Tuesday, November 12, 2013

After a Disaster

wilderness know-how and long
hikes may be good preps for after-
disaster survival (pix:checking
matulid river)
 I’ve spent one restless night reflecting on the recent Yolanda super typhoon effect, especially the ‘after disaster’ chaos and lawlessness. It made me think how I / we will act and behave after a super disaster struck our big city. Take Metro Manila for example, home of 15million people. The looming/ predicted 7.2 magnitude earthquake (West Valley fault) was the first thing that came to my mind. Surviving the disaster was one worry, surviving the after-effect was an even bigger concern.

People were shocked with the looting and ‘criminal behaviour’ displayed by some survivors. I’ve observed this in past post-calamities in the news. Even on non-calamity ‘event’ like that one in Jakarta (where I worked on a stint) during the anti-Suharto people power wherein on the side, rich families were attacked, women raped, house ransacked and looted. Mob ruled the city. At least for several days.

Minor (and understandable) human-survival behavioural changes are commonly witnessed in relief operations as well. After Ondoy, a joined a relief team in Montalban and instead of doing goods-giving, I switched role to truck-goods security to prevent unruly snatchers from ransacking our supply. In Marinduque, I also joined a group, and witnessed how rampant the cheatings were in getting free goodies (i.e. hiding their goods in bushes to queue for more, or several family members pretended to belong to different families to hoard supplies). Even simple outreach activity in remote villages offered some of this ‘survival looting’ scenes (never mind the details).

So, to be conservative in our future after-disaster planning – let’s assume that these bad things (chaos/lawlessness/mob rule) will be part of the survival game.

I’ve posted pre-disaster tips here including what to put in one's survival kit -  hopefully we’ll be able to survive the onslaught and the after-effects, or at least buy us precious survival time before help arrives.

Below are just my thoughts on how I think I/we should act and behave after a disaster;

1. Accept. Embrace Change. The sooner we can accept our predicament, the sooner we can ‘react’ to our/family’s needs. Easier written or said of course, but as survivalist, we have to cross this ‘mental chasm’. I’ve been hammered by 30mph ice-wind in Alaska in a very exposed terrain, and my first thought was to ‘deny’ it, pretend it was nothing. Accepting it brought me back to reality, reality of possible death if my team further dilly-dallied in reacting to that ‘event’.

2. Think - hierarchy of needs. I explained this in detail somewhere here.  In my mind:
a. First 24 hours. Immediate survival and medical. If you/your family members need rescue or medical attention – fix it first. If luck is on our side, our disaster kit with medical supplies would still be in its durable/waterproof / storm-proof box.

b. Next - drinking water / safe shelter from elements. We should always have potable water stored somewhere, good for few days. Food needs maybe postponed for another 2 or 3 days. Actually longer. If your survival box is still intact, hopefully the high-energy biscuits or protein-loaded nuts, canned goods, etc. are all still there. Water filters may also come in handy.

3.   2nd day. If the city is torn and ‘hopeless’ (i.e. help will not arrive anytime soon), evacuation may be a better option than risk the impending mob or supply run-out. The more (hungry) people, the more dangerous the place will be. Hopefully, your big pack and few supplies are still around for the long walk to safety. Yes – prepare for a very long walk. With good fitness, a family group may travel 15-20km per day (7-10hours?). Camp in between. (Tip: Get a map and know your exit points). It will be tougher to have little kids around, but not impossible – only heavier load to carry. Find light-weight shelter materials along the way (think trapal or vinyl materials / large plastic sheets, etc. Sample exit route -  if living in the south area of Metro (say Makati), it would be around 35-40km to Sta Rosa, Laguna (2day walk). A north area like Quezon City may suggest Bulacan or Rizal as the safe refuge.

4. Good wilderness survival know-how may come in handy during our long walk to safety. Assuming the next better town is days away. Find water along the way, find food, find safe shelters. Travel with a 'safe group', there is safety in number.

5. If for sad reasons we/our family cannot travel, we need to get a safe place at least. Hopefully away from mobsters. Hopefully, our survival kit is intact. If not – survival skills will come in handy (how to get water or filter dirty water, shelter building, finding food, putting security measures). In this scenario, we just have to endure until help arrives. Survival is mostly, mental. If you give up (mentally), the chance of survival drops to near-zero. Just fight on.

 Related post: Prepare for Disasters

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