Should I stay or should I go? 1

One of the questions asked so much in the recent lead up to the storm is “Should I stay or should I go”.

The obvious answer is to follow the directions of the emergency management officials. Much of the loss of life and deprivation after Katrina was too many people in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some of that can be blamed on the local and regional government of course. Before they took it down, I had a copy of the Emergency Management Plan for New Orleans. The section that talked about evacuation plans simply stated: To be developed.  The results were catastrophic and the affects can still be felt today.

I honestly believe however that many people stayed out of a lack of basic understanding of disaster management. For whatever reason, there was a belief that it wasn’t going to be that bad and if it was, the government was going to bail them out. If you read the BOLD WARNINGS on the web site however, even the most casual understanding would show you that the government will probably not be there right away. The proof is in their own words:

“You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.”   Or maybe longer if you want to be really honest. A big enough storm may cover a much wider area which will certainly tax the government’s ability to respond.

Whether you chose to stay or to go, you should still build a kit that fits either contingency. Things that might be valuable in a shelter in place might be cumbersome if you have to bug out. The time for deciding what is needed is well before the actual need to decide. Precious minutes might be wasted getting just the right things into place. This is where planning is of the utmost importance.

Bugging Out

I started building our bug out bag when we lived in Tornado Alley. The logic at the time was that if we had to evacuate in a hurry, I didn’t want to be gathering needed items. Using a workout gear bag (made of water resistant nylon) I assembled some basic food items, cooking gear used in camping, water containers for drinking, and tools.



Mountain House freeze dried food is the most reliable and enjoyable of all the food I have tried. While I still have some MRE’s in rotation for my Shelter in Place plan, the freeze dried stays fresher longer, is lighter and has a a far superior taste. Add to that how easy it is to reconstitute. You can either boil the water or you can use the convenient heater packs (purchased separately) which require nothing but water. This kit includes a rain poncho which doubles as a makeshift tent. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to light a stove in the rain.

img_1056A fishing tackle box contains a large number of useful items for either Bug Out or Staying. The box is sealed which keeps the contents nice and dry. Most of the items are from camping or boating stores. A folding shovel, sturdy survival knife, axes and multiple butchering tools are ready to help address any number of emergencies. I have at least five different methods to light a fire including flint if need be.   A basic medical bag can address most first aid issues and don’t forget the extra seal canteens of water. Waterproof matches are a must and I keep them sealed in plastic bags just to be safe.

Leaving is not always an option

We are blessed to have a house with a walk out basement. In that basement is a finished room with three pretty solid walls and no direct exposure to the outside on any of the walls. The previous owners equipped it with a steel door so this was a natural choice for me to establish our Zombie Room. In one of the corners, I have a storage cabinet that holds the Bug Out Kid and the Shelter in Place materials. While I keep some of the more flammable items in a safer storage nearby, this cabinet has enough supplies to make sure we can go well beyond the 72 hours the government typically suggests. We live in the country and those extra supplies may be our lifeline until the crisis passes.


Along with a rotating stock of MRE’s we recently shifted over to Mountain House’s “Just in Case” buckets. These sealed buckets have a 25 year shelf life. I imagine that they will out last either of us at this point in time. They are lightweight, rodent resistant, waterproof and easy to store. The buckets are also useable for other purposes once they are empty of their food.


The cabinet is a great place for additional tools you might need and more medical supplies. We have a gas grill, a Coleman Stove, portable camping stoves and as a last resort prepackaged one time use grills. More sophisticated cookware for Shelter in Place is also kept here.



The orange bucket is filled with a number of things including toilet paper, duct tape, plastic tarps, extra dusk masks, and some protective coveralls. Elsewhere in the case are gas masks with filters suitable for ruse in the case of a chemical or nuclear fallout event. I pray that we will never have to use them but with Putin and his ministers rattling the nuclear saber once more, you just never know. (By the way, the orange bucket also doubles as a toilet… have a few close by just in case).


Finally, what’s a good Zombie Room without a way to take out zombies? My hobby is shooting so I probably would have had most of these anyway. But we live in an area where law enforcement is limited and crime is just around the corner. My suggestion for most people is to have at least a shotgun. But it is not always practical to hunt with a shotgun and you may require something with a little more flexibility should the zombies rise.

A logical question is “what gun and caliber should I purchase?” My common answer is “one that you will actually use if you need it.” I prefer 9MM for my handguns and at least one rifle. My AR shoots 5.56 or .223. If you decide on an AR, make sure you get one chambered for the 5.56. It will handle both. These popular rounds will be worth their weight in gold if an actual catastrophe occurs.

The Plan

All of these things are quite useless if you don’t have a plan. has some good basic building blocks. The time to plan is not as the winds are passing 55 MPH or the water is rising above your front stoop. The time to plan is NOW.

Mister Mac


Where have you been? Reply

I have to admit it’s been a few days since my last post and considering the nature of that post, some of my readers may have wondered if I had been selected for early admission to the nearest FEMA camp. No such luck (at least not yet). We have been spending a lot of time working on our new business and doing some training to support that.

Some might think I am quite insane trying to start a business in this climate and frankly some days I think I might agree with them. But I have been watching closely and according to the AP there are some positive signs starting to show up in the country.

Here’s a short list:

Gas prices have finally started to stabilize according to the Department of Energy

President Obama has signed off on the Keystone Pipeline and shale oil will be flowing south very soon

The EPA has finally decided that ANWAR isn’t all that sensitive after all and the new technology available will protect the environment

The Department of Health and Human Services have reportedly found a gazillion dollars in fraud which will help to offset the new costs of Obama Care. This will also allow the Federal Department of Sex to provide an unlimited supply of birth control to every Girl Scout troop in America

After a shaky start, people are lining up by the droves to pick up their new Chevy Volt

Occupy Wall street has volunteered to come and clean up the messes they made and take classes in Good Citizenship from the American Legion

Michelle and the Girls have announced that until the economy really improves, they are cutting down to ten vacations this year

With Don’t ask, Don’t tell finally gone, the wars overseas have all ended. No one seems to be interested in fighting anymore. There will be a massive same-sex kiss off in New York upon their return

Ahmadinejad has apologized to the Israelis and ordered the complete destruction of his nuclear program. He Thanks Obama for his wise leadership

The Russians and Chinese have agreed to support the UN and stop the senseless violence in Syria. Upon hearing that, Assad calls Obama and tells him he is leaving power. Putin calls Obama and tells him that he has decided that for the good of Russia, he will resign and retire to his dachau. He thanks Obama for his encouragement during the tough times.

The Arab Spring has resulted in an age of enlightenment in the middle east and women are being asked to help mediate the old disputes and …

Wait, what?

None of that stuff actually happened? Crap… I am in so much trouble.

Anybody need some stationary and business cards???

(Maybe they will let me check into the camp early)


Mister Mac

Daddy, why is it so quiet? 4

It’s early Wednesday morning and something inside of you wakes you up before the sun rises. The house is completely silent and as you start to focus, you sense something is different. At first, the darkness seems natural until you realize the red LED display of the alarm clock is dark too. Out of habit, you turn the knob on the light and remember that if the clock is off, so is the power to the light.

Outside, the street lights are dark and as far as you can see there is no light at all. Strangely enough,  even the radio tower lights are not illuminated. Somebody is going to pay hell for that. You don’t think about it right away, but the sky is empty too. Not one single jet is making its way into the airport for the early morning traveller flights. You wonder if the factory will be affected by the outage. Turning on the cell phone, you get a full battery indicator but no signal bars. Now that really is odd. There was no storm last night so it can’t be lightning.

In the distance, you hear sirens from either a police car or an ambulance. It quickly speeds off into the early morning dawn and quiet returns. As the sun slowly breaks the horizon, others in your neighborhood start to emerge from their houses. Does anybody know when it happened? Have you tried tuning into the radio? All the stations have nothing but static. Most people go back to their houses to wait out the outage. They will have a long wait.

Instinct kicks in at some point. As the day goes on with no change in the situation, you start to look around your kitchen. Food. How long will the outage last? You, your wife and two kids may have to subsist on what you have for a while. So what do you have? Then you remember that the oven is electric and of course so is the microwave. Fortunately you have some soup and beans. Tuna and some spaghetti sauce will be able to be consumed but you don’t have a way to heat the water for the noodles.

The refrigerator has a weeks worth of perishables. What temperature will they go bad at? You remember to warn the kids not to open the door unless its an emergency. The day drags on. You realize how much your life depends on the internet and the TV that sit blankly staring back at you. No information, no games, no sports, no anything.

Thoughts of security come creeping in around the edges of your mind. You see cars moving out on the street and wonder where they are going to or where they are coming from. Without communication, how would you tell the firemen or police that there is a problem. You live in a quiet college town but fifteen minutes away by car are neighborhoods where people are used to the sounds of screaming and gunfire every night. How long will it be before they come to places like yours to seek food and supplies.

By late afternoon, your curiosity overcomes your fear. You need to see what else is going on around you so you pop the emergency lever on your electric garage door. As you start the car, you remember that you were going to fill the gas tank this morning on the way to work. Leaving your driveway, you can see neighbors peeking out from behind closed curtains.

Driving into the center of town, you see few vehicles but lots of people in the close rows of houses sitting outside. There are no lights on at the bank and you remember that you have about 27 dollars in your wallet. ATM’s need power too. The gas stations are closed and outside of the supermarket there is a long line of people waiting to get in. Some emerge on the other end with gallons of milk and bread but its obvious that whatever is in the store will be gone soon enough. At both the entry and the exit stand men with shotguns.

At the edge of town sits one of the three police cars the borough has. The cop is outside talking to some folks that are driving down from the town just north of here. You pull over to listen. Their power is all gone too. Stores closed. No food. No gas. The cop tells them to turn around and go home. In his patrol car radio, you can hear similar reports from the south and east side of town. No power anywhere.

You turn the car around and head home. Some neighbors have gathered at the top of the street and several are openly wearing firearms now. Dave, the big bellied factory worker you say hi to at the mini mart is sporting what looks to be an M-16. He is the one who seems to be leading the discussion. They talk about a night patrol if the power doesn’t come back on. Suddenly batteries and weapons seem to be a pretty hot topic.

Inside the house, the wife and kids are sitting in the semi-dark. Empty cans of food are sitting on the counter and she tells you that the water stopped working about an hour ago. No washing water, no toilets, nothing. You have an electric hot water heater anyway so all you would have gotten was lukewarm.

The kids start to cry and you can see that your wife is not too far behind. Maybe, truth be told, you would like to shed a few tears too. But you won’t. Not now anyway. As darkness falls, you put the kids to bed. You won’t sleep much tonight. Hopefully the neighborhood patrol won’t shoot anybody tonight.

At about three AM, you hear the first sound of the helicopters. Lots of them from the incoming sound. They have large spotlights on the bottoms and are moving slowly. One comes to a standing stop over your neighborhood and you can see the spotlight move around. A loudspeaker breaks through the whirring of the blades:

“This is the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Stay in your houses until you receive further instructions. Pack one suitcase per person and leave all arms and ammunition on the front porch of your house. No exceptions. Tune your radio to AM Radio 800 at 6 AM tomorrow morning for complete instructions. The President has declared a national emergency and protocol 1 is now in effect. Anyone outside of their homes before they are instructed will be considered hostile and dealt with severely”


With that, the helicopter moved to the next neighbor hood and repeated the message.

At 0600 the next morning, your family huddles around the small radio in the living room. The announcer comes on.


“This is an emergency broadcast from the regional Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Department of Homeland Security has determined that the following areas are in danger of insurrection against the lawfully elected government of the United States.”

Your area is only one of many revealed.

“In the interest of public safety, you are to be temporarily relocated to one of six FEMA relocation facilities where you will be fed, cared for by medical personnel, and secure from any threats. No firearms will be allowed to enter the facilities for everyone’s safety.”

FEMA Camps

“This relocation will be temporary and will only last as long as the crisis exists. Vehicles will enter your area at 0900 to begin evacuations. The evacuating troops will be easily identified by their blue helmets. Because of the imminent nature of the threat, anyone found resisting will be removed from their groups and placed in a holding facility for disposition”

“This is for your own safety. Further instructions will be given at the facility you are assigned to.”

FEMA Camp flag

It couldn’t happen here, could it?


Mister Mac

Dereliction of Duty 2



One of the worst things I can imagine a service member doing is being guilty of dereliction of duty. We all take an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution. When we are derelict in our duties, there are military laws which judge us and rightly so. People depend on us to defend them and protect them from forces beyond their ability to defend themselves.

Friday afternoon, the Democratic leadership in the Senate refused to pass a continuing resolution that would not only fund the government’s operations but will cut off additional funds to FEMA by early next week. Harry Reid and his fellow Democratic Senators left after a hasty news conference to catch a plane for South Carolina (Taxpayer funded of course).

This morning (September 24th) at the beautiful and luxurious Kiawah Island Resort in South Carolina the Democratic Senatorial Leadership team is resting after blocking funds for FEMA.  This is just a sample of some of the things they are suffering through for the American people still recovering from the floods:

“Your private table may overlook splendid surf, lagoons, gardens or fairways, while you dine on exquisitely  prepared award-winning native foods complemented by the perfect wine or beverage. Your day might begin with a leisurely breakfast on the oceanfront, a bountiful buffet before your morning tee time or gourmet coffee and a continental breakfast at the market.”

Food recovery

After this sumptuous feast, Harry and his donors will ride out to the well manicured greens and spend the day figuring out how to get more money into the democrat coffers. The fairways can be a little rough this time of year, but Harry and his friends will be doing their best to keep a brave face.


The accommodations at Kiawah can be a little challenging too for the out of Towner’s. Rumor has it that some were actually forced to sleep in rooms with only a partial ocean view. Senior aides to the Senator were furious upon finding out that the best rooms were already booked for another meeting but hotel officials assured them that the alternative rooms would be just as desirable.

Temporary Housing

As always, guest will be provided with surprise gift bags as they spend time with their hosts. Rumor has it that a special shipment from Cartier’s was spirited in during the night to mark the special occasion.

Red Cross

Meanwhile, more rain is predicted across the Susquehanna Valley all the way into New England. Evacuations were once again ordered in some counties in preparation for the flooding that will follow.


Hopefully it will not impact this evening’s tribute dinner for the millionaires and their wives  who continue to make all of this possible for Senator Reid and friends.



Dereliction of Duty? You be the judge.

God Bless America

Mister Mac

Are you ready? Are you sure? 4

With the recent storms in Florida and the south, I was reminded about another large storm and it’s impacts. We are praying for the folks in the South today and hope that everyone remains safe. God Bless and Protect you all.


One of my post retirement hobbies has been public speaking. My subject matter is pretty expected; Navy stuff, World War 2 history and of course Submarines in the Cold War. I’ve probably given hundreds of talks over the past sixteen years to all sizes of social and civic groups. But one of my favorite topics has been developed over the past ten years. Readiness. As a good submarine sailor, I pride myself for thinking about all of the situations I might find myself in during our routines and travels. Living in Western Michigan was a joy in some ways but also a challenge since we were right in the path of some of the meanest lake effect snow showers I had ever encountered.

One of my least favorite memories was Thanksgiving in Grand Haven when the snows came down so fast and so hard it knocked out power to the house. The plows were slow coming up Lakeshore Drive and we weren’t going anyplace anytime soon. But without electricity (in a house that is heated by electricity) you suddenly discover the reality of how well prepared you are.

Another of my least favorite memories is the trip to south Florida after Hurricane Andrew paid a visit. We were up in Nova Scotia on a liberty run when the news broadcasts started showing some of the devastation that was occurring. A quick run on the Hunley to pick up supplies led to a three-month on site recovery operation. Being out in the field for even just a few days, you could see the level of destruction that nature is capable of producing.

I have lived in many different parts of the country (north south east west) and frankly every area has its own environmental issues that could create a situation where you would have to self sustain. Hurricanes, flooding, fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, sever winters and on and on. Not only do you have environmental issues, you also have the emerging threats from potential catastrophes like power grid failures, terrorist threats, and disruptions to services that could occur because of those events.

The real question is this: Are you ready? Are you sure?

Here’s a little test:

1. How many days does FEMA, the Red Cross and Department of Homeland Security tell you to be able to self sustain for?

2. How much water per person should you have stored for cooking, cleaning and other uses?

3. Do you know how to shut the utilities off in your house in the event of an explosion, fire or earthquake?

4. If you had to evacuate in a hurry, what would you take with you? What if you couldn’t come back for weeks?

5. How would you communicate with loved ones in the event you are in different areas when the “event” occurred?

6. If you have to evacuate, where would you go? Do you have a plan or are you just hoping to be told what to do?

7. How well do ATM machines operate without power?

What struck me most about the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew was that it was an equal opportunity event. Everyone who was living there at the time faced the same challenges of a food and water supply problem. Shelter was also challenging because regardless of the type of housing you had, Andrew pretty much smacked them all down.  I never thought I would see refugees living in America but frankly that is what a lot of people looked like as they lined up for their meals and water supplies.

Truthfully, no amount of preparation would completely eliminate the recovery you will have to go through in the event of a catastrophic incident like Andrew. But remember that the same people who are coming to help will have their own time to prepare their vehicles and equipment. The Red Cross and the government agencies all need a short amount of time to become activated and that means self-sustaining for a short period of time. is your first stop if you didn’t feel comfortable with your own answers above. Even if you did, it won’t take very long to go to the website and check it out. It also has links to FEMA, Disaster assistance and other resources. You can also visit the Red Cross at  You will find many additional resources there plus ways you can help your neighbors.

Hurricane Andrew landed in Florida 19 years ago this week. After he left, there were many communities devastated. I know two things about disaster preparedness:

1. It is too late to plan after the disaster has already started

2. If you don’t have at least a plan, you become a part of the disaster (which means that someone else will have to have planned for your recover)

The last thing to remember is that in the event of a major disaster, one of the first things that normally goes away is electricity. It will be really tough to turn on your computer and go on the internet to see what to do next if that is the case.

Mister Mac