Surviving in the City

by Christopher Parrett


While we all want to do our best to prepare for a coming crisis, and many of us realize the city is perhaps the worst place to live, very few people are really prepared to pack up the old Winnebago and head for the hills. Most Americans, whether they're aware or not, are going to stay in the cities.

This is not a hasty decision for most people. Most of us depend on the city for our livelihood, and we can be better prepared by continuing to live in the city, earn a good income, and make preparations for exiting the city at the appropriate time or by staying in the city and living off existing supplies.

This special report explains some of the most critical dangers of living in a city and presents some solutions to surviving them. If you are one of the people who has decided to stay in the city, you'll benefit greatly from this information.


Every city is an artificial construct. Cities formed as people came together to conduct business, participate in social interaction, and benefit from efficiencies in public services (such as schools, sewers, water, etc.) and a common defense. Yet cities cannot survive alone. They need resources from the country; most notably, food, water and electricity. While electricity and water can sometimes be created or found within city limits, the acreage requirements of food dictate that no city could possibly feed its own people.

Read that last phrase carefully: No city can feed its own people. Not one. Cities are, by their very nature, dependent on the importation of food. The advent of just-in-time delivery systems to our grocery stores means that most cities would run out of food within a week if supplies were for some reason disrupted.

Remember, cities are not self-sufficient. Although they may seem to be in 2005, they have for a long time been entirely dependent on the American farmer for their support, something almost all Americans take for granted (except the farmer, of course.)


The city presents some serious risks during a crisis. The four most serious ones are:
1. the collapse of social order (riots),
2. the failure of the water treatment and delivery systems,
3. the depletion of food supplies and
4. the failure of the power grid.

While not every situation will appear in every city, every situation will most certainly appear in some cities. Will that include yours? We'll tackle these one at a time:

1. The Collapse of Social Order
“Social order” is a delicate thing, and it exists as a psychological barrier that could easily collapse under the right conditions. We all saw this during the L. A. Riots following the Rodney King trial verdict as citizens of L. A. set fire to their own town, yanked people from vehicles and beat them literally to death, and even fired guns at firemen attempting to save their buildings! More recently we were all witness to the looting, violence and total breakdown of society following Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

What allowed this to happen? Simple: the simultaneous melting away of the psychological barrier of “order.” Once people realized 911 couldn't handle the load, or was offline, that the local police were helpless or had simply abandoned their posts, “Law and Order” ceased to exist in their minds. They then conducted their lives in the way they always wanted to, but couldn't because of the police. That is, they ran out to the local stores and just took whatever they wanted (looting). They took our their racial frustration on innocent victims who happened to be driving through the area, and they let loose on a path of destruction that only stopped when men with rifles (the National Guard) were called in to settle things down. In other words, only the threat of immediate death stopped the looting and violence. Rifles work wonders.

Imagine store owners lying prone on the roofs of their stores with AK-47's, firing at anyone who approached. This is exactly what happened in Los Angeles. But worse, imagine the lawless horde firing at the rescue copters trying to bring in supplies to the desperate masses.

The National Guard eventually got things under control. This event was isolated, however, to one city. Imagine a hundred cities experiencing the same thing. Will the National Guard be able to handle the load? Not likely. What about local police? They aren't fools; if things look bad enough, they'll grab their families and head for the hills, just like they did in New Orleans. No pension is worth getting killed for. A few U. S. cities could be transformed into literal war zones overnight. It would require all-out martial law and military force to have any chance whatsoever of bringing order to these streets. And the reality is that there are not enough military in the USA to secure all of the cities if this happens.

This collapse of social order is perhaps the greatest risk of staying in the city during a crisis. What, exactly, would cause this collapse of social order? Lack of three things: food, water, and money. When people run out of food, some will begin ransacking their neighborhood, searching for something to eat. (Remember that in a city, a “neighbor” does not mean the same thing as a “neighbor” in the country. They are not necessarily your friends.) It won't take long, then, for violence to take over in some cities. While certain regions will certainly manage to keep things under control and people will form lines at the local (depleted) Red Cross shelter, other cities will see an explosion of violence. Imagine the gang-infested regions of L. A., Chicago, New York, St. Louis & New Orleans. Do you think those people are going to stand in line and wait? They already have guns; now they finally get to use them. Pent-up racial tensions & hostilities will simply serve as justification for shooting people of the same or other color in order to get their food.

Even if the food somehow gets into the cities, lack of money (due to the government not sending out checks) could cause the same thing. Eventually, lack of money results in looting and mass theft. As the stealing balloons, it also results in a collapse of social order. Water; the same thing (but faster). The collapse of social order is also very dangerous because it doesn't require any “actual” collapse of the power grid, telecommunications, transportation or banking. Social order is a psychological artifact. It is a frame of mind, and any global panic can quickly remove the mental barrier that right now keeps people basically “lawful.”


Will the water treatment facilities fail during a crisis? Many will. Some won't. The problem lies in figuring out whether yours will. Certainly, they depend on electricity, and testing conducted on some plants has already revealed weaknesses in the system.

In one such test, the water treatment plant released a fatal dose of fluoride into the water system when tested. The computers thought they were 99 years behind in releasing minute doses of fluoride, so they made up the difference. If you happened to be downstream, drinking that water, you were dead. Fluoride, no matter what misinformed dentists tell you, is actually a fatal poison. A major crisis likely to demonstrate this fact in more than one city.

The most important question here, though, is about what will happen when the water stops flowing (or if it is flowing, but it's not drinkable). As you are probably aware, while people can live without food for long periods of time (2-3 weeks), water is needed on a daily basis. You can go 2-3 days without it, at most, but beyond that, you'll quickly turn to dust.

That means people will do anything to get water, because to not have it means death. And guess where it's going to be the most difficult to actually get water? You guessed it: in the cities. During the first day of the water crisis, many people still won't figure out what's going on. They'll figure it's a temporary breakage of a water main and the government will get it fixed within hours. As those hours stretch into the next day, these people will get very worried.

By the second day, more and more people will realize the water isn't coming. At that point, you could easily see a breakdown of social order, as described in the previous section (as you can see, these things all tend to cause each other.). People will begin their “search for water,” and the first place they're likely to go is where they always go for liquids: the grocery store, the local Wal-Mart, the 7-11. The shelves will be cleaned out rather quickly.

Beyond that (because those liquids aren't going to last long), you're going to see people engaged in a mass-exodus from the cities. They'll take the gas they have left in their tanks and they'll leave the city in search of water. Some will go to “Grandma's house” out in the country where they might at least find a pond or stream to drink from. Others will simply go on an expanded looting mission, stopping at any house they see and asking the residents (with a gun in their face, likely) if they have any water to “donate.”

As a result of all this, if water stops flowing, here are the events you can expect to see in some of the worse-off cities:
* Looting of all the grocery stores by the second or third day (remember New Orleans?)
* Minor outbreaks of violence during the looting. Shop owners, for example, may attempt to defend their shops with firearms (ala L. A. Riots)
* Mass exodus of residents from the city in search of water
* Ransacking of any houses or farms within a gas-tank radius of the city, presumably by desperate people with guns
* Mass traffic jams on the outbound highways as people run out of gas and abandon their vehicles (if bad enough, this could actually block the highways and trap people in the cities) (Remember Hurricane Rita?)
* Mass outbreak of water-borne diseases as people use streams and rivers as both a water fountain and a bathroom. People crapping upstream are going to infect the people drinking downstream. Very few have any kind of water filtration device. That last point is really critical. Once the water flow stops, disease is going to strike.


The food supplies will likely dwindle quickly as we approach a possible crisis due to people stocking up just in case. Once the crisis actually hits, expect to see breakdowns in the transportation sector that will result in major delays in food delivery. This means food may arrive in sporadic fashion in some cities (if at all).

Once this happens, food suddenly becomes really valuable to people (even though they take it for granted today). And that means any small shipment of food that arrives will be quickly grabbed and eaten or stored. It only takes one week without food to remind people how much they actually need it, so expect the atmosphere to be that of a “near panic” if food is delayed by as little as three days. The level of panic will vary from city to city. Some cities or towns may experience very little difficulty receiving food. Others may face near-starvation circumstances.

Remember, the cities depend entirely on food shipped in from the farms and food processing companies. Also, note that if there's a water problem as mentioned in the previous section, and the mass exodus begins, the highways may be jammed up at critical locations, causing gridlock for the trucking industry. If we're lucky, some trucks will continue to roll. If we're not, assume that nothing gets through.

A shortage of food ultimately results in the same behavior as a shortage of water. First, people eat what's in the pantry, then they loot the grocery stores. After that, with all local supplies depleted and no hope on the horizon, they leave the city and start ransacking nearby homes. Some will hunt in nearby forests, but most city-dwellers don't know how to hunt. In any case, anyone with the means to leave the city will likely do so soon after their food shortage begins.


Nothing is as suddenly obvious nor has such a gigantic psychological impact as the failure of the power grid. When the electricity stops, almost everybody knows it at the same instant (unless it happens at night).

Naturally, during the first few hours of the power failure, if it occurs, people will assume it's a temporary situation. Maybe a tree fell on some power lines, or perhaps a transformer blew up somewhere nearby. They'll sit tight and wait for the power to come back on.

What if it doesn't? Then the city faces a severe problem. Without power, obviously, everything shuts down. Within hours, the looting begins in the more crime-ridden cities (we saw this in New York a few decades ago.). The longer the power stays off, the worse the social disorder.

The loss of power will bring the entire city to a halt. While vehicles may get around for a few more days (using whatever fuel they have left), businesses obviously won't be operating. Houses that depend on electricity for heat will quickly reach Winter temperatures, freezing many occupants to death. While those that depend on electricity for Air Conditioning will just as quickly reach Summer temperatures, resulting in death from heat stroke. Hospitals and police stations may have generators on hand, with a few days worth of fuel, but in short order, that will be depleted, too.

But the water treatment plant will almost certainly be off-line without power, causing all the events mentioned in the water section, above. Let's face it, the power is the worst thing to be without in the city. If you have power, you can survive a food shortage, perhaps even a short water shortage. But without power, all bets are off. If you have a “bug-out” vehicle stocked and ready to go (see below), this might be the time to bail.


Okay, so you're stuck in the city. You've made the decision to stay. You've read the problems above, you believe they make sense, and you're intelligently frightened. What now? You really have two strategies. You can:
* Stay and defend your house
* Bug out (leave the city and head for the hills)

Important! This is not an either/or situation. You can begin by staying in your house and assessing the situation. You'll want to have a “bug-out” vehicle stocked and ready, just in case, if you can afford one, but you may never actually choose to bug out. You'll have to be the ultimate judge of this. Just remember that when you bug out, you face major risks and disadvantages. Among these:
1. You're severely limited in how much you can carry -
2. You have limited range due to fuel -
3. You expose yourself to social chaos, roadblocks, random violence, etc. -
4. Your house will certainly be looted while you're gone -
5. You run the risk of mechanical breakdowns of your vehicle -
6. You must have a place to go that you know is in better shape than where you currently are.

In general, unless you have a specific, known safe place as your final destination, I don't advise people to bug out. Just “heading for the hills” is a very poor plan. You might not make it. But heading for Grandma's house or some known, safe place could be a very good plan indeed, depending on whether Grandma is ready, willing and able to accept you!

For these reasons (and more), staying and defending your house is sometimes the only reasonable course of action, even if it seems dangerous. For the most part, looters and people looking for food are going to have plenty of easy victims, so if you show a little willingness to use force to defend your property, you'll likely send people on to the next house. 

That is, until the next house is already empty and you appear to be the last house on the block with any food and water left. If you're in a bad enough area, your neighbors may “gang up” on you and demand your supplies or your life. This is truly a worst-case scenario, and unless you literally have a house full of battle rifles and people trained to use them (and the willingness to shoot your neighbors), you're sunk. This is why the best situation by far is to keep your neighbors informed and help them get prepared. Then you (both your member and non-member neighbors) can act as a group, defending your neighborhood and sharing the supplies you have with anyone willing to help defend you.

When you have this kind of situation going, your neighbors realize you are their lifeline. You supply them with food and water, and they will help support you because they are, in effect, supporting their own lives. The best situation is when your neighbors and other ward members have their own food and water supplies. That way, they aren't depleting yours, and they have a strong motivation for getting together with you defend your neighborhood. (More on this below.)


Storing food is just as important in the city as in the country, but hiding it is far more important. That's because in the worst areas, marauders will be going from house to house, demanding your food or your life. If you're dumb enough to put everything you own in the obvious places, you might as well not buy it in the first place. They will find it. To count on having any amount of food left over after the marauders break in, you'll need to hide your food.

One alternative is to plan on defending your home with force. If you have enough gun-wise people in the house, and enough firearms and ammo, you can probably pull this off. But most of us aren't nearly as experience with firearms as the gang members. A better alternative might be to plan on bringing you supplies to your ward/stake building where all of the Saints can both pool and defend their resources. This of course will depend greatly on your local Bishop and Stake President.

Back to hiding: the best way to hide your food is to bury it. You'll need airtight containers, long-term food that won't rot and you'll need to plan ahead. Bury your food at night so nobody will notice, and make sure you don't leave the map on the refrigerator door! (Better to memorize it!) Try to get the ground to look normal after you're all finished. You'll want to bury your food as early as possible because it gives the grass time to regroup over the spot. If you're in an area that snows, you'll have a great concealment blanket! Most food marauders won't go to the trouble to dig up food, especially if you insist you don't have any.

Best plan: Have some smaller amount of food stashed around the house, letting them find something. Better to give them something and send them on their way. The art of hiding your food is an ancient one. You've got to get creative. Use the walls, the floors, and the structure of the house.

If hiding your food is simply not an available alternative, then try not to advertise it. Keep it put away in your house or garage in as discreet a manner as possible. Don't make a point of telling people that you have a years supply (or more). Word gets around fast that Bro. Jones has a ton of food in his garage. Boxes of food fit nicely under beds, behind furniture, in the attic, etc.. Be Creative!!

To sum up the food storage, you really have three strategies here:
* Store it all in your house and plan on defending it by force.
* Bury it in your yard in case you get overrun by looters.
* Store part of it in your house, and hide the bulk of it.
* Relocate all of it as soon as you recognize a major disaster is in progress

One of the best ways to store food for burying, although it will only last 2-3 years in high-humidity areas, is to purchase 55-gallon good-grade steel drums. You can get them from: Memphis Drum Service, 3299 Tulane, Memphis, Tennessee 38116 (901) 396-6484; (800) 960-3786) The drums are only $16.50, but shipping them is around $30 each. Once you obtain the drums, dump in your grains or other food items. If you purchase bags of food from Walton Feed, this is the perfect way to store it. Don't leave it in the bags unless you're actively eating it. [Note: Plastic barrels do not rust.]

Then sprinkle some diatomaceous earth into the drum. You'll need about two cups to treat a 55-gallon drum, and it must be mixed in well. Diatomaceous earth is made from ground up sea shells, and it kills bugs by getting into their joints. You can get some from: Perma-Guard, Inc. 115 Rio Bravo S. E. Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105 (505) 873-3061

This diatomaceous earth is food grade, and on the bag it says, “Fossil Shell Flour.” Their prices are one pound, $4.90; 2 lb., $8.05; 5 lb., 14.70, 10 lb., $18.00; 50 lb., $24.95.

Once you get these drums filled and sealed, you can then bury them in your yard. This is actually a HUGE UNDERTAKING and is a LOT more difficult than it sounds, since you'll need to dig to a depth of around 5 or 6 feet in order to sufficiently bury these drums. You're likely to attract a lot of attention unless you do it at night, and you'll definitely be removing a lot of dirt that you'll need to find some use for. Because the drums are steel, they will also deteriorate unless you line the outside with plastic (a good idea) and treat the drums with some kind of protectant or oil. (Don't use WD-40.) Even Vaseline would work well, although you would definitely need a lot to coat a 55-gallon drum.

When you're all done, you should have your protected grains in 55-gallon drums, buried in your yard and protected against the humidity of the surrounding earth. It's a big effort, but then again, the food inside may save your life. You'll find it much more efficient to bury several barrels at once; side by side.

In reality it would be faster and easier to simply build a false wall in your garage and seal up your food behind the false wall. Sure, you might loose 2-3 feet of useable space in your garage, but the tradeoff is knowing everything is safe and sound.


Water can be stored in exactly the same way, although you might want to bury the barrel before you actually fill it with water. Make sure you treat your storage water, rotate it or have filters on hand when you get ready to use it.

If you don't have a yard, or it's not practical to bury your water, you'll have to store water inside your house. This can get very tricky because water takes up a lot of space and it's very difficult to conceal. It's best to get containers made for long-term storage, but in a pinch, you can use almost any container: soda bottles, milk jugs (although it's very difficult to rinse the milk out), and even rinsed bleach bottles (in that case, you won't need to add bleach). But a lot of these containers will deteriorate quickly, and they may break easily. Also, consider what happens if your water may be subjected to freezing. Will your containers survive? Be sure to leave enough air space to handle the expansion.

In order to prepare yourself for the water shortage, assuming you're going to stay in the city, stock at least six months of water at a minimum two gallons a day per person. That's nearly 400 gallons of water if you have two people.

Of course, even with the best in-house preparations, you may find yourself depleted of water supplies. In this situation, one of your best defenses is to have a really good water filter (like the Katadyn filter) that can remove parasites and bacteria from the water. You can also treat your water in other ways (iodine, distillation, silver solution, bleach, etc.). Armed with these items, you can safely use stream or river water (or even pond water) for drinking.


By far, the best solution for obtaining long-term water supplies is to drill a well. Buy the best-quality hand-pump available (cast-iron pumps available from Lehman's) and a good cylinder. They will last a lifetime if installed properly. With this setup, you'll have a near-unlimited supply of water.

The total cost of doing this, depending on where you live, ranges from about $4000 - $6000. Is it worth it? If you've got the money, I think so. However, many cities simply don't allow the drilling of wells, so you may not be able to get one drilled even if you want to.

The deeper your well, the more expensive it gets. Most well drilling companies charge by the foot. When water is deeper, you also need a bigger pump and a more powerful cylinder, so the costs tend to really grow the deeper you go. If you can find water at 20', you're very lucky and it might not cost you even $2000. If you have to go down to 200', it might cost you $7500, and you're at the depth limit of hand-powered pumps anyway.

HOLLY DEYO NOTE: As point of reference, the general cost of well digging in Colorado as of March 2007, runs $20/foot. This can be a very expensive venture if water is located deeply or worse yet, the drill hole comes up dry. Additionally, in Colorado, you may not drill a well on your property unless you own at least a 35-acre plot or, there is no public water supply available. Both the cost and conditions when you may be allowed to drill can vary throughout the U.S. (and abroad), so be sure to check before counting on being able to do so.


Let's talk about force. No doubt, there are plenty of nice people in this country, and I think that in small towns and rural areas, people are going to find ways to cooperate and get along. I also think, however, that some cities will suffer complete social breakdown and violence will rule. If you happen to be stuck in one of these cities, you're going to need to use force to defend your house. The section that follows discusses what I consider to be extreme responses to violence in the most dire situations. Hopefully, you won't find yourself in these circumstances, but if you do, the information below may be valuable.

Important: Do not use your lights at night. If you are stocking propane-powered lanterns, solar-powered flashlights, or other unusual supplies, using them at night will announce to everyone within line of sight that you have more than the “usual” supplies. Expect them to come knocking in your door. At most, let a fire burn in the fireplace, but in general, avoid drawing attention to your house.

Defending your house is a crucial element on your stay-in-the-city plan. Make your house your fortress, and hold drills to help other family members practice some of the more common activities such as hiding, defending, evacuating, etc. Some useful items for home defense include:
* A guard dog
* Pepper spray
* Firearms
* Smoke bombs (military-grade)
* Trip wires

Let's go over these: The guard dog is certainly a welcome addition to any family trying to defend their house. Although he probably eats a lot of food, the investment is worth if. Dogs also tend to sleep light, so let them sleep right next to the food storage areas, and make sure you sleep within earshot. If the dog barks, don't consider it an annoyance, consider it an INTRUSION.

Pepper spray is a great alternative to the firearm. It will incapacitate people and certainly give them a painful experience to remember. On the downside (potentially), it might just remind them that next time they come back for food, they better kill you first. So understand the limitations of pepper spray.

Firearms are useful for obvious reasons. In the worst-case scenario, when looting is rampant, you may have to actually shoot someone to protect yourself or your family. If you're squeamish about pulling the trigger under these circumstances, don't plan to stay in the city. Use the “bug out” plan instead.

Smoke bombs can be useful for covering a planned escape from your house. You can purchase high-volume smoke bombs that will quickly fill up any house with an unbreathable cloud of military-grade white smoke.

Trip wires are great perimeter defenses. You can buy them from Cheaper Than Dirt (they run a few hundred dollars). They will give you early warning if someone is approaching. You can connect the tripwires to flares, shotgun shells, light sticks or other warning devices. This way, you can have an audible or visible alert, your choice.

In addition to these devices, you can make significant fortification-style improvements to your home. While none of these are very affordable, they certainly help defend your home:
* Replace glass windows with non-breakable Plexiglas
* Add steel bars to the windows
* Replace all outside door locks with heavy-duty deadbolts
* Replace all outside doors with steel doors, preferably without windows
* Remove bushes and other shrubs where people might hide
* Black out the windows entirely to avoid light escaping at night (similar to what residents of London did during the WWII bombing raids)
* Build secret hiding places for food, coins, or even people
* Create escape hatches or passageways
* Rig pepper-spray booby traps

These aren't as absurd as they might at first sound. Many people living in rough cities already have steel bars covering their windows, and removing extra bushes and shrubs is a well-known tactic for making your home a safer place.


To light your home when there's no electricity, try the following:
* Use LED flashlights and rechargeable solar-charged batteries. You can buy all these items from the Real Goods catalog
* Use propane-powered lanterns. You can find these in the camping section of your local Wal-Mart. Be sure to purchase extra mantles and store lots of propane.
* Purchase quality oil lamps from Lehman's and stock up on oil. You can also purchase cheap kerosene lamps from the Sportsman's Guide or Wal-Mart, then simply purchase and store extra kerosene.
* Buy extra candles.
* Purchase lots of olive oil. Not only can you cook with it (and besides, it's a lot healthier than corn or vegetable oil), olive oil also burns as a clean candle fuel. You can float a wick in a jar half-full of olive oil and light the wick. Viola, a home-made candle. Olive oil is a fantastic item for your storage anyway because even if you purchase all the grains in the world, you'll still need cooking oil, and you obviously can't buy powdered cooking oil. Well-stored olive oil can last for thousands of years.


Did you know that people won't steal giant logs? Although they may easily steal wood you've already chopped, most people won't have any way of stealing logs. They're too heavy, and the vehicles won't have any gas left. For this reason, your best bet in regards to stocking fuel for your house is to stock up on UNCUT wood logs.

It takes a lot of extra research to find out how to get them (took me a few weeks of asking around), but you can find a source if you look hard enough. Or you can usually get a permit to go out and cut your own. The effort is worth it, because this will give you a ready-to-go source of heat and fuel that cannot be easily stolen.

The catch, of course, is that you'll need equipment to cut and chop the wood. A chainsaw is REALLY nice in this way, but it requires fuel. Fortunately, chain saws don't use much fuel, so if you have a way to store as little as 50 gallons or so, you've got enough to power your chainsaw for a few years (at least!). You'll need fuel stabilizers, too, which you can buy at your local Wal-Mart. (Be sure to buy extra chains for your chainsaw, too.)

You'll also need splitting hardware. You can buy log splitters or just buy an axe, a wedge, and a sledgehammer. Better yet, buy all four so you have a choice of what to use. And remember, wood splits much better when it's frozen, too, so you might just wait until the cold hits in Winter to start splitting your wood. Only split a little at a time, because you don't want to end up with a big pile of nicely-split wood sitting out in your yard. It will invite theft from people who don't have any. If you already have trees on your property, you're all set. Cut down about 4-5 cords right now, so they can start drying out, then chop them as you need them.

A “cord” of wood, by the way, is a volume measurement. It's 8' x 4' x 4', or 128 cubic feet of wood (stacked). Some people that sell wood will try to rip you off, so make sure you know what you're buying. If you purchase logs, it's better to get a price per linear foot, based on the diameter of the log. For example, you might ask for logs that are an average of 10" in diameter, and you'll ask how much the charge per linear foot would be. Something in the range of $1 - $2 would be great.


I've already mentioned the importance of getting along with your neighbors. It really is crucial to your city-based survival plan. The best situation to be in, as mentioned before, is to have neighbors & other church members who are aware of the issue and who are getting ready for it by stocking their own food, water, and other supplies. Every neighbor & member that becomes self-reliant is one less neighbor or member you'll have to support.

The range of neighbor situations, from best to worst, is as follows:
* Best case: your neighbor is current Recommend holder, is aware of and both temporally & Spiritually prepared for an emergency with their own supplies and training.
* Good case: your neighbor is aware of a potential crisis, and even though they don't have their own supplies, they're willing to help defend yours as long as you share
* Bad case: your neighbor is a non-member that didn't prepare for it, figuring they would just steal from you if things got bad. They are aware of YOUR supplies but don't have their own.
* Worst case: your neighbor isn't aware of anything, he is anti-mormon and he's a violent, angry neighbor just released from prison. He is going to be caught off guard by the ensuing events and will likely attempt to use violence to get what he needs or wants.

Your decision on whether to stay in the city may depend greatly on the quality and quantity of your neighbors. If you do live in a bad neighborhood, do what you can to relocate. If you live in a good neighborhood, do the best you can to educate and inform your neighbors. This might well be the most important missionary work you ever do for your own temporal salvation!


No matter how you felt or thought about gun control in the past, it's time to face disaster-induced reality. The gun-control politicians (and the people who supported them) have placed Americans in a situation where not only can the police not protect us in a timely manner, but we cannot lawfully defend ourselves. Criminals unlawfully have firearms; citizens lawfully don't. Intentionally or otherwise, gun-control supporters have created a situation where an unfortunate number of innocent men, women and children are going to be in danger during a crisis simply because they could not obtain the tools of self-defense.

It also happens that the cities where the rioting will likely be the worst are precisely the cities where firearms are most likely to be banned from lawful ownership (and where criminals may wield near-absolute power for a while.). Perhaps when society recovers from it, we can review the fallacy in the cause / effect logic that keeps people voting for gun-control laws, but in the mean time, millions of people are going to have to resort to breaking the law in order to protect their families. And yes, you too will have to resort to breaking the law if you are to acquire a firearm in an area where guns are entirely banned from private citizens (like New York, Los Angeles, etc.).

After the disaster hits, if the rioting gets really bad, we're going to see local police begging law-abiding citizens for help. Your firearm will be a welcome addition to the force of law and order, believe me. No local cop is going to mind you having a handgun if you're manning a roadblock protecting a neighborhood of families with children. Act responsibly, tell them what you're doing, and they'll probably give you a big thanks. But if you're carrying a gun while you smash a window of the Wal-Mart and walk off with a stereo; well that's a different story. Be prepare to get shot.

See, cops don't mind private ownership nearly as much as we've all been led to believe. I know, I work with law enforcement officers in a small town, and I ask them about topics like this. When the crisis hits, they'll be more than happy to have your cooperation. We're all going to need as many law-abiding gun-toting citizens as possible in order to fend off the criminals and establish some degree of order.


If you really feel you need a firearm to protect yourself and your family, your best bet may be to move to a city or state where people are a lot more accepting of firearms. You'd be surprised what a difference the locale makes. Check the gun laws in any state you're considering moving to. Obviously, “cowboy” states like Arizona, Texas and Wyoming will have fewer restrictions on firearms (and, interestingly, they have less of a problem with gun violence). States where the population is more dense (like California & New York) tend to have much greater restrictions on private ownership of firearms.


Suppose it's July 14, 2006, and you've changed your mind about this city thing. You happened to be right smack in the middle of one of the worst-hit cities in the country. The looting is getting worse, the power has been out for two weeks, and your water supplies are running low. You still have enough gas in your truck to make it out of town if you can get past the gangs, that is. You've decided to BUG OUT!


* Don't try to bug out in a Chevy Geo. You will likely need a big heavy 4x4 truck in order to go off-road and around stalled vehicles
* Get something that can carry at least 1000 pounds of supplies. A big 4x4 pickup will do nicely! Yes, it requires more fuel, but you can carry the fuel as cargo.
* Don't bug out unless you can have someone ride shotgun, literally. You will need an armed passenger in case you run into not-so-nice people


Ahh, the bug-out supply list. All this will fit in your truck. Here's what you should take if you're preparing to bug out with two people:
* Your 96 hour kits for each person in the vehicle
* 20 gallons of water
* 40 gallons of extra fuel or more (and a full gas tank)


As mentioned earlier, if you have a designated place of refuge (Grandma's house, a cabin in the woods, etc.), head straight for it. If not, you're basically driving anywhere you can go, so try to head for an area that forested and near a creek or river where you can get some water.


Choosing to remain in the city is a rational choice for many people in many situations. However, as you have seen from the dangers described here, the further away you can get from the population centers in general, the better your chances of surviving.

Most people, perhaps yourself included, have a difficult time actually accepting that a major disaster is going to be as bad as described in this report. And after all, if you leave the city, sell out, quit your job, move to the country, and then nothing bad happens? You will have disrupted your life, and you may find yourself broke, jobless, and homeless. You COULD assume it will be a mild event, which I suppose is also a credible possibility. In that case, surviving in the city will be quite feasible, especially if you have neighbors that can support your efforts and you don't live in a dangerous city with high racial tensions. However, the very nature of a major disaster means that if only one or two major infrastructure components goes down, the ripple effect will quickly create a much worse scenario. It seems there is very little room for “mild” effects unless they are miniscule. The most likely scenario at this point clearly points to massive disruptions, severe shortages in food and water, loss of power in some areas, and a breakdown of social order in certain areas where the population density is high.

But you can survive anything with good planning, an open mind, and plenty of practice. Why not start now?

Additional Insight

The article Surviving in the City is basically a good plan. I do have some comments that I wish to send along, particularly about the bug out phase of potential relief from chaos.

The assumption that people in the rural areas are going to be friendly and accept hoards of people from the cities is false. I live 15 miles as the crow flies from the closed metropolitan area of about 20,000 people. Only the disillusioned and stupid in this area will be across-the-board friendly. The assumption that the people in the rural areas are not as dangerous as people in the cities is also untrue.

Many rural areas have a large population of people who are at the poverty level. They control no land; do not have access to water wells; do not hunt and drive cheap run down automobiles. Most rural areas are saturated with meth heads and other drug users as well as a thick frosting of alcoholics. A certain group is on welfare and are dependents to a wealth redistribution system.

If you live in a rural area and want to stay isolated you can take positive actions.
Round up 10 to 15 vehicles that can be towed or run to a narrow spot on the state hi-way.
Place them across the road and burn them.... Or get a bulldozer and operator and push up a dirt bank across the road...

I once talked to a local crew of people in Montana while on vacation. They had a plan to block the roads at each end of the valley and stay isolated. This was 14 years I am not alone in these thoughts......

In a just in time mercantile starvation with overtones of diminished food supplies these people will be equally as dangerous or more so than the criminal city dweller.

You miss an important point in not telling people to bug out to state parks, public hunting areas and lakes. Soon the local ranger will not even attempt to enter these area to tell people to leave. He will be home taking care of his family.

You also miss out on the point of having people get proper maps. The DeLorme maps sold at Wal-Mart are very detailed.

You tell people to get a 4X4 pickup to drive around abandoned vehicles and make it across country. With a 1000+ lbs of gear in the rear your truck will be a wallowing hog off the road.

Cross-countrying is BS if you do not have a planned track...which you cannot get without a good map. You must also have more than a smattering of knowledge of microtopograpy to be able to drive across country. You will soon have that 4x4 bogged down in soft soil, wet areas or in a 2 foot deep cow path covered by grass.

I worked for 20 years as a District Conservationist with the Soil Conservation Service. I drove all over God's green earth in a 1/2 ton 2 wheel drive pickup in all kinds of weather and seldom if ever needed 4 wheel drive. Very seldom got stuck or high centered. I learned to read the topography and where to drive. You do not get this information and awareness by driving down a paved road to the local big box store. I recommend that you have a state wide DeLorme Map for every state that surrounds the state you live in.

You must understand the road system in the area that you live. They are not all the same. The Plains states have a section and township layout of roads. In most areas there are roads nearly every mile. It is possible to drive from 30 miles east of Denver clear to Salina, Kansas on dirt roads. Crossing or traveling down paved roads only a few miles in crossovers. I have done this twice in my life time. The Plains states have a network of roads that makes living in that area particularly favorable for some kind of bugout.

If you live in the hogback areas of steep hills snaking ridges your roads will follow the tops of the ridges. Crossovers are only at bridging points of the streams and rivers to the far ridge line. Your access potential is very limited to a few roads. Same thing applies to the mountains....highly restricted roads....death traps....

You do not talk about how to read maps which is critical. The DeLorme maps do not have contour lines on them, but I can look at them and visualize the topography in a very general fashion that most people cannot do. A GPS unit is going to do you less good than map skills if you cannot get from point A to point B just 1/2 mile away without getting stuck.

All land is cut through with rivers, creeks and streams. The stem river system in America is the Mississippi. From the eastern foot hills of the Rockies all the rivers flow east and south. The farther you go east and south from the mountains the bigger the stream valleys become. And the more difficult to cross. They become great barriers that compress traffic to certain roads between river systems. They are crossed north to south only on the bridges. Many counties have only 1 to 3 bridges crossing these rivers in a 30 to 40 mile area. You must have maps to show where the choke points are. All bridges are death traps that will be controlled by the local brigands with a BA in Beer and Meth.

An alternative: the railroad bridges...what say? Yes you can drive on the rails and you do not have to let out air from your tires. All you need is the guts to do across 1/4 to 1/2 mile of track high up... But you need to send someone to reconnoiter the other side with a radio to watch and listen for approaching trains. You cannot drive fast on the rails, 10 mph is about tops...but with a 1000+ lbs in the back you might have to go even slower. I have driven miles and miles of tracks even crossing the mighty Arkansas river bed on a bridge at Larned, Kansas...but my buddy's father was the railroad agent for that section of track and we knew exactly what the train schedules were all the time.

You need tools to travel across country. A chain saw to take down a tree. Or a manual bow saw. Leave the axes at home they are just weight. A good machete is better. Also critical to a tool kit is a set of bolt cutters. One 24" and one 36" to cut fence, chains on gates and padlocks. Fencing pliers, standard pliers and smaller set of wire cutters are essential.

Additional land surface information is available in the Natural Resource Service's soil surveys. They are free if you can get them to give you one as a non landowner in the county. They are a complete set of aerial photos of a county delineated with the soil types and their distribution on them. The are invaluable because the show nearly all of the local windmills and ponds. Water sources. And they show many of the agricultural access roads that snake through the private range and pasture lands.

You also need a good set of binoculars to see... reconnoiter by eye.....

A good 22 rifle and 10,000 rounds of ammo. So you find some of the local fellas with a BA in beer blocking your way... Get your rig in defilade and then pepper them from 1/4 to 1/3 mile away with 20 to 50 rounds of 22 ammo. Having never been shot at they will certainly try to get at least out of range when even a few bullets impact in their area. You will have registered your intent to not be messed with....

You must establish some rules for your defensive actions and stick to them. Mine are that if people are within 1/4 mile and are menacing with rifles, blocking a road and show intent to issue a power summons to you and your party, you shoot one of them center of mass with no warning whatsoever. Pick out the leader if you can. If you happen to have someone trip up on you unexpectedly and are under 20 to 30 yards you bring a weapon to bear on the person and give only one verbal warning [of your choice] and you then shoot in five seconds if they do not respond to your warning. No counting off seconds; you warn then shoot. If someone confronts you really close [under 10 yards], no warning you bring a weapon to bear and shoot. Execute the Mozambique drill, two in the chest and one in the head..

Think I am a bloodthirsty, but I am an ex-commissioned police officer and have dealt with the vermin of the planet. I have seen some of the third world up close and know just how animalistic humans can get when unfettered with a conscious and no moral restrictions....

Ugly is ugly but survival has no second place winners...... If you cannot win at the mind game you just as well stay home, wait for your fate to show up and pray.... 

JW, Oklahoma
USAF, retired
USDA, Soil Conservation Service, retired
US Dept of State, Peace Corps, Niger West Africa
Educator, USA public, private and reservation schools
Educator, Egyptian and Ecuadorian private American schools
NM Mounted Patrol, commissioned police officer
Minute Man Civil Defense Corps, April/October 2006 expeditionary unit to Columbus, NM
NRA member
Free American.. .. .. so far

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