From David in Israel on Selecting Storage Foods

I have been searching through our tiny food storage auditing its contents. We have been slowly adding to the contents since we moved but it still is enough for only about two weeks. Since we eat what we store it is much more mixed than the econo basic mix of:

Flour or red wheat
Sugar or honey
Oil or Crisco
Powdered milk

The price tag for my laying in a supply of all of the above was $200-300 when I bought in the USA, years ago. The items on this list are fine if you are going to go buy a year supply today for emergencies while you are building a proper food larder, they are also perfect for helping out neighbors in need. Red wheat properly packed in sealed oxygen free containers lasts longer, retains more nutrition, and is able to be sprouted for part of it’s useful life. A good grinder is among the top items to buy for your family, cheap grinders are on the market but the burrs and parts will not survive the year you are expecting to survive off of your reserves. The highly touted Country Living grain mill [hand powered/convertible to electric] is over $300 that is a months rent for me! I have a Back to Basics mill which seems to be the lowest rated on the market.

The other end of the spectrum of survivalist buys several pallets of MREs to live off of, price tag over ten thousand dollars for just 3 people. The payoff to MREs is that after a day of exhausting work drop a few packets into boiling water or a MRE heater and you have dinner, throw everything away and get some sleep.

We have decided to take the middle road. Prepared canned food that can be eaten with a spoon is cheap storable and can be included into our weekly food rotation. If there is a family in need we can give freely without having the weirdness of handing out military grade goodies. Packing away olives, corn, crackers, Graham crackers [aka digestive biscuits, for those of you in the British Commonwealth], peanut butter, tomato sauce, pasta, you get the idea now–stuff you eat every day but rely on your own just in time delivery system. If you have successfully stored an item for too long [without eating any of it] cross it off the list, you are unlikely to eat it unless starvation sets in and unwelcome food is a good way to destroy morale during hard times. Rotate and consume your food stores, but keep track of popular foods and boost their quantities in your pantry.

From David in Israel on Sanitation

The sanitation problem may be one of the worst aspects of the tragedy in New Orleans. Polluted water is full of parasites which once ingested inhabit the digestive tract causing dysentery or even cross over into other organ systems. In a flooded world people are dying of dehydration due to vomiting and diarrhea. The best way to combat bad water is with a large gravity filtration system like the Big Berkey [British Berkefeld ceramic water filter, in a stainless steel housing, made in England] or its plastic cousin filter for a whole family with little effort. Hand filters are good for camping but require a person to spend time every day at the water collection point pumping for all of the days water needs, in an emergency especially when food is restricted plans to eliminate extra exertion must be put into place.

Clean water is not just for drinking but also for food preparation washing of hands and face and washing surfaces and vessels which contact food. If you fear that there are larger parasites such as Giardia or Cryptosporidium. Longer treatment periods are required to kill these parasites. Often, if infected, the treatment for these parasites is Flagyl aka Metronidazole. Speak to your doctor about a prescription for Metronidazole.

Sodium hypochlorite–better known as household bleach–can be used for the following purposes: A 1 in 5 dilution of household bleach with water (1 part bleach to 4 parts water) is effective against many bacteria and some viruses, and is often the disinfectant of choice in cleaning surfaces in hospitals. The solution is corrosive, and needs to be thoroughly removed afterward, so the bleach disinfection is sometimes followed by an ethanol disinfection.

For shock chlorination of wells or water systems, a 2% solution of household bleach is used. For larger systems, HTH is more practical because lower rates can be used. The alkalinity of the sodium hypochlorite solution also causes the precipitation of minerals such as calcium carbonate (lime), so that the shock chlorination is often accompanied by a clogging effect. The precipitate also preserves bacteria, making this practice somewhat less effective. Sodium hypochlorite has been used for the disinfection of drinking water, at a concentration equivalent to about 1 liter of household bleach per 4000 liters of water is used. The exact amount required depends on the water chemistry, temperature, contact time, and presence or absence of sediment. In large-scale applications, residual chlorine is measured to titrate the proper dosing rate. For emergency disinfection, the U.S. EPA recommends the use of 2 drops of 5%ac household bleach per quart of water. [JWR Adds: Be sure to stock up on PLAIN household bleach. Check the label before you buy! The only ingredients should be sodium hypochlorite and water. Formulations with scents added or any other ingredients are probably toxic.]

If infected with intestinal parasites the treatment is Flagyl (aka Metronidazole) Speak to your doctor about a prescription for Metronidazole or the other meds mentioned in the Wikipedia articles.

Letter Re: Best Grain Grinder on a Budget?

A request for your comment on best hand powered grain grinder for us poor folks. The Back to Basics? The Corona? (The Country Living is $350!) – D.J.

JWR Replies: A hand grain grinder is an important tool to have on hand. They are essential for grinding corn and wheat, which are of course indigestible unless ground. (Soaking wheat in water overnight to make “wheat berries” will suffice, but flour is what you’ll need for most recipes.) If you can possibly afford one, buy a Country Living mill. They work well hand powered, and they are also set up to take a V-Belt so that they can be converted to be powered by an electric motor or even from a bicycle frame for someone that has mechanical skills. They are available new from Ready Made Resources and several other Internet vendors. You might look for used ones on eBay. They don’t come up for auction in used condition very often, but you might be fortunate enough to get one for under $250.

For someone on on a tight budget, the Corona is probably the best bet. They are not designed for a lifetime of use, but they will do the job. You can occasionally find them at thrift stores in the western United States. Otherwise, new, they are typically around $75. For those of you Down Under, these are also available in Oz.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“God gives all me all earth to love,
but since man’s heart is small,
ordains for each one spot shall prove,
beloved over all.” – Rudyard Kipling

Note from JWR:

I’m amazed that in just the blog’s first 28 days we’ve had 23,500+ unique visits and over half a million page hits! Thank you, folks! Please continue to spread the word about When your friends, neighbors, and co-workers bring up the subject of Hurricane Katrina and its after-effects, please mention SurvivalBlog to them. Hopefully, reading this blog will get them motivated toward some concrete preparedness and substantive charity.

Hurricane Katrina Update:

I’m sorry that I can no longer send many personal replies to your emails. I hope that you understand that I have to concentrate my effort and make the best use of my time. I’ll try to primarily cover the aspects of Hurricane Katrina that are getting overlooked by the MSM.

First and foremost, the following brief e-mail from B.D.B. in Baton Rouge:

I just found this site. It’s a blog from a guy down in the central business district of New Orleans that still has access to the Internet. I think he also has a web cam that he’s trying to keep available.

JWR Adds: A simply amazing blog. Talk about “first person” reporting! Follow the photo link URLs. Its like looking at news footage of Beirut in the 1980s…

Next, this e-mail from regular blog contributor B.H.:

Just spoke to my father who is a driver out of Birmingham, Alabama. He is gassed up and ready to get to South Georgia to a small town of Thomasville to pick up ice. They are making and bagging around the clock. He will caravan with five other trucks to Meridian, MS where the Army is staging 200+ semi’s at the state fairgrounds. They have set up a secure temporary truck stop with showers and three squares-a-day.

They must wait to be deployed with full armed escort vehicles to deliver to disaster zone. There is no diesel fuel from Mile Marker 50 at near Atmore, Alabama until you get to East Texas. Ice and water are being brought in from Missouri, Arkansas and as far away as Illinois.

The only access to NawLens is from the West-Zero access from all other sides.

Lastly, a tip of the hat to Claire Wolfe‘s blog for pointing me to this interesting discussion on the nationwide ramifications of Hurricane Katrina.

More tomorrow… Stay tuned.

Big Decisions–Weighing the Risks and Benefits

When doing radio interviews or giving lectures, I’m often asked where the “perfect” place is for a survival retreat. The short answer is: There is none. Granted, there are a lot of places that are much better than others, but there is no single “one size fits all” perfect place. Like buying a pair of boots, the decision has as much to do with the size and shape of the foot as it does the maker of the boots. Everyone has their personal needs and expectations. Some people prefer dry climates while others can’t stand them. Some folks like the feeling of privacy provided by a wall of trees where others would feel claustrophobic. Some need the stimulation of exposure to the arts, while others could care less. And some have good health, while others need to live close to medical specialists.

Even more importantly, before deciding where you might move, you have to weigh the Risks and Benefits of moving at all. From an actuarial standpoint, you might have nearly as good a chance of living to a ripe old age if you stay in the suburbs. It all depends on your personal “worst case scenario”. If your worst case is an economic depression similar to that of the 1930s–with a relatively intact infrastructure–then you might conclude that there is no need to relocate. (You can just “stock up” and stay put where you are.) But if your worst case is a full scale whammy–such as a terrorism campaign that levels cities and/or causes a long term grid-down societal collapse, then you will probably want to move to a remote, lightly populated farming region with plentiful water. I’m not in the business of making scenario-based decisions for people. Those decisions are up to you, as an individual. Once you decide that you definitely want to move, then, yes, I certainly have some good suggestions on potential locales for you.

Lastly, as a Christian, I believe that any major decision should be preceded by prayer. Seek God’s providence for your life. You can only do that if you have repented of you sin and have begun a Christian walk. In deference to the nature of this forum and the wide range of views held by my readers, I won’t go into great detail about this. But you know where I stand.

From The Memsahib: On Being a Modern Homesteader

You may have concluded by now that while my husband is a “guns and groceries” style survivalist, I can more accurately be called a homesteader. A modern homesteader is a person who tries to live self-reliantly on their own land. Our satisfaction and peace of mind come from growing our own food, heating with our own fuel, and even knowing how to make our own clothes if necessary! Happily survivalism and homesteading dovetail nicely.

My homesteading mindset was developed early in my childhood as I listened to parents and grandparents talk about living through the Great Depression. My father’s parents were town people. His Dad soon lost his job at the newspaper. They had meager savings. My father said after that they ate potatoes–just potatoes. At harvest time each year they found a bit of work picking fruit. Then they ate whatever fruit they were picking, and only that fruit. Then it was back to potatoes again. And forget about money for new clothes, or gas for the car, or doctor’s bills, or anything else.

Meanwhile, my maternal Grandpa worked in town as a machinist, but they always lived out in the country on a small farm. Grandpa cultivated a large garden and orchard, had a few milk cows, raised a couple of hogs, and Grandma raised 100 chicks every year to sell as fryers. My mother’s father lost his job during the Depression too. But they had fresh milk and butter from their cows, eggs, chicken, and beef and pork, fruits and vegetables in season, and lots of canned produce. (Plus my mother’s family still had a small income and a ready source of barter from the farm produce.) It so happened that their house was next to a church on a rural highway. And many times Grandma fed “poor folk” who had come to their house thinking it was the church parsonage. And she could–because of the bounty of their farm!

My Dad had a miserable youth through the Depression. He suffered a profound change in quality of life as they experienced extreme poverty. My Mother on the other hand, did not experience much of a change because her parents were self sufficient on their farm. I intend to emulate my self sufficient grandparents. And with God’s grace, my family will have a good quality of life–no matter what the economy does.

Book Review: How to Find Your Ideal Country Home

How to Find your Ideal Country Home by Gene GeRue. 1999 Edition, Warner Books. ISBN 0-446-67454.
I had my first look at this book back in 1994, when the author contacted me after having read the draft edition of my novel The Gray Nineties. (Which was then available as shareware.) At the time, Gene GeRue had just come out with his first edition. I was impressed with how thorough he was. His premises were sound, and his research was excellent. Imagine my surprise this year when I found an updated edition. It is even more thorough, and even more detailed!

GeRue systematically details the criteria to look for in a country home. He hits all of the key factors: climate, topography, soil, vegetation, water, demographics, agriculture, services, taxes, land/home prices, and so forth. He includes a lot of fairly detailed maps.

The author also includes a section on analyzing you. This is important and shouldn’t be overlooked. It is important to understand your personal needs, expectations, and personality. Some people just aren’t cut out for living in the country! The book also delineates between wants, needs and fantasies. Sometimes people have preconceptions that require a “whack upside the head.”

This book is not all “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.” There are some great doses of reality–such as finding a job or developing a home-based business before you move to the hinterboonies. He also discusses risks such as flood plains, fire prone regions, prisons, toxic waste, radon gas, incineration, and so on. he also describes the factors in choosing an existing home versus building on bare land.

I highly recommend this book. Referring to the content of GeRue’s book as a baseline, you can add the factors that you find important for a true survival retreat. (See my previous blog posts for some suggestions.)

Letter Re: Is Katrina a Harbinger of an Economic 9/11?

Not looking good these days. It is chaos down south. Those poor people, may God be with them in their time of need. What is your opinion on the current state of
the union? Gas prices, oil supplies in doubt. Do you think this could be the harbinger of an economic 9/11? I hate to admit it, but I do.

JWR’s Reply: Perhaps you might be right. There is the outside chance that this could be “it“: You know, The Big One. WTSHTF. Total wipeout. The Day. TEOTWAWKI. The Crunch. But something that drastic would surely take several more dominoes falling first. (Read my August 5/6/7 posts for details on my conception of a full scale TEOTWAWKI sequence of events.)

Something big such as a major earthquake or a major terrorist incident could tip several dominoes all at once. The next likely domino after something like a fuel crisis would be a major jump in interest rates. I think that because of Katrina the Federal Reserve may stop its current cycle of raising interest rates, and could in fact start to nudge them downward. That could keep the housing bubble inflating even longer. (So when it does pop, it will be worse.) Also, consider the home construction and home supply sector (the latter including companies like Home Depot and Lowe’s) which had been faltering, may actually benefit from Katrina.

The big imponderable is the drag on the economy caused by the present upward spiral of fuel prices. At the minimum, I think that this could throw us back into a recession. Worst case is that it could cause a depression, exacerbated by the concomitant pop in the housing bubble. (Read: A very painful and a long term economic whammy–perhaps a decade or more.)

Buckle you seat belt. We are in for a roller coaster ride. IMHO the Hurricane Katrina disaster means that the likelihood of a hyperinflationary depression (a la my novel Patriots) has increased. (That would be Uncle Sugar’s expedient solution to a dollar crisis. They could just inflate their way out of it and conveniently wipe out the national debt in the process. (Along with everyone’s life savings–virtually anything invested in anything denominated in U.S. dollars. That explains why I emphasize investing in tangibles.) But regardless, try to get out of debt, because if things tip into a deflationary depression, it will be even more severe than the 1930s.Being a debtor in the midst of a deflation is a Very Bad Thing (VBT).

Most importantly, pray for God’s guidance, providence, and protection. That is our only real hope. Trust in God to put you in the right place at the right time, with the right friends. Blessed assurance is the best insurance of all.

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

“My life goes on in endless song
above earth’s lamentations,
I hear the real, though far-off hymn
that hails a New Creation. Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
it sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?
While though the tempest loudly roars,
I hear the truth it liveth.
And though the darkness ’round me close,
songs in the night it giveth. No storm can shake my inmost calm
While to that rock I’m clinging.
Since love is lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing? When tyrants tremble in their fear
and hear their death knell ringing,
when friends rejoice both far and near
how can I keep from singing? In prison cell and dungeon vile
our thoughts to them are winging,
when friends by shame are undefiled
how can I keep from singing?”

-The Traditional Shaker Hymn How Can I Keep From Singing, popularized by Enya

Notes from JWR:

Please continue keep all of the folks in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and surrounding states in your prayers! Please donate generously to your local church relief agency or to the American Red Cross. Charity is our Christian duty!

You can use the current Hurricane Katrina situation to emphasize to your relatives, friends, neighbors and co-workers just how fragile our society is. Do your best to convince them that it is prudent to stock up. I’d appreciate it if you could also tell them about SurvivalBlog.

Hurricane Katrina Update (SAs: Disaster Preparedness, Disaster Relief, Lessons from Katrina)

Things have gone from bad to worse on the Gulf Coast. Here are some tidbits that were phoned to me on Wednesday by a regular SurvivalBlog reader who is currently in close proximity to New Orleans. (He cannot currently send e-mail.):

1.) In New Orleans, looters are shooting at police stations, in one instance with a semi-auto AK-47. The looting is completely out of hand, and spreading.

2.) Jefferson Parish Louisiana Sheriff Harry Lee has issued a “shoot to kill” order.

3.) At the Super Dome (cum Relocation Center) there have been countless armed robberies, suicides, rapes, and three murders in the past 72 hours. Conditions are intolerable there (with no running water and no sanitation, so it has been ordered evacuated. Several thousand Super Dome evacuees are being bussed/trucked to the Houston Astro Dome. At least the electricity is working there…

4.) The level of the 13th Street has now essentially equalized with Lake Ponchartrain. Huge 7,000 pound sand bags are being lowered from Chinook helicopters into the levee breaches, but no success yet.

5.) New Orleans residents are caravanning in large numbers to Baton Rogue, and are now putting a tremendous stress on that city.

6.) A local radio reporter that was airlifted to safety from a badly flooded region reported that he saw “hundreds of bodies” floating the water when his helicopter was en route.

7.) Locals in have cleared the roads of fallen trees in many areas around New Orleans (using chainsaws), but no normal commerce has resumed.

7.) All of the local television stations are off the air.

Letter from B.D.B. in Baton Rouge

Well, I was lucky enough to be outside the edge of Katrina’s rampage here in Baton Rouge. I can attest that is was no picnic here and the devastation is widespread and intense.

Beginning on Sunday morning refugees came pouring into town fleeing New Orleans and by mid-day traffic westbound on I-10 was crawling. People were swarming the stores buying supplies and fuel. Gasoline disappeared very quickly but diesel fuel seemed readily available (no surprise there.) Many people were buying useless supplies though, things such as dairy products, meats, vegetables, and such. There was a distinct tension and sense of near panic in the shopping centers in this area. As the day progressed, the clouds started picking up and the wind began blowing, and refugees clogged the major roadways. Many of them had no plan of action; they were just driving west away from the storm but had no plans on where they would go or stay. Many of them had no clue that there were other roads besides the interstate or other major highways.

As of today, there are at least 100,000 refugees in shelters here in Baton Rouge, and probably that many staying with friends and family here in town. There are refugees in every other southern city within driving distance of the coast. Anywhere within say 300 miles of the affected area will have large numbers of refugees–some with with nothing but the clothes on their backs–and nothing to return home to. We have power and water here, but communications channels are choked. Fuel is in short supply but holding out. There is a definite tension in the air, and it’s going to happen soon…refugees will get frustrated and hungry to the point that they may riot or begin looting. There is widespread looting and lawlessness in affected areas of New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Looters are firing on the police, police officers trying to help them are getting hit, helicopters and planes are coming under small arms fire. Areas of New Orleans are now under martial law and I’m fully expecting that case to be expanded to other areas such as Gulfport and Biloxi. This disaster will directly impact not only our local economy, but the economy of the rest of the nation. Oil production is shut down not only offshore, but in the refineries as well; transportation systems are damaged; businesses are under water and their employees are out of a job for an unknown duration; the Ports of New Orleans, Gulfport, Biloxi, and Mobile are not functional; and the list goes on. If this isn’t a SHTF situation, I don’t know what is.

From John & Abigail Adams in Ohio

Here is a quick update on the gasoline and diesel fuel supply situation in Ohio. As I write this there are 15 oil refineries down in the US, either from storm damage or
lack of power. There are 3 pipelines down due to lack of power, limiting the flow of crude oil to the north. One refinery in Canton, Ohio, our main supplier of gasoline and diesel fuel in this area, has been closed since Monday, because there was no crude oil to refine.

Abigail and I work for a company that is a bulk supplier of gasoline and diesel fuel. Today (8/31) we are out of "On road" diesel fuel and have feet of "off road" diesel fuel in our tank. I have had several semi loads on order since Tuesday morning, but none have been delivered. We are rationing out the remaining product, as our supplier has no idea when he will be able to deliver us any product. I have contacted other suppliers and received the same answer

The industry “word” is that supply interruptions can be expected to last from one to six weeks. If this continues for more than a few days then stations will be running dry.

Our cost on 87-octane gasoline today is in excess of $3.00 per gallon. I do not want to raise a panic here; however I think your readers should be making whatever arrangements they can to get their tanks topped off.

This may not, and should not last very long, and I certainly hope not, but one thing is for certain…for now the fertilizer has struck the ventilation system.

As always if there are any questions feel free to send them our way. – John & Abigail Adams.

Letter From B.H. in Spokane

I’m a big fan–I have read your novel (Patriots) several times and consider it vital to every home library. I have extensive family in the south. I gave a copy of your book to my cousin T. in Pensacola. They have weathered the last two hurricanes and have come out on the financial up side-they specialize in commercial garage doors. They’ve made a killing after each storm. They have several generators and months of MRE’s for employees, family and neighbors. They used swimming pool water to flush toilets after Ivan.

I also have two cousins in central Mississippi. No word yet but they are both armed well and quite survival minded. One manages a Wal-Mart Supercenter-if it’s still there and stocked. I’ll get some intel on central Mississippi later today.

My father is in Birmingham and they are running out of diesel fuel. He is a long haul driver who has been summoned to Huntsville, Alabama because their power is down and a large food distribution center is out. They need him to get there ASAP so they can transfer frozen food to Nashville before it thaws and spoils. Power is out intermittently over most of Alabama and parts of North Georgia. Cell phones are also sporadic.

We have cousins in Louisiana who have evacuated to Kalifornia to be with family. One cousin is a school counselor-word is no school until after Thanksgiving, if they are lucky. One cousin returned home to Eastern Louisiana and the flood waters had receded but their Acura was gone-floated away. My great aunt’s small town is still under water-a total loss.

Just spoke to my cousin in Madison, Mississippi. Power is back on and phones are down. Cell phone on but some towers are down. Things getting back to normal pretty quickly- he called me from work. Most of the damage is downed trees and every ‘good ol boy’ with a chain saw got busy as soon as the storm passed. But the coast line is a completely different story. No access or economy for months.

As if you needed any more proof what you wrote in Patriots is correct, consider these snippets from Fox News:

New Orleans’ homeland security chief, Terry Ebbert, said looters were breaking into stores all over town and stealing guns.
He said there are gangs of armed men moving around the city. At one point, officers stranded on the roof of a hotel were
fired at by criminals on the street. The Times-Picayune newspaper reported that the gun section at a new Wal-Mart had been cleaned out by looters.
Authorities said an officer was shot in the head and a looter was wounded in a shootout. The officer was expected to

The Schumer has hit the fan in the South. – B.H. in Spokane