Imagine this. With no warning you are told you have 1 hour to gather your stuff and evacuate your home because it is in danger of being washed away. If this were to happen, you’d lose everything you had. Sounds like a nightmare, right? For about 200,000 people in California it was a reality. Losing your possessions is nothing compared to losing your life or having your safety severely compromised because you have been displaced without a plan. Situations such as the Oroville dam evacuation can be extremely hostile and put you and your family at great risk. This blog will show you how to mitigate the risks involved with the sudden displacement of your family and the associated chaos.
- Time is of the Essence: When people hear “time is of the essence”, they think in terms of impending danger from the specific event causing the evacuation. However, in reality, time is of the essence because a massive amount of people will be buying fuel, withdrawing money from ATMs, flooding the roads and thus bringing traffic to a standstill.
- Prior Planning: Hurricane Katrina taught us a valuable lesson. Those who didn’t prepare ended up at the Superdome. These people became refugees where they were robbed, beaten, murdered and raped. The Superdome became a lawless gathering of desperate people trying to survive by any means necessary. Develop a plan for you family and practice. Assume no communications will be available. Have a pre-determiend primary and secondary meeting location, a plan to evacuate and a plan for personal protection when the relative peace of society breaks down.
- Communication: Throughout the years I have been in close proximity to several catastrophic events. Severe weather, civil unrest and 9/11. In all instances communication was not possible. Cell phone towers were either destroyed or overloaded to the point of not functioning. Think about it, when catastrophe strikes what does everyone do? They get on their cell phones and try to make contact with loved ones. The day-to-day communication systems we rely on simply cannot handle this volume of traffic. This is why it is imperative to have a plan everyone knows in advance.
- Fuel: I was in downtown Philadelphia on the morning of 9/11. As soon as the second plane hit and there was no doubt it was a terrorist attack, the entire city turned into chaos. Bridges were closed, buildings evacuated and the streets were flooded with people who had nowhere to go, myself included. After many hours trying to procure a car to drive non-stop back to Kansas City, I was successful. However, another problem became obvious, fuel. Gas stations were sucked dry and those that had gas further outside of town had already raised the prices through the roof. Keep your gas tank full and consider safely storing enough fuel at home to fill an empty tank on your primary vehicle.
- Money: You cannot rely on ATM machines when disaster strikes. ATM machines rely on power and internet, both of which may be down. Furthermore, ATM machines hold a finite amount of cash and will be out of money in no time. Consider keeping several hundred dollar of cash accessible at all times.
- Rapidly Transport What’s Important: Many people delay evacuating and get stuck in gridlocked traffic because they are unorganized and unprepared. Have a list of the bare essentials you will take. Make sure you have containers to easily gather and transport your possessions.
- Understand the Dynamics of Mass Panic: The same people who are nice today may not be nice when they are desperate to survive. Desperate people are extremely dangerous. Have a personal protection plan and force multipliers with you at all times. If you choose to be a responsibly armed citizen, understand that ammunition will not be available in times of unrest. Plan accordingly and acquire what you need in advance of needing it.
Although you may not live near a dam, the lessons learned from the Oroville dam evacuation apply to most any disaster. Plan now so that you can handle the dynamics of unrest. Remember, those who didn’t prepare ended up at the Superdome.