By A.F. James MacArthur Ph.A.L.
The gun stores were swarmed by desperate, scared people seeking protection against marauding looters. Grown men, women and children sifting through trash dumpsters, hoping to find a few morsels of food. Others defecating in the hallways of apartment buildings. While still more wait six hours in line to refuel their cars, only to discover by the time they get to the pump, the well has run dry and they're now truly running on empty.
These scenes described could be the setting for an awesome post apocalyptic thriller, and in many ways it is just that. Except for one thing. They're all real life news headlines coming out of New York and New Jersey in the past few days, as the worlds most famous and powerful metropolis, struggles to grapple for normalcy in the aftermath of super-storm Hurricane Sandy.
We Have Become Soft"There's no security on this earth, only opportunity."General Douglas MacArthur
To folks living in a modern city like New York, becoming adept at primitive survival techniques is the last thing they'd ever imagine they'd have to do. After all, they're not living in the rural countryside or in an Amish country. People reside in New York City to take advantage of all the trappings of life in the modern age. Conveniences they've come to rely upon like mass transit and electrical power is supposed to just work no matter what. When there's an interruption, service is supposed to be quickly restored. But what happens when it doesn't work that way?
Funny thing how the forces of nature could care less about how unprepared you are mentally, emotionally or physically for phenomena that's been going on as long as mankind inhabited the Earth. At some point, modern man is going to have to come to grips with what should be a painfully obvious fact. Despite our advances in technology, we're still no match for the primitive, primal, furious forces of nature.
Our Ancestors Survived And So Can We
Either we go back to basics in educating ourselves how to survive in a brutally cold, cruel world, or we risk being exterminated en masse by an adversary that does not discriminate by class, color, economics or social status.
Some how, some way, mankind has existed on this planet for thousands of years without electricity and other things now considered necessities of modern society, yet now, we seem to only be able to survive a few days without it. What were once luxuries upon their inception are no absolute necessities for survival of human life.
The truth is, no matter where you live on this planet, you're subject to the ways and whims of catastrophic disasters. Life can be snuffed out anytime, with or without warning. Whether it's earthquakes, wildfires, volcanoes, floods, tornadoes, blizzards, tropical storms, tsunamis, or any other form or combination of nature's equalizers, we're all vulnerable.
No one should feel so comfortable where they live, just because disaster hasn't struck in recent memory. There's nowhere in the world that's existed in perpetuity without calamity.
"What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun." Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NIV) "
If it's happened before it will happen again. If it happened over there, it could happen over here.
A Wake Up Call
In the United States, natural disaster and ensuing societal collapse, was for many, something only happening to far off, third world undeveloped nations. Of course, Hurricane Katrina changed this thinking when the southern city of New Orleans was utterly destroyed by wind and water.
Although for some, New Orleans with its rampant poverty and high crime, might as well had been a third world country. Now that New York, the world's financial capital, so-called greatest-city-on-Earth, received a stiff dose of tragic reality check, will this be what the country needed to wake up and acknowledge our continued susceptibility to forces beyond our control?
The funny thing about hurricanes is they're among few natural phenomena that can be predicted, tracked, observed and warned about for days, sometimes weeks in advance. Once it's determined you're in the strike zone, you know it's coming, but you're fairly limited to what you can do. Proper advanced preparation can mean the difference between life and death. Either before, or after a major disaster strikes.
From what we saw in the lead up to super-storm Sandy, most people, elected officials included, shifted into hyper-drive panic mode. When I say hype, it's no exaggeration. In a bid to raise awareness and implore people to prepare, the ensuing reaction was nothing short of utter chaos.
Throngs rushed out to local stores. Supplies were stripped off shelves leaving stores struggling to restock. City's shutdown all services including mass transit, (except parking enforcement in Baltimore) well in advance. The panic begins slowly, but like dominoes falling over, with each successive step, the speed increases until it takes on a life of its own, and once it's begun there's no stopping it.
The Wisdom Of Experience
For people who live in a part of the world like the West Indies, the reaction of the typical American to an oncoming storm is somewhat amusing. When your home is located in an area, where each year you're threatened with direct annihilation from fierce forces beyond your control, a certain pragmatic, practical adaptation tends to set in. This happens at all levels, mental and physical included.
If you've lived much of your life having not grown used to many conveniences and luxuries that the typical American has developed a dependency on, a pragmatic resiliency develops and this stays with you for the rest of your life.
The typical Caribbean native is a person that is able to adapt and survive to nearly any condition presented. This instinctive trait is easily noted by anyone who's spent time in proximity to native islanders whether at work or school, or simply as neighbors.
"The prudent see danger and take refuge, but the simple keep going and pay the penalty." Proverbs 27:12 (NIV)
Let Me Show You How To Survive
In a new series of posts, as a native West Indian who's survived numerous destructive hurricanes and other natural disasters, you will learn from my experience. My knowledge goes beyond just growing up in the islands though. For over 20 years, I've made disaster preparation and survival a chief study.
At this point my specialization on these matters goes well beyond the amateur enthusiast level, and as such, I sincerely believe what I know can be of value to you. Further, I honestly believe some of what I'll share could even save a life. Possibly yours.
From the jungles of the tropics, to the concrete jungles of North America, I bring you a message of hope and survival.
Sure you may have life mostly figured out, but chances are, most people reading this, no matter how much education or career success you have, probably know very little of what to do when facing life altering, inescapable, impending disaster. Let me show you how.
A Participatory Experience
I encourage you to become an active participant in this project. Think of it like an ongoing course in making it in the modern world. Utilize the comment feature to ask questions, add additional information, and even make corrections to mistakes I make. I'm only human. Feel free to connect to others of like mind by replying and responding to their comments.
Articles as part of this series will have the suffix MSURV101, as in modern survival 101, in order that may be readily found on the site. Are you ready to prepare for the future?
With a broad array of public safety and public service experience, including patrolman, investigator and first responder, A.F. James MacArthur first worked disaster relief and recovery in 1988. He is also Baltimore's premier independent crime correspondent and street reporter, with a focus on crime, grime and politics, which often come together. He may be reached at 410-205-NEWS (6397) voice or text message, MacArthurMedia@gmail.com, and followed on numerous social media, including: @BaltoSpectator on twitter , Spreaker web radio, BlogTalk Radio, Baltimore Spectator on Facebook,YouTube channel