Thursday, November 1, 2012

Lessons in the Aftermath of a Disaster

Since the calendar flipped to a new millenium, we've seen more than enough devastation to last a lifetime. Major earthquakes, tsunamis, 9/11, wars... and no one would argue that Katrina and Sandy certainly left plenty of destruction and even death in their wake.  In fact it's almost inconceivable at times. So many people whose lives will never be the same...

Photo Credit: NASA Goddard Photo & Video
Is there a silver lining in all of this? 

Yes. It's painful to look at, but if we examine things closely, we'll see that there are lessons to be gleaned from trials and tribulations of such magnitude. For example, by reading news articles, you can gather ideas of things people didn't stock up on and are desperately searching for after an event. And there's other factors to consider as well. Here's what I found by just reading 3 on-line articles:

Photo Credit: Casual Capture
So... what can we learn? 

Preparation does make a difference. I don't mean to make light of these experiences, but rather to analyze them historically. In doing so, it's amazing that a massive disaster can rip through a neighborhood and somehow leave a few houses untouched. And even if it does wipe out entire rows of houses, down the road some still stand. While some will lose everything, by far the majority will only be inconvenienced or suffer from a lack of preparation. If everyone prepped, the houses that DO remain would have supplies.

• Stock plenty of basics. Think light, heat, food, water, sanitation. Calculate what you need and double it. And that's just for your OWN family! Please don't do just the minimum, although that is good. By their very nature, most disasters are unpredictable. This is where those Hollywood scenarios can come in handy... they always make things out to be a "worst case scenario". If we all prepared that way, it might go better for us in such an event!  

• Prepare to share. Not everyone is wise. That's a fact. When a crisis occurs, if you've only saved enough for your immediate family, sharing will not come willingly. And maybe not at all. Think beyond your own and stash a few things for the neighbors. Yes, someone might take advantage of your goodness, and yes, it can make us angry that they aren't being prudent and you have to do it for them. But we never know how God will chose to use these acts of kindness to those made in His image. It may soften their heart and open the door for the gospel message, especially in a time of devastation, when people are searching for answers. Preparing to share can have eternal ramifications for others.

• Build Community. I'm not going to address this in detail here (because I plan to discuss it in full at a later date), but at least consider this for now... neighbors can be your worst nightmare or your greatest asset. But the later won't happen if you don't do some work ahead of time. You'll need each other if things really do get bad.

• Take safety precautions. Many will feel safest with appropriate weapons, but I certainly understand those who don't. Unless you're trained and proficient with a gun, your own weapon could be used against you! And let's talk reality... for the believer, it is very difficult to take another life, even when trying to protect your own family. Building community and making your home less of a target will go a long way toward avoiding trouble, although it won't guarantee your family's safety. Either way, you need to think about this and make a choice you can live with so that when the time comes you're not making this decision under the pressure of the moment. 

Being safe also means not taking ridiculous risks, such as traveling by car when flooding is going on or going through a building to find supplies when it's clear the structure has been compromised. And what about staying put when you really should evacuate? It's all just stuff... leave it behind and go! Most loss of life occurs because people take risks that aren't truly necessary. Makes me wonder if they're in shock over the event, partly because of the devastation, but partly because they realize they're unprepared and they can't handle it emotionally... they're not thinking like they normally would. Being prepared will to a long way to help you remain mentally sound and physically safe.

• Consider what you'll do while you wait. Granted, food preparation and sanitation will take more of your time if the grid is down, but you'll still have plenty of hours of silence, especially if you can't get outside. And with children and teens who have been raised in a technological world, nerves do get raw. This is where we'll see the repercussions of our lifestyle... I dare say, character qualities such as patience and contentment will be lacking! Be sure you have plenty of options for entertainment and other activities for the family that don't require electricity: Books, coloring or drawing supplies, toys, games, and even chores! Yes, this is an opportunity for little ones to feel important and that they can make a difference. Plus, it helps one's mental state to be productive and takes their mind off the devastation (in a small way). 

• Know your areas weaknesses. If you live in a flood zone (easy to determine), then you need to have a reasonable plan to elevate items and get to higher ground. Earthquake country? Where should you store supplies in the event that the house is destroyed or unsafe to enter. You'll need a tent, too... think of all the people around the world that don't want to go back in their home due to aftershocks. Hurricanes, tornados, forest fires, tsunamis, even volcanoes (think Pacific Northwest)... every place on earth has a potential disaster in the horizon. Prepare accordingly. 

Because we never know that hour or day something can happen, prepping should take place regularly and as a lifestyle. This is why I host the monthly Preparedness Challenge. When God is gracious and spares us devastation year after year, we can grow complacent. It's just way too easy to think this kind of thing will never happen to us... and so we quit. The monthly challenge has helped me to stay the course and remain balanced in my preparations. 

Overwhelmed? Let me recommend a few simple steps...

1. Join the Preparedness Challenge every month.
2. Read through my posts listed under Prepping.
3. Read the new Preparedness Review - it's FREE!
4. Read at least 1 prepping blog a week - one that is coming from a Biblical worldview! 
5. Turn fear into action (see #1 above). That includes prayer!
6. Memorize the promises of God! Stay in His Word regularly!
7. Get the family on board! 

Historically, a huge part of homesteading has been preparing... for winter months, for lean times, for various trials. Has prepping become a part of your regular homesteading efforts? Don't let the lessons of Sandy and other disasters fade too quickly from your mind! 

What have you learned from this recent disaster that will help you in your preparations?


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