TEOTWAWKI in a Two Bedroom Apartment at the Edge of Town, by Melanie C.

Making it through a worst case scenario in a two bedroom apartment is not my idea of a good chance of survival.  I read about others who are relocating to the American Redoubt or who have acquired sizeable land out away from town.  Those who have bunkers or cellars lined with shelves of log-term storage foods and an arsenal of weapons and ammo to protect it all; who have chickens and goats and a place to plant those seeds that come in the long-term storage can.  Then I look at myself and think, “Can’t do that, can’t afford that, maybe I should just lay down and die when it all hits the fan”, but that is not my nature.  So I fight back with whatever I have, and besides the Lord is on my side.  In the book of Nehemiah the Bible speaks of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and enemies who are always present; from this and many other passages I gain courage, “When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: “Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses” (Nehemiah 4:14).  “Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon.” (Nehemiah 4:17).  So I intend to prepare my family the best I can and trust the Lord to be over all.

We live in the western side of Washington State and it would not take much to make it into the American Redoubt area, but without necessary funds it seems impossible.  My husband and I also care for my brother-in-law who is 63 but mentally developed to about that of a twelve year old.  Bringing him with us in a long term bad situation would be disastrous; abandoning him is out of the question. 

We live on the edge of a smaller town and are in a relatively good location for urban surviving.  Our apartment complex is a small six unit building in a neighborhood of houses.  The railroad tracks are about four blocks from the apartment complex.  If we had to grab our get-out-of-town bags and run I think we could make it through the neighborhood to the tracks.  Once there the forested area quickly becomes thick, another mile and you hit the river.  We fish this river in the summer.  Along the river is a corridor of thick forest, meadows and farmer’s fields for miles, and it passes through several state parks and national forest land.  In my twenties (or even thirties) this would have been my go to escape route, but we are not there anymore and my brother-in-law would not even make it past the railroad tracks.  So it seems to me I need to simply face my reality and do with it what I can.  So here is my plan.

A two bedroom apartment doesn’t have a lot of storage space but I have been rearranging as much as possible to accommodate boxes of #10 cans.  A box holding six cans stacked on another box of six cans and then covered with a cloth becomes a small inconspicuous table.  The upper shelf of the linen closet holds lighter weight items.  Filing or bankers boxes stack well and are placed under the desk in the second bedroom and on the shelf in the bedroom closet.  The lowest shelf of the bookshelf in the living room holds regular sized can items, coffee, quick cook pasta meals you buy at the grocery store, and other short-term storage items.  This shelf is then draped over with a simple spring loaded curtain rod and an old pillow case.  This keeps it out of view and keeps the dust off.  These items typically have a shelf life of one to two years and need to be rotated to maintain freshness.  My brother-in-law occupies another apartment in our six unit building and a few things are stored there that would be specifically for his needs, you just have to convince him to leave them alone.  If he thinks they are old or in his way he will simply throw them in the dumpster.  The trunk of the car currently holds a get-home-bag, in case I am at work when it all comes down, and extra toilet paper.  Toilet paper is bulky.  I am sure we are not the only family with similar difficulties or restrictions for making it through TEOTWAWKI and yet feel the urge from the Lord to “prepare now”, and I hope some of this encourages those. 

Fortunately, we live on the second floor on the end apartment.  This will make it easier for us to defend ourselves if it comes to that.  A few weapons have been acquired, a .357 Magnum carbine for home defense and .380 semi auto pistol (I know, some of you are screaming, “that won’t get you anywhere”, well this is what we have to work with and besides David killed Goliath with a stone and I’m not that great with a slingshot).  Then there is the .22 Winchester rifle for small game, a .22 magnum revolver (my personal everyday concealed carry), and another .22 LR revolver small game capable.  I know it is not much and writing it down and looking at it seems puny, but I have to live in my reality and like it or not, this is it.  We have a few hundred rounds of ammo for each weapon and have great difficulty finding any more anywhere.  For this reason practicing with these weapons is very limited.  I do have a slingshot by the way and practice with it.  I bought it from A+ Slingshots and like it a lot.  My accuracy is increasing and the slingshot will put a marble through a pop can at 75 feet.  My thought is that if I need to gather small game in a quiet manner this would work well.  Whatever resources I have I intend to use them.

The river is close by and I believe we could gather water there if needed and fish.  A large container could be strapped to the bicycle and I could take the neighborhood roads a mile and a half to the river gather water and return.  My biggest concern would be doing this with bad guys around, nevertheless the resource is there.  There is also a meadow alongside the river where I have gathered Nettles in the spring.  This is another resource available just outside of town.  Learning about a few wild edible plants that grow in your area can make a difference.  Another that is easy to find here is Cat’s Ear, It grows in the small lawn next to the apartment complex.  The lawn is never sprayed so I don’t have to worry.  I prefer the young flower buds to the leaves but both are edible.  Learn a few for yourself, you might be surprised at what grows outside your front door or very close by.  Neighbors can also be a great resource.  We have one neighbor that we are like minded with.  They have a house and a few fruit trees and raise chicken.  Currently we buy our eggs from them and they let us gather the extra fruit when they have it.  I believe they will be a great resource for safe barter in the future.  Having this relationship established now gives me a greater since of confidence.

There is one other place where I have a few things stored.  Last fall we purchased a used 17 foot camper unit.  It is kept outside the apartment and we have worked hard to seal up the leaks to keep it dry inside.  Inside the camper are a few very difficult to get to storage areas and I have a few #10 cans wrapped in plastic bags stored here.  The camper also has a propane operated stove and refrigerator and a 30 gallon water tank.  These could make the first week much easier.

We have managed to acquire and hide some silver and gold.  I cashed in a small IRA early (paying the penalty for early withdrawal), and paid down some of our debt and purchased some silver and gold.  Not knowing what the real scenario will be, we diversified and bought some bullion, some old 90% silver currency (junk silver), and a few small pieces of gold.  We also have a small stash of cash on hand.  Some may not be able to do even this much, but do what you can.  Our neighbors who live in the apartment complex likely have nothing stored away even for a weekend power outage.  It has occurred to me that we may be feeding them too.  Part of me says let them be, they have made their own bed and part of me says, am I not required by God to help my neighbor if I have the power to do so, therefore I prepare with the possibility in mind.  I can dream all I want about what I would like the situation to be, but I am still left to deal with the truth at hand.

Another way I have been preparing for my probable reality is in cooking.  Just for fun, a few years back, I began making homemade pop can alcohol stoves and can wood stoves.  I have become very good at it and feel I can make a stove to cook on with just about any kind of can.  The secret is to learn how fire works and what it requires to burn efficiently.  A small amount of wood in a home-made double walled can stove burns with very little smoke.  Some designs of alcohol stoves will work even on 70% isopropyl alcohol you have in the first aid cabinet.  Denatured alcohol form the hardware store is much better.  We also have a small hibachi type charcoal grill for when the propane goes out in the gas grill and the camper unit.  Acquire different ways to cook.  There are many resources on the internet to teach you how to make a can stove, the Zen Backpacking Stoves web site is a great resource to start with.

My husband and I went on a weekend trip to eastern Washington a few weeks back and rented a cabin on the Columbia River.  We picked up some beer along the way, the kind that says “tools required” right on the cap, and once at the cabin to my dismay I discovered I had no bottle opener.  Normally I would have had every type of camping gadget/equipment with me but it wasn’t intended to be that type of a trip.  I did get the bottle opened and drank my beer; the next day I purchased two simple bottle openers for a dollar apiece at the local store.  I seems a silly lesson, but this made me realize that I needed to do something more about preparing food without electricity.  No coffee grinder, microwave, oven, electric mixer, blender, you get the idea.  I have started looking through the local thrift stores for old time cooking gadgets.  There are many great things available, bottle openers, can openers, meat grinders, hand turned mixers and egg beaters, cherry pitters, apple slicer corer peelers; you would be amazed at what you can find.  It would be great to find a hand grain grinder and a coffee grinder at an affordable price.  Tools are also available at the thrift store, hand powered drill, saws, axes, hammers, and so on, at great prices.  Get now what you think you may need.  You may need to make it through right where you are.