Letter Re: Economic Survival on the Personal Level

Hi JWR,
Keep up the good work as always. I thought I’d share a couple of ideas that I’ve had.

A “money” emergency, ranging from losing your job temporarily to a full-scale depression is one of the most likely things to happen to all of us. I know you’ve talked about this before, but I’d like to share a few things. I would advise anyone to get at least one marketable backup skill or trade. The local community college is vast resource for learning practical skills. Here are some possibilities:
-Auto Mechanics. Think of this for self-sufficiency and employment. People gotta get to work! A couple of semesters will prepare you for an entry level job, 1-2 years to be a full-fledged mechanic. I have saved probably $10,000 over the years by working on my own vehicles.
-Welding. You can get the basics for repairs and maintenance work in one semester. Plan on 2 or 3 semesters if you want to get certified for structural or pipeline work. With our current energy situation, pipeline welders are in high demand, and can make $100K/year in some situations.
-CAD/CAM. This is operating and programming the automated equipment that manufactures virtually all machined goods and items. The class I’m in has a board full of job listings, starting at $13/hr and going up to more than $30 for experienced people. In 1-2 semesters, you could easily qualify for one of those jobs. Amazingly, my college offered this as an accelerated, full time program that only takes one semester, and available free by applying at the unemployment office. Can you believe that there were no takers?
-Music. I think this one is often overlooked. If you’re inclined in this area, think about learning an easily-transported instrument like guitar, harmonica, keyboard, etc. In hard times, people want to be cheered up. If you ever end up in a refugee camp or jail, you have immediate value to offer.
-Truck driving/equipment operating. I recently read a white paper from the grocery industry about dealing with bird flu. They cited truck drivers as one of the most critical and hard to replace resources. Getting training and upgrading your licenses seems like a good idea. From the article on Katrina evacuations, it sounds like DOT regulations would typically get relaxed in any emergency, so a basic commercial license might get you quick work, or permission to drive a bus or truck with needed relief supplies.
Your training and education are something that no economic collapse can rob you of. Even if you only take 1 class in another trade, it could mean the difference between getting hired to sweep up the floors and getting an “assistant mechanic” or other, better-paying job.
Also, working on your job and social skills is important. You should spend an hour making a new resume every few months, even if you are happy with your job. It’s a good way to see where you’re weak and think about what new skills, certifications, etc you might want for your current line of work.
Getting work in hard times means you have to hustle. I have a friend who lives in Las Vegas and has been a salesman for every imaginable product. He says that he has gotten more jobs by waiting until the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions. He asks [presumptive] things like “Are the cokes in the hallway free, where are the time cards, what time do people start on Mondays?” He then just shows up the next day ready to start. He says that this works 9 out of 10 times for any job they need filled right now. – JN.



Odds ‘n Sods:

A “must read” article: Global Credit Ocean Dries Up by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard. In this piece, Evans-Pritchard asserts that the global economy is reaching a dangerous tipping point. See: http://portal.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/money/2006/02/24/cccredit24.xml&menuId=242&sSheet=/money/2006/02/24/ixcoms.html

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Some quiet Asian Avian Flu planning is going on in England. See: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2095-2058244,00.html

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FEMA is making plans for a major earthquake on the New Madrid fault.  See: http://www.surfingtheapocalypse.net/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?read=128430  

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A paper on the Asian Avian Flu and the Grocery Industry: http://www.amrresearch.com/avianflu/H5N1PotentialImpact.pdf





Note From JWR:

After 25 years in the mail order business, I finally got “modern” and created a web page for my mail order wares. See: https://survivalblog.com/catalog/ Up until just recently, I only had a an e-mailable catalog.  Now I have a proper web page catalog.  I just have to remember to keep it up to date, as items come and go. As time permits, I plan to add photos of some of the more expensive items.

Thanks for all of the recent “10 Cent Challenge” contributions. My special thanks to R.M. and R.K.E., who each donated $100. I appreciate your generosity!



Letter from David In Israel Re: The Survival Mindset and the Holocaust

Last year I met with Eline Hoekstra Dresden. Among the things she gave me along with her book “Wishing Upon A Star, A Tale of the Holocaust and Hope” was a bookmark
that I will quote:

[begin quote]
During my years of public speaking, I have been asked repeatedly, “how did you live through the Holocaust?” I usually answer “I don’t really know.” However, the following list provides examples of things that worked for me (along with luck).
Tools for Survival
* Be alert, not paranoid
* Be optimistic, but realistic
* Find strength in faith (whichever)
* Recognize hidden danger
* Do not ever show weakness
* Listen to “gut” feelings
* Use humor daily
* Draw on inner strength
* Take care of your health
* Stay productive
* Don’t let your guard down
* Face danger with courage
* Share your fears with others
* do not ever give up hope
* Before going to sleep, Imagine better times.
*Keep these tools in good repair* [end quote]

One thing I’ve noticed when speaking with Shoah survivors is that they mention that the objective of the camps was to break their faith in G-d. Even now, 60 years later, I see the scars in their faith.



Letter Re: Freeze Dried Foods Versus MREs Versus Air Dried Bulk Storage Foods

James:
I am considering making a sizable purchase from one of your advertisers. I have enjoyed your site a great deal and would value your opinion. Would you stock Mountain House foods for your own needs? I am not familiar with mountain house foods. What is your opinion of their products? How do they compare to MREs? I would like to get about a year of food put aside. I am sure you are very busy, so a detailed response is not necessary, as I said though I value your opinion. Thanks in advance, – K.

JWR Replies: Mountain House freeze dried foods are delicious and have a very long shelf life. The individually-packaged meals are the preferred foods for most backpackers because of their great taste and extremely light weight. But they do require water to reconstitute. Canned freeze dried foods are ideal for situations where you need to keep many weeks worth of food in a small space for 10 + years, and where you have water available. The advantage of MRE retort packaged entrees is that they don’t require water. However, they are both bulkier and heavier than freeze-dried. They also have only a two to five year shelf life, depending on temperature. (See MRE Information for details on MRE shelf life versus temperature.) If space and weight are not an issue, then bulk air dried foods that require cooking are far less expensive than freeze dried. (Such as five gallon buckets of wheat, rice, and beans.)  It all depends on your circumstances. If you live at your retreat full time or plan to “bug in”, then having a majority of bulk foods is obviously the way to go. But if you plan to “bug out” from an urban or suburban home, then nothing beats freeze dried foods for weight, space, and storage life.



Two Letters Re: The “Field Kit” Approach for Organization, Preparedness, and Survival, by Christian Souljer

Mr. Rawles,
Reading the great post on preparedness kits I noticed a couple things that I do differently with my vehicle. I’ve got a spare tire mounted on a homemade bracket on the front of my truck. this took an hour tops with an iron pile and a welder. It’s not meant for pushing but it sits there comfortably mounted to the existing bumper and the metal near the hood latch. I would think also that with some forethought it could be incorporated into a big frame mount push bumper. its a classic ‘country’ configuration which clears up room in your truck bed or inside the vehicle. It’s never made sense to me to mount the spare tire under the rear end of a 4WD vehicle.
This setup also lets you put your chains on the tire which makes them easy to get too and easy to lay out when the time comes. Once they are on, just wire up the extra and throw a big bungee on to take up the slack and rattle. I’ve even found that a license plate will fit inside the rim of most truck tires (15″ or larger). If you are worried about theft you can attach a padlock and/or use a big nut/bolt and lock washer which will ensure that somebody has to take the time with a wrench or tire iron to get at your spare. This is a really cheap way to save space and make your rig more functional. Thanks, – Hi-Plains Reader

 

Mr. Rawles,
I just read the article about field kits and have to agree with Christian Souljer. I a similar setup in the event that I can bug-out in my truck. My plan is to bug-in but if I have to leave I have 2 options to my disposal ( driving or walking ). Most of my equipment is in rubbermaid type plastic boxes and ready to go. The only thing I would suggest is have several different size tarps to go with you. When out camping using my equipment I put up tarps over the tent and kitchen area to keep the rain out, for shade, and privacy for toilet and solar shower. As far as rope goes I have one box a dedicated rope box with different lengths and types of rope. Great article and keep up the wonderful work that you do. – R.H. in Asheville, N.C.



Letter Re: Asian Avian Flu Radio Show Archives

J.R.-
Just got the chance to listen to some of the Ark Institute radio programming archives from this October. It might be a good idea to remind people those audio files are still there to enjoy. Still just as topical today as then. – R.S.

JWR Replies: Thanks for mentioning that. For details on how to hear the webcast archives, visit the Republic Radio web site: http://mp3.rbnlive.com/Geri05.html.  The interviews that you mentioned were conducted on October 15th and October 22nd.



Letter Re: Recommendations on Body Armor?

Sir:
I’d read your post in SurvivalBlog about body armor – someone had asked for some recommendations. I own a small company and my employees wear armor, I’ve worn armor for ten years… And there have been some upheavals recently that those looking to acquire used body armor need, desperately, to be aware of that weren’t addressed in your answer – which was adequate but I felt needed elaborating on – so here goes!

WHAT BRAND OF BODY ARMOR SHOULD YOU AVOID WHEN BUYING USED…

Both Second Chance and Point Blank are facing bankruptcy and major lawsuits associated with some of their vests – specifically the so-called 4th generation fibers known as Zylon, Second Chance used them in it’s ULTIMA, ULTIMAX and TRIFLEX series of vests and Point Blank (who also make the PACA brand vest) used them in too many products to list here – so I’ll give you the PDF link to the document on file in the current civil case against them.

https://www.pddocs.com/PointBlank2/files/exhibit_a.pdf

I could ramble on about the foreign buyout of both companies prior to their spectacular failure rate – but it’s irrelevant to survival. So, what brand to buy?

Gee, I guess that means Safariland or ABA (American Body Armor) are safe huh?

Nope! Everybody messed up! Again, too many products to list here – here’s another link for Safariland’s vest exchange program.

http://www.bodyarmor.com/zylon/

I’d guess that the above manufacturers represent about 90 percent of the total law enforcement vests sold in the last ten years. They’d still own the market today, if they hadn’t gone to Zylon to try and increase flexibility in the vests.

Yes, there are other manufacturers (a couple dozen in fact), nearly all of them import their vests from our Chinese friends, few manufacturers make them here – and you can still get a quality vest WITHOUT Zylon from these guys… but you need to know more, you should understand what soft body armor can and cannot do.

The basic theory behind soft body armor is the same as a baseball glove, spread out the impact and it doesn’t do as much damage (or penetrate) Kevlar fiber has tremendous linear strength to other fibers, tightly interwoven like a trampoline, and layered, it catches the bullet, spreads out the impact and your skin is not penetrated – you go up in levels from IIa -> II -> IIIa (IIIa is the highest soft body armor rating – above that is level III and IV, hard ceramic plates)to defeat the more energetic 9mm rounds which are only a real threat for one reason, they are more pointy than other pistol rounds and FAST. Essentially, to defeat soft body armor you need to be fast and/or pointy – a 22 LR Stinger round is plenty fast, but is blunt tipped and will not penetrate even the lowest level of soft armor. The newer 17 caliber ballistic tips are a real threat to soft body armor. A 17 HMR I fired at a level II vest panel, waltzed right on through. Granted it was an old vest panel (about 8 years) but it seemed solid to me. I don’t know what energy might be left after penetration, I just wanted to know if it WOULD penetrate. Ironically, 12ga slugs and 44 Magnum rounds are so flat that even a IIa will stop them, you don’t get the higher rated soft body armor the heavy rounds – you get them to defeat 9mm subgun rounds. This logic stemmed from, I believe, the idea that you should always wear a vest that will stop the bullets you carry. And with many police agencies carrying 9mm HK-MP5 variant subguns, it spawned the popularity of the IIIa level vest. The dinky little round that FN developed for their P90 was specifically meant to defeat soft body armor – hence the near moratorium (note that they are now marketing a 16 inch barreled version of the P90 now for civilian sales) on the gun for civilian use, and the absolute moratorium on the ‘good stuff ‘ (steel tipped) and FMJ versions of their ammo. The new ammo for the gun is aluminum tipped, and deforms too easily to defeat a IIIa vest – or so I am told.

Incidentally, “NO!!!!” I will not conduct a series of tests to determine what newfangled bullets will or will not penetrate soft body armor. Hundreds of guys with more time than me have already done so. Google is not just a cute sound made by a baby. Look it up.

Things like ice picks and shanks go right through soft armor (sharp and pointy). Your vest will give you some protection against slicing damage in a knife fight, but almost none against a vigorous stab. There are a whole generation of specialized ‘stab’ rated vests that prison guards wear, although Second Chance does make a vest that has dual layers (ballistic and knife), I think they call it the Prism series.

All centerfire rifle bullets will penetrate soft body armor too. You hear/see those ‘trauma packs’ or ‘plates’ that some manufacturers put in their vest – they are NOT rated to increase the stopping power of the vest – they are to spread out potential heart stopping, or rib breaking (with accompanying lung puncture) impacts and decrease the amount of damage you might take if you get in a head on collision. Second chance used to make a hard-plate that increased your ballistic protection, they still do – but they add a LOT of weight – for about the same weight you can get a REAL ceramic plate that IS rated to stop rifle rounds.

The only thing that will reliably stop rifle rounds (most of them) is ceramic plates, commonly referred to as SAPI plates by the military. They are typically 10 inches by 12 inches (size varies with application) and slip into a carrier over your soft body armor, they are meant to be used in conjunction with the soft armor as some rifle rounds will fragment on striking the plate and the vest is supposed to catch those fragments. It is not very reassuring to know that only a 10 by 12 inch square on your torso is resistant to rifle bullets – but you shouldn’t be presenting ANY target to a looter/criminal – much less a fully exposed torso. Plates are HEAVY – not something you’d wear everyday. You are far more likely to be wearing simple soft armor in an everyday scenario, or while out working in your victory garden.

My entire point isn’t to dissuade you from buying body armor, it is to make it clear that you need to do your research before you buy – especially if you are going to buy used, or off of Ebay. You need to understand the limits of it, and find a way to make it part of your routine. Just yesterday a police officer was killed in a city south of me, I will be sending a contribution off to his widow – he was not wearing his armor when killed – although the department had issued it to him. Body armor is uncomfortable to wear, but if you do it often enough it becomes less annoying. That’s why I had some panels inserted into a levis jacket – even in a casual setting, I can have it with me without arousing suspicion (unless someone picks it up!).

Were I to make a recommendation, find a used vest that you can VERIFY was sold in the last year or two, VERIFY has no Zylon in it, and VERIFY that it has not been exposed to harsh environments. Apparently Zylon was super-sensitive to getting damp/wet, all manufacturers used to encase the panel in Gore-Tex to help with wicking away sweat, now some are encasing it in a thin rubber casing to totally exclude water dampening the Kevlar – because, YES! Even Kevlar will deteriorate with prolonged or repeated exposure to dampness/heat/sweat/bad-breath, etc… And when you get that used vest delivered, take the panels out and look at the dates or date codes listed, a LOT of used vest hawkers on the internet buy new carriers (the thing the panels go in) and the vest looks new in photos – but may contain ten year old panels. So, again, if you MUST buy used – buy from someone with a solid, honest reputation that you can VERIFY.

Soft body armor needs to be comfortable, if it’s ill-fitting you wont like wearing it, ergo, you will NOT wear it. For that reason I do not recommend EVER buying a used vest that doesn’t fit your measurements exactly. If you go to a police uniform shop, they’ll measure you for a vest, and then you’ll know the exact size front and back panels you’ll need to find in a vest. Be careful though, some uniform suppliers are ‘snooty’ – believing that only police officers and other government agents should have soft body armor (no kidding). In some states you may not legally possess body armor. I’m pretty sure New York City restricts it, as well at the PRK.

So be wary, do your homework and be patient for the right used vest to come along. For TEOTWAWKI I must say I prefer concealable body armor – what the goblins don’t know about they can’t take steps to circumvent. Make it obvious that you wear armor, and I can guarantee you a looter will stay awake nights plotting his next head shot. While you are toiling away insuring the survival of your family, they have ALL DAY to plan looting you – it’s their CHOSEN CAREER PATH.

In case you folks are wondering about the body armor I own…

1 Point Blank full vest tactical carrier (external) – with IIIa panels made by another manufacturer
2 sets of SAPI plates one level III and one level IV that fit in the above vest
2 PACA concealable IIIa vests. (kevlar only) 1 year old and 4 years old.
1 tanker style kevlar helmet
1 USGI camo pattern flak vest, five years old – fits nicely under either PACA. I’d rate it at a IIa for most applications, maybe a little less. It is, however, intimidating to wear – psychological factor is why I have it.
1 Levis denim jacket with IIa panels integral to the torso and back and upper arm. I can wear this anywhere and NOBODY knows I’m armored.

OK, so maybe I do have a bit of armor – and that’s not counting what I have for the family, maybe someday I’ll post the picture of my eight year old daughter and her somewhat large vest and AR-15.

I did manage to get hold of a few dozen “destroyed” body armor panels (for testing!), I trimmed, sandwiched and overlapped them in a few waterproof (vacuum) bags and sized them for my door and rear panels in my ’65 Landcruiser. I’d considered using lexan laminate bullet-rated plastic, but MAN is that stuff expensive!!! I didn’t pay for the ‘destroyed’ body armor panels, so it was just labor to make them. My source was a body armor representative that was swapping out vests for a couple of local departments (police departments buy new vests every five years regardless of use/wear) – this activity happens every day around the country – where do you think a lot of those used eBay vests come from? These panels are somewhat stiff given how I fastened them to one another, and are two layers thick everywhere with IIIa panels. These used vests are shipped overseas for police officers over there who cannot afford them. England is a big benefactor from this program, and many eastern bloc countries. (Was that politically correct?)

ALL that being said, body armor is something that is not only ‘nice to have’ but lends a passive safety factor to your life – you don’t have to ‘display’ it for it to be useful, and the stuff keeps you warm in the winter! I’ve had to lay prone for extended periods of time in the snow, and the armored parts of me stayed very warm, it also smoothes out the rocks that always seem to exist in any terrain that you might be called upon to go to ground on.

What do I think you should get? I think you should buy NEW – it’s somewhere between $300-500 dollars for a quality Level II these days – or you could go the used route, but I don’t think it’s worth my life to save 100 bucks… I read a passage from John Ross’s “Ross in Range” commentary area (www.john-ross.net) that says something along the lines of ‘Friends don’t let friends buy junk guns.’ – and I’d like to second that opinion but apply it to body armor. The time to find out that your body armor was just a little TOO old to stop that 9mm round going a measly 1000 f.p.s. is not when you’re wearing it. I’d also suggest reselling it every three years and using the proceeds to upgrade to the new stuff. If the political rhetoric hits the revolving finger slicer you might be faced with a few years of using the stuff – and unavailability of new replacements. The more life you have in the vest when the balloon goes up, the longer it will be useful. Or rotate the used vests (if you can afford it) to the barter goods bin (and seal them away from moisture and heat) – if you think a tanned piece of leather will be worth something in a disaster – imagine what value will be placed on any body armor you have tucked away as surplus. – J.H. in Colorado



Odds ‘n Sods:

Odds ‘n Sods:

A source for greenhouse construction kits:
http://www.growerssupply.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/StoreCatalogDisplay?storeId=10001&catalogId=10001&division=GrowersSupply

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After an outbreak of H5N1 in India, the government killed all poultry within 10 kilometers of the affected town. If NAIS succeeds, our government here in the U.S. will know exactly what animals you have and where you are. If they decide to they can just come and take or kill your livestock. See:
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006\02\26\story_26-2-2006_pg4_14
and www.NoNAIS.org

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I recently discovered that WorldNetDaily columnist Vox Day has his own blog:  http://voxday.blogspot.com



Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry, and see a fine picture every day of his life, in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul." – Goethe



Note From JWR:

Please keep spreading the word about SurvivalBlog. Just by adding one line to your mail “.sig”, or by pasting a SurvivalBlog banner in your web page, you could help attract hundreds of new readers.  Many Thanks!



Advice on Grain Mills

I’m often asked for advice on grain mills. Having stored wheat and corn necessitates having a good quality durable grain mill. Electric-only mills are not recommend because they will of course become useless ornaments once the power grid goes down. An inexpensive hand-cranked mill will such as the Back to Basics Mill  or Corona Mill might suffice for a short term disaster, but in the event of TEOTWAWKI you will want something built to last.

I started out with a Corona mill in the early 1980s. It was a lot of work to use! It seemed like I burned as many calories cranking it as I got out of the flour that it produced. In 1998, we got a Country Living Grain Mill. It is a superior machine–much faster and easier to use. With just about any mill you will have to cycle the grain through several times to get fine flour. I recommend that if you are going to primarily hand-crank it that you get the “Power Bar” handle extension for extra leverage. Country Living Grain Mills are available through Ready Made Resources and several other vendors. Like any other quality tool that is built to last, they are expensive. But it is better to buy just one machine that you know will last you a lifetime, rather than a succession of “bargains” that turn into disappointments.  (This same logic applies to other tools that you buy for preparedness.)

Because they have a V-belt wheels, Country Living Grain Mills are readily adaptable to an electric motor for use day-to-day, or in  the event of a grid-up scenario.OBTW, for someone that has some mechanical acumen and some time of their hands, it is also possible to convert a bicycle frame or perhaps a piece of exercise equipment to power a Country Living Grain Mill. For any of you that have a background in welding, building such frames might make a nice “niche” home business.



Book Review: The Weapon by Michael Z. Williamson

The Weapon is a science fiction novel by Michael Z. Williamson. (481 pages. ISBN 9-781416-508946  Published by BAEN Books.) This is sort of a “intra-quel” storyline to Williamson’s novel Freehold, which I previously reviewed. (See my Sunday, February 12, 2006 post.) Like Freehold, this novel is a fast-paced Libertarian think piece. It is a tale of interplanetary colonization, set some 500 years in the future. The descriptions of the bureaucratic totalitarian central Earth government are contrasted with the “Freehold” colony planet, Grainne. The main character is a Grainne special operations soldier that is sent on a “deep cover” mission to Earth. The story heats up when Earth decides to invade Grainne, to “civilize” it. I enjoy Williamson’s writing. I enjoyed this novel even more than I did Freehold. I highly recommend it. There is quite a bit of violence and some adult situations, so it is definitely not a book to let your kids read. I should also mention that Michael Z. Williamson is a SurvivalBlog reader.



Letter Re: First Hand Observations on the Post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans Bus Evacuation

James:
I was a bus driver for the evacuation of the New Orleans Convention Center and figure that I should put my two cents in worth.We drove straight through from Ohio to a staging point (LaPlace) in New Orleans and were escorted to the Convention Center. This was on Saturday morning around 9 a.m. New Orleans time about a week after the dikes let go. We were lucky not to be in the first wave that came into the Super Dome earlier in the week as we heard they were still ordering parts to repair the busses that got busted up when they got mobbed. [By the time that our busses arrived] they had the evacuees fenced off a block from out busses and they only let through enough to load one bus at a time. They were literal bag people and brought what they had in bags and we loaded them up and took off to wait for a escort. We went to a staging site to get the escorts for our first leg of the trip and for all the busses to form up. There were ten in our convoy. We did not know where were going. We were told in Ohio we were going to Texas, but when we got to the staging area we were told we were going to Arkansas. Fort Smith to be exact a old WWII training base with some of the barracks restored. The evacuees needed off the bus to use the restroom and we were told not to let anyone off, but the call of nature reigns, so we let everyone off to pee and smoke before heading for Arkansas. The back story for not letting people off the bus (which we learned couple days later) was that they did this at another location and the people would not return to the bus in a timely manner and looted the site they had stopped at. The number one item looted was alcoholic beverages…so no stops anymore was the order of the day…
We had little food on board, just what folks in Ohio gave us to give to people, Vienna sausages, sardines, and water. Some of the other buses were luck in that they had pallets of MREs and water at the Convention Center and those at the end of the line were loaded up with them for the trip…
We started for Fort Smith with the escorts switching when jurisdictions changed. We were not briefed on the trip and it turned out they were not going to stop for anything. About five hours into the trip the last five busses in the convoy (we were the second bus, but everyone kept passing us) got off the highway and went to a travel center that was turned into a rest
stop for evacuees. Boy talk about a needed break. We needed to get out of the drivers seat for a while. Most of the busses had two drivers and a few had only one. We had two and learned latter that is what FEMA required for the trips, but some companies only sent one driver per bus. We drove straight through from Ohio to Fort Smith switching off every five hours or when we got sleepy. All DOT regulations were suspended for the emergency, no log books, no hours of service everything was suspended. We were running on agricultural fuel as they were so short of over the road fuel. The agricultural fuel is tax free and dyed red, so that the DOT can catch illegal use of non-taxed fuel. Anyway the stop was a evacuees dream come true, A tent with mostly new clothes and other items free for the taking and heater meals and water to drink and flush toilets. Speaking of toilets we did have a toilet on the bus and had to open it up. We were told by the company to keep it locked up, but on a non stop trip that was not going to happen. More on this subject, later. :O(((
We got our break and we told everyone on the bus when they heard us honk the air horn to get back to the bus or they were going to be left behind.
Everyone got back on the bus, but many got on another bus as they did not remember which bus they had been on. So off for Fort Smith again…the next two stops were for fuel as some of the busses had small tanks and did not get topped off at the staging point..We had a 210 gal tank and had topped off just before getting into the affected area as we did not know what the fuel situation was..We saw several mile-long lines at gas stations after we refueled and were happy we refueled when we did.
We got into Fort Smith at 5:30 am and were told no one off the busses….well that did not happen, our toilet was full and the evacuees had been on the bus some 20 hours and needed to stretch their legs and get something to eat. They had busses lined up what seemed like a mile on base. We could not figure out what was going on. We let the evacuees off as there
was a mess hall serving food, but they could not remove any items from the bus. Well it was 7 PM before they off loaded from our bus and the local authorities were stripping everything off the busses and going through everything and I mean everything. They took all our water and food off, so we did not have anything for any other evacuee we might be hauling, and they went through everything the evacuees had. They were looking for weapons and alcohol in particular and anything that might be considered looted items.
So expect to get searched. If it is a biological or chemical issue then expect everything you got to be trashed and then you will be issued clean items to wear and sleep in.
Anyway, we went to a hotel and spent the next day cleaning the bus up. The smell was unimaginable from the sardines and people who had not showered for a week or more and the toilet, which we dumped the next day…but we were lucky..on some of the buses people just went where they were and there were wet seats and other stuff laying around.  It looked like a party was going on with all the whiskey and wine bottles we found…
We heard that they relocated everyone from Fort Smith to smaller sites like Bible camps in the middle of nowhere and the evacuees were told they were not allowed to leave the site, but then again some of these sites were several miles from anywhere, so they had nowhere to go… The evacuees had no idea of where they were going when evacuated, some were flown to other places, some were bussed. Families were split up and they had no idea of where the rest of the family was. One story going around was that a lady wanted to know where her father was going and the guard she was talking too did not understand and she explained they put him on the plane that had just taken off, separating the family. They did not keep track of anyone and where they were going. They dealt with this issue once they got evacuees to a shelter/final destination.
We did not carry any more evacuees even though we were there for three weeks, sometimes sleeping on the busses due to lack of housing. It was very chaotic, more than what I am used to, out on disasters. I did enjoy my three weeks as my past disaster experiences prepared me for this one. The only regret was not being able to stock up on all the MREs that they had lying around. Pallets of them…I just got one or two at a time for meals…
I have been out on disasters for over ten years now and they are all chaotic at best especially the big events. They are too big to get a handle on in short order. They can take from days to weeks to get out of the chaos stage and into some kind of organization. The politics can be horrible to say the least…
If you have not been through one first hand and want to see what it is like before you are affected by such an event find a humanitarian aid organization and volunteer to go out on a or several disasters. It is a eye opening experience and very good to understand what you might be going through if an event happens in your area.
My take on the Asian Avian flu is that we will be sheltered in place which is isolation of the people infected with bird flu from the rest of us. We will have to fend for our selves in our homes or business pending on when the quarantine is issued. Hopefully you will be at home when the quarantine is issued. Figure essential personal will have to live at heir work locations to keep the power, water, sewer, phone, etc.. going. Have heard that care packages may have to be made up and delivered to residences if the quarantine is long term. Basically take a Tupperware container fill it with stuff–food water, etc.. and tell everyone to stay in their homes until it is dropped off on the porch and then after the people
delivering it leave then they can get it. Dealing with the sick and dead will be an issue, just hope you do not get sick. Mass evacuations are a last resort in a bird flu situation as it raises the risk of spreading the illness not controlling its spread. You end up in a mass shelter you will have a higher risk of getting the flu. Keeping people in their homes and restricting contact with others is the best defense. If you have any questions, I can try and answer them. Thanks, – Ron