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02 May 2007

Another Anxiety Post - How Disaster Prepared are you? [More:] BGOG posted this and I almost commented, but couldn't be helpful. Because, yes, every morning, I wake up, sleepytime, then wait for the anxiety to kick in - I don't hate it because it gets me out of bed, which is a good thing.

I had a Mother this evening. I've drank and medicated myself down, but I did the Disaster Scenario.

If there was a nuclear/chemical attack (and I'm a near miss from the Nation's Capitol) - what would we do? Are we prepared? Not for more than twelve hours, I'd say.

I went down this road about would we have to mercy kill the pets. We're not gun owners - what do you do? Toss them into the environment? Cruel. Maybe The Husband could break the cat's neck, or bag it or something, but the dog? No way. Blunt heavy objects? Overdose on human meds?

Needless to say, this got me in quite a state.

Bad state. On the other hand, maybe thinking things through is adaptive.

My question is - Are you Prepared? For some kinda awful shit? I could get a tub together with stuff. Our safe place in the house is a small crowded closet under the stairs. Ok, there is a bottle of water and a radio and blankets in there, that's about it.

Sharing the crazy.
Well, I have lots of beer and porn. Anything else I can hunt down & kill.
posted by jonmc 02 May | 18:26
and as far as nuclear preparedness, I'm with Holden Caulfield: "Anyway, I'm sort of glad they've got the atomic bomb invented. If there's ever another war, I'm going to sit right the hell on top of it."
posted by jonmc 02 May | 18:33
Maine just had a Very Big Storm. We've had others, and I've lost power in the past for several days. So I have some water, candles, oil lamp, radio, flashlight/batteries, and I keep food in the house. I have a gas stove and could stay warm-ish for several days. I have a 'go bag' packed with some essentials. I don't have a plan for the dog, but he can eat what we eat.

So, yeah, I'm a worrier. But I don't really expect to need it. I just feel better being prepared, and it wasn't expensive, mostly gathering stuff we already had. If you want to have some disaster supplies on hand, the Red Cross has very reasonable plans, and they're common sense, like recycling 2 liter soda bottles for water jugs.

What you're describing sounds like weapons-grade anxiety, and I have my share of that. Meds help a lot. And I have a script that I 'read' myself when I start to get too edgy, because it's not very likely that there will be a Katrina-style mess in my town.

The best plan I know of is to have good friends and neighbors who will look out for you.

on preview: Jonmc is well-prepared.
posted by theora55 02 May | 18:36
And a flashlight. We have a flashlight in there.

I dunno jonmc, my survival instinct is strong.

I feel ok about a natural disaster, actually, but an un-natural one, gah. If we could get out to the other bottled water in the house, if the pets wouldn't be confined, it'd be ok.

As a child of the 80's I don't remember having this fear like some of my peers did.

I'm really ok now, but jeez, what a place for your brain to go.
posted by rainbaby 02 May | 18:38
I dunno jonmc, my survival instinct is strong.

Well, I'm a scrawny bastard and I'm all full of hormones and smoke. In the event of famine, I'll be the last one eaten.
posted by jonmc 02 May | 18:39
I argue about this with my roommate a lot. See, I think that because I would be happy to kill people and take their food/clothing/shelter that I would survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. My roommate, on the other hand, is pretty sure that she would kill me and eat my flabby, toxic corpse. But I believe that I would have value in groups of survivors because I know how to fix things and have an engineer's eye for developing primitive technology and fashioning makeshift weapons out of the rusting shells of a post-industrial world. But, trumping that, she would kill and eat me and live in the woods or something.

It's an ongoing debate but I'm pretty sure I'll win when it comes down to it.
posted by cmonkey 02 May | 18:44
I think that because I would be happy to kill people and take their food/clothing/shelter that I would survive in a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

My Remington 870 disagrees with you on this point.
posted by Triode 02 May | 18:46
I dunno, my bear traps and punji pits along major roads would probably put a stop to any disagreement we have quite quickly.
posted by cmonkey 02 May | 18:49
My cruise missile says you should all shut the fuck up.
posted by jonmc 02 May | 18:50
I have meds, thank god, theora55. And I've always thought I'd take the anxiety over depression, so it's ok. Send me your script if you care to - I'm anti-therapy by temprament, but email is in the profile.

posted by rainbaby 02 May | 18:53
Eh, I reckon we're all on the same team.
posted by Triode 02 May | 18:54
We just came out of the closet after a tornado warning. A tornado was in the cell that passed over our house, but it didn't hit us. The tornado sirens went off though.... for real (a lot of the times when they go off, the worst weather isn't that close.

Here is what it looked like just after the worst passed:

Clip 1

Clip 2
posted by Doohickie 02 May | 19:06
Jebus, Doohickie.

Another interesting thing is that having experienced a tornado and an earthquake, one's instinct is to do exactly what one shouldn't do.

Sounds like train! Run to window to see what the heck!

Ground is shaking! Hold Still!

So I feel better about having learned those lessons.
posted by rainbaby 02 May | 19:12
My father kept jars of quarters in the attic. Just in case. (All dated before 1965; they're real silver, you know.)
posted by Pips 02 May | 19:22
for postapocalyptic pinball, y'know...
posted by jonmc 02 May | 19:22
Pips, HA!

I am not prepared for nuclear war or a chemical attack. I can only hope that myself and my family will be killed instantly. Or, if it's some sort of biological attack, I can hope to recover somehow or be provided with meds.

What scares me is an influenza pandemic. But I don't worry too much. It's out of my control.

I'm prepared for a hurricane, but that's about it. I'm prepared to stay for a category one or two, and prepared to leave for anything higher. Our master walk-in closet doubles as a safe-room.
posted by LoriFLA 02 May | 19:43
The scary part about this flu thing.... people thinkt he flu is no big deal, but apparently the 1918 epidemic strain ended up inducing the victims bodies to produce toxins to attack the virus that kind of melted the lung tissue, so the lungs destroyed themselves.

Some people worry that bird flu is similar. :0
posted by Doohickie 02 May | 19:56
Yeah, Doohickie, I kind of noticed how the media seemed to just "stop talking" about bird flu...

Luckily, it would only kill about 10% of the world's population, I think.

*looks suspiciously at pigeons on roof*
posted by Pips 02 May | 20:02
In the event of Something Really Bad, I have a compound bow that's normally for recreational target shooting, but I bet I could bag Canadian geese with it easily. Mmmm, goose roasted over an open fire!
posted by PaxDigita 02 May | 20:35
At my main house, I have a closet built up as a safe room. I keep at least month's rotating stock of medications on hand, and there's water, off grid generation, gas cans, camping gear, a month of canned provisions, most of our clothing, etc. In the garage, in waterproof plastic tubs are our financial records, along with the tie downs needed to put it on the truck. But this place is less than a mile off the Inland Waterway, and there'd be no point in staying for anything more than a tornado warning. It's insured for replacement value, from every possible risk you can insure. Florida property insurance rates bite, but so does the weather here at times.

So, 24 miles inland, I have a steel framed (welded frame on concrete slab), steel sheathed utility building, built to withstand winds over 130 mph. One end is insulated and has hurricane filmed windows (and other goodies like internal anti-penetration mesh), and is equipped with a generator, air conditioner, and furniture. There is a dual fuel cooking stove, a small icebox that the generator can pull while maintaining lights and air-conditioning, and there is firewood stacked for the small woodstove. The other end of the building has room for the truck inside, and all of the safe load we'd bring from the main house with a day's warning. The structure is in a small town, about 3 miles from the Jacksonville FAA traffic control center, and within 1 mile of U.S. Highway 1, and 15 miles of both Interstates 95 and 10. There are two pumpable wells on the property, with electric pumps installed, and the water is tested potable annually in October, for the last 10 years. We use the wells to water the property. There is a cache of canned food, and drinking water, which we'd supplement with additional supplies during any evacuation.

But now, that structure is about 22 miles south of this, and since that picture was taken on April 20, the fires around the Okefenokee have consumed an estimated 89,000 acres (more than 100 square miles). The fire haze in the air over Jacksonville is so thick that it visibly occluded the sun this evening around 6, producing a weird, dim, blood red disk 25 degrees above the horizon, for more than an hour and half before sunset.

The Black River is between my inland place and the fire, but I am pissed that Georgia Power was too damned cheap to chop trees with the very dry spring we've had this year. It was a tree falling on a powerline that started this mess.

Hurricane season starts in a little less than a month.
posted by paulsc 02 May | 20:36
I don't worry about nukes or other WMDs taking me out. In spite of our president's awesome international relations, it is just so unlikely. Will there be terror attacks? Probably, terrorism -- domestic or imported -- has been with us since we lived in caves. Will I be targeted? Doubtful.

I remember a lot of people were afraid to fly after 9/11. I loved the empty planes and sitting in first class.

I'm not worried, but the more likely thing in my neck of the woods are tornados. Fortunately the D/FW area sucks them all up before they can get down to Austin. Hurricanes don't make it this far inland. When I lived in California, I wasn't worried about earthquakes. I respect Mother Nature, but I'm not obsessed about what I'm going to do in an emergency. I do know that the town I live in is ill prepared for a mass evacuation. Normal rush hour paralyzes the city. If EVERYONE had to leave, we'd be fucked. And I'd rather die in my house than stuck in traffic.

A flu pandemic could happen as well. When I was flying through Tokyo I saw several people wearing masks at the airport. The world is much smaller now, so some crazy ass bug could wreak havoc.

I'm into self-preservation, but also cognizant that in the event of the bomb or calamity and my number is up, adios.

Not to raise any anxiety but the likelihood of being in a car crash or household accident is much higher than the apocalyptic scenarios.

Shit, Doohikie's storm is here.
posted by birdherder 02 May | 20:39
I consider myself *slightly* prepared. I have 72 hours of meds, food and potable water. I also keep several LED/Lithium battery flashlights, and materials for rudimentary shelter, light and heat for about a week. That includes wool blankets, tarps, 100' rope, duct tape, flares, dual-fuel coleman lantern, Sterno, and copies of Medicine for Mountaineering and the Army survival field guide. Local maps and compass, which I know how to use. Pepper spray is for defense. When The Quake comes, I will shelter in place.

Although I mentioned the Remington 870 above, I don't actually have a firearm. I've been vacillating on this since Katrina. It seems to me that the "Veneer of Civilization" is less than 48 hours thick in this country. I have emergency supplies, most other people do not. There is a fundamental conflict inherent in this situation, and I keep coming back to an observation that contains a lot of truth, even if it's a bit glib:

"The sound of a 12-gauge slide-action shotgun being racked is a universally understood statement that things. have. now. turned. serious."

Decidedly not a conversation I ever hope to have, but the other options seem both unpalatable and naive. Consider that the scientists say the probability of a major earthquake where I live in the next 30 years is .62, I don't think I'm being unreasonable.
posted by Triode 02 May | 21:15
I haven't thought very deeply about this stuff, maybe because most of the places I've lived haven't been very disaster-prone. I like a rhetorical 'What's the worst thing that could possibly happen,' but I'm not a when-the-shit-goes-down type.

But, now that I think about it: I've got a broad skill set, reference books, a decent set of tools, a truck, a few bikes, some camping equipment, not much food and plenty of booze. I felt reasonably well-prepared, until I started reading about your safe rooms and steel buildings and shotguns.
posted by box 02 May | 21:40
In case of thermonuclear war ...

Step 1: steal boat
Step 2: move to small island
Step 3: wait

Sure, there are some details that need hashing out, but I think I've got the basics down. And upon my return to the mainland, I can then use my newfound island wit and tenacity to conquer a small, northeastern city. But not Boston. I hate Boston.
posted by the great big mulp 02 May | 22:19
I've just recalled that every time I move to a new part of town, I stake out the places I would hit for shelter, food, and weaponry in case of a zombie apocalypse. I'll be so disappointed if that never happens.
posted by the great big mulp 02 May | 22:20
I am not prepared at all. For anything.

Oh, well.

It seems to me that the "Veneer of Civilization" is less than 48 hours thick in this country.

I'm more optimistic. I've cited Katrina as an example of social breakdown over at The Other Website but Katrina was a pretty extreme example. The social fabric in New Orleans was very weak before the storm. NO's thugs came up with the expression "30-day homicide," meaning that you could shoot somebody in broad daylight, then get arrested as the likeliest suspect. You'd cool your heels in jail for a month, nobody would come forward as a witness, and that would be the end of it.

That's a society that will descend into a Hobbesian state very quickly because it's only a half step removed from it anyway.

Most places would take a little longer. Not much longer. Maybe 96 hours or so. But with Katrina, you had a weak social fabric, extreme alienation, an overrepresenation of dysfunctional, violent people, an absolutely bungled response on the part of local, state and federal governments.
posted by jason's_planet 02 May | 22:49
Triode, it was Katrina that made us get serious. We live about a mile from the Capitol in DC, and I was out of work for an entire week after the antrax scares, but it was the rampant lawlessness and lack of government aid in NO that made me decide that I needed to be prepared. I could not stand to see my family standing on a highway overpass without water, or, otherwise, suffer in some festering makeshift shelter like the Superdome. So we did some research and bought a bunch of stuff, for both quick evacuation and sheltering in place, food, medicine, water, flashlights, toilet paper, home defense, liquor, etc., etc., etc., just about everything you'll find on the varous preparedness sites.

Honestly, more than anything it's about my fear of not being able to provide for my family in case of emergency. Sure, we were all supposed to get prepared after 9/11, but I sort of had the naive trust that the government would provide. But DC ain't that different from NO, socially and economically, and I could see our neighborhood breaking down pretty quickly. It would fucking kill me if my wife our daughter were suffering and I couldn't do anything about it. Maybe all the supplies give me a false sense of security, but I do rest better knowing it's all there.
posted by mrmoonpie 03 May | 11:07
Hurricane season starts in a little less than a month.

One more reason I'm glad I no longer live in South Carolina.
posted by PaxDigita 03 May | 12:13
Down with peepee and coochie! I'm feeling ... crotchety. || Strandbeest