OTGN continues its interview  with Richard Duarte…
OTG: You are a Miami resident. Florida has a bill pending which would require an anger management course be taken in order to purchase ammunition, among other new dictates. How do you and fellow Sunshine State survivalists and preppers feel about such Second Amendment infringements?
RD: I can only speak for myself, but I am outraged. Currently there are many efforts throughout the nation to pass a multitude of laws that make absolutely no sense and are totally ridiculous. Politicians eagerly propose pretend solutions in an effort to show constituents that they are engaged and addressing the public safety issues. Meanwhile, the real problems are ignored and swept aside— problems such as mental illness; a criminal justice system that is underfunded, understaffed, and frequently allows violent career criminals to literally get away with murder; and finally, a completely dysfunctional and unresponsive government. These are the real issues, but no one wants to do the heavy lifting, so politicians look for the headlines and the sound bites and nothing more. At the end of the day, we have no one to blame but ourselves. For years we have been complaining about how useless our elected officials are, yet we continue to elect the same type of people to represent us, all the while we expect different results. Is there something wrong with that picture?
OTG: You penned, “Surviving An Urban Disaster, How Prepared Are You?” an article for the June edition of S.W.A.T. Magazine. What can you share about the upcoming featured article?
RD: S.W.A.T. magazine is an excellent publication and I am grateful that they gave me an opportunity to write an article on the topic of urban survival. The article itself is a detailed summary of what the average person should be thinking about, and how they should be preparing and planning for a crisis.
OTG: Do you think the first new case of SARS in France should prompt citizens from around the world to be better prepared for a pandemic?
RD: My focus is usually on preparation, planning, and addressing those things that are within my control. I tend not to focus on particular threats since none of us have any way of knowing what the future holds. SARS should be a concern, but no more so than any other health concern that we face on a daily basis. I recommend storing and maintaining first aid supplies (including gloves, face shields, N95 masks, antibacterial soaps and gels, etc.) and taking reasonable precautions. These supplies will be extremely useful and difficult to obtain, especially during any outbreak—real or perceived.
OTG: Are you concerned about the ongoing bird flu breakouts and controversial laboratory testing designed to create an airborne version of the virus?
RD: It is now reported that a team of scientist in China have created hybrid viruses by mixing genes from H5N1 and the H1N1 strain that was behind the 2009 swine flu pandemic. These hybrids are alleged to have the ability to go airborne. While there is no evidence that this particular hybrid has ever occurred naturally outside of the laboratory, considering that both H5N1 and H1N1 are still out there, the opportunity to do so definitely exist.
This issue should remain on our radar and people, especially those who live or work in densely populated areas, should make reasonable preparations and contingency plans in the event of an outbreak. As most of us already know, obtaining supplies prior to the news of any outbreak is crucial. Once news of an outbreak goes public, it will only take a few hours before store shelves are stripped clean of N95 masks, gloves, and other necessary products.
OTG: Water storage for urban preppers can also be a major hurdle. What advice can you offer about storing and disinfecting drinking water in a city environment?
RD: After any urban disaster, water and security will usually be the greatest threats that people encounter in the resulting aftermath. Most people can’t survive for more than three days without water. After security, water should always be the absolute top priority. Any successful survival plan must effectively provide access to clean potable water. I strongly recommend storing a minimum three week supply of water for the short term. No less than two gallons per person, per day. I also encourage people to have an alternative “Plan B” water supply for the longer term and redundant methods for filtering and disinfecting the water. In the city this can be quite a challenge and there are no easy answers. The best way to meet this challenge is to start thinking and planning now, before something happens. Identify possible sources of water in your immediate area and remember, most water disinfection methods will not remove pollution or other chemical contaminates frequently found in urban water sources. Your first line of defense is, and should always be, your short-term water supply. Never neglect this.
OTG: Are you concerned about the frailties of the US power grid? Which do you think is the biggest threat to a grid-down scenario, solar flares, cyber hacking, or an EMP attack?
RD: All the things you mention are of great concern, although judging by how disinterested and disengaged our government seems to be, you would think that everything is just fine. The US power grid is definitely fragile, and now we have confirmation that foreign governments (China among many others), are constantly trying to hack into the computer networks that control the grid. Remember, we have to be on guard and defend against every possible attack; the attackers only have to get it right once. While there are many things that can be done to harden, update, and secure the electrical grid, it’s all very expensive. As of today, there is very little consensus as to what should be done and even less political will to do anything at all, especially since it requires spending money, albeit for something that is actually worth it. An extended grid-down situation would devastate our country, our economy, and our very way of life.
OTG: Civil unrest is a concerning concept, even in a rural environment. I would imagine that such a scenario in an urban area could be even more dangerous. Did you experience any signs of mounting civil unrest and looting after Hurricane Andrew? How big of a worry is a society gone wild for those who attend your lectures?
RD: After any major disaster, social order can quickly break down. We have seen it time and time again. In a large city, widespread panic and the resulting lawlessness can lead to violence and acts of random aggression. Planning ahead will afford you options that would otherwise be unavailable. Specifically, a well-prepared individual or family can quietly shelter in place while avoiding the chaos, or leave quickly to a safer, predetermined location. Before Hurricane Andrew struck, many people had the opportunity to leave the projected strike zone. Most chose to stay, only to regret it later on. Right after the storm had passed, before any first responders arrived, many south Florida neighborhoods were filled with looters taking anything they could carry away; it was very sad. Amid all the destruction and misery, the criminal element was alive and well, taking full advantage of the loss and suffering of others. I am often asked if this is an issue that concerns me and my answer is always the same—absolutely. I can’t say it enough… any successful survival plan must include a strong security and self-defense component; the word “must” can’t be overemphasized.
OTG: Your book, Surviving Doomsday – A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster  was featured in the Florida Bar Journal Literary Lawyers section. What type of reception did you get from your professional peers when they realized that you are among the three million preppers now actively engaged in preparedness activities? Who should read the book and what makes it different from other urban survival books on the market?
RD: Most of my friends, and professional peers have been very supportive. Many thought it really “cool” that I had written the book and asked when I was going to be on “that prepper  show.” Overall, I have received all sorts of feedback, but the majority has been positive. I don’t consider myself a “prepper” personally—I don’t like labels. I am merely a person who recognizes that we live in a very dangerous and unpredictable world, and that there are reasonable, practical, common sense steps that we can all take to protect ourselves and our loved ones. I think everybody would benefit from reading my book, no matter where they live.
Anything can happen to any of us at any time, often without warning. Being prepared and having a plan just makes sense, no matter who you are. If it were up to me, I would make disaster preparedness a mandatory subject for children to learn about in school. The same way we have fire drills and vaccinations, I would take the time to teach school-aged children how to best protect themselves against the natural and manmade hazards that are so common in our daily lives. But since schools don’t even want to teach kids how to write in cursive anymore, I have very little hope.
In reality, it’s up to us to educate and protect ourselves and our families; to do anything less is irresponsible. I wrote this book for the average, everyday person. You don’t need to be a survival expert to have a plan or to be prepared; anyone can do it. My book is meant to be a roadmap of sorts to help guide the way.