I’ve had several responses to my request for comments on potential retreat locales in the eastern U.S. (See below.) Many Thanks, Folks!
This area occupies the most prosperous county in Nevada (this statistic is skewed by Lake Tahoe basin residents in the county), and is an agricultural valley (mostly beef ranching) generally surrounded by mountain ranges. Just south of Carson City (the state capitol, population 50,000) it offers ideal off-the-grid solar climate with ample Sierra snow melt feeding the Carson River and sustaining aquifers. The county building department is a relatively non-intrusive rubber stamp, and the public schools have significantly higher academic standards than the norm. Douglas County is among the most conservative in Nevada, with registered Republicans outnumbering Democrats two-to-one. Residents are happy with the healthy, growing economy, but are worried about the effects of growth on their way-of-life (the 2% annual growth rate is less than half that of Las Vegas.) Concentrate on small towns on or near the Carson River such as Minden, Gardnerville, and Genoa. (About one third of the county’s 42,000 residents live in these towns.) Note, however, the desirability of these towns has driven up real estate prices steeply, and acreage becomes only somewhat affordable at a significant distance from town. Adjacent counties farther from Reno and Lake Tahoe (such as the Yerington area) may offer more attractive values.
Statistics (for Minden):
Average high temperature in August: 90.9
Average low temperature in January: 16.7
Growing season: 125 days.
Average snowfall in January: 5.8”
County Median residential home price: $134,275 (and rising fast!)
County Average Annual Property tax (% of assessed value): 0.74% to 1.08%, depending on district.
Advantages: More plentiful water than elsewhere in Nevada. Sunny climate for solar heat and power. Plenty of firewood compared to most of Nevada. More agriculture than elsewhere in Nevada, especially beef ranching.
Disadvantages: Downwind from nuclear targets in California. High-priced real estate. Like Wyoming, it may be ideal only for high-income earners attracted by the lack of income tax, who can afford extra preparedness costs (and the expensive real estate.) Continental climate. Proximity to California, although the Sierra Nevada range presents a formidable, defensible boundary. (Rumor has it that 50 years ago, Nevada’s civil defense plans included defending the mountain passes against post-nuclear California refugees.)
Grid Up Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Grid Down Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Thanks to Mike, a SurvivalBlog reader in Eastern Washington, who alerted me to this article on Peak Oil:
I just heard that Global Solar flexible amorphous photovoltaic (PV) power panels (See: http://www.308systems.com/) are now available through Ready Made Resources. Amorphous PV panels are superior to he monocrystaline for many applications. Their greatest advantage is that they allow “graceful degradation.” A bullet hole through a monocrystaline panel usually means that it is history. A comparable hole through an amorphous panel (depending on how its individual cells are wired) usually means just a 5% loss in power. Be advised, however, that monocrystaline panels have an almost indefinite useful life, whereas amorphous panels lose some of their efficiency over time.
I enjoy your blog. In response to the Thursday, October 6 entry on sources of open-pollinated seed, here is an excellent source of quality seeds that have yielded very good results for me. They will send a free catalog if you e-mail them: http://www.turtletreeseed.com/
What are your thoughts regarding tritium nights sights giving away your position to someone using Gen III or better night vision? – Gung-Ho
JWR Replies: Thanks, Gungie, you raised an important point! Even first generation starlight (electronic light amplification) devices can detect the illumination of tritium sights. For someone looking at you through a starlight scope or NVGs, if you are holding a pistol in your hands that is equipped with fresh tritium sights, then it will give the same visual impression as if you had a penlight shining in your face. If holstered, this usually isn’t an issue, depending on the holster design. (This is one reason I like the versatile Bianchi UM-84 holster.When I carry a handgun as a backup to a long gun, I use the Bianchi with the full flap installed. This completely covers the rear sight. When out berry picking in bear country, I remove the flap and use just the “thumb break” retention strap.) For rifles, a tritium front sight post can be quickly shrouded to almost “zero out” its light signature–typically with a short length of black plastic house wiring insulation. I prefer this method because the front sight is still usable–albeit degraded–in a pinch.
Congratulations on your blog’s tremendous success! I will continue to pray to Yahweh for your continued blessings. I have a few questions on the weapons topic that I would appreciate your learned response on.
1.) I certainly understand your opinion on the .223 round, but for those of us that currently possess weapons chambered in .223 what type and load of .223 would you recommend? Are you familiar with the Hornady 60 gr. Spitzer cartridge?
3.) Do you recommend any soft point or hollow points for .223 or .45ACP?
4.) I am storing some rifles for barter and trade; do you suggest a silicon sock for fire prevention?
5.) What types and models of scopes do you suggest?
As always thank you for your excellent insights. B’shem Yahshua Moshiach, -Dr. Sidney Zweibel, Columbia P&S
1.) I do not generally recommend .223 hollow-points because most of them are designed with thin jackets for instant expansion. That makes them very well-suited to prairie dog hunting, but not for hunting two-legged varmints! Buy hollow points only if they have thick jackets. I have not tested the Hornady 60 grain Spitzer, so I cannot make an informed judgment about it. My recommended “group standard” load for 5.56mm is the NATO SS-109 62 grain FMJ load. However, keep in mind that it takes a tight rifling twist to properly stabilize bullets heavier than 55 grains. ( 1 turn in7″ or a 1-in-9″ twist.) Many of the early AR-15s and Mini-14s have long rifling twists (typically 1-in-12″) and hence they are only suitable for 55 grain projos.
2.) The CCI “Lawman” .45 ACP 200 grain hollow point is excellent and quite favorably priced. My buddy Fred The Valmet-meister refers to them as “the flying ashtrays ” because of their cavernous hollow points. They expand very reliably. The Winchester Silvertip and Golden Saber, and the Federal Hydrashok are also excellent .45 ACP loads. One key proviso: be sure to test fire several boxes of any potential new load to confirm both accuracy and reliable feeding. DO NOT buy in quantity until you find a load that functions smoothly, with ZERO failures to feed or failure to eject. I would much rather carry a pistol loaded with ammo with an inferior bullet design (even full metal jacket “ball“) that feeds 100% then I would with some “awesome expander” than only feeds 98% of the time. It is the 2% of rounds that jam that may get you killed!
The Hornady FMJ flat-point feeds just as well as round-nosed 230 grain ball in my M1911s.
3.) Again, I do NOT recommend .223 hollow-points. (See #1, above.) For .45 ACP, see #2, above.
4.) Silicon-treated “socks” or “sleeves” work well, assuming that a gun is properly cleaned and well-oiled. Storing guns in most other types of gun cases is sure way to induce rust. However, depending on the humidity of your climate, you may have to take more elaborate protective measures. Install a Golden Rod brand dehumidifier in each gun storage space. You will of course also want to also protect all of your guns from burglars. I recommend buying a large gun vault (or vaults), bolting them to the floor, and preferably hiding them behind false walls. That will deter all but a master criminal.
5.) I prefer tritium lit scopes. For 5.56mm semi-autos, I like the Trijicon TA-01-NSN. For .308s semi-auto MBRs, I prefer the Trijicon TA-11E with a .308 cam and either the “donut of death” or the chevron reticle. (Try each type before you buy.)
"We loved a great many things–birds and trees and books and all things beautiful and horses and rifles and children and hard work and the joy of life." —Theodore Roosevelt
I’ve had several responses to my request for comments on potential retreat locales in the eastern U.S. (See below.) Many Thanks, Folks!
This mountainous region of northern Arizona (Navajo County) http://www.co.navajo.az.us/ is becoming popular with retirees.
Statistics (for Show Low):
Average high temperature in August: 83.7.
Average low temperature in January: 22.7.
Growing season: No precise data, just “Short.”
Average snowfall in March: 17.8”.
Advantages: Well removed from the high crime rate regions of southern Arizona.
Disadvantages: Downwind from nuke targets in California.
Grid Up Retreat Potential: 3 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Grid Down Retreat Potential: 5 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Nuclear Scenario Retreat Potential: 7 (On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the best)
Cipro is an antibiotic, as such it is only useful for bacterial infections. If you developed pneumonia during the course of the flu infection Cipro might be an okay choice. From what I have read most people that die from avian flu are dying from respiratory failure far before they would get pneumonia. Recommending Tamiflu is a better choice but resistant strains to this are emerging, and this is the most common stockpiled drug so more resistance is likely to occur. Relenza is an even better option, but it is much more expensive. I would recommend that all your readers, (and you) read or re-read the pamphlet on influenza you liked to the other day I thought it was very good primer on influenza and its treatment. – A. Microbiologist
Letter Re: Ballistic Protection of Building Materials (SAs: Retreat Security, Retreat Architecture, Ballistic Protection, Ballistic Upgrades, Harder Homes and Gardens)
Jim. I have read every article in your blog since day one. I think a good topic that many readers would appreciate you discussing one day is a comparison of which caliber bullets will penetrate the various materials of which the walls of our homes/retreats may be constructed. For instance, in Florida where I live, the walls of most new construction homes are constructed of one of two types. One is vinyl siding over plywood over wood frame. The other is cement cinder blocks. What do we need to be aware of as far as bullet penetration of the walls from the outside? Also, I assume sand bags placed along the walls would help in a survival situation. If so, which caliber bullets will penetrate sand bags? Thank you so much and God bless you for the great work you are doing. – Joe.
JWR Replies: The U.S. Army has done very extensive tests on terminal ballistics. The following is the latest update to my standard “Harder Homes and Gardens” spiel that I’ve included in my consulting letters and speeches for many years: Cinder blocks only provide good ballistic penetration if they are filled with concrete. For serious ballistic protection, I recommend any of the following: traditional reinforced masonry buildings, concrete filled foam blocks–also called Insulated Concrete Forms (ICFs), Earthships (tire houses), “Earthbag” houses, Underground houses with masonry entrances, or monolithic dome homes. A log house with at least 12″ diameter logs and concrete chinking also works well, but they are far more vulnerable to fire than masonry. Any of these techniques of course should be supplemented with the steel door and window shutter upgrades described in detail in my novel Patriots. A standard metal roof works fine if your only concern is fire. However, if a house is situated in a canyon or if it is adjacent to much taller buildings where you might be vulnerable to shooters firing downward, then you must plan on either a ballistically reinforced roof (which is heavy and expensive) or build a monolithic dome spec’ed to at least 8″ thick shotcrete in the apex, tapering to at least 9″ thick in the lower portions of the dome and/or the stem wall (vertical riser wall.) Here is some useful data on ballistic protection from some U.S. Military manuals:
Dear Mr. Rawles:
Thank you for providing a fine forum for those of us who value self-reliance and preparedness.
My current professional situation requires that we live in a notoriously liberal city in the northern People’s Republic of Kalifornia. My wife and I laugh frequently at being the true minorities in our city – an independent Christian family with children where the father is a net provider of jobs. We are working actively on a relocation plan and hope for implementation within a few years.
Pennsylvania is a state which may not appear interesting when considered in the aggregate, as the statistics are skewed heavily by the major cities of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Additionally, statistical analysis might overlook some of the favorable cultural aspects of the central portions of the state. Income taxes are low, and education can be good.
Pennsylvania can be divided culturally into thirds. The Philadelphia area in the far east of the state is an urban liberal cousin of New York and Boston. In the far western portion of the state Pittsburgh is a mid-western city having more in common with Cleveland and Cincinnati than Philadelphia. The middle third of the state and the northern region might be worth examining for those with strong family ties in the northeast. It is the geography and culture of this region which makes its retreat potential interesting.
The Klintonian Democrat James Carville labeled the northern and central portions of the state ‘Alabama;’ it is not Bill & Hillary country. Others have referred to it as ‘Pennsyltucky,’ a reference to the more conservative hard-working folks who populate the farms, mountains, and small towns of the region. In the book On The Road, the beatnik poet Jack Kerouac called this area the last great eastern wilderness.
The region is comprised of low gently rolling wooded ranges of the Appalachian Mountains, somewhat similar to sections of the coast ranges of Oregon. There is plentiful surface water and springs, and dry-farming can yield quite a lot per acre in the right regions. The untilled land is rich in firewood, game, and fish in the streams. Rather than relying on the vast distances of the American west for protection from urban hordes, the region contains pockets of topography – combinations of mountains, forests, and streams – that create challenging access for non-locals and very defensible sites for the natives. Nonetheless, Pennsylvania is a large eastern state with many lightly populated rural counties well removed from major highways. Locals may rely upon game trails over the mountains rather than the small country roads around them. Bad weather, cold winters with snow are additional factors limiting access.
A large portion of the population in the central and northern portion of the state hunts and fishes. The first day of hunting season and trout season will see some schools closed and others missing quite a few children. This is a part of the world where youngsters learn early the stories of woodsman and sharpshooters who fought Hessian mercenaries and British redcoats using the advantages of marksmanship and terrain. Daniel Boone lived here and walked to Kentucky with his PENNSYLVANIA rifle, perhaps the first American sniper weapon. The folks live a self-reliant lifestyle which is steeped in outdoor survival skills. It’s a land of self-help and good neighbors, not welfare handouts and intrusive government. Growing up, our farm was part of a small group of farms contained in the bend of a small river and enclosed by the mountains of state game lands and forests. Access was via one of two small roads easily monitored. The hilly nature of the country provided numerous opportunities for tactical advantage. For now, I’ll omit naming specific counties and towns.
While the region is not favorably located for the ultimate nuclear TEOTWAWKI scenario, for us a chance to be close to loved ones and to have children learn from their grandparents as well as from us will likely outweigh this factor. Keep up the good work, we appreciate your efforts. – A Mountain Yankee Waiting to Go Home
JWR Adds: Boston T. Party’s ranking (in Boston’s Gun Bible) for Pennsylvania on firearms freedom is 61%.
I’ll take you up on your offer to sing the praises of an eastern state as a retreat. Give me Virginia any day. We have excellent gun laws–shall issue for CCW; open carry; no restrictions on private transfers; no gun registry; and no waiting periods. H*ll, we can open or concealed carry in the state capitol building! (Except that open carry is now restricted to CCW permit holders.) Last year we got rid of local pre-emption, which drove the commies in Fairfax and Arlington counties nuts.
We are a bit close to DC, so the a**hole population is the suburbs is pretty high. The Potomac River keeps the worst ones on the DC-Maryland side. Once you get beyond the burbs, it’s great.
The weather is mild both summer and winter. Lots of rivers and streams, and plenty of game. If we really get desperate there’s always West Virginia. Regards, – J.G.
I escaped South Florida (Palm Beach County) to north-central Florida (Gainesville), then escaped further where I am now living in my most probable TEOTWAWKI “BIL” (Bug In Location),” just east of the Blue Ridge Mountains, right outside Charlottesville, VIRGINIA. I have been here since December 2004. Here are my thoughts on Charlottesville, VA (Albemarle County) and the surrounding area as a place to ride out the coming chaos…
Some quick stats: The CITY of Charlottesville is about 11 square miles with 40,000 residents, and it resides in the COUNTY of Albemarle, which is 110 miles from Washington, DC, 70 miles from Richmond and claims about 89,000 residents. The average ANNUAL temperature is 57 degrees with the summer averaging in the low 80’s and the winter dipping to 37 degrees with usually mild snow falls. Charlottesville was named by Frommers (I think) as the BEST PLACE TO LIVE a few years back and has been listed in the Top 100 by Money Magazine 4 years in a row.
Charlottesville, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, is a college town, which means it tilts to the LEFT politically, unlike the country-oriented Conservative RIGHT farmers and residents that surround the city, so it has many tree huggers and peace activists, but this also brings in some very good “survivalist” benefits, that being ORGANIC farming, non-Hybrid farming, Homesteading, homeopathic sciences and many avenues to good, wholesome FOODS. Albemarle county also has a large BEEF CATTLE industry, as well as FARMING. Excellent Vineyards, Apple & Peach Orchards and Berry Farms are scattered all over the county as the soil is well suited for GROWING. This is probably why men like Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, as well as James Madison a county over, call this area of Virginia HOME.
There is ONE major highway through Charlottesville running east/west which is I-64. I-29 going north/south is not as major but it leads to Washington, DC, which would be an exodus route if TSHTF. Most refugees would probably hole up in the NORTH SIDE of Charlottesville, where most of the businesses and residents are, rather than the SOUTH SIDE where I live, a much more rural area. Route 20 is a twisting 2-lane north/south highway that would also be used by refugees, but could be contained or diverted with use of a good backhoe or tractor. Fortunately, the massively used I-81 north/south highway runs on the WEST side of the Blue Ridge Mountains through the Shenandoah Valley, so the massive exodus on that highway will have minimal effect here as the herd will not want to head east over the mountains, but rather further south.
SURVIVAL QUOTENT / NUCLEAR: Charlottesville is tucked in valleys and hills that stretch out from the Blue Ridge to the west and gradually decline as you move east towards Richmond, most of them SOLID GRANITE. These mountains and hills offer excellent protection from any NUCLEAR BLAST effects that may hit Washington, DC, Richmond, Norfolk and a few possible target locations in West Virginia. Fallout would still be a concern but the effects of the blasts would be SURVIVABLE without too much effort. There are also many CAVERNS in this area that could be utilized if one does not have sufficient protection to ride out FALLOUT at their home or retreat. This area has little TERRORIST or Nation State target potential, although its close proximity to Washington, DC could pose some problems and concerns, but not excessively so if one is wise and prepared.
SURVIVAL QUOTENT / FOOD: Charlottesville and the surrounding counties are well suited for SURVIVAL if something ever sent our country into a tailspin. There is a STRONG unity among local farmers and Co-Ops are strong. There are also many organic/non-hybrid farmers as well. Fruits and vegetables are plentiful in their seasons. There are BEEF CATTLE ranches all over this area, as well as other livestock. WATER is PLENTIFUL with good quality streams and rivers all over this area. Well water quality, although slightly high in Iron, is excellent, especially compared to the swamp water of South Florida. The water table level at my home is 34 feet and my pump goes down 120 feet, and I use a pH Neutralizer and Green Sand filter to further refine it, to give as an example.
Wildlife is also abundant, especially where I live, only 8 miles outside of Charlottesville. Turkeys and deer abound! Small critters are also plentiful.
SURVIVAL QUOTENT / PEOPLE: As stated earlier, Charlottesville has a lot of LEFTIES but the surrounding counties are good, RIGHT-minded country folk, many running farms, vineyards and orchards that have been in the family for hundreds of years. A CAN-DO, GET BY attitude is strong and everyone I have met outside the city are good people that one would love to have as neighbors. There is a VERY LOW RIOT/LOOTING potential once you get outside the city, but there are only SMALL pockets of problem areas with the city itself that could be contained with some determination by Law Enforcement. GANG problems are minimal, mainly wanna-be “gangstas”.
I think that gives you a fair idea of what this area of Virginia has to offer the survivalist minded. One day I may get to Idaho, but till then, the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia is where I will try to survive…
You may also enjoy my web site, What Would Yahshua Do? It is at www.wwyd.org It is about discovering the HEBRAIC aspects of our Messiah Yahshua, often called Jesus, as well as discovering the IMPORTANCE of KNOWING and USING the FATHER’s NAME, Yahweh. Scripture speaks of a GREATER EXODUS coming, the SECOND EXODUS, where Believer’s in the Messiah will be led out of the coming judgment into safety (not a rapture.) Check it out!
Baruch HaShem Yahweh, – Robert
JWR Adds: Boston T. Party’s ranking (in Boston’s Gun Bible) for Virginia on firearms freedom is 61%.
Dear Mr. Rawles,
Thank you for this website—it’s more concise and relevant than most of the survival web sites I’ve come across. As far as your call for Eastern US survival information, something one should bear in mind is that the pro/cons here are almost completely different than in the west. High Sheeple and business numbers mean more assets to scavenge—not smash and grab looting, per se, but ten years into a TEOTWAWKI scenario, machine equipment & warehoused goods will be sitting idle with dead & gone owners. More doctors and engineers and technically qualified people are likely to be around urban areas based on probability alone, in all but the worst nuclear/bio warfare annihilation scenarios. The criminals associated with the larger cities are by and large less intelligent members of society and likely will not survive cold winters, disease and starvation.
With a city lot and good gardening skills, it is more than possible to feed a family.(ask the Russian families who survived the end of the cold war on garden plots of about 1000 square feet.) Planting potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, lambsquarters, and any other inconspicuous plants can keep random stragglers from stealing your food. And Mother Earth News style organic gardening can boost yields well beyond row cropping methods.
In urban/suburban areas, bugout is much less of an option, but is unnecessary if you can prepare a safe/panic room, or 1950’s style fallout shelter, or even a strong hole that you can shoot from. Be neighborly, so that when times are tough, you and those around you can look out for each other. Unfortunately in today’s cities, that trait isn’t the most common. Cultivate it. Get a good map of your neighborhood, and just as suggested for rural areas, know who owns what.
Also consider instead of stockpiling bullets, booze, and bandaids: building a distillation setup and knowing how to use it, making sterile dressings from pressure cooked rags, reloading used brass…and perhaps even learning the necessary casting/moldmaking of brass ammunition and the chemical preparation of primers… Ever wonder what will happen to our grandchildren once all ten thousand rounds we have stored has been fired and reloaded half a dozen times?
If you absolutely must leave the confines of the ‘burbs, there are wilderness areas throughout the east coast. Within 100 miles of the dreaded New York would be either the Catskill Mountains, or the NJ Pine Barrens, home of Tom Brown’s Tracker School,(www.trackerschool.com) reputed to be one of the finest primitive skills survival courses around. But even directly on the outskirts of NYC there are thousands of acres of marshlands that are wade-able and extremely wildlife rich, e.g. Jamaica Bay and the NJ Meadowlands. At least for those intrepid enough to hop the concrete divider and leave the asphalt behind. And there’s plentiful freshwater, leaving NYC a lot better off than LA or other crowded western cities, IMHO. With a sea kayak and bugout bag the whole east coast is wide open.
The Carolinas and Virginia have what I believe the most wonderful gardening/farming climate on our planet, along with nearby wilderness and mountain areas, nearby military bases(a plus in certain scenarios) and a large Christian conservative population. But the old saying “Location, Location, Location” is not as important as the survival attitude, anywhere.
For those out there who are trying to survive in the suburbs on a limited budget–I’ve intuitively agreed with the survivalist mindset since I read my first copy of American Survival Guide at eleven, but at 28 I’ve grown out of a doom-and-gloom mindset into a more optimistic view that any coming SHTF may be a golden opportunity for all those who are careful and smart enough to make it through. I cannot reiterate enough how very wealthy you will be when SHTF and all the SUV driving McMansion dwellers run out of food. Have faith that ten dollars a week extra in canned goods and that garden of root crops is worth far more than big screen TVs and other consumer cr*p that the large corporations want you to buy. Sincerely, – Al in Durham, NC
JWR Replies: The statistical chances of surviving are slim when hunkering down in a full scale TEOTWAWKI long enough to ride out a major die-off on the east coast. Under those circumstances you will need a VERY secure retreat, at least a two year food and fuel supply, and either spring water or a shallow well. From an actuarial standpoint, it is far better to avoid high risk areas. (Areas with high population density/hig systems dependency, or anywhere that is within 250 miles–one tank of gas–of such an area.) That doesn’t leave much that is anywhere east of the Mississippi River!) I’ve said it several times but it bears repeating: I strongly recommend that if they have the means to do so, that folks move to a lightly agricultural populated region in the west, such as the ones that I have been profiling in recent weeks. But for those of you that plan to “stick it out” in the east, may God Bless You! Stock up in ample supply (the “deep larder” concept) and pray hard.
"Nine requisites for contented living: Health enough to make work a pleasure. Wealth enough to support your needs. Strength to battle with difficulties and overcome them. Grace enough to confess your sins and forsake them. Patience enough to toil until some good is accomplished. Charity enough to see some good in your neighbor. Love enough to move you to be useful and helpful to others. Faith enough to make real the things of God. Hope enough to remove all anxious fears concerning the future."
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)