August 1998

Get Organized, Make Contacts, Assess Your Position

Let me make one thing clear.  I am preparing to supply up to ten people for two to four weeks.  I expect to have difficulty getting either food, or water, or heat, but not all three.  I do not expect to have to leave our base, which is a small house in the suburbs east of Los Angeles.  I do not expect to have to defend our base or our supplies.  I expect that all services will be fully functional before one month has passed. 

If you think that things are serious enough that you need to make plans for a longer-term survival, I refer to you Captain Dave's Survival Center.


During the month of August, we will assess our position and make our plans.  What needs to be done?  Who can help?  Who should be included in our plans? 

Perhaps you are a Seventh Day Adventists, in which case you are supposed to have a year's worth of food set aside and much of your preparations are done.   Perhaps you are LDS (Mormon), with a cultural tradition of planning and canning.   Perhaps you are a camping enthusiast, and have a few weeks worth of freeze dried food in case you decide to take off for Yellowstone on a moment's notice.  What do you have?  What do you need?  Start thinking like a survivalist.

1 August 1998 (-518 days) - Organizing a Team

I mention my concerns to two friends.  I chose about five years ago to live near them, so they are within walking distance (about a mile from me).  Lorain is a single mother with 13-year-old twins.  Her son is living at home, and is a Boy Scout.   Her daughter is currently living with her sister-in-law in a rural town in Washington.  If her daughter is still in Washington, she will probably be fine with some food set aside.  We will plan to be able to support her here if she relocates during the next eighteen months.

Lorain is a computer trainer, so she understands the situation.  She comes from a farm background, so she has experience living with less technological support.  She has a house with a yard that is partially planted and is a centered, practical woman.

Thomas, her son, is working on his emergency preparedness badge.  He is rapidly becoming a centered, practical young man.  He will be a lot of help. 

John is an electronic technician and understands combat and weapons.  He can repair things.  John is very good at working in teams, and will have a lot of good ideas. 

The best part about Lorain and John (and even Thomas) is that they are science fiction and Heinlein fans.   They have a lot of hope but also a realistic view of society and technology.   They understand and agree with the need to be prepared.  They are also the sort of people who can sit around talking or playing Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble.  Without television or radio, and confined to the house, we won't be bored.

We discuss our plans.  Lorain's house will be our base of operations.  It is larger than John's and better prepared for guests staying extended periods.  I agree to lay out the calendar.

Where will you be on 12/31/1999?  Who will you be with?   Who can help you prepare? 

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14 August 1998 (-505 days) - Team Assessment/Base Assessment

Our team meets over dinner to discuss details. 

We decide to extend an invitation to some of our friends.  Roberta is another electronic technician and experienced in firearms.  She and her mother live about forty miles away.  Gabe is a friend who lives alone.  He has a lot of organizational skills, good electronic skills, and a strong sense of hope and faith.  Besides the fact that these people are our friends, we know that in a pinch they will be able to help out.  When added to our team, they will make us stronger, not weaker.  We will offer these people the opportunity to come and stay with us, but I think they would be okay staying where they are and using our place as a retreat.

Lorain's neighbor is a woman with canning experience.  She can teach us to can and store vegetables.  Lorain reminds us that we live in a large LDS community.   "Saints" have a tradition of "planning and canning," and can teach us.   John agreed to take me and Cynthia to a gun range and help us learn to shoot.   Thomas volunteers, but Lorain and I discourage it.  He is only thirteen, and while I think he could be a good shot and a responsible gun owner, even armed, he is not intimidating. 

One of our "invited guests," people who will not be required to help us prepare, but who will be told we preparing and invited to join us if need be, is informed of our plans.  He decides that we (or at least I) may be paranoid.  I was prepared for this, but I am concerned.  He is interested in robotics, and should therefore have some knowledge of computers, but the Year 2000 crisis does not concern him.   If we cannot convince him of even the possibility of problems, how will we fare with those of our friends who are not computer savvy.

We plan to do the following:

  • We will dig up the remaining portion of Lorain's yard and prepare it for planting
    • Lorain's neighbor is building her some planting boxes
    • We plan a full harvest next year and will can as much as possible
  • We will also consider planting in John's yard
    • problem, it has never been planted and is full of rocks
    • also, he has a dog, and we would have to fence off the yard
    • (maybe the front yard)
  • Lorain and I will get our ham radio licenses this winter
  • Lorain and I and possibly Cynthia will take up karate
    • Lorain has some experience at this
    • I see this more as a method of strengthening us and teaching us to be calm in the face of danger
  • We will clean out Lorain's garage and use it for storage. 
  • Lorain's fruit trees should be trimmed back so that next year's crop is larger and healthier
  • We need a lock box for prescriptions.  Lorain, Thomas, and Cynthia are asthmatics.   Lorain, Thomas, and John are on anti-depressants.  I also want to have caffeine tablets or other stimulants and sleeping pills.  When I first planned my earthquake kit, I included these, reasoning that there would be times when we might have to work longer than we could stand, digging people out of the rubble of collapsed buildings, and times when we would have to rest, when nothing more could be done.

We discuss other people.  Let's face it, if we didn't care about anyone else, there'd be no point in this Website. 

My father and step-mother live in a hundred-year-old farmhouse is the exurbs of Chicago.  They'll be safe, and they can store there.  My sister and her husband live in a rural community in Southern Illinois.  I hope that if they aren't already prepared (hard winters, etc.) that they can benefit from the advice of local farmers.  

My mother and step-father live on Chicago's near north side.  It is not that distant from some of the most dangerous sections of the city.  Her townhouse is in a gated community, but she has a garage that exits onto an unguarded alley.  I'm going to recommend that they buy a padlock for the garage.  Lorain and I agree that we should invite my mother and step-father to stay with us.  I agree, but I'm going to wait.  If the GPS Rollover and 9/9/99 cause sufficient problems, we may hardly need to ask.

My Bubba lives in an apartment house near a hospital.  She lives on the 23rd floor.  What would she do for food and water if there were no water pressure and no electricity for the elevator?  If my mom stays in Chicago, Bubba should be at her house.

When I finish this Web site, I am going to print it out and take copies with me to a family function I am attending next weekend.  I am probably going to get a reputation as being paranoid.  Oh well, I can't save everyone, but I do have a responsibility to suggest that everyone save themselves.

What does your team have?  What does your team need? 

What does your base need?  Assess it in survival-mode.   What would you need here if you had no food for a week?  What would you need if there were riots nearby?  (Lorain's house has large windows and sliding glass doors.  If there is civil unrest, we will want to cover the windows with plywood.)

Begin stocking up tools and non-perishables like candles and matches.

Assess your team's strengths and weaknesses.  Pay special attention to any special needs your team has.  Lorain has a physical disability.  She is not as strong and does not have the endurance of some other team members.  We will have to plan to accommodate her.  

Fortunately for us, Lorain has a garage in which we can store things.  If you don't have a garage, you can put a lot of emergency supplies in a 32-gallon trash can.  Get the plastic type with the screw-on lid.  I especially recommend the trash can-storage solution for people preparing for earthquakes.  You can store it outside of the garage, so that it will be accessible if the garage collapses.  

Note that any food stored outside should be in glass or metal containers to prevent rodents from getting to it.  Rats can chew through plastic.   But once you have your tins of crackers and jars of noodles, they store well in a plastic trash barrel.  Just don't set it too close to the curb.  :-)

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August 28 (-491 days)

Now we will start organizing in earnest, clearing space to store food, water, wood, and tools.

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Lauren Eve Pomerantz
August 1998
last updated 15 August 2007