Hurricane Katrina Update:

You’ve all read the news stories, so I’ll be brief: Things are very Schumeresque in New Orleans and Biloxi. The damage is much more severe than was experienced with Hurricane Camille back in 1969. Perhaps as many as one million people will become refugees. The Lake Pontchartrain levee breach (currently 200 feet wide) may mean that there will be 20+ feet of water in much of Nah-Lens. Hopefully the breach can be repaired before that happens. There won’t be a full death count for several weeks. One official said that the death toll will be “much higher than Camille” (which claimed 200 lives.)

As of Monday night, more than 37,000 people were in American Red Cross shelters, and that number is rising as people are plucked off their rooftops. Nearly 5 million people, in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida are without utility power, and power won’t be restored in some areas for more than a month. (Hmmm…. I guess its time to crank up those generators that people “wasted” their money on in anticipation of Y2K.)

Most of the oil refineries and LNG terminals on the Gulf Coast are offline, so some pundits are predicting gasoline prices to spike over $3.00 per gallon. For some detailed news stories, see World Net Daily

There is currently no effective law enforcement and hence beau coup looting, despite the fact that there is hip-deep water to wade through to get to most stores. Even a few police officers were seen engaged in looting. Officials are predicting a “worst case” situation vis-a-vis sanitation. Gee, this situation sounds like something out of one of those paranoid whacko survivalist novels.

Apparently many families were trapped in their attics and had to chop their way out to their roofs with axes. One clever gent didn’t have an axe but did have a shotgun, so he blasted his way out of his attic. (I award him bonus points for creativity.)

Again, I’d appreciate hearing some brief first hand accounts from SurvivalBlog readers that are in the affected area.

Please continue keep all of the folks in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and surrounding states in your prayers!

National Forest Inholdings–Another Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale

Like being inside a tribal reservation, owning land that is within a National Forest is another problem. An “inholder” of property within a National Forest or other government land may find himself subject to seasonal road restrictions. “De-roading” contracts started with the Clinton administration, but sadly the process is continuing. There might also be restrictions on land use, agriculture, pasturing, hunting, shooting and so forth. My recommendation is to avoid buying land that inside of a National Forest, or that is in vulnerable a strip of land between National Forest tracts–land that might be designated a "wildlife corridor" and hence either seized un Eminent Domain, or made subject to restrictions.

Tomorrow’s Terrorism Headlines

The following piece of fiction that I penned is just one of example of what might happen sometime in the near future:

At 8:15 A.M. on May 1st, an 18-wheel tractor/trailer backed up to one of the hundreds of roll-up doors at the primary Wal-Mart merchandise distribution center in Benton, Arkansas. (It is the largest of Wal-Mart’s 40 distribution centers.) On the trailer was a typical 53-foot long steel transoceanic shipping “continental express” (CONEX) container. It arrived scarcely unnoticed because hundreds of them arrived at the distribution center every day. Inside the CONEX, a 1,800-gallon tank that formerly held propane was welded to the floor. Just seconds after the container’s double doors were swung open; there were a pair of powerful explosions. First, nine hundred linear feet of Primacord PETN detonating cord glued together in six thicknesses along the upper edges of the CONEX peeled back the top of the container as if it had been opened by an enormous can opener. Two seconds later, a low-order explosive ruptured a main seam on the propane tank. The tank was filled with liquid GD nerve gas (Soviet Army surplus) with the consistency of motor oil. More than half of the liquid GD nerve gas was thrown into a vapor cloud by the explosion. A small part of the cloud was blown into the building. The rest was pushed up into a brownish-tinged mushroom cloud that towered 250 feet high.

Within a minute, everyone in the 380,000 square foot Wal-Mart distribution center was either dead or dying. The cloud expanded horizontally, and was carried by the spring breeze through residential sections of eastern Benton and then to the Little Rock suburbs of Bauxite, Bryant, and Sardis. The wind was traveling due east that day, so the nerve gas cloud headed toward the small town of East End, Arkansas rather than downtown Little Rock, where the death toll would have been an order of magnitude greater. Almost everyone in the path of the cloud died within minutes of exposure.

The GD solution is semi-persistent, meaning that several days of exposure to sunlight will cause it to break down and become harmless. Just one droplet the size of the head of a pin on exposed skin is enough to cause violent convulsions. Two or three droplets are enough to cause death. Parts of the vapor cloud made it all the way to Stuttgart, Arkansas, 60 miles east of Benton, and caused 155 deaths there. Before the first day is over, 12,000 people are dead.

At the time of the explosion, hundreds of cars were passing through Benton, primarily folks on their daily commute to Little Rock. Most of these cars made it to their destinations, or upon hearing the news of the explosion, the drivers took alternate routes home. The contaminated exteriors of these cars eventually ended up in six different Arkansas counties. For the next three days, they caused more than 300 additional deaths, as drivers and passengers touched contaminated body panels, gas tank lids, and door handles.

Central Arkansas was immediately declared a disaster zone by the Governor. Full-scale panic swept through Little Rock and all of the cities east of Benton, then to the Mississippi River, and beyond. Thousands tried to flee the area. This caused a massive traffic snarl that lasted for a full week. Hundreds of cars were stuck in traffic for so long that they ran out of gas. The drivers abandoned their cars, with many still left standing in the freeway lanes. This made the traffic even worse.

A small fire was started by the original explosion. With nobody left alive in the building to fight it, the fire slowly grew and eventually burned the entire Wal-Mart distribution center to the ground.

Five days after the initial explosion, while U.S. Army Chemical Decontamination teams from Fort McClellan, Alabama were picking through the charred rubble, a time delayed explosive at the front end of the cargo container threw a fresh cloud of GD vapor–one-third as large as the first–into the air. The winds had by now shifted to the northeast, directly toward Little Rock. This time it killed less than 400 people–mostly looters in Little Rock, which was still evacuated.

Wal-Mart had been the world’s largest retailer. Two months later the corporation no longer existed. More than one million direct employees were put out of work, as well as 600,000 additional people that were indirectly dependent on Wal-Mart. This included employees of manufacturers of products sold primarily through Wal-Marts as well as contract truck drivers, mechanics, jobbers, box makers, and so forth. The day after the explosion, the price of Wal-Mart stock dropped to $1.27 per share. Within three weeks, virtually every Wal-Mart store in North America had empty shelves. And within another week they all locked their doors. Wal-Mart stock had dropped to 2 cents per share and was de-listed. Nearly all the corporate management had nearly all been killed and the inventory coming into the country available to sell had slowed to a trickle.

The total loss of life was 13,942, with an additional 22,000 people hospitalized. Some were hospitalized as far east as coastal North Carolina, suffering from hysterical reactions.
Initially, all containerized cargo traffic crossing the U.S. borders was halted. This caused the idling of the Big Three auto manufacturers due to lack of parts, since more than 20% or more of the parts for “American” cars were actually sourced abroad. A few weeks later, container traffic resumed when it was assumed that the Benton attack was an isolated terrorist incident. The flow of containers was greatly slowed, due to elaborate chemical agent detection procedures, which began with chemical agent reconnaissance teams inserted by helicopter onto cargo ships when they were more than 50 miles offshore. With added security restrictions, container cargo terminals developed huge backlogs. Perishable cargoes were ruined, costing additional hundreds of millions of dollars.

On June 20th, just as commerce was starting to get back to normal, another explosion occurred; this time, at the sprawling China Overseas Shipping Company (COSCO) terminal in Long Beach California. A “dirty bomb”, consisting of 800-pounds of powdered spent nuclear reactor fuel rods and seven cubic yards of powdered talc propelled by a 650 pound low-order explosive, shredded a 40-foot CONEX container, and sent a large uranium/talc dust cloud into the air. (It was preceded moments before by a “roof ripper”, just like the previous Benton blast.) Initial news reports assumed that it was another chemical agent attack. But after no deaths were reported, it was quickly termed a dud. Hours later, when a FEMA disaster response team leader noticed that his radiation exposure film badge had turned black, it was realized that a “dirty bomb” had been detonated. As this news flashed through the media, a huge panic ensued.

The prevailing winds carried the dust cloud across Lakewood, Bellflower, Downey, and East Los Angeles. Measurable concentrations went as far as Alhambra and Pasadena. Almost two million people were in its path. The vast majority of the heavy uranium dust settled in Long Beach and Lakewood, but the psychological impact of the much lighter talc was tremendous, since it was carried as far as the San Gabriel Mountains. Like the Benton event, the COSCO container explosion caused mass panic–this time all through Southern California and even adjoining western Arizona. With the far greater population density of the L.A. Basin, the panic was monumental. The traffic gridlock extended through 24 California counties. More than 300 motorists stranded without gasoline or water died of exposure in the deserts of California, southern Nevada, and Arizona.

An estimated 212 people in Southern California died of stress-induced heart attacks. The total loss of life in the second attack was 3,000 in the first year (2,500 from radiation sickness), with 38,000 people hospitalized. (Far more hospitalized with hysteria than from actual radiation sickness.) An estimated 5,000 people died in the next three years due to long-term health effects, such as complications of radiation sickness, cancer, leukemia, eating disorders, and various infections exacerbated by weakened immune systems.

The initial economic cost of the two container explosions was at least $650 billion. Long-term costs were incalculable: international trade was disrupted for decades and a large urban region was rendered uninhabitable.

No terrorist group ever took credit for the pair of CONEX explosions. An aging White House defense affairs adviser (an off-and-on veteran inside the Beltway since the Nixon era) ordered tersely: “Round up the usual suspects.” That set the wheels in motion. More than 40,000 people were killed and 65,000 injured during the next two years in a massive campaign of “retaliatory” heavy bomber and cruise missile strikes in Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon, and scattered targets in North Africa…


Potential Terrorist Targets (SAs: Emerging Threats, Retreat Location Selection)

In the stark reality of this new Century, two distinct target structures must be considered when considering retreat locales: ”World War Three” targets and terrorist targets. Some of these target lists overlap. You will have to decide for yourself which of these is the more likely–or any substantial risk at all–as you evaluate your relocation priorities.
I authored a feature article entitled: “High Technology Terrorism” which was published in Defense Electronics magazine. (January 1990 issue, page 74.) It is one of more than 30 of my feature articles for that magazine. In it, I surmised that international terrorist groups can and eventually will use high technology weapons. These include everything from build-it-yourself nuclear weapons, to EMP generators, or even liquid metal embrittlement chemicals to sabotage structures or commercial aircraft.

Potential Terrorist Targets

It is difficult to accurately predict potential terrorist targets in North America, much less to rank them. But it is possible to make some logical assumptions. While it is difficult to apply traditional logic to analyses of a terrorist’s illogical and irrational thought processes, some fairly safe assumptions are possible. Some potential targets are almost purely symbolic, like the Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. Others would certainly be envisioned as having the “Biggest Bang for the Dinar.” These would include seaports and major population centers.

Certainly the most vulnerable targets are New York City and Washington, D.C. Al Qaeda has hit them before, and they’ll surely try to hit them again if they can. Just before this book was readied for press, Al Qaeda’s Number Two man bragged to the media that the organization possesses “several” suitcase-size nuclear weapons. Other large American cities must surely be likely targets. If you are living in a metropolitan area with more than 500,000 people, it is at risk. Weighing the odds is an interesting armchair academic exercise today. From an actuarial standpoint, the odds of staying in Dallas, Phoenix, or Seattle are fairly good. But what if you are wrong? Even if you are outside the blast radius and survive, what are your chances of “Getting out of Dodge”, ex post facto? Also, consider what will happen to the value of real estate in a radioactively contaminated area. The losses will run in the billions of dollars, even with just a low yield nuclear ground burst. Think about it. Then pray about it. If you then feel convicted to mitigate the risk, then move to a relatively safe lightly populated area that isn’t down wind, and do it soon.

In my opinion, the targets at the greatest risk of terrorist attacks in North America are liquefied natural gas (LNG) and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) terminals, situated primarily on the Gulf Coast. Most are located right on sea coasts and have tremendous explosive potential. Take a little time to do some web research on the two biggest natural gas explosions in the past 60 years:

Cleveland, Ohio in 1944 (128 killed, 435 injured)
Skikda LNG Complex, Algeria in 2004 (30 killed, 70 injured)

Consider that the cargo capacity of a typical LNG tanker is 23 times the volume that was stored in Cleveland, and that the capacity of a typical LNG terminal is 75 to 100 times that stored in Cleveland! You don’t want to live anywhere near them. And even if you live far away, you will still feel the effect. The destruction of two major terminals would reduce natural gas capacity to the extent that it would cripple our national economy for perhaps a decade.

If just two U.S. LNG or LPG terminals were destroyed by terrorists within the span of year it would surely cripple our nation’s gas supply system. This is just one of several reasons that you should buy the biggest propane tank that you can afford, (and allowed by local zoning), and always keep it at least 60% filled.

Water Supplies
Municipal water supplies are another “big bang for the Dinar” target. Many of these water supply system have multiple points of entry for contamination, most of which are not adequately guarded. This is just another reason to avoid living in a major municipal region.

Psychological Targets
In addition to physical infrastructure, terrorists might concentrate on psychological targets, for mass media attention and a heightened sense of terror. You can compile your own list of potential psychological targets in your region. This list should include nuclear power plants and medical isotope reactors. (The risk of an actual containment breach by a terrorist bomb is minimal, but they remain potent psychological targets, nonetheless.) Also include soft targets such as major universities, hospitals, sports stadiums, and major tourist attractions such as Seattle’s Space Needle.

The preceding are my predictions. In March of 2005, a disaster preparedness office in Hawaii inadvertently released a hush-hush “what if” terrorism scenario list that had been recently published by the Department of Homeland Security. It was surprisingly frank and very frightening.

Letter Re: Knife Makers

Hello Jim.
I loved Patriots and have read it four times. You managed to combine a lot of great advice with an interesting story. I’m really enjoying the blog as well. In one of the postings you were discussing knives. I wanted to suggest you take a look at Lone Wolf Knives. It’s a small company that works with a number of well known knife designers to produce a very high quality product. I particularly like a Butch Valloton designed knife, the Val-Matic. It’s a very stealthy liner lock that uses the scales as a release mechanism. Gives you the best of both worlds in that it combines fully automatic opening with manual features and shows no outward signs of it’s automatic capabilities.
Here’s a link to the web page describing the knife. Keep up the good work. God bless you and your family. -M.G

JWR’s Reply: Consult your state and local laws before ordering any automatic knife! BTW, I will have several specific knife maker/model recommendations in upcoming blog posts.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things falls apart; the centre cannot hold;
mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, …" – W.B. Yeats

Tribal Reservation Lines as Criteria for Choosing Your Retreat Locale

Indian (for those readers overseas: U.S. Native American aboriginal) reservation boundaries can be another important criteria for selecting your retreat locale. In recent years, tribal governments in the U.S. have started flexing their muscles. When living inside the boundaries of an Indian reservation you will face an extra layer of bureaucracy, taxes (or “fees” or “permits”), law enforcement, and potentially a myriad of restrictions. You will also lack the ability to recover damages in the case of accidents in many instances. Real estate agents will often try to down play the significance of being "on the reservation", but do some detailed research for yourself before you buy! In essence, when you buy property inside a reservation you only have whatever property rights that are granted to you by the tribe. This varies widely. These rights can be withdrawn at any time and you will have no recourse except though a tribal court that may have a bias.

Truck Frame-Mounted PTO Genset for Chevy/GMC Pickups

A regular SurvivalBlog contributor sent me the URL for a company called RealPower. They make a truck frame-mounted power take-off (PTO) genset for GMC/Chevrolet pickups. (If you have a 2001 to early 2004 GMC or Chevy truck with an Allison 1000 automatic transmission, then you have a PTO gear. Note: From March 1 through late 2004 Chevrolet and GMC pickup trucks were not built with PTO.  After January 1, 2005, PTO became optional.) Obviously these are not designed for continuous duty, but if you have the budget for a spare generator, then this might be a viable option. My first question: What RPM range is required when the genset is under load?

Proviso: I have not had the opportunity to do research on either the technology of the company’s reputation. Perhaps one our readers has some first hand experience with a RealPower genset and can enlighten us.

From The Memsahib: Book Review of “Why Gender Matters”

Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know about the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

During the years that I was growing up, parents were told that boys and girls were the same. Supposedly it was only the stereotypical way the children were treated that made girls bad at math and boys aggressive. If children were treated just the same, girls would excel at the sciences and boys would be able to express their feelings. In Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, using 20 years of research documents how sex differences are significant and profound.

I found this book fascinating and I would recommend it to all teachers and parents, especially to parents with children that are having difficulty in school. I learned that boys do not hear as well as girls. Many boys have difficulty hearing their soft spoken female teachers and are labeled as having Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). In the majority of the cases a diagnosis of ADD is made by the teacher–not a doctor!

One study cited showed that newborn girls were pre-wired to be attracted to faces while boys were twice as likely to prefer a moving object. A study of the cells that make up male and female eyes showed a profound difference. Female eyes are best adapted to detect color and texture while males eyes are best adapted to detect location, direction, and speed.

In the chapter entitled “School” Dr. Sax shows how gender-blind education is harmful to girls as well as boys. He states, “there is no difference in what girls and boys can learn. But there are big differences in the best way to teach them.” Then he goes on to give examples of how teaching methods can be used to best teach boys and girls.

Because of the difference between the male and female brain and the difference in there stages of development girls and boys should be disciplined differently. Dr. Sax lays out age appropriate and gender appropriate methods. Three chapters in this book are about Drugs, Sex, and Homosexuality. A bit of it is graphic. But even though the topics are disturbing and the material shocking, I still feel the information in these chapter was worth reading to understand the culture of today’s youth and the pressures they are likely to experience from their peers. I found this book at our local library. If your library does not have it, you can likely get it through inter-library loan. I especially recommend this book to parents, and I wish it was required reading for teachers!

Hurricane Katrina

I won’t belabor this point. Either folks were prepared, or they weren’t. Apparently, most weren’t and are now suffering. You’ve read the news stories. Those of you that own televisions have doubtless seen the news coverage. There is a concise compendium on Yahoo that summarizes the effects of the storm. I’d appreciate hearing some first hand accounts from SurvivalBlog readers that are in the affected area. Please keep the folks in Louisiana and Mississippi in your prayers!

Flawed Doctrine, Good Food Storage Advice

The Church of Latter Saints (commonly called the Mormons) and I will never come to agreement doctrinally. (Their doctrinal books refer to Christ as a spirit brother of Lucifer, and one of a pantheon of gods. It is hard to bridge a doctrinal divide that deep!) But I will give them credit for requiring their church members to lay in a substantially deep larder. There are some great food storage tips and some useful recipes for cooking with food storage at this LDS web site.

Letter Re: Where to Get Iodine Crystals?

Iodine crystals for disinfecting water are available as a trade product called “Polar Pure” from most of the regular backpacking supply places such as REI. It comes in a small bottle with a screened top, you fill it, shake it, and then decant a capful or two of the supersaturated solution into your water. The bottle has full instructions and also a thermometer so you know how long the water should sit before use. The cost was about $8 or so, last time I bought any. – “Doc”

JWR’s Reply: A highly recommended product! One little three ounce bottle can treat up to 2,000 quarts of water. I recommend that you buy one for each of your G.O.O.D. kits. Warning: The wire screen at the top of the bottle is there for a reason. Ingesting iodine crystals can be deadly!

Polar Pure is sold by Nitro-Pak, Campmor, Great Outdoors Depot, and several other Internet vendors. I recommend that you stock up before the Nanny State decides that the only use for iodine crystals is for cooking up methamphetamines.

Letter Re: Field Medicine Training

Hi Jim and Memsahib:
I think this site has valuable information for your readers as well as offering a Field Medicine School open to all who wish to attend. A three day course is around $325. The school is taught by veterans based on U.S. Navy Combat Medicine skills. It would be difficult to find another school filled with high-caliber cadre as well versed in this area anywhere. This link takes you to the curriculum site. Curriculum – Emergency Medicine – Medical Information

Keep up the great job! – “F1”

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“You have never lived
’til you have almost died.
And for those that fight for it,
Life has a flavor that the protected will never know.”
– Anonymous quote penned on the wall of a USMC hooch at Khe Sahn, RVN