Friday, September 19, 2014

When should you evacuate?

I am going to preface this blog post with a warning, the following content is my own opinion. You must ultimately decide for yourself if evacuation is a good idea or not.

I have been evacuated once in my life. It happened in 2011 during a huge wildfire. At that time I lived up in the Huachuca Mountains just south of Fort Huachuca. We were about four miles north of the Mexican border. My wife and baby daughter were living in Phoenix and I was staying in a small studio rental, a cabin really, while I worked on post. Most weekends I went home to see them, but this weekend I didn't. We had a field training exercise and I had to work the Saturday. That Sunday, June 12th 2011, I was using my rare free day to clean my little house.

I had only been back from Iraq about 23 months so at first I didn't notice the sounds of helicopters. I eventually noticed and went outside to check. The border patrol are the only entitiy in the area with a chopper and are strangley receptive of help. I have actually directed th chopper to illegals using hand gestures before.

What I saw was something straight out of my writing. Words cannot accurately describe what I saw. There is an 8000ft nicely rounded peak due south of the cabin about 1 mile. The entire backside of the mountain must have been engulfed to produce the awesomely gigantic column of smoke. It reached nearly 30,000 feet high. I stood there for a few seconds in awe as I watched a tiny little helicopter try to dump water on this beast of a fire. I dropped my dusting rag on the floor and started loading valuables into my car. In a split second I decided to evacuate.

Why? Because I have common sense. I knew there was no way the government was going to be able to respond in time. The fire had a mile to travel before it got to my house. Yes, I have a hose and I used it. I didn't receive the official evacuation order for 24 more hours. I turned my hose on and heavily watered the trees in my yard. It was the only thing that saved my little house and the land lady's house next door.

I evaluated my situation using logic and the fact that burning alive would suck.

Thankfully, a buddy of mine lived on post and let me have a room in his house for 19 days. That's how long it took for the government to contain the fire. It burned nearly 50% of the mountain range.

During a natural disaster, I am most likely to evacuate. Most natural disasters give you plenty of time to pack your electronics and photo albums and GTFO of dodge. I have survived tornadoes, micro-bursts, and a forest fire.

The decision is up to you, Reader.

I understand why people stayed during Katrina. I wouldn't have. I have a wife and small child. Their safety is paramount. The trick is, to evacuate EARLY, not during the crush when 3.5 million people are trying to drive out of town on the only road out.

Remember, your stuff isn't worth your life.

Extended power failure = stay, unless its summer/winter and you have family members sensitive to the heat/cold.
Rioting = If its headed your way, GTFO!
Fire = GTFO
Flood = unless you live in a boat, GTFO!

Once you have evacuated the next thing to consider is where you are going. Based on experiences in Katrina and my own town, I would stay away from Govt or Redcross shelters. Stay away from any shelter that does not allow you to leave once you are there or tries to separate you from your children. Do not stay at a shelter that makes you relinquish your means of self defense. Do not stay at a shelter that requires you to turn over all food or clothes. You are in the business of surviving, not sharing. Its a harsh reality.

Packing list for evacuation:

Two five gallon fuel cans: Traffic may be slow, increasing fuel consumption and reducing range.
Food: several days worth of food, easily prepared, for each member of your family. Took Two cases of MREs. I have several cases of water on hand to toss in the trunk.
Clothes: Several changes of clothes and shoes.
Vital Documents: Birth certs, Soc Cards, ID for every member. Mortgage and insurance papers. Photo albums.
Weapons: Take all guns with you. Leave nothing for looters. My house was evacuated while I was at work. My neighbor was a lefty granola hippy, but he grabbed my dog and my guns. I asked him why, he said I know you are a soldier. A soldier isn't a soldier without a gun.
Camping equipment: Take it all, stoves, tents, sleeping bags, lanterns. You may not reach a shelter or your alpha site before night falls. You could trade items for food or fuel, or loan them out to keep children warm.
Communications: In an exciting situation, the cell phone towers may become overwhelmed. That means you won't have internet or phone service. I have a handheld ham radio for this reason. I can listen to police and get updates from a variety of sources. I can even call for help if I need to.
Recreation: Bring cards, books, toys, crayons for the kid. Evacuation can be boring.

Mindset is key to survival. Its a sad thing to admit but people will prey on you during an evacuation. They will want what you have. Security is your primary concern. Weapons ready at all times. Vehicle packed and ready to roll at all times. Several shelter sites in my town were evacuated due to the fire approaching the shelter's location. The sheriff's department caught many looters, some pulling into the driveway of a house as soon as the people left. Vehicles were broken into at shelters, and there were several attempted sexual assaults at the shelters.

I hope this helps.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Authors abusing readers! MUST READ!

A few days ago I became aware of a series of posts made by a successful author in which she bashes her readers.

Please read the following links and learn from her mistake.

This behavior is inexcusable. In response to her name calling and disparagement, I offered my first two books for free to anyone that emailed me. I have emailed out 70 something sets so far. The hundreds of supportive comments and emails made up for the few that called me sleazy and opportunistic. I just pointed out to her readers that I appreciate them and will treat them well. I did not call her names or attack her in anyway.

She has deleted the original posts but has stated that she stands by what she said and the only reason she removed the posts was because her publisher made her. The original posts were shared over 600 times and had thousands of comments. She had a cadre of diehard supporters trying to say she did nothing wrong by being rude. The majority of responses were extremely negative and some were down right nasty.

At the end of this post are links to two of her Publishers/Publicity Managers.

If you feel so inclined, contact them, but please don't make her mistake. Be mature, state how you feel about what she did, and remind them that as a consumer, you vote with your wallet!

I gave an interview on my comment and the furor it caused.

Sarah Reidy | Senior Publicity Manager| Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas | New York, NY 10020 | T. 212-698-7008 | @sarah_reidy

Hector DeJean
Minotaur Publicity Manager
St. Martin's Press
175 5th Avenue, 15th Floor
New York, NY   10010