floodRemember Y2K?

While others were partying like it was 1999, my parents and others were calmly, quietly updating their camping gear, collecting a reasonable amount of canned food, and purchasing a generator. My dad wasn’t convinced that the Y2K scenario would actually happen, but he saw no reason not to be prepared.

A few years later, a flood hit the town where my grandparents lived. The FEMA inspector who showed up was pleasantly surprised, and told these Minnesotans that he was amazed how much they had been prepared and had already done to start fixing their own homes and farms. In his experience, it was a radically different assignment than what he had to deal with in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and he complimented my grandparents’ neighbors.

Now, do I think that if Obama is re-elected, the very next day the US dollar will tank and UN Troops will take over your neighborhood? No, I don’t. But neither do I think a “meltdown” situation like one of these is outside the realm of possibility:

  • A virtual terrorist attack disables the electric grid, cutting off power and communication.
  • A fast-spreading, deadly illness like the flu overwhelms emergency services and disrupts supply lines.
  • A significant and unexpected mid-continent earthquake brings significant infrastructure destruction while preventing the arrival of rescue crews and relief supplies.

As a history teacher, I can think of several times when ordinary people found themselves in survival situations:

  • The Civil War siege of Richmond, which lasted more than 9 months while citizens inside faced actual starvation.
  • The flu pandemic of 1918, when nearly one third of the population became ill.
  • Hyperinflation in Germany in the 1920’s, when one Mark became worth only 1/3 of 1 cent within a 3 year time period.

But surely you can also recall more recent events such as:

  • The gas shortages in 1979, due partly to events overseas, OPEC, and US foreign policy.
  • Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which flooded some 80% of a large metropolitan area.
  • The floods of 2008, particularly affecting Cedar Rapids.

So maybe you aren’t ready for Survivalist Weekend Boot Camp where they toss in out in the woods with only a jackknife. But in addition to floods, we here in Iowa face regular tornadoes and blizzards. It’s likely that at some point, you will need to survive for some length of time with what you have on-hand. If you have small children or elderly neighbors, you may even become responsible for the lives of others.

So ask yourself:

Do you keep an “emergency” kit in your car for the winter? Weather.com has several articles and even videos on gathering some essential items.

Do you have extra clothes, first aid supplies, fresh water and non-perishable food in your basement in case of a local natural disaster? The Red Cross website has some simple steps your family could take.

Do you have your important family documents organized in a safe place? The Money Saving Mom blog recently did a comprehensive series on organizing these.

Do you want to get serious? Take this yes/no quiz and see if you’re inspired to learn a few new life-and-death survival skills.

So what about you? Is your family ready to survive for 3 days without electricity, water, or professional rescue? How about 3 weeks? Longer?

It’s not crazy. It’s just responsible.

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