Thursday, August 03, 2006

More Evacuations: Rally Points and Bug Out Bags?

What kinds of places make good Rally Points?

The best rally points are both out-of-the-way and visible from the main route. They need to be out-of-the-way, because you don't want to hold up traffic when traffic consists of stressed-out, panicky people. They need to be visible, so that you can be seen.

In this area, highways are crossed at fairly regular intervals by County Roads, or Farm-to-Market/Ranch-to-Market roads. Pick FM/RM roads that -- as you approach the FM intersection -- you can clearly see a hundred yard stretch of the FM road. You should be able to view this hundred-yard-stretch of road both outbound on the evac route, and in-bound, on the return route.

Your rally point should be a location fifty yards more-or-less down the FM road from the evac route.

Why use a road for the rally point? Parking areas and parking lots are going to get crowded during an evacuation. No privacy, and human predators, like all other predators, hunt where prey is plentiful. Plus, most parking areas/parking lots have a limited number of ways in or out, and you are guaranteed to have a bottleneck at the exit.

A road allows you to see people coming, and to watch them during their entire approach. If a problem develops, you have the rest of the FM road to use, or you can put the transmission in 'D' and bull your way the short fifty yards to the main route.

Also, fifty yards off the main route gives enough privacy for your party to -- one at a time -- go "talk to the man about a horse" as they say. A necessary task that most people find nearly impossible in a parking lot. And if I choose to sit in my vehicle with a .357 magnum revolver in my lap and a pump 12 gauge in the side seat, there aren't going to be strangers wandering about to look in the windows and start getting daft ideas.

Also, any sources for PRACTICAL bug out bag lists?

When prepping for a large/extended family evacuation, Bug-Out Bags aren't necessarily as important as one might think.

Not that they aren't important -- I have a Bug-Out Bag, and wouldn't evac without it -- but in a large/extended family evacuation there will be other considerations and necessities that simply aren't covered by the Bug Out Bag.

For instance, if my extended family has to unarse the A.O. and head for High Ground, there are probably going to be multiple small children involved, if not at least one infant.

The Space Blanket and poncho liner in Uncle 'Dog's B-O-B are just fine for pretend camping in the living room, but not so much for a bunch of exhausted sprogs over a 72 hour period.

Likewise, note the part about one or more infants. My B-O-B has no provisions for diapers. After 72 hours, one can only imagine how important diapers are going to become.

So. Be sure to bring your Bug Out Bag(s), but for a large/extended family evacuation, bring the minimum amount of stuff that your family needs to get through 72 hours.

The best way to do this, is to mark a normal 72 hour period. During this period keep a meticulous list of everything your family uses or consumes during this time.

After the 72 hours is done, go back over the list and cross off everything that is a luxury. Take a look at what's left, and cross off everything that you can live without. Now, go back and consolidate the remainder as much as possible. What's left of the list will give you an idea of what you're going to need.

As a side-note: Uncle LawDog, Uncle Chris and Uncle Reno drink tanker-loads of Dr. Pepper, tea and coffee every day. We are, to put it mildly, caffeine junkies. The thought of adding caffeine withdrawal to the stress of a natural disaster and accompanying evacuation does not make for peaceful slumber.

Therefore, you can bet your last bippy that there is a box of Vivarin somewhere on that list. Yes, it will keep sleepy drivers awake. It will also keep Uncle LawDog from snapping someones head off because he can't find a single Dr. Pepper ANYWHERE ON THIS DAMN ROAD? IS IT TOO MUCH TO ASK FOR JUST ONE LOUSY CAN ...

Oh.

Ahem. Sorry about that.

While food should be as compact and condensed as possible, bring some foodstuffs that need preparation. Maybe as minor as a loaf of bread and some jars of peanut butter and jelly.

The worst impact -- psychologically and emotionally -- during a natural disaster is the feeling of helplessness. During a large/extended family evacuation, there are liable to be family or group members who are not able to be an active part of the evacuation.

This is a potent one-two punch: they are helpless in the face of the disaster, and then they are helpless again during the evacuation of family. Bad, bad, bad.

Approaching these family members at an appropriate time with an armload of foodstuffs that need some preparation, while saying something along the lines of:

"I don't know what to do with this."

"The children could probably do with a hot meal."

This gives that family member a chance to do something to help. To aid in the evacuation. To be useful.

This is invaluable in staving off shock.

Hot food tastes pretty good, too.

LawDog

6 comments:

Phoenix Ravenflame said...

The point about feeling helpless is a very good one! During the Rita evacuation, it was myself, my husband, my mom, two aunts, and two cousins staying with my dad's parents on Toledo Bend Lake. (Being a police officer, dad had to stay in town... which is a whole other box of stress.) We realized early on that the work that needed to be done was keeping us sane. The most helpless woman on earth can push a broom while she's busy being helpless. Water jugs needed to be filled. Dogs needed to be checked on, fed, and walked. There was quite enough for everyone to do something.

The only problem was making my youngest cousin present feel he was doing something. Yes, children have emotional needs, too. It's almost like they're actually human! Most of the chores were too much work for him, but letting him just sit and worry wasn't good for him, or for anyone else's sanity. My mom had the great idea of giving him a pad of paper and pen and making him our "Hurricane Historian". His job was to write everything that happened... everything he saw, heard, and felt... and draw pictures to go with it if he wished. It's no Isaac's Storm, but it made him feel useful and important, and it gave him a creative outlet for his worries.

pax said...

You know the most practical way to get your family "bug out bag" stocked up? Get in the habit of going camping for a weekend, once or twice a year. Make it a goal not to visit the store on your way out.

You'll find out pretty quick what you really need, and how to make it all fit within your family vehicle.

Anonymous said...

One thing to remember as LD mentioned before is to stay out of government shelters no matter what.

I had relatives from the Texas coast who got caught in a government shelter and had to run for their lives. They were attempting to prepare some food for the other evacuees and being that they were equipped with less melanin that the other evacuees they were assaulted by them. The female members were subjected to attempted rapes and assault and the father/husband was beaten severely and the whole family was forced to retreat to their car in the middle of the storm and drive further north until they could find a motel room.

It's also of note he was specifically prevented by the person in charge of the shelter from bringing his sidearm in with him. This same individual was a ringleader in the assault of his wife and little girls.

Anonymous said...

"It's also of note he was specifically prevented by the person in charge of the shelter from bringing his sidearm in with him. This same individual was a ringleader in the assault of his wife and little girls."

I'm reminded of something that Woodrow F. Call said in "Dead Man's Walk". When told to surrender his weapons so that he coud be arrested, he said "I expect to keep my guns until I am shot."

I feel the same way.

Jon said...

Considering the damage I witnessed at ground zero after Rita, the things that have very little worth are safe while you stay one notch below panic while creeping with traffic.

Except for the coastal areas, very few houses were flattened. In fact, houses with even severe damage would still provide some shelter. Most houses only had minor damage. I'm willing to bet that most of the heirlooms and photos had a better chance in an ice chest at home. The 120 mph winds damaged more trees than anything else.

What did I take? Water, lots of it. I filled a five gallon igloo to the rim. I refilled it on the way home, which gave me water for the first two days without at the house.

Food: Cans of spam, tuna, stew, beans and veggies....with a can opener. I didn't expect to have a way to heat these, but they are damned good cold. I included bread, crackers and cookies. You have to have variety while you are miserable. Don't forget seasoning.

Paper towels, paper plates, plastic utensils, plastic cups and trash bags. These are necessary. You might have to live in your car. You will definately live in it during your evacuation. Don't forget toilet paper. It works better than newspaper and poison ivy.

A 48 quart ice chest with the milk, tea, cold cuts and other things that would ruin over the next few days. Yeah, it sounds like overkill, but I knew from past experience I would throw them away anyway. At least I might get a little more out of them before they ruined.

I have a pickup, so I carried gasoline in safety cans in the back. I had a ten gallon reserve. I knew that I would need fuel within 18 hours if I couldn't buy any. I didn't need it but did for the generator when I came home.

Flashlights. Not one - four. Good flashlights with the same batteries, which I had many of. The best I had was an LED that cost about forty bucks. The little jewel fit in my pocket and put out a pure white light that illuminated large areas. I still carry it at night. Habit I guess. The darkness of a large area without power is unbelievable. I misplaced it once at dusk. I found it before dark, but managed to turn on every light switch in the powerless house looking for it.

My personal opinion is to get back as soon as possible. There is a window before the troops and irritated state police move in. This gives you the opportunity to access the damage, start repairs and empty your fridge before it smells like road kill. You might have to leave again, but more than likely, if you have prepared, you will have enough supplies to last until emergency supplies are available.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Don't expect to find your doctor for medications. If you have prescriptions or refills, get that taken care of before you return. Otherwise, you might have to deal with a pinch-faced yankee FEMA doctor with piss-poor bedside manner and an attitude. You might also get to spend a few hours in the only medical facility around with a few people that are having a real, real hard time with withdrawel from their pain killers and antidepressents.

kyrakai said...

Oh my gods, it is wonderful to see someone else who knows what a Bug Out Bag is. When I first mentioned one at work, they looked at me like I had slipped a cog. I was discussing such things before Katrina. Post Katrina, some of them are finally taking me seriously. They still think I am totally nuts for trying to keep three months of food and water around the house...as well as having what they call an over stocked first aid kit and...you guessed it, a Bug Out Box