You’ve probably seen news reports about war-torn countries, countries where rival gangs (usually referred to as “warlords”) battle for control, and countries which have descended into anarchy. The total lack of organized society, lack of basic services, difficulty in finding the most basic necessities of life, and overall danger to the civilian population make these images difficult ones to understand and accept. We wonder if such a thing could ever happen to us … here in the USA.
The simple answer is that we just don’t know. Our strong central government and multi-layered law enforcement community makes it seem like such a thing would be impossible. But the reality is that there are major disaster scenarios which could bring about such a total collapse of society. If things get so bad that police and other essential services aren’t being paid, how long will they stay on the job?
A total loss of the electrical grid could bring on such a situation. How could we fairly expect police to stay on the job, when there is no way of paying them? What if they had to go home, so that they could raise food to feed their own families? Could we begrudge them that?
Granted, this is a worst-case scenario, but much of prepping is centered around worst-case scenarios. If you are prepared for the worst, then you are much more likely to survive something that is not as bad. While a total breakdown of society may not ever come, we have seen society break down in the wake of many a major disaster. So the possibility of a collapse is always possible, even if only for a limited period of time.
While these sorts of scenarios merely add to the reasons for being able to defend ourselves, the very act of self-defense means we’ve already lost something. We’ve lost our anonymity. People will know that we are there. That could invite other attacks. Better that we disappear into the woodwork and not attract any attention to ourselves.
Part of this is avoiding situations and locations where we would be putting ourselves at risk — places where we are likely to be forced to defend ourselves. In this sense, the best defense is never having to defend ourselves at all. So here are some of the top places to avoid, in a post-disaster world:
1. FEMA Camps
Personally, I don’t like the idea of putting myself in the hands of the government for anything I don’t absolutely have to. While I am sure that the vast majority of the population will see a FEMA camp as a place to get three hot meals and a bed, I’m also sure that as a prepper, I won’t need their help.
But the big problem is the danger involved in being in a FEMA camp — not just from the government, but from the other people inside the camp. This was made manifestly clear in New Orleans, when Hurricane Katrina forced millions of people out of their homes. Many of those that went to the Superdome, which had been converted to a temporary FEMA camp, were robbed, beaten and raped.
Making matters worse, FEMA won’t allow personal firearms in their refugee or relocation camps. So that means that the price of entry is giving up your right to self-defense and your Second Amendment right. Unless I was starving to death (and maybe not even then), that’s too high a price to pay.
Have you seen the fights that break out in stores on Black Friday? That’s going to be nothing in comparison to what’s going to happen in our supermarkets. Even going with the idea of buying food with cash will be a waste of time, as most of the computerized cash registers won’t be working anyway. It won’t take long for order to break down and people to start stealing.
The first thing that’s going to be looted in the wake of any disaster is supermarkets, including Walmart and any other big box stores that carry food and bottled water. Since so few people have a stockpile of food and water in their homes, they’re going to be doing whatever they can to get their hands on whatever they can. Supermarkets will turn into massive brawls, as people fight for food.
3. Pharmacies & Liquor Stores
The other two types of stores which will quickly be looted are pharmacies and liquor stores. Some people put their vices above the basic necessities for survival, defying Mazlow’s Hierarchy of Needs. To these people, the ability to escape from their situation, either by getting drunk or getting high, surpasses everything else.
Much will be needlessly destroyed in the rush to get what these people want, especially in the pharmacies. Valuable medicines, which will be needed for keeping people alive, will end up crushed underfoot, as criminals steal those drugs that they can use to escape reality for a moment.
Keep in mind that these are people who live on the fuzzy edge of crime anyway. Stepping across the line into committing acts of violence on others isn’t that big a step for them. If they think you have things that they need, going into these stores could be like walking in with a nice big bullseye painted on your back.