Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Hope for the Best While Preparing for the Worst
Within the last 5 years, I've experienced two events here in Hawaii that show how dependent most people have become to our modern, technology driven way of life....and how our modern Society is ill prepared to deal with the basic necessities of life following potentially catastrophic events. The first event was an undersea earthquake near the Big Island in October of 2005. It shook the entire Island chain on an early Sunday morning.
10 minutes after the quake, the power generators at the Oahu power plants shut down as an automatic safety precaution, as the quake caused the massive turbines to shift while they were in operation. This cut off power across the entire island. Completely. All traffic lights, street lights...everything was without power.
Within minutes, the local grocery stores were inundated with the masses of people, quickly buying up as much food, ice, charcoal, bottled water and toilet paper as they could. Most stores sold out within several hours. It took the Hawaiian Electric Co. about 12 hours to restore the power.
But I never forgot having to stand in a line at my community grocery store that day, that rivaled an amusement park roller coaster ride in the middle of the summer jam, to get into the grocery store. There was no lights, and the generator roaring out back was used only to keep the freezers and refrigerators powered up so the food wouldn't spoil. The store employees were only escorting two people at a time with flashlights, and were hand-writing all sales transactions and only accepting cash.
It was quite the experience to walk around a darkened store by flashlight and seeing all the shelves that had been rapidly emptied by panicked people.
That experience inspired me to make my own storehouse of provisions and supplies. I never again wanted to have to stand in a long line of unprepared people, desperate to get the chance to try and buy up a dwindling supply of provisions while worrying about a pending catastrophic event.
The scene repeated itself this past weekend. The Tsunami warning Hawaii was under following the Chilean earthquake this past Friday once again resulted in a mad scramble of the masses.
I saw the news alerts on Friday night after turning on the Tell-a-Vision during a midnight snack.
Our local news channels immediately began instructing the viewers to run out to the store and stock up on canned food, water, charcoal, ice, toilet paper and to top off all of their cars gasoline tanks. They also advised that the State Civil Defense Agency would be sounding the warning sirens at 6am that morning.
Since the Tsunami was predicted to hit our shores around 11:30am, this gave roughly 5 hours for everyone living near the coastlines of our island state to load up their valuables and camping gear and head for higher ground.
So of course, by 6:30am, the cars were lined up for 3-4 blocks to fill up their cars with gas, the stores quickly sold out of staple groceries, and all the roads from coastal areas leading to higher ground became a bumper to bumper traffic jam. Everyone went into a hoarding and evacuation frenzy.
I, on the other hand, relaxed comfortably in my yard, enjoying some refreshing beverages and observing the Ocean with binoculars, waiting to see if the telltale signs of a pending Tsunami would manifest. I was particularly interested to see if the water would suck out to sea, exposing the reefs and ocean floor before the Tsunami surge rolled in. Previous Tsunami's in Hawaii's history relate many eyewitness accounts to this phenomenon just before the Tsunami surge arrives on shore.
Needless to say, my afternoon of leisurely waiting for the Tsunami to arrive ended up being a weird mixture of relief and disappointment. I'm glad it wasn't a disaster that destroyed a lot of people's property...but I was somewhat excited to witness a rare event from a comfortable, and well-prepared vantage point.
The reason why I did not have to panic, run out to the store and compete with the urgent masses trying to hoard as much of life's necessities as possible, is because I've already got my own stock of provisions, fuel and water...as well as ammunition.
I've also got my own thriving fruit vegetable and herb garden, livestock and egg-laying chickens. I'm fairly confident that I could literally survive without a grocery store, electricity and gasoline for an indefinite amount of time.
While I may have dropped out as a troubled teenager from my local Boy Scout troop long before attaining the rank of Eagle...I did attend long enough to absorb and incorporate the Boy Scout motto as a primary tenet of my personal ethos - Be Prepared.
Are you prepared for the potential breakdown of civil society, and a mad scramble for provisions and resources for the masses of Sheeple who never gave it a moments thought until the civil defense sirens began to wail? Are you able and capable AND have the means to defend your life, your family and your property?