So here we are, watching intently as yet another hurricane comes rampaging through the Caribbean towards American soil. And if you're anything like me, you're probably experiencing a sense of deja vu since Matthew, like Hugo before it, looks like it's headed right for Charleston. I sincerely hope that any of my readers who live near the coast from Florida on up to North Carolina have gotten the hell out of Dodge already, or at least have dug in well. I wouldn't wish what I went through during the weeks following Hugo on any one. Yet as all too many are finding out the hard way right now, it illustrates today's theme of my ramble perfectly. And that is the need for a bug out plan.
For all too many people, just mentioning the phrase "bug out" automatically marks you as a member of some lunatic fringe group eagerly awaiting for some apocalyptic melt down of society. Yet here we are with thousands of people making a mad rush for safety which is pretty much the very definition of bugging out; and other than facing a choice between dumb and dumber for our next president, there's not a zombie in sight. So maybe having a bug out plan in place isn't such a bad idea after all. But what sorts of things should a good plan consider?
Well the first step is to decide whether to bug out or "bug in". "Now just a minute here" I hear you saying. "Bug In? Now you're just making shit up!" Well no, not really. Let's say you live in Moncks Corner, a small town about 35 miles from the coast as the crow flies. That's far enough that you wouldn't have to worry about the storm surge at all if it wasn't for the river, but close enough that you'll probably get the full effect of the wind and rain. If you're far enough from the river and you're properly prepared, it might actually make sense to stay where you are. That's what I refer to as bugging in. You know things are going to be bad, but you have everything you need to ride it out for up to a month or two if need be.
But what if you're not prepared, or worse yet, you live on the Isle of Palms with beautiful beach front views out your patio and deck doors? Then my friend it's time to make like the birds and get the flock out of there. But where do you go? That's when your bug out plan comes to the fore. This year South Carolina is lucky. Our governor, Nikki Haley came through for us in spades. By Monday night she had already declared a state of emergency, and by Tuesday afternoon she not only had a plan but had started implementing it!
Unfortunately that doesn't always happen. I remember one hurricane that hit when my daughter was a new born baby and we were still living in Charleston. Our governor at the time was a real idiot who not only didn't have a clue about what to do, he also didn't know who to turn to for anything. So the day before the hurricanes was due to hit my wife packed up our daughter and headed to her mother's house 3 hours inland from us. But between everyone trying to get clear and our governor's complete inebtatude it ended up taking her eight and a half hours to get to her mother's! And even then she only made it because she knew the back roads, thousands who didn't took even longer to get to safety.
So if you ever find yourself facing a disaster the first thing you need is a plan, and you need to have it ready before the fecal matter hits the rotary impeller cause you won't have time to come up with one at the last minute. Nor can you count on having decisive leaders like Governor Haley looking out for you. So think. What sort of emergencies would be likely where you live and how could you deal with them? If you live near open fields or deep woods what would you do if a wild fire broke out? If you live in the mountains what would you do in the event of a major blizzard that close the roads for days and took out power lines? If you live in a valley what happens if it suddenly decides to flood? When Johnsonville, PA flooded it caused over 17 million dollars in damages. Then think. What would you need to have to keep yourself and your family safe? Could you stay where you are, or would you have to leave? If you do bug out, where would you go? What sort of things would you need once you get there and how would you get there? Is there a secondary route in case the best way is blocked? And finally, if for some reason you find it necessary to abandon your car, such as it breaking down too close to whatever disaster you're fleeing, can you walk there in 3 days or less?
Think about this carefully, and never assume nothing could ever happen to you. I lived in Kentucky back in 1974 when 148 tornadoes hit the Midwest in one night. I lived through the blizzards of 1977 when there were snow drifts in western Pennsylvania that reached higher than some houses, and I lived through Hugo. So think and think carefully. Then come back next week and we'll look once more at the things you might want in an emergency bug out kit. Until then, for all who find themselves victims of hurricane Matthew know that you are in my thoughts and in my prayers. May God keep you safe in his hands until next we meet.