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Not often spo­ken of, I think in the sur­vival­ist or prep­per cir­cle, is how to avoid becom­ing a refugee post SHTF. We talk a lot about prep­ping, we talk a lot about bug­ging out or bug­ging in, but we nev­er real­ly talk about the sit­u­a­tion where we do find our­selves shut off from our gear and are in a sit­u­a­tion where our preps don’t help us much.  For instance, what if you are in NYC or on Long Island and there is some emer­gency and the tun­nels and bridges are shut down for an unde­ter­mined amount of time.  You’re stuck on one of the islands maybe with­out any­where to go.  Almost imme­di­ate­ly you are a trapped refugee.

I should also pref­ace this with some of your deci­sions as a refugee may or may not be the most eth­i­cal deci­sions based on you need to sur­vive.

I should prob­a­bly also define SHTF.  SHTF does not have to be an inva­sion by a for­eign pow­er, earth­quake, hur­ri­cane, etc.  It could be some­thing as sim­ple as los­ing your job and being forced out of your home.  For the pur­pos­es of this post, how­ev­er, feel free to apply what­ev­er sit­u­a­tion you might think you would most like­ly put you in a sit­u­a­tion where you might actu­al­ly be a refugee.  Let’s also assume you are in a high­ly pop­u­lat­ed area like the sub­urbs of a major city or the major city itself.

Apply your sit­u­a­tion, and you find your­self home­less with lit­tle cash.  Com­mu­ni­ca­tions sys­tems are up and down, and there is still law enforce­ment and secu­ri­ty of some sort.  Assume you have your EDC on you, and a back­pack with min­i­mal sup­plies.  Where would you go?  What would you do?  Would you live on the street?  Enter a shel­ter?  Find an aban­don build­ing?

First, let me tell you what will hap­pen if you enter a shel­ter.  Chances are you will be searched upon enter­ing, no weapons, knives, food, mul­ti-tools, etc.  Nada.  How do I know this?  Remem­ber my friend who was in the shel­ter, and that kit I made him?  Well, they con­fis­cat­ed half the stuff out of the kit.  Includ­ing the mul­ti-tool and the ER Bar that I had in the kit.  You will have to cache many of your sup­plies and hope they are there the next day when you return for them.  Try doing that in the city, and feel good about it.  Sec­ond, should you choose to live on the street dur­ing a SHTF in the city, you bet­ter be good at urban eva­sion tac­tics, and I am not just talk­ing about from author­i­ties.  I am talk­ing oth­er refugees, exist­ing home­less, gangs, etc.

To that end, if the bridges and tun­nels to NYC are shut down, chances are it is going to be a while before any fresh med­ical sup­plies, bot­tled water (because no one from the city drinks from the tap), food (as the pub­lic knows it), etc. makes its way into the city and prop­er­ly dis­trib­uted.  And prop­er­ly dis­trib­uted dur­ing a SHTF is clear­ly gov­ern­ment dis­tri­b­u­tion and rationed sup­plies.  Now, if food and sup­plies can come in, then they will clear­ly be evac­u­at­ing those out of the city to wher­ev­er they set up camp.  That’s a lot addi­tion­al refugees and locusts that will be fill­ing in the sub­urbs.  I hope some or many are pre­pared for that.  What to do when the locusts evac­u­ate the city into the sub­urbs will be anoth­er post alto­geth­er.

Not to men­tion there will be a mass exo­dus to try to get out of the city.  Every­one with a coun­try home in NY State, PA, or else­where will be try­ing to get out of the city.  Those that have fam­i­ly out­side the city will be try­ing to get out­side the city.  There will be refugees float­ing around every­where.  And when they find out they can­not get off the island of Man­hat­tan, they are going to get angry.   Those that have com­plete­ly adapt­ed to the urban lifestyle will have very few resources in their apart­ment.  They will run out of food and water quick­ly.  Then comes des­per­ate mea­sure.

If they keep the bridges and tun­nels open, good luck get­ting over or through them at any speed.  Peo­ple will be walk­ing, bik­ing, run­ning, in their car, etc.  Think of the sto­ries about how hard it was to evac­u­ate before Hur­ri­cane Kat­ri­na.  The roads were packed going about two MPH for miles and miles.  By the time any­one gets from one side of the tun­nel or bridge walk­ing or going so slow­ly it takes hours, there are going to be a lot of angry peo­ple.  If you are going into NJ and you are walk­ing, to get as far as the Mead­ow­lands you have to go over at least one more bridge over a riv­er.  Assum­ing the NJ State police do not have these roads blocked off, you may be able to make it to your des­ti­na­tion.  If it six hours to go six miles it might take a lot longer than that if you try to get to your des­ti­na­tion.

If you get stuck in the city (any city) it is like­ly you will also be deprived of the basic neces­si­ty of sleep, since you will be on a height­ened state of alert most of the time.  Some of the things you might encounter would be yelling, scream­ing, sirens, mega­phones talk­ing as they are dri­ving down the road, peo­ple cry­ing, local­ized riots and civ­il unrest.  Along with your sleep depri­va­tion will be your dimin­ished deci­sion mak­ing capac­i­ty that fol­lows it.

99% of the peo­ple in a city or the sub­urbs are not going to be pre­pared for any emer­gency.  Most peo­ple aren’t going to get 10 miles.  They are going to get hun­gry, tired, angry, or worse hos­tile towards oth­er refugees around them.

The truth is, I am not even sure I would make it.  There are a lot of vari­ables, and I am con­stant­ly try­ing to prep and pre­pare for the uncer­tain.

So, with all those thoughts, (because that is what they real­ly were, a col­lec­tion of what if thoughts) if any SHTF occurs, what will you do about it?  How will you han­dle it?  What will your lev­el of prepa­ra­tion be?

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