There are many myths and misconceptions about survival in an urban environment following a natural or man-made disaster. Images of fierce mobs, sneaky looters, and violent conflicts in the streets between neighborhoods or groups spring to mind.
While those things can happen in such a situation, these media images often make us forget about the forgotten realities of urban survival which we have seen from tragic events such as Hurricane Katrina.
Here, we’ll go over a few forgotten realities of urban survival from Katrina and other urban disasters that go beyond what we can visualize from the media.
In a major disaster, exit routes will be closed. If you think you can just load up your SUV and hightail it out of there to a rendezvous point, think again.
First, “bugging out” out is the riskier option in some situations compared to “bugging in.” Secondly, thousands if not millions of people in your area will be trying to evacuate as well. This means traffic will move very slowly, the roads will be clogged, you’ll be exposed out in the open, and you’ll be practically stuck for hours if not days. Bridges, tunnels, highways — everything could be closed off by law enforcement and military personnel.
If we learned anything from Katrina, it’s that there could be martial law. During Hurricane Katrina, the city of New Orleans went under martial law as 80 percent of the city became flooded. Yes, there will be mobs and looters, but on top of the roads being closed off, you’ll have law enforcement and military personnel on standby under orders either from the governor of the state or the mayor of the city.
Don’t be surprised if mass civilian disarmament starts to take place; the same thing happened to the citizens of New Orleans, leaving them defenseless against looters. The law won’t entirely go out the window, either; if you must use deadly force in self-defense, you’ll still have to answer to military police.
There are bound to be environmental hazards. Compared to a rural environment, there will be significantly more environmental hazards in an urban doomsday environment.
There will be things such as burning debris, toxic smoke and leaked chemicals that could all pose dangers to your safety. Consider investing in sturdy shoes, long-sleeve shirts and jackets, eye protection, hearing protection, heavy duty gloves, and respiratory protection.
Food will be more limited. Forget about hunting for your own food if you’re in the city when the grid goes down. For survival, there are three primary ways to gain food: 1. Food that you store, 2. Food that you grow and cultivate, or 3. Food that you can find from foraging. In urban survival, most of the food that you’ll eat will be from the first option. Stores will be stripped clean of materials within the first few hours of a disaster, and people’s homes won’t go down without a fight if they’re not abandoned. Hence, the primary way you can get food in urban environments is what you have stored and preserved, so stock up.
The more tactical you look, the more of a target you’ll be. If mass disarmament starts to take place, guess whose doorstep the authorities will be visiting first? If your preparations stand out, it’s you. To protect yourself, take the following procedures: conceal all weapons and survival gear on you, remove all military logos to your clothing, gear and vehicles, keep your bug-out bag out of public view, avoid eye contact with other individuals, and wear normal looking clothes.
Always Safe, Always Prepared