My Path to Becoming a Prepper

In the Beginning

I grew up in a coastal town in southern Florida, so you might say that I learned the value of preparation at an early age. I can recall my mother taping the windows and storing water, canned foods and flashlight batteries every spring, in anticipation of the coming storm season. On many occasions we would lose power due to an afternoon thunderstorm or a tropical depression. Sometimes it would last a few hours, sometimes a day or more. During these mild events we would break out the candles or flashlights and tell ghost stories. As a child it was perceived as a grand adventure. There was little to no panic because we knew it would be short lived and because my mother had the foresight to be prepared.


The Plight of the Unprepared
The Plight of the Unprepared

Unprepared

Hurricanes were common and as a teenager working in the local grocery store, I was witness to the mad dash and chaos that would ensue anytime a severe storm warning was issued. Within hours the aisles of canned food, bottled water, batteries and candles would be wiped out. The shelves would be empty and customers would scream and cry in desperation and disappointment. They would wail at their own misfortune and blame the store manager for not having enough stock on hand. Even then I can remember thinking ‘these people are mad at the wrong person, they should be angry with themselves for not planning ahead.’

Surviving Andrew

As a young adult, I adopted my mother’s habit of preparing for storms at the start of the storm season and basically not worrying about anything else or preparing for other situations that could arise. When Hurricane Andrew tore through South Florida in 1992, we secured our home near the bay and travelled inland to stay with a friend. We were prepared and kept safe while the storm raged outside. Several days later after driving through town with downed power lines and upturned trees, boats in the middle of the street and extensive flooding, we were lucky to find our home unscathed.

A storm like no other
A storm like no other

Because we were prepared ahead of time we were able to traverse the event with a calmness that the people rushing to the store the night before the storm made landfall could not possess. We were also able to avoid paying double, even triple the value for certain items in the heat of the moment. The plywood we purchased in the fall to cover our windows was half the cost when we bought it than it was being sold for the night before the storm hit. Price gouging is illegal in Florida, but it happens, make no mistake.

It wasn’t long after Andrew that my husband and I moved to West Texas and hurricanes or tropical storms were no longer a threat and so my preparation tendencies fell by the wayside for quite some time. When we relocated to Central Texas, the threat of tornadoes came into play and I picked up where I left off with my storm preparation. I would prepare at the start of the season with a few candles, some batteries and water and some non perishable food. Not a lot, just enough for a few days worth and in all honesty, never really believing I would need them.

Little to no warning

Once, while on vacation in Conroe Texas, my husband and I were driving down the highway in a thunderstorm and I noticed clouds moving swiftly up ahead of us. Some other clouds on the opposite side of the highway began to swirl in a circular motion drawing the swiftly moving clouds in from the other side of the highway. We watched this tornado form a few hundred yards in front of us and quickly pulled to the side of the road as power lines sparked and crackled, finally snapping and whipping the ground in a frenzy. The tornado hovered for a minute or so and then moved off a little to the right before evaporating as quickly as it had formed. It was a sobering experience to say the least.

Hurricanes you could plan for. You knew about them a week or longer in advance, you knew what direction they were traveling and how strong they were before they ever got to where you were. But this tornado just dropped down out of the sky with little to no warning. We were scared and in shock and the farthest thing from being prepared as we could possibly have been.

Tsunami devastation
Tsunami devastation

A literal wall of water

In March 2011, we watched the tsunami off the coast of Japan on the news and saw the devastation it left behind. Over the years we have seen northern blizzards that left people stranded for days and tornadoes that cut a path of destruction leaving people injured and homeless. Thousands of acres of wild fires that destroyed the vegetation and decimated the wildlife. Right now we are in a severe drought that is severely affecting the farmers harvest on a national level. Just this past winter thousands of heads of cattle perished forcing meat prices to climb higher and higher. These, as well as various other natural disasters that have left people hurting and helpless, have served as stark reminders that preparing for such events is paramount to surviving them.

Defenseless

We witnessed the exodus from New Orleans in anticipation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and watched as people in a panic ran out of gas on the highway and families were forced to abandon their cars and walk. When the levies broke and the 9th ward was overcome no one was prepared, not the residents or the authorities. It took days to get people off their roofs and out of their flooded homes. There was widespread looting, armed robberies, even rapes that took place in the lawless period that followed. It reminded me of the L.A. Riots from 1992.

Prepared=Responsible

And so gradually our eyes were opened to the fact that it just made sense to be better prepared. Our local governments, police and fire rescue and organizations like the Red Cross or Salvation Army, have to mobilize in the event of a disaster and we saw in Katrina that that can not happen quick enough. To be able to provide for ourselves, our families and even our neighbors if need be is no one’s responsibility but our own. No one knows what tomorrow may bring. If there is a storm, we are prepared. If we need to evacuate, we have a plan. If food is scarce, we will not go hungry.

Being prepared is the responsible thing to do, not just in the event of a natural disaster, but in a man made disaster as well. When the BP oil spill happened in the gulf, fishermen lost their livelihood. If my husband or I lost our job, we would not be in a panic- wondering how we are going to pay a bill or buy groceries. We have it covered for a sufficient amount of time to find a new job or obtain assistance of some other sort. What is a sufficient supply? Who can say how much is the right amount to store for any one individual or family. This is a personal choice based on your own comfort level.


It just makes sense

While the highly recommended 72 hour kit is a great place to start, I’m thinking in longer terms than that. A week’s supply won’t do much good when you have been out of work for months. People are still recovering from Hurricane Sandy that took place in October 2012, nearly two years ago. People need to be prepared by having a good supply of food, water, gas, and savings. I also recommend having some toiletry items on hand such as extra toothpaste, deodorant, toilet paper and shampoo. But even more importantly, we need to have the means to defend ourselves, our family, our home and the provisions that we have stored for any situation.

You see, I am not crazy or irrational. I’m not a conspiracy theorist or waiting on the zombie attack. I’m not a domestic terrorist. I have seen the value and benefit of being prepared. I am a planner and a thinker, a person who chooses to be responsible for themselves in every situation. I am a prepper and I wholeheartedly believe you should be too.

I've included a few links to get you started, below.

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3 comments

Anna Spears profile image

Anna Spears 2 years ago from Austin, Texas

Great article, very informative!


lrc7815 profile image

lrc7815 2 years ago from Central Virginia

Your last paragraph says it all...."It just makes sense." The only thing certain these days is that tragedy is just a moment away. None of us knows what lies ahead. I run in cycles with my prepping. For a year or two I'm good about keeping stock and cycling it. Then, I slack off and forget to rotate things that are getting close to their end date. I throw up my hands in frustration. Then, I repeat the process a few months later. This is a good reminder to get back to what I know needs to be done. You've got some great information here and I hope many will read it and heed it.


Silva Hayes profile image

Silva Hayes 13 months ago from Spicewood, Texas

This is a really informative article that people need to read. It is just common sense to be prepared for natural disasters. I started prepping in 2011 when we were surrounded by wildfires, (Bastrop, Steiner Ranch, Spicewood), here outside of Austin, Texas. I filled children's old backpacks with toiletries, bottled water, snacks, and change of clothing, and kept them in the front hall. We were within minutes of evacuating and could actually see the flames, before it was finally brought under control. Since then, I have continued to stock up. I belong to a Facebook group called Preppers 101 and find them helpful in exchanging information. Thanks for the article!

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