What is preparedness & survivalism? Some folks think the two are one in the same, and others think differently. And when you add the term ‘sustainable living’ into the mix you can develop a slew of new ideas and definitions. So, I feel it is important to differentiate the terminology and meaning behind all of these words in order to form a more comprehensive view of the coming times, what we are in for, and how we will learn to cope with what is ahead.

In simple terms, we can say that preparedness is the planning that comes before the fact, and survival is the act of living with what happens after the fact. How well we survive is dependent upon how we prepare. But there is much more to consider when making your plans to survive than simply piling up a bunch of go packs, MRE’s, water and endless supplies to feed the family and tend to their scrapes and bruises. Part of this planning should include a plan that has a goal of adapting yourselves to learn to live with less. And this doesn’t mean that you need to learn to live in the woods covered with deer skin to keep you warm. This means that you have to learn to do without what we take for granted today.

There are various stages or levels of disaster after-life that may be permanent, or they may be temporary. But what happens in the aftermath of any disaster is directly related to your response and the level of planning prior to that same disaster. For instance, let’s look at the infamous Katrina event, or Hurricane Katrina, of a few years ago. The storm was well documented, and warnings were given in plenty of time for people to have been evacuated, but they weren’t. There are many reasons for this failure to do the right thing, but the underlying cause of the devastation remains dedicated to just a few basic points.

Number one, New Orleans is built for the most part under sea level, and also has the advantage of being the mouthpiece of the Mississippi River. And remember, all water flows into the sea, if it doesn’t evaporate beforehand. In my opinion, much of what has been rebuilt after the storm should not have been rebuilt. At some point another major storm will bear down upon that same city and we’ll be repeating what never should have happened in the first place. But all that is beside the point.

The point here is that the Gulf is a region prone to hurricane damage, and people know that. Even if the government doesn’t tell you to leave, that doesn’t mean you should stay. Common knowledge would have suggested that the low lying areas of that city were going to be flooded, and that knowledge was, and is attainable by everyone. If these people would have had a survival mindset they would have had go bags ready to go and should have get gone well before the first warnings of flooding potential were issued. But people still wanted to party, and hold onto their property.

The afterlife of many showed just how poor their preparedness was, and the stories of many indicate the level of survivability people were prepared for. Many were orphaned out to other states where they had to rely upon the welfare system to put a roof over their heads and food in their guts. Some still rely upon that aid, in fact. Those who had the preparedness aspect under control and in place long before the flooding fared much better. Those people got out much sooner, they had cash to live off of, and sometimes relatives they could go to, they had insurance to cover their losses, and they were able to obtain alternate employment relatively quickly if their employers were shut down and out of business.

There are lessons that we can all learn from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, but very often we fail to listen to our instructor, don’t we? The first lesson we can learn is that no matter how prepared we are to meet disaster, we often times will fail because of some small overlooked detail. For instance, if the Levees hadn’t failed, how badly would the area have been damaged? Did anyone take the possibility of their failure into consideration prior to, and during the period where evacuations were being considered?

Transportation is yet another factor. I recall reading quite a few headlines concerning the usage of city and private busses to get certain segments of the population out of harm’s way. Why would that have been an issue in the first place? Proper planning would have had the mechanisms in place to utilize every means of possible transportation available, and yet the various government agencies bickered over the usage of those busses.

There are a good many more examples that could be presented here, but the picture painted as we look back at this particular disaster just brings to light the fact that there will always be something overlooked that may cause us to fail in our attempts of survival after the fact. Unfortunately, many of these overlooked items could have been seen if we had only put more effort into preparedness. When developing your emergency preparedness plans you need to take the time to think through every conceivable scenario. You need to pretend in your head that this event or another is actually happening, and play out the scene as it were real life. What if should be one of the main mottos of your survival and preparedness agenda.

And then you need to practice and act out your survival plans to see what you have forgotten in the preparedness stage. Remember, once the hurricane, or other disaster hits you can no longer prepare for it. You have nothing less but to survive upon what your preparedness planning has given you.

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