was all too apparent when the masses raided grocery stores of food items. Long term, this resupply infrastructure would collapse and doom millions of Floridians to starvation. A good book to read on why this would be is When Money Dies: The Nightmare of Deficit Spending, Devaluation, and Hyperinflation in Weimar Germany by Adam Fergusson. In response, a one- or two-year supply of hidden food would allow us to subsist beyond the initial waves of starvation, that is if we could successfully defend our supply during the desperate periods. Long term, though, the lack of local food production would spell doom. I think this is a clear-eyed reason for moving your family to a Redoubt locale, if possible. Despite this realization, our family is just not in a position to move to the Redoubt. Where ever you might find yourself in emergency, a certain amount of faith and prayer is required. We will leave these things that we cannot control in God’s hands and do what we can where we can.
After the storm, we went to church to thank God for sparing us and our family. A direct hit on Florida could have been much, much worse. Matthew may have been just the reminder that we needed to better prepare for future eventualities. I pray that your readers will find this information helpful into making their families more prepared for disaster.