Let me pref­ace this arti­cle by acknowl­edg­ing the source for the idea of this arti­cle comes from anoth­er pep­pers’ video. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it’s been a long time I’ve mulled over this top­ic and I don’t recall who exact­ly it was.

With that out of the way, let’s get start­ed.

The sub­ject of evac­u­a­tion from a dis­as­ter loca­tion, or evac­u­a­tion in advance of a poten­tial dis­as­ter (such as a storm), has been writ­ten about here and on oth­er sites ad nau­se­um. But the tim­ing of an evac­u­a­tion isn’t usu­al­ly dis­cussed in detail. That is the top­ic of this arti­cle.

In gen­er­al, dur­ing an SHTF event there is like­ly going to be 3 waves of evac­u­a­tions.

1st Wave

These are most­ly going to be the peo­ple who already live their lives on a hair-pin trig­ger just wait­ing for any small sign that a dis­as­ter is brew­ing. “Neu­rot­ic” is cer­tain­ly an accu­rate if not flat­ter­ing descrip­tion. It also includes a small num­ber of peo­ple, either by gift­ed insight or blind luck, con­nect the dots ear­ly and come to the con­clu­sion that a major SHTF event is approach­ing.

The num­ber of peo­ple evac­u­at­ing prob­a­bly will be very low. Most peo­ple will either refuse to believe any­thing bad is going to hap­pen (“nor­mal­cy bias”) or fail to see the ear­ly warn­ing signs and con­nect the dots.

Sup­plies like food, water, fuel etc will be at nor­mal lev­els of avail­abil­i­ty and you should make every effort to top-off with fresh sup­plies before leav­ing. Sim­i­lar­ly, cur­ren­cy will still be read­i­ly avail­able and accept­ed. Retail­ers should have lit­tle prob­lem resup­ply­ing at nor­mal sched­ules (if you choose to risk wait­ing a bit longer for addi­tion­al sup­plies).

Traf­fic will be light to nor­mal with lit­tle or no addi­tion­al law enforcement/government con­trol issues. Peo­ple in sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties will like­ly not even notice you as you pass through, per­haps paus­ing for more sup­plies, refu­el­ing etc.

2nd Wave

By this stage the dan­ger (or at least the signs of the dan­ger) is becom­ing far more appar­ent and hard­er to ignore, though many more will still refuse to accept what events seem to be lead­ing up to (foot­note: Some argue we are already in this stage). This wave will be char­ac­ter­ized by a much wider swath of peo­ple tak­ing their leave of the affect­ed area(s). Not just prep­pers but “aver­age” (non-prep­pers) too will be get­ting ner­vous and start leav­ing. Ear­ly signs of pan­ic may be set­ting in too.

Sup­plies, espe­cial­ly of food, water, and fuel will start becom­ing notice­ably hard­er to find (and like­ly more expen­sive) with less prod­ucts on the shelves, even some emp­ty shelves, and longer lines. Resup­ply to retail­ers will be slow­er. ATMs will start run­ning out of cash. Bank branch­es them­selves will run low or out of cash as branch­es only keep a small amount of actu­al cur­ren­cy on hand every day (for secu­ri­ty and liq­uid­i­ty rea­sons).

Ser­vices too may become hard­er to obtain as “the [pick a col­or] flu” mys­te­ri­ous­ly falls upon employ­ees in all man­ner of gov­ern­ment and pri­vate busi­ness (i.e. peo­ple choose not to come into work to either stay home with their fam­i­lies or evac­u­ate – a top­ic for anoth­er arti­cle soon).

A much larg­er num­ber of peo­ple will be on the roads and oth­er trans­porta­tion meth­ods. Traf­fic will be much greater and nerves tenser (more road rage). Also, the avail­abil­i­ty of oth­er means of trans­port (train tick­ets, bus tick­ets etc) will be in greater demand and less avail­able. There may be an increased law enforce­ment pres­ence on the roads espe­cial­ly at bridges and tun­nels, prob­a­bly more for traf­fic con­trol.

Sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties and even fur­ther out from the affect­ed area will see a rapid­ly grow­ing influx of out of area peo­ple. Ini­tial­ly there may be some wel­come as they bring a fast eco­nom­ic boost to the com­mu­ni­ty, buy­ing sup­plies etc. But that will like­ly switch over to resent­ment and pos­si­bly force­ful rejec­tion as small­er com­mu­ni­ty sup­plies dwin­dle and peo­ple just keep com­ing and demand­ing more.

3rd Wave

In this wave all your neigh­bors, prep­pers or not, have reached the same con­clu­sion: Time to get out of Dodge!

At this point the dan­ger is upon you. The SHTF event has hap­pened or is on the cusp of hap­pen­ing. It is acknowl­edged (per­haps begrudg­ing­ly but still acknowl­edged) by all but the most intran­si­gent peo­ple who still refuse to accept the real­i­ty of the sit­u­a­tion and cling to hope­less ideas every­thing will be fine and/or some­one (i.e. gov­ern­ment) will do some­thing to make it all bet­ter. At this point these peo­ple are like­ly nev­er going to be con­vinced and, cru­el as it may sound, don’t waste any more time try­ing to. They may already be beyond help­ing.

Sup­plies will be very hard if not impos­si­ble to get. Store shelves will be wiped clean. Fuel may be unavail­able as retail­ers have drained their tanks and resup­ply unlike­ly. There may even be fuel rationing as what­ev­er local sup­plies are ordered saved for “offi­cial use only”. Bank branch­es will like­ly be closed and ATMs long since emp­tied of cash.

The roads will like­ly be packed and tem­pers will be high. Fear and pan­ic will set oth­er­wise calm peo­ple off at any lit­tle provo­ca­tion. Some lev­el of civ­il unrest may ensue espe­cial­ly if it is per­ceived there is an offi­cial pol­i­cy to slow or pre­vent peo­ple from leav­ing (such as some kind of check point or vehi­cle search­es).

The mass­es of evac­uees will spread through­out the sur­round­ing geog­ra­phy and like­ly over­run small­er sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties there­by over­whelm­ing their own stocks of retail sup­plies and ser­vices. Tem­pers will be high, vio­lence like­ly. Don’t be sur­prised if small com­mu­ni­ties even try to block the main roads into their areas.

By the time the 3rd wave of evac­uees comes if you still haven’t left most like­ly it’s too late to even try. For all the rea­sons above and more it will be impos­si­ble, or at the very least high­ly risky, to even attempt to leave. You are prob­a­bly bet­ter off dig­ging in and try­ing to wait out the event (depend­ing what the event is).

I believe the key to suc­cess in this is to deter­mine your “trig­ger event”. Deter­mine clear­ly and pre­cise­ly what actions or events pri­or to an SHTF event will prompt you to imple­ment your evac­u­a­tion plan. You have to be rea­son­able and spe­cif­ic. Life is full of dai­ly unex­pect­ed events and you can’t be “bug­ging out” every time there’s a news flash.

Above all, I believe it comes down to trust­ing your gut instincts. Don’t be ruled by what oth­ers are doing, or more like­ly not doing. Don’t be afraid to make the deci­sion to leave. You may get ribbed for it lat­er if noth­ing bad hap­pens. But I assure you deep down a lot of those peo­ple jab­bing you wish they had thought to leave too and had the strength of char­ac­ter to actu­al­ly do it them­selves.


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