Thoughts after the devastation

I imagine many of you have seen the pictures and video footage of the devastation in the Southeast. It’s had me thinking. We have our preps, our Bug-Out-Bags, etc. But, these tornadoes wiped out everything. I guess you could have your BOB on you (as opposed to by the door or in the trunk of your car). But, everything is gone. I could store a few days of stuff at my parent’s. But they are just across the pond — accessible but also probable to be devastated if we are. As if I don’t have enough to be stressed about right now, this is pressing on my mind. Any thoughts, especially from those in “Tornado Alley”?


  • By Robert, May 3, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

    Make sure you have a tag on it that says “Not for use by the Lolliepop Guild!”

  • By EmmaPeel, May 3, 2011 @ 1:10 pm

    Thanks for the smile!

  • By Joe Allen, May 3, 2011 @ 1:32 pm

    What about a smallish concrete and rebar “doghouse”? Near the main dwelling, but far enough away that it shouldn’t get buried in rubble.

  • By fast richard, May 3, 2011 @ 1:49 pm

    Pockets are good things. Minimum contents include some sort of knife and some means of making fire. It doesn’t take more than a pocket knife to be useful in making a shelter amid the downed branches and debris. A fire makes cold wet misery a little more bearable.

  • By EmmaPeel, May 3, 2011 @ 2:16 pm

    Joe, I’ve been looking over the property for a suitable cache. I never considered building something. Great idea.

    Richard, I need to be in the habit of keeping my knife and fire starter in my pockets all the time. I tend to empty my pockets when I get home. Everything is close at hand should I need it.

  • By DonM, May 3, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Some degree of redundancy is usually a good idea. If you have a good neighbor or a trusted relative within walking distance, put duplicates of the cheaper and less lethal elements of your bugout bag in your neighbor’s home, and invite him to do the same with your house. With a tornado, there is a reduced liklihood that both your houses will be trashed.

  • By global village idiot, May 3, 2011 @ 2:58 pm

    Easy. Leave a week’s worth of stuff at a friend’s next county over. It’s what I do.

    I, my daughter and my dog could show up at their door in skivvies and bunny slippers; after a cup of hot chocolate and 15 minutes we’d be dressed, fed and on our way to bed, and because all the stuff is pre-positioned, we don’t put our friends out in the least.

  • By Robert Slaughter, May 3, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    I think a ‘virtual exercise’ may be in order. If you wear a wristwatch with an hourly beep, turn it on. Then pick a sample emergency — tornado is a fine example.

    For a work-day and a weekend-day (because you have a life), every time you hear it beep, stop as soon as safe, then ask yourself, “What would I do if I heard a tornado siren on a tornado *right now*?” As you accumulate details, start writing them down and later analyze them.

    If at home, what would be your actions, and how could be certain your BOB/72-hour kit was with you? If at work? On the road? Visiting friends or family? Maybe you need duplicate kits – home, work, car, or instead a carry-everywhere kit.

    Building a good old-fashioned (yet updated — the rebar sounds good) storm cellar away from the house sounds excellent for storing usefuls near the homestead, as well as self-protection.

    Cycle through other possible situations, especially those with significant differences — if there was a knock on the door (work, home, traffic stop) and you were told “You have to evacuate NOW!” with no expectation of return, what would be different?

    That should help some. Just break the elephant down into bite-sized, digestible chunks.

  • By Anonymous, May 3, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

    I second the “hardened doghouse” approach. I don’t live anywhere near Tornado Alley, but high winds, heavy snow and flooding are all too familiar.

    BOB gear is stored in an old, apparently unused concrete building inside locked, “retired” locker freezers. They’re watertight, rodent-proof, temperature stable, and low-humidity with the addition of silica gel units.

    Whatever you do, keep your profile low and keep thieves (two and four-legged) in mind. A MURS detector in the building informs me of human intrusion, but mice can still wreak holy hell with your gear unless you keep the pesky little bastards sealed out.

  • By Pathfinder, May 3, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

    2 words – underground cellar! ‘Nuf said.

    Well, maybe not enough. secured underground cellar like the old root cellars. Lacking that, an enclosed space in the basement. No basement? What are you doing in tornado alley without one (full disclosure – I did that once, and was looking over my shoulder at the weather radar the entire time I lived there).

    So, a cellar – unless you flood, in which case you are SOOL! :-D

  • By EmmaPeel, May 3, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    I really appreciate all the feedback. I have a lot of food-for-thought for my commute home.

    Pathfinder, for some reason, basements are rare in this area of Alabama. I only know one person with one. I do know a few with storm shelters.

  • By Ruth, May 3, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

    I like the concrete dog-house idea myself, although in my area I’m more likely to drown from flooding than get blown away.

  • By Gmac, May 3, 2011 @ 4:55 pm

    Basements don’t exist or are rare in HSV and N AL. Basement rooms abound but an F5 will sweep it clear.

    Your best bet is to drop some cash and time into a true storm shelter. Just remember, below ground usually means water will accumulate if you don’t properly have it sealed.

  • By randy, May 3, 2011 @ 6:12 pm

    Grew up in Tornado Alley.

    Underground is the place to be. If you can’t do that, reinforce a closet and take the BOB in with you when you take cover.

    If you can’t build a safe room, get to a bathroom, in the bathtub with your BOB.

    I have BOB contents in my basement, garage, and vehicle. Even if your house takes a direct hit, your garage and/or vehicle might still survive, tornadoes are screwy that way.

  • By og, May 3, 2011 @ 7:36 pm

    Food grade 5 gallon buckets are inexpensive. You can buy screw-on lids, or simply use the lids that come with them. Bury them, loaded with your stuff, flush with the ground, and put round flat decorative walkway stones on top of them. Only you even have to know theyr’e there. If a tornado takes them, you have bigger troubles anyway.

  • By RickR, May 3, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

    If your bugout bag has personnel info in it like Electric Company acct #, Phone Acct # and such that you would need to contact afterward, consider an encrypted USB drive with scans of that kind of stuff. Scanned bills, birth cert., marriage lis., etc. will make getting replacements easier.

    Look at IronKey, seems to be one of the best.

    I grew up in Xenia Ohio, moved there just after the clean up of the ’72 disaster. I am a weather channel junkie during storms LOL!

  • By Anon, May 3, 2011 @ 9:16 pm

    We keep 3 kits at a minimum. One near the front door (fully stocked BOB), one in the car, and one in the house. We also have a second BOB that is in a second location since we have more than one exit from our home. If we know we have to evacuate we can take both BOBs and we have the car kit ready to go. If we shelter in place, we have plenty of food and gear here between all of the kits that is easily portable.

    Maybe you could keep small cans/5 gal buckets in each of your bathrooms or whatever rooms you plan on sheltering in of basic supplies. You could bury them as a cache as well but YMMV.

  • By Rick, May 3, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

    These days preppers don’t like to hold too many dollars but with all your preparations don’t forget to have money in the bank. It is unlikely that the same day there is a spate of tornadoes that the dollar totally collapses. Having some cash in the bank will help after the initial emergency is over and the rebuilding starts.

  • By ivan, May 3, 2011 @ 10:46 pm

    How about a root cellar – contractors locally say that it enhances your property’s resale value. You can even use it to store roots. Cool in summer, not too cold in winter (do they even have winter in Alabama?) and basically tornado proof. Put it under your porch, and you have a fallout shelter, too.

  • By Cybrludite, May 4, 2011 @ 3:03 am

    I’ve given serious thought to renting a small storage locker, basically one just big enough to hold a BoB, in a town I’m likely to evacuate to. Stock it with a bag holding a couple of changes of clothes, a pistol & ammo, some cash, photocopies of important documents, and a first aid kit.

  • By RJK, May 4, 2011 @ 8:13 am

    I live in AL and have been in the basement three times in three weeks due to weather. Luckily only one small tornado that knocked down trees and only one house.

    When we go to the basement we always put on clothes that you go outside wearing if needed. Rain jackets included. My basement has a gun safe with flashlights and other needed stuff.

    My biggest fear is not dying in the storm but gas lines being damaged and explosions that follow if you house is hit. If you have a gun safe – keep needed things in there as it will not blow away. Lay in a tub if you can.

  • By EmmaPeel, May 4, 2011 @ 8:22 am

    Again, thanks for all the great information. When we build our final home, it will have a basement with walk-in safe/safe room. Unfortunately, money hasn’t allowed that to happen yet. I’m in the process of cleaning out closets for storm victims. We all have stuff we don’t wear/use.

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