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

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

Letter Re: Rifle Recommendations for Canada

Hello Jim,
I just wanted to clarify a few points on C-68 and current Canadian gun control laws. There is a 5 round limit on box magazines for semi-automatic, centrefire long guns. There is also a 10-rd limit on magazines for handguns. No grandfathering for magazines or individuals. So that’s why the Lee-Enfield magazines are unaffected. The only exception to the rifle magazine capacity limit is for the M1 Garand. As well, I believe the wording of the law, or at least legal precedent, has it that the magazines only have to be neutered in such a way that it can not readily be reverted to it’s original capacity by hand. – L.K.,  Ontario, Canada

Note From JWR:

If you know any soldiers that are deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia, or The Philippines, please let them know about SurvivalBlog. In coming weeks, we will be covering a wide range of topics that will be of interest to them including body armor, IEDs, counter-sniper shooting, MOUT, and night vision equipment.

Today we feature another great entry in Round 3 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The writer of the best contest entry will win a four day course certificate at Front Sight. (An up to $2,000 value!)  The deadline for entries for Round 3 is the last day of March, 2006. We’ve already had plenty of motivational pieces submitted.  Please keep your contest entries focused on practical skills.

The “Field Kit” Approach for Organization, Preparedness, and Survival, by Christian Souljer

When trouble comes and you are required to re-locate, there may not be time to try to find, organize and then pack your emergency gear. Just the stress of an emergency situation alone can keep you from thinking clearly enough to gather and pack all you might need. Getting your gear ready in advance can minimize this problem. Over the years I have developed a system in which I assemble “Field Kits” for my outdoor and emergency equipment and supplies. This allows me to keep my stuff organized and ready for future use. I assemble the kits with items needed and then I inventory the contents and I keep a copy on file as well as a copy in the kit. That way I know what I have in there two years down the road and I also know if any of the contents have a shelf life – they have been dated and a periodic inspection of the list allows you to know if an item (such as Aspirin) should be replaced or not. In the following paragraphs I will share my experience with building and using these kits including the number of years that I have employed each different kit.

I have assembled and used the following special purpose kits as described in the following paragraphs:

Bug Out Bag (BOB): I won’t write much detail about this type of kit because most of you know about these. (If not, do a Google search to get good contents lists etc., ) I use mostly backpacks for this purpose rather than a shoulder bag because I know if I have to carry the kit very far – a backpack is going to be much less fatiguing on my body than carrying the weight in my hands or on one shoulder or the other. I have a BOB backpack for everyone in my household, plus a few smaller spares. One thing I would recommend here though is to have an essentials kit within the larger full kit. For an example, a small pack inside the main compartment or attached to the outside of the large pack. (JWR recommends this.) In my main Emergency Backpack – I have a small but rigid Italian military pack that can be slid right out the top in the case that I am injured and can’t carry the large pack or if I am escaping some danger but have to move fast uphill – I can pull the little pack out and go. The little pack has all the essentials: plastic tarp, fire starters, water, a little food, flashlight, rope, compass, knife and so on. (I made my first “survival kit” as a Boy Scout in the 1970s, but this mentioned pack has been in place since 1993. I have field tested the overall pack.)

Rifle Kit: The rifle kit is a kit made specifically for a certain rifle. It can contain 6-to-12 spare magazines, spare parts, and cleaning kit, gun oil and lubes, and perhaps 140 to 300 rounds of ammunition that that rifle is sighted in for. These are usually made from the common “mini-range bags” that have 6 magazine pouch pockets on the outer sides, and has both handles and a heavy shoulder strap. They can be purchased for as little as $7.95. I buy the black or O.D. green colored bags. (Used these since 1998) [JWR Adds: For these kits (rifle of shotgun  accessories) I recommend that you use duffle bag that is big enough to accommodate a full set of web gear–complete with belt, suspenders or vest (LC-1, MOLLE, or perhaps set of the nice Tactical Tailor type suspenders if you have a big budget), magazine pouches, and and canteen for each long gun. IMHO no long gun is truly tactically functional unless you have a proper set of web gear–full of magazines–to go with it.]

Pistol Kit: The pistol kit is similar to the rifle kit – being made specifically for a certain pistol. It can contain 6-to-10 spare magazines, spare parts, and cleaning kit, and perhaps 100 to 300 rounds of ammunition that is known to work well in that pistol. These are made up from the same common 6 magazine pouch “mini-range bags” that have both handles and a heavy shoulder strap. (Used since 1998)

Rifle Range Kits: When heading to the rifle range, I take two kits I have prepared for that purpose. One is a toolbox, which holds most of my gun cleaning supplies and a few tools for adjusting sights, and for small repairs at the range. The second Range Kit is a shoulder bag, which holds all my paper targets, a stapler, and spare staples for mounting targets. It also holds my foam earplugs and my hearing protector headsets, range notepad/log, pens, and so on. Add your rifle, ammo and some lunch and you are ready for a day at the range. (Used since 1990)

Auto Kits: For my vehicles, I maintain multiple kits: (1) Emergency Road Kit in medium large Tupperware tub – jumper cables, flares, mechanics suit, space blanket, flashlight, etc. (2) In another medium large Tupperware tub is my Spare Parts and Repair Kit including hoses, belts, bulbs, fuses, radiator sealant, tire repair plug kit with spark plug adapter hose to fill tires, distributor cap and rotor. And for my 4WD I might include a spare water pump, alternator, starter and fuel pump. (3) A full tool set in a heavy-duty box. (4) Field Tool Kit – in my 1/2 ton 4-wheel drive Suburban I have made an additional long wood box (approximately 70” long, x 8” wide, x 17” high), which has small wheels on one end and a heavy duty cargo handle on the other end. It is tall but narrow and can hold all my field tools which include my high-lift jack, 1 or 2 come-alongs, 2 shovels, an ax, a hatchet, backpacking snow shovel, crowbar, tow strap, and large and small bow saws with extra blades. The top is held on with a window type latch on both hands and once the handle end is released the lid comes right off. You can pull a shovel from out the top or roll the box to the edge of the tailgate and set it on the ground. The wheels allow for you to roll the box all the way to the end of the tailgate before lifting out and you can also roll it across smooth ground for a short distance. This box is stained wood and coated with a sealer to minimize weather effects. (5) The Tire Chains Kit can be kept in a separate kit – a wooden box, plastic crate or in heavy canvas bags. Keep your chain tension devices in with the chains as well. (Parts of this kit used since 1992, but the wooden field box was built and employed in fall of 2005)

Chain Saw Kits: My chainsaw kit is two parts, the first being a chainsaw case with my saw, chain oil, 2-stroke oil, and funnel, spare spark plugs and tools. The second part is another Tupperware tub with pre-mixed fuel can, extra 2-stroke oil, and a large container of chain oil, heavy gloves and hearing protectors. I have not purchased extra chains or bars yet but they are on my purchase list and will be added to one of these two kits in the near future. (Used since 2004) [JWR Adds: I also strongly recommend buying a pair of Kevlar chainsaw safety chaps.]

Financial and Personal Papers Kit: This kit is composed of a medium-small fanny pack, which includes identification, passport, contact information (phone lists, account information), and some pre-1965 90% silver coins for emergency purchases or bartering. Also tucked into this little fanny pack are a “P-38” [key ring type] can opener, a small lightweight Gerber pocketknife, butane lighter and a small flashlight. For those that are so inclined, you can add other items such as precious metals, cash, a small pistol or whatever else will fit and you are willing to legally carry. (Used since 1998)

First Aid Kits: My first aid kits are in many sizes. I have the mini-kits in all the backpacks, and then I have some Auto Size kits in the vehicles, then a field medic’s medium, shoulder carry kit for field use. Then, the mega-kit that has all the extra supplies, field medical books and extra medicines in it. This is a large gym bag sized bag which is red in color. I also have a yellow and purple (magenta) bag of the same size, which holds my chemical masks, extra filters, potassium iodide, gloves, shoe covers, and wipes, etc. for chemical or nuclear emergencies. (I’ve had these kits in place since 1999)

Winter Survival Kit: This kit is added to the vehicles that I am driving during the winter and it is a “per-person” type kit. I include insulated over-pants (or insulated coveralls) with leg zippers, incase you have to do some work outside or walk in the cold weather beyond what you would be comfortable without long johns. A sleeping bag, a heavy wool blanket, a stocking cap, heavy work gloves with liners, a lofty poly-pro pullover, and a heavy coat or parka. Along with the extra clothing here, a sleeping pad, tarp or tent, and some field foods (two MREs, a can or two of mixed nuts, a few power bars, some chocolate bars, a large bottle of Gatorade and a gallon of water) are added to this kit. (Used since 1998)

Communications /Electronics (GPS) kit: This kit is composed of the small size (.30 caliber) ammo cans which are used singularly by themselves or if two cans are used they can be tucked inside a heavy outdoor carry bag with shoulder strap. Inside the ammo cans I keep my FRS radios, a portable CB radio, headsets, operating manuals and fresh extra batteries. I also keep my GPS and 12 VDC auto adapter in the cans when not in use. This kit is carried in my vehicle on camping and hunting expeditions or other field trips. In addition, in the very large size ammo cans (measures approximately 15” x 10” x 25”), I have my spare CB radios, and other electronic equipment [to provide them protection from EMP. The large cans I keep in the garage and they are grounded to an outdoor water pipe since they are stationary. (Used since 1999)

Fire Starting Kit: This kit can be as simple as a small cardboard box, which has enough dry tinder in a heavy duty zip-lock bag to start a fire in bad /wet weather. Included here should be some homemade or commercial fire starters, candles, safety-flares, etc, (I will save the details for another article). I keep my fire starting kit with my camping stuff and pack it in with my gear for the late fall hunting trips. (Used since 1986)

Camp Kitchen Kit: The Camp Kitchen Kit is a ready to go complete kitchen other than the food and it’s all packed into one box. It has stainless eating utensils (silverware) for 10 people. Over several years I found a number of stainless steel pots of slightly different sizes that will all fit together into one stack in my plastic kitchen box with folding lids. I also have a plastic pitcher, which I fill with the silverware, plastic re-usable plates, cups and bowls. I have a small grill to place over rocks, a coffee pot, several large serving spoons, spatulas, and kitchen knives. I have a roll of heavy duty aluminum foil, plastic wrap, half gallon baggies, and a whole box of strike anywhere matches, a long neck lighter, bar soap, a small bottle of dish soap, wash cloth, hand towel, and steel wool and copper scrub pads. Salt, pepper and other spices are included along with paper towels, coffee filters and about 60 paper plates. All of this fits nicely into my heavy-duty plastic kitchen box. (Used since 1988) I have a second box, which goes on some excursions – this kit has a large Dutch oven with lid, a lid lifting handle, a cast iron skillet and a manual coffee grinder. I keep at least two bags of charcoal (and some lighter fluid) on hand for the Dutch oven. (Used since 2003)

Notes on Kitchen Kits: Medium to large metal cups can be used for coffee, soup or whatever and can be kept warm by placing them on the campfire rocks or on the edge of your cook stove. It’s nice to keep your food and drink hot in cold weather! Some real decent outdoor cookware such as stainless pots and pans, utensils etc, can be purchased for very little money at a thrift store. I once had to buy some of these items when I went on an “emergency field trip” and realized in the rush that I had not gotten any cookware packed. I stopped in a small town and picked up all I needed for less than $3.00. Most of that stuff is now in one of two permanent kits.

Field Food Kit: It is a good thing to always have some fresh camping type foods ready in a box for a quick field trip. This can be the usual soup, chili, canned meats, rice, beans, noodles, MREs, and freeze dried food. Add to this power bars, Gatorade, and whatever else you prefer for quick field meals. (Used since 2003)

Stove and Lantern Kits: I purchased a propane adapter for my Coleman fuel stove and I keep both the adapter and the fuel tank with the stove to burn whichever is available. I can fit at least one propane bottle inside the stove when it is stored. I also keep spare mantles, and generators inside my Coleman stove and lantern boxes along with good quality strike any ware matches. And I store my stove and lanterns with fresh fuel in them so that they are ready to go right out of the box. That way when I arrive at camp in the dark, I can produce some light, or cook some food without having to refill first. I have not had any leakage problems in the 10+ years I have used this practice. Also, I never store (put away after a trip) a lantern with bad mantles, but rather put new replacements on if they need it before storage, but I don’t burn them in until I get into the field. (Used since 1995)

Fishing Kit: Mainly for organization – I keep most of my fishing gear in one large rubberized bag which is camo’d and is designed for holding duck and geese decoys. It has the usual handles and H.D. shoulder strap. I keep my fishing tackle boxes, gill nets, folding fishing rod/reel, and all my spare fishing gear in the bag except for the full size rods. The fishing rods are kept in an overhead rod holder (nice and out of the way). Of course I have some mini fishing kits/nets in my survival kits. (Used since 2004)

Hunting Kit: My Hunting Kit consists of a camouflage bag which holds hunting maps, game regulations, game calls, safety equipment like orange vests/hats, game bags, animal scale, game scents, and other things needed for hunting that are not included in the other kits. (Used since 1987)

Shelter /Camp Kits:
In a GI duffle bag with shoulder straps I keep a full size camping tent, all of its poles and stakes, and some rope. I have a dedicated “ground cloth” tarp, which I keep with this duffle bag. In a second very large bag I keep most of my folded tarps of various sizes. I also keep most of my remaining rope in this big bag in two different large zip lock bags. In addition, I have a camp “outhouse kit” which is a regular home toilet seat mounted on an aluminum folding camp chair frame, along with a large tarp setup and more rope. (Used since 1996)

Personal Gear Kit: My Personal Gear Kit is a medium small bag sized to fit on the front seat of my Chevy Suburban. In it I keep the stuff that I want handy there and also things I might put into my pockets when walking into the woods but stuff I don’t want to carry on my person through the evening once back in camp. Things like a GPS, FRS radio, Binoculars, Range finder, gloves, sunglasses and other personal gear that you probably won’t need in camp. This bag keeps my front seat more organized during road trips too. (Used since 2004)

Packing and Storing Your Kits: Remember to inventory your kits as you make them. Keep duplicate contents lists on file, and label your kits well. In addition to my personal color-coding systems, I attach tags or in many cases I just make a label from 1-inch masking tape describing the type of kit and attach it to the box or to the shoulder strap of the kit. I affix the labels to either the end or side of the box, and also on the top of the box so that no matter how it is stored on a shelf – I can see one or both labels and I know what kit that is. If I am not sure what is in the kit – I just have to check the inventory sheet to verify the contents.
As JWR and others have mentioned – it is an excellent exercise to try packing your emergency equipment into your escape vehicle. This will help you learn two things, first – how to pack it most efficiently and second to know how much your vehicle(s), trailer, or whatever you are planning to use will carry. [JWR Adds: It is crucial that you pre-position the majority of your gear at your intended retreat, since you may only have one trip outta Dodge!] For packing your gear into your vehicles, it is good to find containers (boxes, bags) that will pack well together. For the larger kits, I usually use stackable boxes that together are a little shorter than the height of my SUV. Then I pack the smaller and softer gear around them.

Conclusion: Once you have made your kits, test them in the field. Make sure they work, and that they have what you need, but not a bunch of stuff you will never use. Having your equipment “kitted up” and ready to go will help you to be ready when the big event hits. Whether it is a tsunami, an earthquake, an economic collapse or a full scale invasion by foreign troops – you’ll be ready, and this preparation will give you some peace of mind knowing that you are much more ready that the average Joe. Once your done, help a neighbor and a friend build a kit. Be Prepared, – Christian Souljer, Pacific Northwest

JWR Adds: I greatly appreciate you sharing your experience and insights.  It goes without saying that it is important to rotate the perishable items in your various kits regularly. In particular: food items, batteries, some first aid supplies, and chemical light sticks.

Letter Re: Predicting the Timing for an Economic Crash?

Hi Jim!
All things considered, what is your best “guestimate” on when this economy will crash or the SHTF ? – M. in Montana

JWR Replies: Sorry, but I don’t have a crystal ball. All that I know is that with the massive debt accumulations (both Federal and consumer debt), the real estate bubble, and the burgeoning trade deficit, the U.S. economy is highly unstable. Other factors like international terrorism and the Asian Avian flu are totally unpredictable variables. The bottom line: Just be prepared, and be prepared soon.

Odds ‘n Sods

The USGS the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is an excellent resource when you are looking for specific areas on a map: http://geonames.usgs.gov/ You will want the underlined part–click on it: United States and territories. Enter the name of the place you want and the state (or any other information you have). It will give you several choices.

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Safecastle (one of our advertisers) is running a special on Mountain House #10 (1 gallon) cans of freeze dried foods at their on-line store–48 cans for $789 and free shipping. That’s a good deal, but for SurvivalBlog readers, if they email Vic, he will reply with an additional discount on top of the sale price.(For SurvivalBlog readers, only.) See: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=8771416861 Vic’s email: jcrefuge@safecastle.net (Include :SurvivalBlog in the e-mail title.)

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The American Conservative magazine ran a thought-provoking article titled “War of the Worlds“, available on its website. (See: http://www.amconmag.com/2006/2006_02_27/article3.html)

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Doc (at www.bigsecrets.cc) contends that the best ballistic barrier that can be improvised on a low budget is a lamination of 1/8″ steel plate, 1/4″ plywood, and 1/8″ steel plate. In other words, cover both sides of plywood with steel plate. It won’t stop .50 caliber rounds or RPGs, but most shoulder fired weapons can be stopped with this barrier.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“There’s a fine line between eccentrics and geniuses.
If you’re a little ahead of your time, you’re an eccentric,
and if you’re a little to late, you’re a failure,
but if you hit it right on the head, you’re a genius.
So I have never worried much about eccentricity.”  – Tom Watson, Jr., IBM

The H5N1 Threat: Time to Get Serious About Food Storage

It appears that a mutation of the H5N1 Asian Avian influenza virus into a form that is easily transmissible between humans is now “likely within the next 36 months.” Read: “possibly better than a 50/50 chance.” From an actuarial accounting standpoint, this should be considered a call for action. Quit dawdling. If you do not yet have an honest two year food supply set aside for your family, do so soon. If you wait until after a mutation occurs, it will be too late–all of the storage food vendors will sell out immediately, and then they will start to build an order backlog that will stretch into months, and then years. I’m not kidding. Some storage food vendors that I can vouch for include:

Freeze Dry Guy
JRH Enterprises
Ready Made Resources
Survival Enterprises
Safe Solutions
Walton Seed
Live Oak Farms
AlpineAire Foods
Best Prices Inc. Storable Foods of Texas

(Yes, the first six of those are SurvivalBlog advertisers, so I guess that makes me biased. But at least I know that they are trustworthy and sell top quality products.)

David in Israel on “Relocation” Camps — Guest or Inmate?

If you are relocated: Depending on the circumstances of a relocation it may be salvation from danger (large disaster) or because you are considered a threat (a la the Japanese Americans during WWII) In any case, a government camp can be one of the most undesirable places to be once you are out of danger. Once you are their “guest”, the organization who has sheltered you may feel they must continue for political or security reasons to see to your well being. Ease of providing security, lack of ID, or fear of rioting may be excuses for denying or making difficult the conclusion of your stay. Separation of men and women may be mandated, especially after the rape problems at the Hurricane Katrina stadium relocation “camps”.
The U.S. Forest Service fire camp is essentially the same model used for most FEMA operations (look up “FEMA ICS”– Incident Command System), there is a whole industry which starts in spring through late fall following the fire season. Federal and state prisons employ trustee fire crews right alongside regular crews on large fires. Prison infrastructure and security is present at most large fire camps.
In the event of a large national emergency in your area, be prepared for forced evacuations. Have a plan in case you are caught in a relocation and are unable to make your way (or are prevented) on your own. An assessment must be made whether you are a prisoner or a guest but even guests of an operation like this are treated like to some extent as prisoners to reduce manpower requirements.
Cyclone (chan link) fences are made to keep you in, out, or prevent your crossing. In any of these circumstances a proper heavy duty wire cutter is needed to make your escape. Cutting through private or farm fences is a bad thing to do (use good judgment) but if you are trapped (detention camp) then this tool may be a life saver. Be sure that the jaws are of proper temper so they do not blunt or fall apart.[JWR Adds: A heavy duty “compound” design wire cutter is probably your best bet.] A smaller cutter may be a good item to hide in addition to the big cutter.
Concertina or razor-type wire may be employed to prevent foot crossing or even just block a road. Stacked concertina wire [typically deployed stacked, with two “tubes”, parallel, with a third tube resting on top of the base pair, forming an obstacle that looks triangular when seen in cross-section] is almost impossible to cross bare-handed. However, scrap carpet, sleeping bags, canvas tents, tarps, et cetera can be used to reduce injury on large group crossings.
When I lived in the U.S., most sniffer dogs were for drugs and this is likely still the case. Expect to be sniffed at some point. Expect to be questioned, if you are dealing with prison guards they are more looking for nervousness or hesitation at answering than what you are really up to also do not fail the attitude test and get aggressive unless you want to be
considered a risk. Be a “Gray man.” Don’t complain or ask for favors be the easy one to forget then you won’t be missed. Expect only a cursory search if large numbers are being taken in, having your own gear makes it easier to keep escape tools likely the back or kidney padding will not be searched on a backpack.
The U.S. government has huge stockpiles of large tents, sleeping bags, ground pads, heaters, and other supplies ready to be shipped in and form these camps.
Private contract companies for fire and security and site services are ready and trained to make these FEMA camps go up quickly in response to an emergency. Command, Finance, Logistics, Operations, and Planning personnel are pre-trained and certified to come together without ever having met and set up a huge working camp and tackle an assignment. It would be interesting to hear from a SurvivalBlog reader that has worked as (or for) a security contractor or warden about fire/recovery type operations using inmate labor, and how security is handled. [As a firefighter, my role in forming these camps was always on the “ops” end attacking fires so the other roles were only observed or in command simulations

It is important to remember as always most workers in a camp like this (if not all) think they are doing the best for both you and the public at large. Even if you hold by the “UN is evil” theory (I do) understand that the troops in the field are specially trained and motivated (brainwashed) by upper command. I have seen it in Israeli police and IDF soldiers during the ejection of Jews from Gush Katif. Use subtle resistance tactics, not violence.

Letter Re: Polarwrap Cold Weather Insulating Face Masks

Good Morning Jim,
My wife recently bought me a “Polarwrap” cold-weather mask. When I first got it, I tried it on and promptly tossed it on the top shelf of my closet. “No way I’ll ever wear that thing!” I thought to myself.

Well, yesterday morning, with the mercury hovering near 30 below, and chores to do, guess what? I went to the closet, found my mask, put ‘er on and went outside to work.

It’s darn nice to find a product that works… and this baby works! As one exhales, the warmth and moisture of the outgoing air heats up the innards of the Polarwrap and the frigid incoming air is warmed up nicely.

At $50, one of the best gifts my wife ever gave me. I intend to buy an extra and keep it with my emergency gear.

(Congrats on the lifestyle change… I’m part of the 10 Cent Challenge now!) – Dutch in Wyoming

Odds ‘n Sods:

Recombinomics has issued a new prediction and warning of a likely alteration in the avian influenza H5N1 hemagglutinin gene. Like the warning/prediction issued in October, 2005, this new alteration will increase the affinity of the virus for human receptors and lead to more efficient transmission of H5N1 to humans. For the full text of the press release see: http://www.prnewswire.com/cgi-bin/stories.pl?ACCT=104&STORY=/www/story/02-17-2006/0004284283&EDATE=

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“Doc” at  www.bigsecrets.cc recommends this site on ethanol: http://www.standardalcohol.com/FFV.htm

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Ready for an ice storm? See some amazing pictures of this one from last year, in Geneva, Switzerland: http://www.markdaviesmedia.com/cold

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SurvivalBlog reader P.L. recommends a web site dedicated to helping Americans emigrate: http://www.bidstrup.com/expat-assets.htm as well as this site with information on Pacific Islands: http://www.southpacific.org. Based on my recent research for a consulting client, the island nations of The Cook Islands, Niue, and Tonga seem to offer the most freedom in the Oceania region. (Any nation, such as these, that is chided by the UN for having “too lax” gun control laws sounds pretty good to me!)

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Of all serious crimes under the law, smuggling…  least violates the consciences of men. It is a crime against law and against government, but not against morality. The smuggler robs no man. He buys goods honestly in one market and sells them honestly in another. His offense is against an arbitrary regulation of government…. he simply fails to pay its demands.Many men otherwise honest are unable to see any moral turpitude in smuggling. …government, in exacting toll, plays the part of the highwayman." –  The Oregonian, Jan. 21, 1886

Hardening Up Your Retreat by Robert Henry

In previous articles, I talked about what exactly is needed to stop different types of projectiles to include lists of materials and the thicknesses needed to achieve the desired protection. Here, I’m going to talk about some specific items you should give consideration to protecting at your retreat.
Yep, your gonna need a lot of sandbags. No way around that. Some things we can get creative with, some we cannot.
Let’s start close to home. If your house is not of the construction that will stop bullets, and you intend to live at that house after TSHTF, then we have some work to do.
At a minimum, I would sandbag to the height of the windowsill of each window for all windows that you could shoot out of. Furthermore, I would sandbag the width of the window plus 1 or 2 sandbags wide and an additional 4 or 5 higher than the sill (on the sides you widened. If you windows are lower, you’ll be squatting or kneeling if you have to shoot out of them anyway. If time and the situation permits, and they haven’t already been shot out, you should attempt to open the window before shooting out of it. Remember though, you don’t want to stick your weapon THROUGH the window. Actually, keeping a good distance BACK from the window would be helpful in many ways–it will lessen the flash and smoke seen from your shot, the shadow should help conceal you, you will be less “framed” than standing directly in the window, and the angles will work to your advantage as far as being able to see more from further back.
Let me explain that angles thing a bit. Think about when your driving down the highway. A big rig is going slow in front of you and you want to pass. You get right on his tail and try to look around to see if it’s clear to pass- you can’t see much can you? So you drop back 20 or 30 yards, nudge over just a bit and you can see clearly. It’s the same way working with angles in houses. This is also great for clearing rooms also, but that’s another article.
If you have the will and inclination, and your floor can handle the weight, you might opt to build a 3 or 4 bag high wall around on the INSIDE of the house. Why the inside? Surprise. If you stack 3 or 4 sandbags high on the outside of the house, this will just encourage someone to shoot higher and to expect return fire from you. If it’s INSIDE the house, no one will know from outside.
Can your floor handle it? On a “slab at grade” style house, most definitely. On a house with a basement, you’d have to check. What your looking for is the size of the floor joists, how far apart they are, and is their any bridging (little brace looking thingees between the joists). With this info, you can go to the local library or Lowe’s and check a book on carpentry. Any decent carpentry book with have tables with allowable floor joist sizes and “live” and “dead” loads for each. You need to know this ahead of time if you intend to sandbag later. You can always reinforce the joists if you know ahead of time.
What other things around your retreat should you plan to “harden?”
How about any above ground fuel storage. Namely liquid propane (LP) gas tanks. When you get one, have them install it a good stand off distance from your structure for this reason. Yes, it will cost you some extra money in the distance of the line, but it’s better than blowing up your house isn’t it? You could sandbag your fuel tanks or if they are a permanent fixture, you could also pour a rectangle footing around the outside of it, and build block walls around it. Be sure to use rebar and fill EVERY cell with grout mix. Be sure the block wall goes higher than the top of the tank. You could make this decorative with a tin roof.
Any building housing critical infrastructure should be hardened. A small shed containing a well pump should be hardened for ballistic protection as well as EMP protection as well. The same goes for your generator building.
Any exposed hose bib that could be used for fighting fires should be protected as well.
All observation posts (OPs) and trenches should be hardened either by the use of sandbags, packed earth or permanent construction with concrete and rebar.
Communications and medical buildings should be protected at least to the level of a four high sandbag retaining wall.
Any critical equipment such as well pumps, generators, radios, should be double sandbagged if possible.
If you have the idea that your retreat is going to look like a firebase after TSHTF, then you are on the right track.

Letter Re: Priority of Training?

I noted your recent reply to someone regarding medical training and thought I’d drop you an email.  For a point of reference I’ll first state that I’m a paramedic by trade.  Knowing all people won’t be able to take advantage of the class you reference I would suggest if people are interested in learning basic CPR and first aid courses I would highly recommend they contact their local EMS offices.  This is especially true in the rural setting as many smaller services offer courses at very low cost.  For those that may have a little time on their hands they may want to see if their local EMS stations offer an EMT-Basic course, several community colleges also offer these courses in the evening.  It should be noted just like anything else some instructors are better than others so ask around if you can. 
One thing people should consider is if they can achieve an EMT-Basic state certification many rural EMS system have first responders that provide assistance within their systems.  That is to say they will often provide a first responder with a pager, basic bandaging supplies, oxygen tanks and some of the accompanying equipment to respond to emergencies and provide first response assistance.  I’m sure most people can see the benefit in this as they receive experience and equipment all for the cost of their time helping others when their available and if SHTF you’ve got some equipment that you can use for your own purposes.
For those that don’t have that kind of time available I would suggest reading material.  Look for an  EMT-Basic book to start off with and then move on to EMT-Paramedic materials.  Two well known instructional EMS material providers are printed by Bryan Bledsoe or Mosby with various authors.  Another good book that covers variety of subjects is the Special Operations Forces Medical Handbook, but some knowledge of the basics is suggested for this book. Hope this information provides to be useful.- J.S.