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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Prepare: When is it time to leave the shelter?

Most of us prep so we do not end up at the mercy of others for food and shelter. However, there are scenarios where we may end up in a public shelter of some sort or another. For planning purposes, when is it best to get out of the shelter once one is inside?

We all remember the scenes from New Orleans during Hurrican Katrina. The thousands pressed into the convention center without food, facilities or medical aid. The trash, waste and despair. All of us said silently, yet in unison, "That will never happen to me..".

Sadly, there are some scenarios where any of us could end up in a public shelter. For instance..

- You and others, (co-workers, family, etc) are away from home in a strange city and a natural or man made disater happens. Without a permanent address, travelers, such as yourself, are being relocated to a central facility.

- Your neighborhood or home is in the path of the disaster and you and family are forced to flee. Homeless, you are relocated to a shelter or camp.

- You are picking up children or loved ones from a school, hospital or place of employment and the authorities force you to shelter in place rather than return home.

The best plans of mice and men can go up in smoke in almost any disaster.

If in a public shelter, make the best of the situation. Do everything possible to stay together as a group. Volunteer to help out as those who cooperate often end up with better living conditions and may be able to make requests of the authorities such as permission to leave first. Be aware of security and band up with others who have the same mindset as there is safety in numbers.

However, unless things get better, than the shelter situation will deteriorate. Here are some warning signs to look for.

- Supplies start to run low and resupply is sporadic.
- Utilities, (water, electricity, etc) fluctuate.
- Uniformed and trained aid workers start diminishing their presence.
- Self management by shelter residents is encouraged or implemented. This means the authority figures are about to pull out; Anarchy is around the corner.
- There are signs that segregation is coming; families are to be separated, children from parents, etc.
- Mandatory work duties are imposed (i.e. draft or indentured servitude).

When any of the above starts to rear their heads, it's time to get out of Dodge.

- Start self rationing meals and water as you will need food and water once you leave the shelter.
- Locate maps and exit routes from the shelter and surrounding areas.
- Band up with others who are willing to leave the shelter as well. Make a plan and have alternate plans in case the authorities try to stop you from leaving.
 - Know where you are going to go, how you will get there and how to avoid being detained and returned to the shelter.
- Accept that most likely the situation outside of the shelter is going to be worse, but there is a chance that once away from the disaster area you stand a better chance.

Some advice from my own experiences..

Whenever I travel for business or vacations, I make a list of anyone I may know in the area.  A friend's or relative's home is far better than a public shelter.

Have alternate transportation. Taking a plane to another city and depending upon public transport leaves fewer options. Consider having a rental car or other means of transportation no matter where one goes as it means a way out.

Always, always, always know the lay of the land wherever you go, how to get home and alternate routes.

Always have a fall back location in the event your home is uninhabitable.

Sometimes a public shelter is inevetiable, but make a plan to get out when things go south.

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