Good idea from a KATRINA evacuee...

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Good idea from a KATRINA evacuee...

Post#1 » Wed Sep 07, 2005 4:59 am

I'm near Memphis, TN, so the local news has plenty of folks to chat with about the hurricane evacuations.

Anyway, they interviewed a guy over the weekend who came out with his entire family (wife & 3 or 4 kids under 12).

During the interview, the reporter asked about what he was able to grab on the way out, what preps he made before he left, etc.

One of the things he mentioned, was that before they left home, he took a Sharpie permanent ink marker and wrote on everyone's forearm (including his and his wife's). He wrote his name, the person's name, home phone, nearest relative and their city and phone.

He said, that way, if we got split up or one of us died (Heaven forbid) the rescuers would have a way to identify them and contact their next of kin.

He said he was thankful that none of the information was needed, but that it would have been priceless if they had been swept away in the flood and been separated, etc.

Just some thoughts.

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*Katrina - The Aftermath and Unanticipated Guests*

Post#2 » Wed Sep 07, 2005 5:05 am

*Katrina - The Aftermath and Unanticipated Guests*
By: Axxxx
05 September 2005

It actually started before the storm made landfall. We have experienced these cross-over hurricanes before - storms that cross the Florida tip and regain strength in the Gulf of Mexico and continue on northwest and hit somewhere between the Florida Panhandle and the East Texas Gulf Coast. As soon as the thing hit the warm waters of the Gulf, it developed into a monster of tremendous proportions. As we all know now, the projected path was always pretty steady and remained fixed on the New Orleans/Miss Gulf Coast. I am located in Baton Rouge, which is less than 100 miles north of New Orleans. This may not seem like a long distance, but in terms of storm strength, it makes a world of difference. Regardless, this one was looking like the big one.

Despite the potential for serious damage to my house, I decided to remain. My decision to stay put was the correct one and based on actual hurricane experience, damage that other hurricanes had done to the area in the past, the projected storm track and some gut instinct to be honest. I am above any conceivable hurricane flood zone and have taller houses all around me. My house was also built back in the 1800s when construction techniques in the area assumed that structures would be hit with bad weather and were designed to handle it. Perhaps as important, I live in a good community. Not an extremely wealthy community, but one that is relatively close knit. People of all stripes, but possessing what has become all too lacking - a sense of civic pride. We all know each other, who belongs and who doesn’t and work hard to make a downtown neighborhood work. Also near by, I have access to several buildings which are the equivalent of concrete bunkers and also have access to secure above ground covered parking to protect the vehicles and BOT. All of these factors were considered in the decision to stay put.

The day before the storm, I went about business pretty much as usual. I made an extra grocery run and went out and purchased three extra five gallon gas jugs primarily for genset use should the need arrive. I also have a small battery bank and a solar panel which I could turn to in the aftermath. Additionally, I bought three large trash cans and filled them with water to be used for toilet flushing, washing and general cleanup in the event the water system went down - which it did not when I discovered I was going to have some unanticipated guests. I already had plenty of food and other preps. I also made a few rounds to check on friends and some businesses that I frequent weekly.

We were fortunate at my house. We never lost power, cable television or the internet connection and had almost no external damage. Just lost a couple of banana plants and some small limbs and a lot of leaves. Typical of what you might expect in a bad summer thunderstorm. I would estimate that the winds never got above 50 mph sustained with gust to about 70 mph based on tree and power line movement. During the storm I also kept the air conditioner temperature very low to keep the place cool as long as possible in the event of an anticipated power outage.

I am not going to go into all the mess in New Orleans proper because you have seen and heard most all of what I have seen and heard. No point in going over all that with the following exceptions - NEVER BECOME A REFUGEE and NEVER DEPEND ON THE GOVERNMENT FOR ANYTHING IMPORTANT. I would imagine most Rubies already know that though.

I have a good friend who lives in Metairie - which is located outside of New Orleans proper. The notorious 17th Street Canal is the dividing line between Jefferson Parish, in which Metairie resides and Orleans parish, in which New Orleans is located. He is a small business owner and just can’t pull up stakes anytime something threatens. He usually waits to almost the last minute to leave while he locks things down. This time, with the magnitude of the storm, EVERY hotel within a 300-mile radius of projected safety was filled. To escape, he would have to go to Memphis to find shelter at this point in the game. Although his father had reserved him a room at a hotel in Memphis, he and his wife were worn out from trying to batten everything down. There was serious doubt whether or not they could actually make the drive. His wife is really a PITA and VERY lazy. Going to go into this more in a bit for educational purposes. She basically becomes useless when the going gets tough. Add three unruly kids to the mix and the brew becomes toxic. To make a long story short, he calls me and wants to come over and I agree.

Another friend who had called me earlier wanting me to come down and help provide some security for his house, to which I politely declined and suggested he get out, decided to BO at the point when the first bands were hitting the New Orleans area. He calls up, from the Causeway Bridge, freaking out because his wife is screaming at him because they are stuck in traffic. He is danged near insensate with rage and is threatening to turn around and go back to his house, which is located right next to the Fair Grounds Clubhouse (which ALL went under water). I calmly told him to call his parents to tell them he was staying and to bring an axe with him into the attic for when the water swamped his house - if he had time or the means to get into the attic. By notifying his parents, at least they would have known where to find the bodies. What was mystifying was the fact that he was only a few miles away from open road. Finally he calmed down and I was able to talk him onto some back roads and into Baton Rouge in less than two hours. His wife is still pissed at me. For what I do not know. Maybe it was when I told my friend to tell his screaming and incoherent wife to shut the …. up while I was trying to give him directions to get him to safety. I found them housing with another person. As Warlord Says, "The first rule of being a survivalist is to avoid survival situations" and they came within a hair of being one of the bloated bodies.

My other bud and his clan arrived well before the first bands started to hit us. When he and the kids and the wife arrived, I could tell things were going to be tense because I have a small house and his children are not well disciplined. It took us around an hour or so to get them basically settled in. At this point, my bud and I went to top up all the vehicles after which we went inside, started cooking a nice redfish dinner, and watched the incessant chatter on the tele. We had previously battened everything down around my house, explained what was going to happen to some very young college students from up north and helped secure some other houses in the neighborhood.

Techsar, who originally planned to stay and ride it out, decided to BO at the literal last minute. At this point, my house was literally filled up beyond capacity. I told him I could fit him and his wife inside but we would have to come up with another plan for the large dogs (which are cool dogs btw). For what I consider legitimate reasons, he wanted his dogs in the same room. I had worked out a couple of plans, none of which were great, yet that would save their lives but would be uncomfortable to say the least. When Techsar arrived, the outer bands were hitting us. After we fed and coffee’d him and his wife and gave them a restroom break, they decided to head West - which was a good move given the probable storm track.

After Techsar left, we milled around talking about the situation. There wasn’t a whole lot left to do. All that could have been done had been done. When we finally went to sleep, the weather was still relatively calm but a certain electric tenseness permeated the air. For those who have been in a bad storm, you will know what I am talking about. For those who have not, I cannot really describe it other than it seems like everything is running on adrenaline and all the animals are nervous and it is hard to sit still and be comfortable. I am sure this is a primitive response to danger that helps keep us alive.

I slept fitfully for a few hours on and a few hours off. While the kids were sleeping, I kept a loaded AK and pistol nearby. While I was awake, I would check the weather and the progress of the storm. Around 8 am, the wind picked up noticeably and soon the storm was in full swing in BR. Like I mentioned before, I live in a relatively sheltered house so we barely felt the wind. We also never lost power at my house during the storm and this helped keep the kids and wife under control. Mostly we sat around, drank coffee, talked, watched the tele, posted online, talked with friends and the usual drivel associated with being pent up.The storm itself was anticlimactic - as they usually are if you are properly prepared. I have always argued that the aftermath is the major problem - and like in the past, it has certainly proven to be the case with Katrina. Although my bud came with a ticket, and I have PLENTY of food and water, the picky nature of his kids and wife caused immediate problems. The kids are VERY picky eaters. They only eat crap like chicken nuggets, processed fish patties with lots of ketchup, and stuff like that. I don’t stock those food items. When these things started to run out, the kids became really grouchy and constantly whined. The wife just refused to clean things up. I was having to work with my bud cutting trees, as I was trying to help him make money, and then come home to a filthy house with screaming kids and no cooked food while his wife parked her rear end on the phone talking with family. Incessantly. I even had to make grocery runs because once when she went, she bought enough stuff for ONE night. Fancy that, it means a trip to the now-almost-empty stores using precious gas everyday using her plan. Stores are death traps IMHO during disasters. I went into a Wal-Mart and the scene was chaotic. I got my stuff and got out.

At this point, I got fed up with this mess and instituted the "10 O’Clock Policy" which was none too popular. This policy entailed cleaning up dishes AS they were used (she was so lazy she wouldn’t even throw away paper plates after they had been used and dishes pilled up from breakfast to dinner…), cleaning the bathroom once a day (with six people using it, cleaning it only make sense to me, she refused to do it even though she has one kid in diapers), keeping the laundry under control (six people use a LOT of towels), keeping all the kids toys neat when not in use (turned out that Uncle Ajax had to throw a lot of them away…), and stipulating that activities had to cease by 10 pm (that had me up until 0200 while they were cooking and chatting almost every night until I put my foot down). Essentially, they were trying to replicate their own lifestyle in my house. It wasn’t going to work.

Even with that policy, and only at day three, I knew I was close to being ineffective. I had a situation on my hands that was spiraling out of control - and we had PLENTY of food, electricity, water and services. But the burden of holding it all together was solely mine. It was as if the "guests" had checked into the Holiday Inn and demanded room services for free. I was spread too thin when the near riot happened at a relocation center near my house. There was no way I could continue to work at my regular job, help my bud with tree cutting and run the household and protect the joint. To break the tension and get my head straight, I went over to the shooting range and hung out and helped another friend with his business. Did some basic gun safety instruction for people who had just bought guns. Made me feel good because at least I was helping decent people who wanted to help themselves. After I got my head together, I called a pow-wow, a "Come to Jesus" meeting if you will and explained my situation and how the whole thing wasn’t going to work no matter how much we might want it to work. Basically, I invited them to find other accommodations, which the wife and kids did. Now I have only my bud at the house and it seems to be working better. Ultimately, he will have to find his own place too. This can only be a temporary arrangement as his ideas are different than mine.

Overall, this experience has made me realize a few things upon reflection and self-assessment. Understand this, most "guests" and others that you help will be totally ungrateful for your help. In the beginning, they will be resentful that your property is ok and theirs is not. They will also become angry at their surroundings and the fact that they cannot do as they please. They will be mad at YOU for ANY reason whatsoever. Not all people, but my experience is that most will. When it all comes down to it, I cannot help everybody I want to help. You can’t make people do the right things if they don’t want to do them. Second, people in close proximity are going to argue and tensions are going to rise. In a small space, there is only so much you can do. Third, spouses who are not with the program are going to be a constant problem. So will well-meaning, nice sheeple friends. Long term this will be a MAJOR problem. If I had it to do over again, I would have encouraged them to relocate somewhere else out of danger - and out of my hair. Also, my girlfriend had relocated to Alabama and I was worried about her. All this worrying took too much energy. I just can’t do it all. Even when you lead by example, it is not enough in most situations with most people in a disaster. Next time it will be handled a bit differently. I have found out that there are more survival minded people in my neighborhood than first thought. When it looked like rioting was going to take place at the relocation shelter, when the gang bangers were going nuts (despite what "official" sources told us, we had inside intel), we formed the very rudimentary basis for mutual aid and armed neighborhood protection.

On the flip side, the experience validated my approach to preparations and dealing with disasters. On the technical side, things went very well. My secure parking worked fine and my supplies were more than adequate. However, as in all situations, when you need something, you always need MORE of it. Don’t be bashful about laying in extra supplies of things you might need. Get more ammo NOW. Five thousand per high cap gun is not too much. In New Orleans, it may not have been enough as there were actual fire fights. The big boxes aren’t selling it and Fed Ex is not shipping to Baton Rouge at the present. In the same vein, be prepared to deal with law and order issues even if you are far away from the impact of the disaster. As always, communications will be at a premium. Cell phones and landlines all crapped out. They are still very spotty. I am going to get as soon as I can, and I encourage every Rubie that has not already done so, at least a handheld ham rig and learn how to use it. A trunk scanner is also a MUST. You have got to be ready for no gas situations and for big boxes to stop selling guns and ammo. Forge relationships with small, specialized businesses when possible. The little guy will cover your back far better than the Wal-Mart manager or cashier will when TSHTF.

You can never believe the "authorities" when it comes to personal safety. They always try to spin it the best way possible, as the Chamber of Commerce prefers. Being ready for restless and desperate people is an absolute necessity. Keep a low profile until the last minute. My operation looks like EVERY other house in the area, until you get inside and even then it’s hard to tell what is going on. I did have some spray paint to make signs warning looters that they would be shot but the situation never got that bad.

That is it for now. Hopefully, will get a breather before the next one.

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