Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Worst Case Scenario - The Mass Bug-Out

Anyone who has lived on or near the coast for any appreciable length of time has experienced the effects of a mass bug-out. Just when you think you are located in a relatively safe area, here comes a mass of humanity headed directly towards your area in an effort to get out of the way of an impending disaster …generally a really bad hurricane as far as most coastal areas are concerned.

Now when a large mass of humanity all starts moving out of an area, the effects will be similar to a large number of grasshoppers appearing in your pasture. They will strip everything bare and leave little of anything in their wake. Lack of preparation when combined with a certain level of panic both contribute to this problem. All of a sudden you realize that the arrival of a large population of displaced people is going to put a strain on your available resources.

Similar to the herd instinct of most animals, this mass of humanity once they get moving will trample anything and everything in their path to avoid the effects of a disaster. During Hurricane Katrina, the interstate in my area was completely useless to people in the local area. Even the secondary highways in my area were clogged with large amounts of people and traffic. A simple 45 minute trip took over two hours to accomplish and was only possible by using back roads that people unfamiliar with the area weren’t even aware of their existence. Another similar situation, although not as bad, occurred during Hurricane Ike.

Along with the traffic congestion, came the problem of just accessing routine items such as gasoline and food. Lines at convenience stores were so long that they were blocking nearby intersections, which caused even more traffic congestion. And those people who couldn’t get fuel for their vehicles or suffered a mechanical breakdown (forget about AAA!) wound up stranded on the side of the road. Forget about buying food, bottles of water or batteries. Shelves were stripped bare in most stores along the evacuation routes in a matter of hours and the possibility of re-supply was non-existent for the present. People were literally fighting for what was left.

Now in a worst case scenario this is probably what should be considered a localized event. It is fairly limited in its scope because it is happening in a fairly generalized area (those closely affected by hurricanes). What about a disaster with even more serious consequences? After 911, many people were absolutely terrified to be in any type of skyscraper in any city because of the possibility of it becoming a target. Any major city or urban area could find itself in the same position. A terrorist threat, a major outbreak of a deadly disease or anything of a similar nature could create a scenario where there could be mass evacuations from a number of large urban areas at the same time because of the panic that could be caused by the “What if my city is next?” syndrome. The resulting displaced masses will be a very real threat to your survival. A failure to be prepared could have disastrous consequences.

In most cases your home is going to be your best survival option, there will be those times that you may need to avoid the stampede...

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

How long did the situation where locals were sewverely limited in travel. A week? Two?

Chief Instructor said...

Great post! And with the ever-present GPS systems, those back roads only the locals know about, are suddenly "known" to all.

What do you do? The further away you are from the supply chain, the better. Live at least an average tank and a half of gas away from large metro areas. The small, interim gas stations along the route will quickly go dry, and at least limit the locust.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 8:47

In the case of Hurricane Katrina evacuees moving through the area, travel was fairly limited for close to a week and I'm a long ways from New Orleans. It was a gradual process and things were a little slow getting back to normal. During Ike, it was a little less hectic as the majority starting moving out fairly early as opposed to waiting till the last minute to leave.

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: Chief Instructor

I used some back roads that aren't even on a map to avoid some of the traffic but was reminded of the old saying..."You can't get there from here!" more than a few times!

It's getting harder and harder to find areas that are far enough away from urban population centers to avoid the effects of mass evacuations...

Our infrastructure and "just in time" inventory supply systems just can't handle the massive overload created when it becomes necessary for a large number of people, many of whom are unprepared, to evacuate a pending disaster.

The best alternative is sometimes "the road less traveled..." if you can find it!

Thanks Chief Instructor.


Adventures in Self Reliance said...

Been working on this evac idea, although I hope to stay put if possible. I figure most folks will head towards the hills and forest I'm looking for a good spot in the other direction towards the dessert.
I also have 4 Motorcycle touring maps. They seem to have a lot more side roads on them compared to the regular auto maps because the journey is the destination.

riverwalker said...

To: Adventures in Self Reliance

Sometimes it pays to head the other way... Sounds like most won't be heading to the desert but make sure you have someplace "sustainable" in mind for when you reach your destination.



Anonymous said...

Good points made. Even in good times, a local event like a parade or festival in a city will cause some major rerouting, extending your time to get around. Good time for a bicycle or motorcycle to scoot through the holes that are present.

Also check into long term impacts from crisis. One of my coworkers homes was in Lafayette Louisiana. After Katrina occurred, quite a few former residents of New Orleans moved in and STAYED, causing a massive housing shortage that still goes on now. Road systems were not built to handle the sudden influx - traffic jams abounds.

idahobob said...

You re-enforce my rant that the time
to get out of suburbia, is now.

When the balloon goes up, TSHTF or what ever you want to call it happens, if you need to escape, it will be nigh impossible to do so.

I left the rat race many years ago.


Josh said...

"...Live at least an average tank and a half of gas away from large metro areas..."

Where could you possibly find such a place? My car's pretty average, and even with my (mostly city) mileage, and not going below 10% fuel level, a tank and a half is more than 500 miles. I'm from Iowa, and from Des Moines, in the center of the state, the following major cities are all within that tank and a half driving distance: Minneapolis, Kansas City, Chicago, Omaha, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, St. Louis, Springfield, Witchita, and Oklahoma City, to name a few.

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 7:12

Good point! History has shown us that even localized events will cause an influx of people due to such an event (Katrina, etc.) and exemplifies the burden that can be placed on local resources.

Thanks anon.


riverwalker said...

To: idahobob

Unfortunately not everyone has the option to get out. Things like jobs, available housing, proximity to family etc. can make it difficult to enact meaningful change.

Thanks bob.


riverwalker said...

To: Josh

In the real world, it is often more difficult to enact change in our lives. I am less than a tank of gas from several large urban areas and have felt the pinch every time they evacuate a coastal area due to an impending hurricane.

Realistically, unless you live in an almost wilderness setting, of which very few still exist in America, you will need to prepare as best as possible with those options you have available.

Thanks Josh.


JD said...

It's not business' job or the goverment's to make sure there is plenty of gas and food along the evacuation route - its yours. Prepare ahead of time or suffer. For those who don't get it, they should have never moved near a body of water larger than a bathtub.

Related Posts with Thumbnails