Submitted July 28, 2009

Surviving Hurricane Francis

My story relates to any urban survival situation, certainly one we'll all experience in our lifetime. I have never depended on outside resources to make it through any emergency and Hurricane Francis was no exception.

Having been through many hurricanes as a native Floridian, the basics always apply. I keep a stock of fresh drinking water (in food grade storage containers) along with non-perishable foods, snacks, rechargeable batteries, flashlights, a small radio, first aid kit, prepaid cell phone, plenty of books to read.

Hurricane Francis was a different storm for me in the sense NOBODY in my new neighborhood had ever dealt with a hurricane and what it brings afterward. Although I was completely prepared, in a safe structure my neighbors were not so equipped.

Immediately after the storm had passed, (both sides of it) I went outside to survey the damage. I took note of my neighbors who were completely freaked out from the experience. Little did they know the fun had just begun!

Later that day, those who previously viewed me as a 'nut job' came calling to ask what to do, simple things...because there's no power (wasn't going to be any for WEEKS) they were worried about their food which was mostly frozen, refrigerated and doomed to spoil if they didn't take action.

I got together with my building's residents, advised them to immediately cook their refrigerated food...stay out of the freezer till things looked as though they were thawing out.

Now, since most of them cook with a stove/microwave, I wound up cooking their food on my grill and those who had one did the same.

One of the biggest problems we all faced is lack of fresh water (actually ANY water at all), so they were asking me...How to flush their toilets?...simple, I take a a 5 gallon bucket down to the lake we lived around, presto!...one flushed toilet with a spare flush in one trip!

Next they stop in that night and find me cooking food on my countertop (veggies to go with my dinner) and asked about that, well I had previously learned what a blessing sterno is and had plenty of it on hand. I had built a makeshift sterno stove out of a few empty vegetable cans and the rack from my toaster oven...sweet!

Making coffee, just as easy, I took the filter out of my coffee maker, put a paper filter in it, added coffee, heated some fresh water, poured it into the filter container and before long a nice fresh cup of coffee!

Now I mention rechargeable batteries for (1) reason, BATTERIES of all kinds are the first to go, except people overlook rechargeable thinking...how am I going to recharge them?....well a DC converter can plug into your car's lighter/utility port then you plug in your wall mount battery charger, presto you've got a pretty good supply of batteries you can keep on using!

I also use Candles (emergency candles are overpriced garbage!) I use those big fat dollar store candles which give you hours of candle light and cost a whole lot less. My favorite now is the LED lanterns/flashlights, they consume so little juice from batteries and provide you a safer way to light things up (especially with young kids around).

Speaking of children, you can make a more fun time in a situation like this by being creative, for my children it was toasting marshmallows, reading stories and "camping out" in luxury! Because we didn't have bugs or wild animals to worry about and could sleep in nice comfortable beds...although we did roll out the sleeping bags around the lanterns in the living room for story time.

Now the only downside for me was loss of internet, but I have since remedied that with a laptop and mobile broadband adapter, so that in combination with my charging solution I can keep in touch with the world no matter where I am, in fact I took that rig camping in the middle of the woods and it was nice!

I remember F.E.M.A. happening along within a few days and asking if we needed food, water etc. ... politely I said no, we're doing fine, they persisted, so I took an MRE for each of us and we ate them that night...note I found out how quick those MRE heaters get "HOT" and since then handle them with a lot more care.

Right now I am more concerned over the very likelihood that ALL of us could face a situation that will take us from our normal routines and won't be so quick to return to normal, so I'm setting up for surviving a much longer term (6 months to a year) without outside help. Like always I want to share this with others so I built a website to help those who were just like my neighbors, unprepared you can visit it here: http://www.SurvivalTime.org. It's got everything the urban survivalist will need to make it through nearly anything God or Government can throw at you!

If you have any specific questions, concerns I'm always happy to help those in need, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Troy Billington

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