Oblate Program at Belmont Abbey, NC

How does one ‘prepare’?

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storm-warning-webWe see with all the wildfire and drought and extreme flooding that no matter where one lives, events can occur and literally "out of the blue" that cripple areas.

What if the word "neighborhood" or "area" turned into "region"?

There are certainly things that have happened in nature through the millennia that have caused effects far greater than any seen in modern times.

And of course there is always the "economy."

Is it real money out there or the shuffling of paper into a house of cards? How can we sustain such debt? How can any country or society continue the way the current world is continuing with a highly suspect banking system that on short notice can't cover more than two percent of actual deposits?

We consider such matters not to grow fearful or paranoid but to pray about how we might prepare, or whether we even need to prepare, in the event a major occurrence does afflict our area or region or nation or hemisphere.

Let's be clear: no one can really foresee all the things one would need for comfortable living in the event of a true emergency (Carolina is just a precursor), nor for how short or long a time one might need them. In a prolonged crisis, there may be no way for long-term preparation. Only truly "primitive survival" training (as is practiced by a group of Catholics in Michigan) might do well (can you rub two sticks together for fire?), because simply going "off the grid" would not be enough if the solar system fails with no person or part to repair it or a tractor dies and can't be replaced for those growing their own food. A farm needs seed, fuel, and fertilizer.

But for more short-term crises, there certainly are measures of preparation that can be taken -- many -- and they are cogently presented in a new book called Get Prepared Now!, which analyzes the current economic and societal situation and concludes we are indeed headed for major crisis -- one that will cause major shortages. It's for our contemplation. Increasingly, Westerners are moving in the direction of at least some preparedness, but right now most households have only enough food to exist on for several days, and no means of water if the power fails for long periods.

So what do the authors -- Michael Snyder and Barbara Fix -- foresee and recommend? For one thing, the continued rise of "preppers." As Barbara, in her section of the book (it's actually two books in one), notes, "It's estimated that there are over two million preppers in the U.S., but that number is pure conjecture as people quietly put aside essentials. My guess is the actual number could be much higher."

"Prepper" usually means someone who has really gone at it -- switching to an all but primitive means of coping, should crisis come. It hardly means those who have stores of food and means of alternate water. Everyone should have extra supplies on hand, whether we're talking about "normal" disasters that strike from time to time (according to region) or mega-ones.

Do Christians in particular feel this need because there are certain prophecies pertaining to this (true or false ones; that's for your discernment) or because they are themselves receiving intuitive guidance -- nudges -- from the Holy Spirit?

"Over the past decade," says Fix, "I have heard from multitudes of Christians who received the Lord's call to prepare. For some, it led to a move. For others, it involved a journey into preparedness to protect their loved ones, and for still others, their journey was centered on community involvement, so should a disaster strike, they will be better able to help their neighbors."

Sit back and consider all the things that would occur if electricity in a major region was out for a week or longer. During an ice storm in Quebec years ago, residents were forced to burn furniture and wood decks for heat (in Montreal!). Without electricity there is no gas. There is no refrigeration. Who would truck in supplies?

Did you know, as the authors point out, that the average family of four consumes 678 gallons of water over the course of six months?

Again: no need for angst but perhaps a degree of preparation. Nothing wrong with keeping at least a week's worth of food and water, as well as extra medical supplies (we suggest more like a month or two worth). This is far from "running for the hills." It's looking around and noting how quickly our fragile infrastructure could dissolve. Surely it doesn't hurt nor constitute paranoia to have some extra Clorox in the event disinfectant is necessary during an outbreak of illness or to purify water (it just takes an eighth of a teaspoon to cleanse a gallon of most water, after filtration)? There are little tips in this book that could be big in an emergency, and that we were not privy to previously. A few examples: for $25 or $30, says Fix, one can purchase a cooking tripod. This allow heating food and water over coals or wood. There are "rocket stoves." There are wood-burning heat stoves (ice storms can be nasty). There are pellet stoves. There are solar ovens.

Canned goods? Yes, say the authors. They last far longer, in most cases, than their expiration dates. White rice? Definitely. Flour? Yes. Honey? Freeze-dried supplies? Absolutely (they basically never go bad). Fix provides a detailed list of pantry items (too involved to enumerate here). There are also "shelf lives" listed. Same with items for an emergency kit.

We would not have thought how important duct tape could be. Or a bicycle. And garden tools. (We do the rice and freeze-dried and Chlorox and even some seed.)

There are those who think if things got really bad they could hunt wild game. The problem: a seasoned wildlife warden in Alaska told the authors that "the game would be hunted out for the most part within six months to a year." There are too many people (even up there). Mormons are the experts: they have long preached and taught food storage. If there's no power, study the Quaker way of living (though even they have grown reliant on certain modern amenities).

Lord God, we might pray: do I really need to be concerned with all this? Is it truly worth it? Here we get back to what we often do, when we say: it's up to your own perceived situation and your own (prayerful) intuition. Ours is that it's better to be safe than sorry. Only God knows what's ahead and whether or not we will see disaster in our lifetimes. He not only prepares but protects. Prayer saves in extreme circumstances. Bibles survive fires and tornadoes. His shield works even in a tsunami, be it His Will. During the greatest wildfire in U.S. history, the only green area left was a parcel of land set aside to honor the Blessed Mother near Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Prayer. In the end, that's the best "preparation."

Michael Brown

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