The power has gone out, so you cannot turn on the television, radio or open the refrigerator. All of your rechargeable devices are dead, but it hardly matters since your cellphone has no service to make phone calls, let alone access to the internet.
Your vehicle may have been destroyed in a storm, or branches and decrepit utility infrastructure are blocking your driveway. In any case, you will not be able to get to the supermarket or supermarket. Even if you could, they have no milk, meat, or gasoline to sell you.
Help is coming from government and business, but it will take a few days – at least. Hopefully with God’s mercy you will still have an intact roof and clean water from the tap.
You are hungry, vulnerable, and cut off from the rest of the world. It’s a real doomsday scenario, and it’s the brutal reality that tens of thousands of Iowans woke up after a week real storm devastated central and eastern Iowa with a 100 mph wind.
Preppers and survivors are usually portrayed as paranoid maniacs. But you don’t have to be obsessed with the prospect of nuclear war or a zombie apocalypse to realize the importance of disaster risk reduction – all you have to do is watch the Iowa weather.
For the dozen of Iowans who have died from extreme weather events in the past decade that I’ve covered – and hundreds of Americans who suffer the same fate every year – the tornado, flood, or heatwave was the end of times. You are foolish to think that this cannot happen to you.
This is not intended to blame the victims of such disasters. On the contrary, it is based on an understanding that well-prepared people are best placed to help others in need, especially when our usual support systems are shut down.
I started following the prepper movement a few years ago after watching a marathon of Doomsday Preppers, the previous National Geographic television series. Each participant’s time on the show ended with a short section called “The Odds,” where the narrator wiped away the risk of a crisis that the prepper was focused on. It was a way to reassure viewers that this person is crazy and should not be listened to.
Coincidentally, the 2011 season of Doomsday Preppers featured a woman Preparing for an infectious disease pandemic similar to the flu. “While it is likely that a pandemic will occur in our future, it is impossible to predict the timing and severity of such an event,” concluded the television writers, as if to say why should they care?
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States this spring, there were supply shortages. There was a national campaign to shame people who “hoard” toilet paper and disinfect products. The people who defied the advice to only take what you need have been labeled selfish, but anyone who has long ignored the recommendation to save staples has been deemed guilty.
It is unfortunate that preparing a drawer is viewed as a right wing conspiracy. Correctly understood, hippies are part of the movement in communities that practice permaculture, as are militiamen who make connections with chicken coops in the rural forests.
Undoubtedly, the government has a legitimate role in responding to extreme crisis situations, but if this is your first and only readiness, you are going to have a bad time.
And you don’t need a bunker to be a prepper. Water jugs, canned food, propane, and batteries are good places to start.
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The damage from the August 10th Derecho storm can be seen in an aerial photo in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday, August 11, 2020. (Stephen Mally / Freelance)