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Organizing your Community for Disaster

Organizing your Community for Disaster
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It’s a well-known idea in the prepper community that you cannot survive alone. Some folks may want to ignore this and try to get everything they could ever need, but prepping is not just about stuff. No single person can ever be totally self-sufficient – There will always be something you do not have the resources, skill or time to make. Heck even if you could, who will guard you when you sleep, shower, or well…

I think nothing is better preparedness than organizing your community for disaster.  It is not easy, and you can’t do it fast, but it is worth every bit of time you spend to do it.

I like to say (which gets me strange or knowing looks depending on who I say it to) – “You cannot shoot everybody”. To me a good plan takes into consideration your neighbors, to get others near you to prep and plan for their own disaster needs. It turns neighbors into allies rather than enemies. It gives you someone to work with and makes a community.

The problem (as I see it) is that while all sorts of government and non-government agencies preach disaster preparedness a similar amount (sometimes under the same czar) or agencies post bulletins telling people to look out for people that prep. If you just tell everyone you’re a prepper you will most likely get invited to less neighborhood cookouts than more.

My attempt to try to organize my community is by going slowly and trying to organize a government sponsored group. That way if it takes off I can slowly build trust in the community, gauge capabilities, and eventually approach the likeminded for a more comprehensive plan.

DHS has a program through Citizen Corps called Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). A CERT team is a group of volunteers that receive free training in emergency response. They take classes on basic disaster response, light search and rescue, first aid, firefighting, and other needed response activities. The idea is that in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, CERT members grab their gear, meet up, and rapidly assess the needs of the immediate community. They can then report back to the local emergency management agency a list of needs and hazards thereby making response faster and more efficient.

Because it is government sponsored and relatively well known it is a lot less “threatening” to non-preppers. I imagine going door to door talking about bobs, SHTF, WROL, and storing ammo would not be well received in most areas. Going door to door talking about an enhanced neighborhood watch sponsored by FEMA to make sure nobody is left to fend for themselves after a flood or tornado is much less “non pc”.

So what I did was approach the County Emergency Management Director and ask him for support. He told me he thought it was a great idea, but that he has tried it before and did not get a good turnout for the classes.

I then made a flier with the information, what CERT was, that it was free, that it did not take a lot of time, and the benefits. I printed out 100 flyers and over a weekend my wife drove me around to drop them off. I was surprised at the friendliness of my neighbors, I received a very positive response in all but two homes – one was too busy, and the other very haughtily told me she did not think anything could happen, that the government would help if it did, and she did not want to waste her time (I told the wife to remember her – she gets no help if something does happen).

So I passed the fliers out – Part one – hopefully I will get a response. If not, I will continue working in the yard and being a role model for “urban homesteading” and “sustainable living”, if a disaster ever strikes maybe enough will remember my attempt to organize which may give me some credibility toward a response after the fact. Obviously that is not as good as having a local group pre-disaster, but its better than nothing.

I was careful not to mention prepping in my CERT conversations; I am less worried about OPSEC than someone like Mr. Rawles from survivalblog. That is because of my firearm classes who I am and what I am doing is on the internet, but I feel like most who read my articles would be the type to join a CERT team, so I don’t worry about them. However, I did not want to talk about my preps to those that live down the street, as I would not want them to get the idea to take what is mine (Unlike Dilbert, I have no protein bars), if they try, I cannot shoot everybody – They may get me in a rush, but I can turn a head or 30 into canoes…

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  1. PhilB PhilB

    Anyone have any links/info on what local CERT is doing in the aftermath of Sandy in the worst affected counties? Seems like it might be dangerous to be associated with FEMA/DHS when so many are angry with the Gov’t response so far. Maybe not the best time to be walking around wearing CERT gear either?

    • Actually, CERT is pretty much dead as DHS stopped funding it. I was just trying to use the label to make it more “friendly” in the neighborhood.

  2. PhilB PhilB

    DHS – if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

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