We live on the western slope of the Sierras about half way between Sacramento and Lake Tahoe. We recently experienced the worst snow storm in the last thirty years, with snow depths in excess of 36″, massive, wide spread power outages, and closed roads. We had virtually no inconvenience because we have literally have lived being prepared for decades.
Our home is small, about 1,000+ square feet and we have an adjoining cabin of 525 sq/ft., which serves as my office. A few years ago I added an additional 12″ of insulation in the ceilings of both units, double glazed windows, and availed ourselves of the PG&E [California power utility company] energy saving policy which allowed us to seal and repair every air leak in both residences and receive a rebate from PG&E for being good, green citizens. In other words, PG&E paid us for doing some common sense thing we were already planning to do, even without the enticement of the rebate. (You gotta love this country!)
My wife is, after 31 years, used to my peculiarities. For example, I have been what is euphemistically called a “survivalist” since the age of 11. We never buy a home on a flood plain. We always check out the USGS maps located in the county planning offices to avoid buying on a known geologic fault line. I consider these things as basic as breathing, and wonder why everyone doesn’t take these simple trouble avoidance steps. Being a survivalist should be, literally, a part of your psychic makeup. It should be part of your very existence.
When we first moved up to the mountains to this property in 2000, we had two separate propane tanks, the larger one (170 gals) for the home, and the smaller one (90 gals) for the cabin. Both were located right next to the wall of the cabin in plain view, and were an eyesore.
The first thing I did was replace the two smaller tanks with one 500 gallon tank and relocate the tank closer to the road, and out of sight behind some trees inside our gate. This relocation not only concealed the tank from view, thus greatly improving the “curb appeal” of the home and cabin, but made it more accessible for propane deliveries. I make it a practice to never let this tank drop below 50% full, as even 250 gallons of propane will last us a few months in the winter.
Both the main house and the cabin have full kitchens and full baths. Both water heaters are propane, as are the stoves, the heaters, and even the dryer. Next I added a propane generator large enough to power the well, the fridges, some lights, the television and the Internet.
When this last storm shut down the entire area for days, literally nothing changed for us except we could not go anywhere until they finally managed to get the roads plowed. We have one four wheel drive vehicle with studded tires and chains for back up if needed, and when snow is in the forecast, we always park it facing out at the end of the driveway and near the road. I hate shoveling snow, and this keeps it to a minimum.
We have two dogs, and in our planning, we extended the decks so that there is ample covered dirt areas for them to do their business when they cannot get into the yard due to the snow depth. These areas are easily accessible from the main house without having to traverse snow of any depth. Because our dogs have short legs (Corgis) this allows them to live comfortably when many other pups are confined to the house. When you plan for emergencies, you have to plan for all your family members, two and four legged.
Of course we had ample food on hand for several months and when the crunch came, I got to enjoy some work free days because while I still had phones and internet, most of my clients did not.
The point is, by advance planning and living our normal lives from a survivalist viewpoint, we have the luxury of maintaining our normal lives even in the extreme situations such as we recently faced.
While I absolutely believe TEOTWAWKI is rapidly approaching, many crises we face between then and now will be somewhat less that TEOTWAWKI, but serious enough in their own right. Growing up on a ranch, my father taught all of us that almost any fool can survive in discomfort. It takes planning and skill to survive in comfort. Now in my sixties, my father’s advice still rules my life, and for this I am eternally grateful.