Submitted January 20, 2009

Hurricane Lessons Learned and Some Advice on Getting Prepared

The following story was originally posted at

Sometimes it is not an option to relocate so you have to get prepared wherever you are located. I am located on the Gulf Coast 60 short miles from New Orleans, Louisiana. We were ground zero for Hurricane Katrina, so I have a first hand experience of what can happen I will describe some things that I did right and some things that I did wrong.

We were unable to relocate to a place like Idaho as we had elderly parents who could not and probably would not relocate to a more appropriate survival area.

My mother was born in 1930 the daughter of a sharecropper in the Louisiana delta. They lived a survivor lifestyle as a matter of everyday life. She instilled in me a fear of having absolutely nothing. Until her death in 2007 she refused to run a dishwasher or air conditioner. She could not bring herself to waste electricity, water, or anything for that matter. She would not waste anything.

Although not as dedicated to thrift as my mother, I did inherit her fear of hunger, and vulnerability to the unexpected. She died in fear of depression era conditions returning. When she died I lost a valuable source of survival information.

Because of my mother's influence, the day after Hurricane Katrina, we were one out of 75,000 or so who had lights and running water 36 hours after the storm. The following is what most people did wrong:

A lot of people had generators, the problem was that they only had a couple of cans of gas. So they were all without power in less than 24 hrs. All of the gas stations were disabled. No gas means no power!

Nobody had enough food, they recommend three days, it took almost three days just to get the roads clear.

No guns! I had friends who did not "believe in guns" that ended up borrowing some weapons.

No dogs! Without dogs, you have no warning of intruders. Alarm systems don't work after the batteries are dead.

The following is what I did right:

I had a natural gas generator installed. I was up and running less than 36 hours of the storm. It was also a mistake to select natural gas as a fuel source. Upturned trees broke gas lines all over the region, it was only blind luck that left me with gas pressure. A propane system would have been better.

I had drilled a water well. I was able to provide water pressure to my house, city water was out for weeks. I tied the system back to the house by a simple water hose going from a faucet on my pump to one on the house.

I had lights and water. Here is what I did wrong:

I evacuated the elderly mothers and dogs to an area 100+ miles north. Electricity was out over the entire state, my motor home generator powered my sisters house where I left our parents and dogs. I left the dogs at my bug out location before I returned to the disaster area.

Mistake #1: I sent my dogs elsewhere.

The other thing I was unprepared for were refugees. I call them refugees because they would have gone hungry without the food in my pantry and freezers. I was totally unprepared for the 16 families looking to me for food and direction.

Some other things I did wrong:

I did not have enough food. I fed a lot of people. In a real end of life as we know it scenario, I would have been forced to choose who I would have to turn away. It's one thing to take care of people when you know help is on the way, quite another when there is no help in sight.

Weapons: I loaned my old shotguns to all the people who did not believe in the private ownership of guns. When gangs of illegal aliens and welfare recipients' were roaming the streets, the folks who didn't believe in guns didn't hesitate to request assistance.

I did not have a fuel source independent of the grid.

The following are changes that I have made:

I now have a Bluebird Bus motor home. It has a huge fuel tank that I can use to run the house if the natural gas generator quits. It’s diesel generator can put out 12 kw for a long time.

I have a much larger store of food.

I have a photovoltaically-powered water supply.

I have a bug out vehicle that has a 1,200 to 1,500 mile range. It has a propane refrigerator. It has a water system that can provide water pressure to my house.

I have dogs. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, thieves were cranking up lawn mowers and pushing them up next to running generators after the storm. They would then shut down the running generators and leave the running lawn mowers while they absconded with the generators. You cannot stay awake 24 hours a day. Dogs do not miss much if anything. I can’t recommend a breed of dog, but the following work for me: Miniature Schnauzers, Australian shepherds, Catahoula Curs. If you live in the south and have some land you cannot beat a Catahoula Cur. An Australian Sheppard is a close second for all climates.

I have ten acres and good soil, I am putting in a very large garden. However, I do not feel that I can overcome the huge welfare population we have here, If things get out of hand, I plan to bug out. I now have an RV that has a tremendous range. It has a propane refrigerator, and full facilities. I can literally live on the side of the road for weeks or months. It is equipped to pull a full-size 4WD with trailer. I have several bug out locations within four hours where I can evacuate to. When I leave I will have dogs, food, tools, and arms. I also have shortwave radios.

You have to develop a survival mentality, you have to add to your preparation everyday. Each trip to Wal-Mart is an opportunity to add to your supplies. The one thing I learned is that when the storm hits, its too late to think about being prepared. You have to think: if a disaster strikes, how long can you feed and protect your family? I add to my provisions every day.

Start to prepare now. Think: food, food, and more food, ammo, bandages, and unless you can go without sleep 24 hours a day don't forget the dogs!

Ken on the Gulf Coast

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