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5 Forgotten Survival Lessons From Hurricane Katrina

Image source: Countdown.org

Image source: Countdown.org

There are many myths and misconceptions about survival in an urban environment following a natural or man-made disaster. Images of fierce mobs, sneaky looters, and violent conflicts in the streets between neighborhoods or groups spring to mind.

While those things can happen in such a situation, these media images often make us forget about the forgotten realities of urban survival which we have seen from tragic events such as Hurricane Katrina.

Here are a few forgotten realities of urban survival from Katrina and other urban disasters that go beyond what we can visualize from the media:

1. Exit Routes Will Be Closed

If you think you can just load up your SUV and hightail it out of there to a rendezvous point, think again. First, “bugging out” out is the riskier option in some situations compared to “bugging in.” Secondly, thousands if not millions of people in your area will be trying to evacuate as well. This means traffic will move very slowly, the roads will be clogged, you’ll be exposed out in the open, and you’ll be practically stuck for hours if not days. Bridges, tunnels, highways — everything could be closed off by law enforcement and military personnel.

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2. There Could Be Martial Law

During Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans went under martial law as 80 percent of the city became flooded. Yes, there will be mobs and looters, but on top of the roads being closed off, you’ll have law enforcement and military personnel on standby under orders either from the governor of the state or the mayor of the city. Don’t be surprised if mass civilian disarmament starts to take place; the same thing happened to the citizens of New Orleans, leaving them defenseless against looters. The law won’t entirely go out the window, either; if you have to use deadly force in self-defense, you’ll still have to answer to military police.

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3. There Will Be Environmental Hazards

Compared to a rural environment, there will be significantly more environmental hazards in an urban doomsday environment. There will be things such as burning debris, toxic smoke and leaked chemicals that could all pose dangers to your safety. Consider investing in sturdy shoes, long-sleeve shirts and jackets, eye protection, hearing protection, heavy duty gloves, and respiratory protection.

4. Food Will Be More Limited

Forget about hunting for your own food if you’re in the city when the grid goes down. For survival, there are three primary ways to gain food: 1. Food that you store, 2. Food that you grow and cultivate, or 3. Food that you can find from foraging. In urban survival, most of the food that you’ll eat will be from the first option. Stores will be stripped clean of materials within the first few hours of a disaster, and people’s homes won’t go down without a fight if they’re not abandoned. Hence, the primary way you can get food in urban environments is what you have stored and preserved, so stock up.

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5. The More Tactical You Are … The More Of A Target You Will Be

If mass disarmament starts to take place, guess whose doorstep the authorities will be visiting first? If your preparations stand out, it’s you. To protect yourself, take the following procedures: conceal all weapons and survival gear on you, remove all military logos to your clothing, gear and vehicles, keep your bug-out bag out of public view, avoid eye contact with other individuals, and wear normal looking clothes.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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6 comments

  1. In a mass exodus of a major city like New York, expect that a lot of motorists will be running out of gas within three or four hours on the road. This means lane blockages and slower speeds. Twelve hours on the road, and 90% of all vehicles will run dry. There will be no resupply from the cops or the highway dept (no way to get the gas trucks past the dead cars).

    Expect to run into armed car jackers, erratic drivers, pedestrians in the road asking for rides, crazys demanding your vehicle, people riding on the top of cars and trucks. Many accidents. Don’t stop!

    After you run out of gas – if you are traveling with small kids, make provisions for carrying them or hauling them in some sort of wheeled cart – they will NOT be able to keep walking for more than an hour or two. Get some sort of sling so that you can carry them on your back. Same goes for your BOB – make sure you have a way to carry it like a pack, leaving your hands free.

    Have comfortable shoes in your BOB – especially if you wear heels to work!

  2. Carry bicycles as backup. when I left New Orleans several hours b4 the storm arrived I had already scouted out months ahead, a substantial structure to protect myself from the dangers. Reentering the city from the west I encountered closed gas stations, flooding and looters. A johnboat and more ammo would have helped. The lesson I learned was to think through every possible problem and have a solution ready.

  3. Wear earh tone clothing common to your area. You’ll be able to better conceal yourself without the “cammo” effect in other words

  4. If a major storm is coming, even in your general direction, don’t wait too long before deciding to evacuate.
    Leave early, before it becomes clear your area is in the bullseye. Not only will you avoid the panic, but you will be able to secure a place to stay much easier if you don’t have family or friends to stay with.

  5. Just came thru Hurricane Matthew. This time I evacuated my near coastal home in SC ahead of the storm. Not because the talking-screaming heads on the Weather Channel demanded I do. Not because the governor (who knows the politics of hysteria in the name of “keeping people safe”) . I bugged out because my wife, who was already in western North Carolina was demanding and begging me to. I wondered what she was basing this hysteria on. Answer is simple: the weather channel and that idiot on Fix news who was predicting everyone who tries to ride Matthew out is going to die!

    Here is what I have learned living in coastal SC for 30 years. Mother Nature is not always your friend! She sometimes attacks with things like hurricanes: and thanks to modern technology, hurricanes are no longer sneak attacks. Although once again we are putting trust in fair to muddling government employees who are running the National Hurticane Center, at least they provide the basic intelligence (tracking maps) to assess the threat.

    Threat assessment is the first step to deciding to bug in or bug out. Each chouce requires supplies and a plan. We know this. We are all captains if our own ships and threat assessment is our job – – not the government’s job. The basic Intel is out there with the tracking maps, speed and direction data, and several computer modeled potential paths. The screaming heads are just government Intel officers giving you opinions or, in some cases, disinformation based on fear, panic, desire to look knowledgable and important and clairvoyant and omnipotent. But they are not the Captain of your ship!

    If you think you can assess the threat against your own lication, circumstances, resources and supplies if you need them, then simply keep track of the Hurticane for as long as you can on TV, Computer, radio, and then decide to flee bug out or hunker down.

    In y case, I ascertained the threat to my area, given the best information at the time as to location, strength, projected path etc, to be minimal chance of loss of life. Zero chance of the house collapsing in wind, slight chance of a tree hit against the house, and no impact from a guess if 5 ft storm surge. Had I not had a place to go to in North Carolina my Odds of finding a motel that would take a dog was very slim to none (booked well ahead by early flee people paying gouge out prices), and a low to moderate chance of injury or death on the jam packed roads, then even normal trafficked roads in the mountains, at night. Then there is probably low to moderate chance of my car getting damaged on the road . More than if my car was in a garage at home.

    Then there is the inevitable government intervention in keeping or delaying you from returning to your home for “Safety” reasons. Granted, some roads may be impassable, but if open, the lack of electrical power is no reason to keep people from their homes that are sitting ducks for thieves. And no, most adults don’t need to be told to stay away from crackling power lines on the ground. Then of course, you aphave to analyze the low to moderate likelihood of injury or death or property damage on the roadways coming back from the expensive motel or campground or distant all night bowling alley wherever.

    I assessed my threat level as low from hurricane Matthew. As it turned out. All I had was branches from the neighbor’s pine tree littering my back yard and some oak leaves littering the front yard. One sweep with the lawnmower and like nothing happened.

    Was I lucky? I always said I would rather be lucky than good. But I think in this case, I knew when to hold em, even though my wife made me fold em. You can bet your last dollar that I’m relying on my own assessment of a hurricane threat to me, and not let the riot incites at the weather channel have anything other than supporting facts about the hurricane track influence me – – ir my wife

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