Monday, March 17, 2008

Prepare! Dealing with starving hoardes

In every survivalist, end or the world, fiction story, we have our hero holding out in a remote location. Our hero is protecting his family, friends, and stockpile of carefully stored food and supplies from wandering gangs of stereotypical convicts, inner city thugs and "veneer of civilization rapidly removed" desperate former friends and neighbors.

All are of these marauding bands are "starving" and have resorted to any means necessary to feed themselves and their followers. Our hero grimly surveys the changing landscape and spends countless hours fighting off hoards determined to steal his hoard of Mountain House entrees.

There lies the problem. If these writers knew anything, they would have noticed that "starving masses" rarely wander the country side (or many other places) in search of food or water. Rather, they have a tendency to stay right where they are at. [Case in point; all of us of a certain age remember the images from the 60's and 70's of millions of starving third world people sitting in huge refugee camps holding out empty metal bowls and pans to passerby.]

You see, when people are hungry, their activity begins to drop off, not increase. Thus the concept of roaming bands and mobs of starving people walking miles into the country side in search of a meal is less likely than fiction writers would have us believe.

A more realistic scenario which might happen in the post-apocalyptic world is what we have witnessed during past wars and national catastrophes. Hungry citizens combing through ruins for leftover canned food or moldy bread, rummaging through trash cans and dining on stray pets, pigeons and squirrels.

In the end, most urban survivors would be trapped in their cities or far too unprepared to wander out into the open countryside or even the suburbs searching for supplies.

However, there is a possibility that scavengers, strong enough and mobile enough to move from one location to another might come across your hidden retreat. Not likely, but possible. If you are far enough off the beaten path and well disguised, you will probably avoid all raids by strangers.

But, if you have friends, neighbors or co-workers who know about your retreat and strategic relocation plans, then you must prepare for this eventuality.

In fiction, the hero turns his back on the nosy neighbor, the friend with whom he bears a grudge or the classic "rich person who did not get it". All good fun in the sense of getting back at the people who caused so much frustration in the hero's former life.

In the real world, though, not many of us would turn any friend or acquaintance away when they arrive at our retreat or farm with small hungry children. Only the cold hearted would shut the door or run them off at gun barrel. Because of this, our best bet is to make arrangements for any who "might" know about our retreat. That includes addtional food, water, bedding, clothes and medical supplies, (not too mention work plans for newcomers!).

In my family, we have purchased additional, "no frills" long term storage foods for family and neighbors who might be in need. The rules are simple; this is for you only, don't complain, be willing to help when asked and don't bring others. Sure, we run the risks of trouble, but I would rather help my friends and neighbors and unite us in the face of danger than divide us over a can of tuna.

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