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One of the very basic tenets of preparedness is to routinely evaluate risks that are specific to your geographical area. But what happens when Mother Nature throws you a curve ball and the unexpected emergency occurs?
Today I would like to share the experience a Colorado reader who experienced first hand the devastating floods in Colorado. “Jeff C.” was kind enough to send me his up close and personal experience during the recent Colorado floods. Is he a prepper? Yes. Was he as prepared as he could be? He thought so. Read on.
Surviving An Unexpected Emergency
A Retrospective After the Colorado Flood
First note. Something can happen at any time, any moment. A derailed train of nasty chemicals, a toxic spill in your sewer, a factory in your area has a fire or explosion spewing deadly fumes, or a hundred unexpected man made disasters. (Not even to get into all of the geopolitical options, riots, civil unrest, flash mobs, etc.) Also there are fires, earthquakes, tornadoes, or FLOODS.
Here in the mountains of Colorado we don’t expect floods. We barely get rain most of the time. (This has more often than not let to multiple evacuations for fire.) We occasionally hear “Flash flood” warnings but those are usually “For those folks down there.” Needless to say we never would have imagined, let alone expected what happened.
3:00 am. KNOCK, KNOCK, KNOCK!!
Fireman at the door. Our house is surrounded by water. What was a 6’ wide creek 50 yards BEHIND our house, now has at least 2 ½ ft. of RUSHING water as far as 60 ft. IN FRONT of our house. Both of our cars are in the flow and cannot be reached. (One of them was eventually washed completely off the driveway.) The fireman informs us that we have a few minutes to gather some things while they get 4×4 backed in over at the next door neighbor’s house (Because they can’t get it close enough to our house) they are going to have to escort us through some “lower” water right next to the house, over to the next house…We will have what we can carry…a few minutes to grab it.
Myself. My wife & two teenage daughters, and a dog.
Quick check of the situation. I look in the garage. There is already 10” of water inside at the garage door itself, with the slant of the floor the water is nearing the entrance to the interior of the house but shallower there. We have already lost personal property, heirlooms, etc and the news is only 1 minute old.
We ended up with 1 small backpack for each of the girls and my wife and I (And the dog – He will need some food) shared one backpack and I grabbed my office bag with my laptop (Besides being my livelihood, it is my employer’s property and there are sensitive documents.)
What did we grab…?
A change of clothes, some basic toiletries, prescriptions, phones and chargers, the documents (Birth certificates/Passports etc) from the fireproof box, some dog food, a handgun, and some ammo….TIME TO GO!
They got us out and dropped us on the other side of the water. There you are.
I thought I was fairly light and mobile. I’m not. Or at least to the degree I should be. A lot of things happened after that and compared to many others we are doing fine. We have been blessed a hundred times throughout this. However, I am resolved to make some changes. Everyone, including the dog is going to have a bug-out bag. There needs to be some other considerations as well. Most importantly, we are safe, but there needs to be some changes made in our house.
Some things to think about…
We had boxes on shelves in the garage but the water was already above the bottom shelf…Books are heavy, so you put them on the bottom shelf. They are first to go in a flood.
DO NOT KEEP YOUR NIFTY EMERGENCY WATER PURIFIER ON THE FLOOR OR BOTTOM SHELF (Why would this be so fresh in my mind?)
The fireman instructed us to leave our house unlocked. There were things about that which I was not prepared for or comfortable with. Think about it. The way your house/belongings are RIGHT NOW, would you be comfortable walking away leaving only as secure as they currently are?
We were dropped off, but then got a ride to a temporary shelter. Who would you call? Who would call you?
We lost cell service, most land lines, some people had land lines but no internet, some people only had internet, some people had only walkie-talkies, many had nothing…where are your phone numbers even if you had a phone?
The flood cut off our mountain town with some roads to be out for weeks, some months, some (?)…There was a question of how food and gas supplies would get to us, but for us, that came around after 3 days there was a LONG way out/in.
I could go on and on. Others had MUCH more hazardous situations than us and I’m sure they would have more/different thoughts. I just thought I would share mine.
Estes Park, CO
Bugging Out is Sometimes Required
In recent weeks I have gone to great lengths to explain that bugging in is always preferable to bugging out. That said, even with adequate food, water, power, and fire/heat, when the knock comes, you must be ready to go. As Jeff so aptly states, you may only have minutes.
As an exercise today and throughout the weekend, think about those things that you would grab if you only had minutes in which to evacuate your home. Where are they located and could you get to them? And perhaps more important, do you have a bug-out bag for every family member and has it been inventoried and updated lately?
The Final Word
When I asked Jeff for permission to post his experience on line at BDS, he said:
If it helps someone else learn some of the things I had to learn the hard way, ahead of time, it is worth it.
As his experience teaches us, no matter how knowledgeable we might be, learning from the real life experiences of others will help us take our prepping journey to the next level. That, plus the knowledge that stuff is just stuff, after all. It is family and loved ones that are most important.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Putting together a bug-out-bag is not a one-size-fits all proposition. Still, there are some basic foundation items that belong in every kit. Sure, you still need to add food, water, personal care items and a whole lot more. But these basics will get you started.
Rothco Medium Transport Pack: What I really like about these Rothco packs is the narrow profile. As you can see in the picture, it is only as wide as my body. Sure, it sticks out a bit in back but at least I do not bump in to things. There are lots of compartments and pouches and it by far, the most comfortable pack I have ever worn. I actually own 3 Rothco packs, 2 in the medium size and one large. I keep one pack permanently in my vehicle.
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter: The LifeStraw is considered the most advanced, compact, ultra light personal water filter available. It contains no chemicals or iodinated resin, no batteries and no moving parts to break or wear out. It weighs only 2oz. making it perfect for the prepper. For more information, see my LifeStraw review.
Flash Drive: I cannot over emphasize the importance of having important documents on a flash drive. Sure, the power may be out temporarily but for the nominal price and virtually no weight, it is silly not to carry all of your documents and survival reference guides on a flash drive.
Streamlight Nano Light Keychain LED Flashlight: The little itty bitty flashlight is extremely small and light weight yet it will throw off a decent amount of super-bright light. At just .36 ounces and 1.47 inches long, it will take up a minimum of space in your pocket or bag. Other alternatives are the Blocklite or even the inexpensive, but super-bright FordEx Group 300lm Mini Cree LED Flashlight.
Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds. For the budget minded, there is the 3 in 1 Survival Whistle with Compass Thermometer for about a dollars.
Swedish Firesteel: Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version. A less expensive alternative is this Campers Magnesium Fire Starter.
Pepper Spray: It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you.
2 Pack Survival Kit Can Opener, Military, P-51 Model: These can openers makes great addition to any survival, fishing, hiking, or camping pack. They are lightweight and robust and they just work.