Thursday, October 4, 2018

Local Sources

In times of chaos like hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, and civil unrest, many people rely on “the government” to provide for them. As preppers, I feel we should look at “the government” as one of many sources for aid and not to rely on their assistance for much of anything; after all, our own federal government tells us to have a minimum of three days' food and water on hand because it will take them at least that long to respond to a disaster. When disasters happen too close to each other, even the bloated bureaucracy get stretched beyond its limits and they start to ration aid. This is one good reason of many to prepare ahead of time.

I know we cover a lot of online information and sources for gear, but how many of you are building your local connections? If it's going to take days or weeks for outside help to arrive and start putting things back together, it may be time to take a look around and see who and what you have locally that can alleviate some of the chaos. I've learned that most people have a fair memory and will repay kindness as they can. Making friends with your local sources might come in handy someday. Here are a few worth noting:

Local Medical Staff
My sister-in-law is a nurse and her neighbor is also an RN. The doctors that run the local clinics all live in the local communities and we have several more that commute to the city every day for work. Knowing where the closest medical assistance is can be vital, even if they aren't at work. They have skills and training that could literally save your life. Don't forget the local veterinarians! They're more likely to be familiar with improvising than a medical doctor.

Local Power Company
After major storms, local power companies will get assistance from other companies -- they have a form of “mutual aid” agreement for situations that require more manpower than they can supply. I've also seen them help each other find parts that aren't in the normal supply chains. The linemen and underground crews will have electricians that can answer a lot of your household sized questions, so they're a good source to know.

Water/Wastewater Technicians
This aren't very glorious jobs, but everyone will notice if they aren't done right. These are the people with access to the lab tests that can tell you if a water source is safe to drink from, and the ones who will be working overtime to make sure the contents of your toilet ends up in the right place after you flush it. Laugh at them all you want as you Google dysentery and typhus.

Road Crews
When flooding knocks out a bridge and you don't know a way around, the men and women who maintain the roads will be able to tell you what's still passable and will be the ones repairing the damage afterwards most likely. If nothing else, they'll have access to some heavy equipment that could make cleanup a lot quicker.

Law Enforcement
Small towns are easier than large cities when it comes to getting to know your local LEOs, because we don't have the turnover rate (sheriffs around here tend to stay in office for decades) or constant reassignments that a large city will. This allows us to get to know the good ones from the bad ones, and take steps towards each accordingly. I have very little official interaction with law enforcement, but I know several of them on a personal level. They're people like the rest of us, so there are some I would gladly help and others I wouldn't piss on if they were on fire.

We don't have paid fire/rescue crews in my home county; they're all volunteer. That means that some of the folks who will show up to a house fire or auto accident will know the victims quite well, and in many cases will be related to them. These are good people to know and make friends with, because they will know more about the local area than anyone outside of law enforcement. They also have access to some nifty tools for extraction and entry into buildings and vehicles, which could be useful.

Construction Workers
Smaller sub-contractors tend to be mom-and-pop operations. Once you find someone who does good work at a fair price, keep in contact with them. They might be more willing to help you repair or rebuild if they have a favorable opinion of you.

In times past we called them blacksmiths, but most towns and cities have small businesses that take on small repair or fabrication jobs. Farming communities will always have someone who can weld together a broken part that is no longer made, and the cities will have machine shops that serve the same purpose. Getting to know these people might give you options for repairing or repurposing things that you wouldn't have thought of. If you have local artists that deal in metal or wood, they may be a suitable replacement if you can keep them on task.

Local Gun Shop Owners
I saved the best for last. Get to know the local gun shops around you. You'll soon figure out which are there for the customers and which are just there to make a buck, but either will be a source for supplies and ammunition. Finding a good shop run by good people is a prize to be treasured. Mine closed when the family running it retired and I'm still looking for a suitable replacement. The new local shop isn't as friendly and the staff isn't as helpful, so I'm looking further away.

It's always good to know someone who knows more about a subject than you do or who can do things that you can't. They're a source to learn from and a resource to call upon in times of need, but you have to make the connections before the disaster for best results. Follow your instincts when dealing with people; if something strikes you as odd or wrong, it is best to walk away and look for a different source.

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