keep-outThis is what hun­dreds, per­haps thou­sands, of peo­ple who own prop­er­ty in the New York Catskill moun­tain area were told in 2011. Local res­i­dents as well as state police turned legal prop­er­ty own­ers away from access to their land in the fall of that year.

But allow me to digress for a moment before the details…

A great many prep­pers own prop­er­ty else­where from their pri­ma­ry res­i­dence as their “bug out” loca­tion. The land may be any­thing from a few unde­vel­oped acres they would plan to set­up a camper on to a full work­ing ranch or farm and every vari­a­tion in between. Many oth­ers don’t have land per se but have an arrange­ment with fam­i­ly or friends to come to their loca­tion (far from their own) in the event of an emer­gency. And still oth­ers may sim­ply have a plan to get to a remote area where they believe sim­ple lodg­ing or per­haps even squat­ting (no judg­ments)  can be obtained in an emer­gency.

What­ev­er your evac­u­a­tion plans are there is a cold hard real­i­ty that many prep­pers are not aware of, yet – in an emer­gency you may NOT be wel­comed into the area even onto your own prop­er­ty!

Return­ing to my open­ing com­ments, this type of rejec­tion greet­ed Catskill prop­er­ty own­ers imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing the pas­sage of Hur­ri­cane Irene in late August of 2011. The storm had fol­lowed the typ­i­cal coastal track up from Flori­da and as most hur­ri­canes and trop­i­cal storms that come as far North as the North­east­ern states was expect­ed to wreck hav­oc on the coastal areas of New Jer­sey and New York. But at the last moments Irene turned hard inland to the West and tracked much fur­ther North into the upper reach­es of New York State and into rur­al Con­necti­cut – areas that nev­er typ­i­cal­ly see trop­i­cal storm force winds and rains! The result was flood­ing on tru­ly a Bib­li­cal scale. Streams only knee deep dur­ing even the spring rains (I know, I’ve fished them for years) now went 30–40+ feet over their banks. Build­ings near these streams and rivers com­plete­ly flood­ed over their roofs. Many washed away alto­geth­er.

In the wake of this dev­as­ta­tion it was nature for peo­ple who owned prop­er­ty in the area to want to sur­vey the dam­age and start the cleanup/rebuilding process imme­di­ate­ly.

But they couldn’t.

They were not allowed in!

Local sher­iffs and state police blocked the roads into these areas and only full-time res­i­dence (as deter­mined by the address on their driver’s license) were allowed in. Offi­cials accept no oth­er doc­u­men­ta­tion – prop­er­ty title, prop­er­ty tax bill etc – as evi­dence to be allowed in. On mes­sage forums and in chat rooms for days argu­ments between local res­i­dents and non-full-time prop­er­ty own­ers raged day and night. Locals used some very heat­ed words to describe peo­ple from out­side the area (main­ly from NYC and Long Island) who owned prop­er­ty there but didn’t live year-round. It was star­tling how much ven­om was being exchanged.

This went on for near 2 weeks after the pass­ing of the storm. Final­ly the road blocks were lift­ed and gen­er­al pas­sage restored.

While I accept the need to keep out loot­ers, sou­venir hunters, and dis­as­ter “gawk­ers”  pre­vent­ing access to prop­er­ty by their legal own­ers (and rep­re­sen­ta­tives) is beyond extreme in my opin­ion.

I bring this up as a harsh real­i­ty to prep­pers:

You may not phys­i­cal­ly be able to get to your “bug out” loca­tion in the event of an emer­gency. Local forces, offi­cial  and oth­er­wise, may be employed to keep non-locals out no mat­ter what own­er­ship you have to prop­er­ty in the area. And there may be the force of law enforce­ment behind them as well.

Even for prep­pers who rou­tine­ly vis­it their sec­ondary res­i­dences or live there peri­od­i­cal­ly through­out the year you are still con­sid­ered an out­sider/non-res­i­dent to those who live there all the time.

Add in the pos­si­ble sec­ondary con­se­quences of some kinds of extreme emer­gen­cies (exam­ple: A plague or chemical/nuclear con­t­a­m­i­na­tion) and small­er com­mu­ni­ties may close their bor­ders on their own.

This may result in any­thing from hav­ing to trav­el much fur­ther out of your way to get to your loca­tion (go around closed off areas) to hav­ing to get in on foot or oth­er means to not being able to get to your sec­ondary loca­tion at all in the worst case.

The only solu­tions I can see would be 1) have mul­ti­ple “bug out” loca­tions which is large­ly imprac­ti­cal to afford for most prep­pers even when resources are pooled, or, 2) Try to leave as quick­ly as pos­si­ble after an emer­gency (before the sit­u­a­tion gets so dire is even bet­ter) before peo­ple and offi­cials can orga­nize and react.

One last thought: Don’t fall vic­tim to think­ing this is a unique­ly New York/Northeast/liberal mind­set. Such a “quar­an­tine” either offi­cial or self-imposed can hap­pen any­where giv­en the right cir­cum­stances. When peo­ple are afraid any­thing is pos­si­ble.

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