© 2006 RogueTurtle.com
Threat analysis means that you try to think about all the "bad" things that can happen. It helps to be a card-carrying pessimist to do this job. An optimist looks at a structure (say, the Grand Coulee Dam) and says "What a beautiful dam". The pessimist says "What happens when it breaks"?|
Trying to predict where and when the "Middle East Crazies" will hit next is best left to our nation's intelligence gathering agencies that have far better equipment and resources to collect this data. We, as civilians, can only guess. So, I don't worry about them...until they hit.
There are other threats out there that you need to consider in the "Worst Case Scenario". To help you out, I have compiled a series of maps (one for every state) that shows what I consider to be areas of concern. Not that the trouble will necessarily come FROM these locations, but that these locations may have a RESPONSE to the trouble that can impact you.
Americans are a nation of drivers. The interstate highway system gives us access to almost every point in the continental U. S. It is entirely natural for us to consider our "bug out" route using these roads. But there is a lot to think about before you jump into the jalopy and head for the woods. Consider these areas:
MILITARY RESPONSE: Depending on where the incidents occur, military convoys will be ordered to assist, for whatever reason. On the roads, they will have the right of way, and you get to stop and watch them roll by. This is a time delay that you should have already considered.
- NATURAL DISASTERS: Forest fires; Floods; Hurricanes; Broken Dams; Train Derailments; Tornadoes; Earthquakes; Volcanoes; etc.
- FOREST FIRES: Occur only too frequently in areas with low rainfall. These can be wind-whipped into a frenzy that you may, or may not be able to outrun. Highways near the smoke and fire will be closed to all travel.
- FLOODS: Naturally occurring floods happen in almost every state with high rainfall amounts. Rivers and creeks overflow their banks and turn farms into lakes. All roads going into or near the flooded areas will be closed to all vehicles. Flooding occurs during Hurricanes – ask the folks in New Orleans.
- HURRICANES: Every year we get a new batch of named hurricanes that play havoc with entire sections of the country. In Florida, we feel great relief when a storm bypasses us and hits Mexico. I'm sure the Mexicans feel the same way when a hurricane hits Florida – or Texas. Flooding occurs during these storms as does the associated high winds and tornadoes.
- BROKEN DAMS: I don't care how they break, a broken dam will send a huge wall of water out from the broken area that will wipe out everything in its path. There are over 8,000 dams in the United States. My threat maps do NOT show any of them. That's your job. Some large rivers may have 14 or 15 dams on them in one area of the country or another. Just remember that all water flows downhill. Just like blame in the military. If you are downstream, you are in trouble.
- TRAIN DERAILMENTS: Even with the vastly cut-back railroad system in this country, we still read about derailments all the time. Large tankers of volatile and potentially deadly chemicals are shipped by rail. When one is "dumped" in your back yard, run quickly into the wind. Don't let the wind follow you carrying toxic fumes.
- TORNADOES: The good news is that they don't last very long in one area. They can do terrible damage while they're there – but then they move on to endanger someone else.
- EARTHQUAKES: First thoughts always go to California. A hyper-active state that keeps trying to change zip codes. Some day, California will be off the coast of Alaska. However, there are other active geological areas that also are dangerous. The most talked about area is the New Madrid fault, that covers several mid-western states. I do try to show these areas on my maps. In my defense, most of these fault areas are not visible to the naked eye, and predicting when they will act up is best left to scientists. Just realize that the area you are in may be geologically active. You need to know where these areas are, and how to get away from them. Earthquakes topple buildings, crush freeways and bridges, and make life generally a pain in the neck.
- VOLCANOES: Oh yes, we have LOTS of volcanoes in the United States. They seem to be limited to the North-Western US, Alaska, and Hawaii. The most recent example came from Mount St. Helens in Washington state. Blew the top right off the mountain. Big time! The Cascade Mountains are loaded with both dormant or active volcanoes. Dormant does not mean DEAD. It means they have been "sleeping" for a long time. Sometimes thousands of years.
- NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS: I've saved Nuclear Power Plants for last. Nuclear reactors are not new. They all have had upgrades and improvements in safety controls. But, they are run by human beings and human beings make mistakes. How many of you still drive a car made in the 1960's? Not many, I'll bet. But, that's when the peak building started on many of these plants. Even a small leak from a containment building can affect the lives of thousands, if not millions of people. The chances of a nuclear "explosion" from one of these plants just DOES NOT EXIST. But a meltdown is more likely. A Chernobyl-type meltdown means contamination on a scale not seen in this country. Russian is still feeling the effects from theirs.
Speaking of Nuclear Power, many of our nations hospitals and testing facilities store and use radioactive material (on a far lesser scale) on a daily basis. This material is also vulnerable to the same disastrous events that can affect power plants. The storage of nuclear waste is a critical nation-wide problem that is only just now being worked on.
THREAT ANALYSIS MAPS|
These maps are designed to get you to think. Locate your home on a state map, and talk about how you will get from home to shelter. What route will you take? Pull up a map for ALL the surrounding states because their problems can become your problems if the situation dictates. Remember, the SITUATION will control your fate, not the other way around.
Click on your state to view your Rogue Turtle Threat Assessment Map
If the map above does not work for you, get the maps from the Rogue Turtle Research Section.
Your planned route should always include "wiggle room". Plan alternative routes to and from your selected shelter area. With the price of fuel today, excessive waiting in stalled traffic means vehicles will run out of fuel before they get to where they are going. I expect to see a lot of cars being pushed off of roads because they've run out of gas.
Military bases are shown because these bases will be used as staging areas for recovery efforts. Personnel and equipment will be moving in and out of these bases based on the needs determined by Homeland Security. (Scary thought, isn't it?) National Guard bases (not shown on my maps) may also be activated by the state's Governor – or placed on active duty by the President. Do NOT get in the way of a tank!
Emergency vehicles responding to emergencies will be staging in large areas where both vehicles and shelter for the personnel using the vehicles can be located. These staging areas could be ANYWHERE. Ask your local government people where their planned locations are – they should know, and you have a right to ask for the information.
Disasters are fluid - they constantly change in character and severity. Many people on the road, stalled in traffic, have been turned around (without getting to their destinations). The disaster was over before they even got there. Have you ever tried to turn around in traffic with 16 lanes all going one way?
Each of my maps have identified "Targets", military areas and major cities that you should avoid. Most can safely be by-passed by about 25 miles in any direction. However, you have to use common sense, particularly if you are dealing with a chemical, biological, or radiological threat. The wind will blow all three away from the disaster site. You do NOT want to drive into the wind-blown particles.
THINK: If your route of travel to a selected shelter is blocked, how do you get there? As my old drill instructor used to say, "Over, under, around or through". Whatever works.
Murphy's Third Law of Combat Operations: "If it's stupid but it works, it isn't stupid".
- Over: Good only for birds or millionaires with private airplanes. The chance of getting a last-minute commercial air ticket will be NIL.
- Under: Good for submarines, not people in cars.
- Around: The best bet for emergencies. Alternative route A, to Route B, Option 6 (of 12). All planned out in advance and scouted for changes on a regular basis.
- Through: Only good if you have no other choice and forced to do so by someone with a bigger gun than you have. Stopping on the road to argue your point will A). Make everyone else behind you mad at you, and B). Delay your travel even more. Arguing with a Military Policeman with an M-16 will get you nothing but grief. Arguing with a tank will get you crushed.
IN AN EMERGENCY YOU HAVE ONLY ONE JOB: KEEP YOU AND YOUR FAMILY SAFE FROM HARM. Like a doctor, "First, do no harm"...then work on the cure.
WHAT THE MAPS SHOW ME|
When I finished up my last map of the United States, I found I could draw a few pointed conclusions.
- The North-eastern United States (New York City and vicinity) is a NIGHTMARE of a place to have to evacuate. Millions of people packed into a relatively small area who will all be on the road at the same time.
- Washington D.C., and the local areas surrounding our nations' capitol are best to avoid. While there are many big and wide highways in and out of D.C., they are packed on normal days...I can only imagine them during an emergency.
- Californians must all be crazy. They live on an "earthquake waiting to happen", and the only place they have to escape to is over a range of mountains (on small, narrow roads), and finally get to the other side to face the desert. What luck!
- Alaskans are hardy people. Their forefathers are NOT the pilgrims that got off at Plymouth Rock. They face bitterly cold weather and an active volcanic and earthquake threat daily.
- Hawaii is great for a vacation, but you have to keep in mind that they are living on the top of a HUGE underground mountain range, mostly volcanic, that is underwater. You only live on the top.
- Once you get away from the eastern and western coastlines, the nation opens up to wide areas of relative calm. Driving or walking a little bit out of the way keeps you safe...not driving you closer to an even more dangerous area. The exception is the New Madrid Fault Zone in the mid-west. I'd steer clear of that area on general principles.
- You have an entire nation of states to pick to survive in. I was amazed when I looked at the maps that there was so much of it OPEN and free from threats. Millions of square miles of relative safety. There's that word again… "relative"...meaning that NO PLACE IS COMPLETELY SAFE. It's only as safe as you make it.
WHICH STATE TO PICK?
First of all, consider the state you are already in. Does it have the features you need? If so, look there first since it's the closest to your primary residence. What features do you look for?
The same reasons you picked your current home can be used to select a shelter area, within limits of course. Going to work for money isn't one of them.
- Water source. Lake, river, spring, shallow well or any source of water that does not require electricity to pump water to your shelter.
- Elevation. If you believe in rising sea levels from global warming, find something well above sea level (5,000 feet or more).
- A non-seismic area, meaning no history of disastrous earthquakes. Every part of our country has felt minor tremors at one time or another. I can rebuild a fallen chimney or a crack in the wall. I cannot repair a gaping fissure that swallows whole towns.
- A weather pattern that will allow at least one crop growing season, preferably two seasons. I don't want to have to build a greenhouse to grow veggies for the winter.
Away from other people who can cause trouble later on. I don't want to have to fight on a daily basis to protect me and mine.
- Can it be hidden? If you spend millions of dollars on construction then every one of the laborers who work for you know where your place is. If you build it yourself, only you know where it is. Or, you can modify an existing structure to meet your needs, and leave the outside "as is".
- Fuel for fires. Cooking, heating, boiling water, or just to keep the night away. Wood sources are getting harder to find now. A large stand of trees (or a forest of trees) insures a steady supply of firewood.
- Sub-surface features such as solid rock, make digging basements and underground type shelters almost impossible without the use of explosives or heavy equipment. Both draw attention to your shelter area. Sandy, poor soil will collapse around an underground shelter without reinforced concrete walls to hold it back. More trucks and more people who know where you are.
- Flooding-free zone. Don't pick a spot where heavy rains can wash your shelter away like the houses you see on the hills around California.
- Falling Rock-free zone. Don't pick a spot where a minor tremor can shake huge boulders down on your head.
- Good drainage. No standing water that breeds mosquitoes. This includes the ability to use pit toilets or septic tanks. Soil percolation tests need to be run to insure that you will have years of use from a septic tank without monthly pumping costs. Another truck driver to know where you are.
- Game: The alternate source of food. Keep in mind that when millions of people are hungry, the wild game will disappear quickly. You need to SERIOUSLY consider raising chickens, pigs, goats or some form of animal for your own subsistence. This is tricky, since you have to bring all these things with you as you evacuate. You can't just leave them there when you go home, either.
- Privacy. The ideal neighbor is over 10 miles away in any direction.
Space to do all the things you need to do. If you need 5 acres to grow crops, don't buy 3 acres and wonder what went wrong. You bought too small a piece of land, silly.
- Nuclear power plant-free zone. You don't want to have to worry about glowing in the dark when somebody screws up inside a nuclear plant...or some crazy makes it go "boom". Despite the reliability they have shown in the past (not counting Three Mile Island), I (personally) don't want to live even close to a nuclear power plant. Call it a personal bias.
You may have other things that are important to you:
- Access to "civilization". That usually means living semi-close to an interstate highway leading to a city or town. You may need to re-supply goods you are short on. You may just want to go to the movies. What's important to you?
- Access to medical facilities. If you have sick or injured members of your party, you don't want to have to go to the hospital by helicopter...you will if you HAVE to...but it's not the first choice.
- Access to pharmacies for refills of medication. Nobody has years of medicine stockpiled. It will go bad or unusable after a time period anyway.
- Television and/or radio stations to keep up with the news. Are you on the wrong side of the mountain to get a TV signal from a local station? Should have thought about that.
- Schools. If civilization does get back on its feet, are there schools available for the kids until you can get your family back home? You'll probably be ready to ship them off somewhere anyway by then.
- Fuel re-supply points. Gas stations, fuel depots, LP gas refill stations, kerosene vendors.
FOOD STORES: Are you reasonably close to a store or chain of stores that sells groceries? I hope so. Nobody I know of knows how to make toilet paper at home.
- Access to areas of hydro-electric power. These plants will not (normally) run out of fuel unless the river or lake runs dry. These areas will be the first to recover electric service when it is possible for the repair crews to get the job done. You may have a long wait...that's why it's called SURVIVAL.
- Access to friends and family members who elected not to go to shelter with you.
- Access to airports or other means of public transportation: Planes, trains, boats, etc.
NORMAL PEOPLE HAVE OTHER NEEDS, TOO
While I personally think I could survive alone in the woods for years, others may not be so sure. My wife absolutely refuses to think about living underground "like a mole". No windows, no wife. End of story. So, I'll have a "large basement" for "temporary use".
Normal children need to socialize with other children so that when they grow up they know how to handle all of life's little challenges that daily come their way. To me, socializing is the most important part of school, the "Read'in, Rrit'in, and R'ithmatic", is just gravy.
You can't work all the time. People have to rest, relax and play to keep their sanity. You have to give people a rest some time. I think that's why Sunday was invented.
Everyone (but me) needs to talk; to socialize; to visit friends and family; and swap lies, tell jokes, and just "get away from it all". I know it means more to some people than others. I still have family in New York City who wouldn't leave for all the money in the world. They are too used to living in close proximity to others to consider living alone in the woods. I like to visit New York...and then leave.
Wherever you pick to build your shelter must meet your needs. If it doesn't then you have to either reevaluate your needs, or pick another spot. Many sites seem ideal at first glance but a close study of local maps may show flaws you never considered. Nowadays, you even have to worry that some "superfund" environmental cleanup is under way and your (proposed) property is right in the middle of it. Consider ALL the data you can gather on EVERY piece of property you look at. Just because it's on a beautiful lake doesn't (by itself) mean it's a good spot. If there are millions of people out there looking for the same thing, you may have campers in your front yard. Not a good thing.
If your state does not offer the type of shelter area you are looking for, keep looking in neighboring states. The closer to home the better. It is important you make some decisions fairly soon. Only about 1 to 5 percent of Americans are even thinking about disaster preparations, let alone doing something about it. When everything turns bad, panicked people do strange things. You want your site already picked out, stocked, and ready for occupancy. You don't want to be caught up in the mess on the highways where people are just "going...somewhere". Get on the road...drive...get off the road and out of sight. Now you are (relatively) safe.
Examine every factor. Weigh the pros and cons. AND DO IT!