Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dealing with Authority after Disaster

Addendum: Shortly after posting this blog entry online I received a sharp rebuke from a friend in law enforcement. He is correct.

I overstated/misstated my point. I want to emprise that in the following diatribe when I refer to "the authorities" I'm not talking about LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers), fire or EMS, but rather the upper echelons who make the decisions as to whether or not you'll be allowed to evacuate along this road or that; whether or not you'll be allowed to bring your pets into or out of a public shelter; whether or not you'll be able to keep your possessions and where you'll be allowed to go.

LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) don't make those decisions. They just follow orders to block of this route or that, to allow this or that into the public shelter or even whether or not you'll be allowed to leave the public shelter. So don't mistake the following tirade as an indictment of First Responders, they're doing their jobs.

The purpose of this oration is to inspire you to stock up on food and water so you can sit out the disaster at home and not end up like "those people".

How much food and water do you have on hand? The minimum federally recommended three days? But is that enough?

After a disaster authorities are more concerned with maintaining control than your personal comfort and wellbeing. Keeping you fed in a shelter has more to do with reducing/controlling your desire to get out than concern for your comfort and wellbeing.

Your personal safety is secondary to maintaining control to prevent (or at least control) chaos.

Until the disaster is declared officially over, I expect you'll find it a whole lot harder to get out of a public shelter than it was to get into it. Also, you will be disarmed going into a public shelter. Don't expect to get those guns back.

Therefore, if at all possible, staying out of a public shelter should be one of your top priorities. Having sufficient food and water on hand to ride out the storm will be paramount in that case.

Three days worth of food and water? Why not three weeks?

(Note, the events below are not a race problem; half of the police officers involved were black.)

NEW ORLEANS, (CBS/AP) It's one of the more horrific stories to come out of the Hurricane Katrina disaster - two unarmed men gunned down, four others wounded, allegedly at the hands of police officers.

Now four New Orleans police officers stand charged with multiple criminal counts including the murder of 17-year-old James Brisette.

The Danziger Bridge shootings happened Sept. 4, 2005; just six days after Hurricane Katrina tore across the south, overwhelming New Orleans' famous levies and drowning the city in water.


Seven heavily armed New Orleans police officers stormed Danziger Bridge.
Prosecutors said they shot at the first people they saw, people prosecutors say were crossing the bridge to find food.


The indictment claims Faulcon shot mentally disabled Ronald Madison, 40, in the back as he ran away on the west side of the bridge. Bowen is charged with stomping and kicking Madison while he was lying on the ground, wounded but still alive.

Bowen, Gisevius, Faulcon and Villavaso also are accused of shooting at an unarmed family on the east side of the bridge, killing 17-year-old James Brissette and wounding four others.



Assistant U.S. Attorney Theodore Carter says police had no justification for shooting unarmed, defenseless people on the Danziger Bridge, then plotting to plant a gun, fabricate witnesses and falsify reports.

But a defense attorney urged jurors to consider the "disorder, chaos and lawlessness" that gripped the flooded city after Katrina when they decide whether the officers acted reasonably in using deadly force.

Second update
(Various sources)

Lance Madison was on the bridge the day of the shooting. He was thrown behind bars for false accusations that he shot at police. His mentally disabled brother, Ronald Madison, was shot and killed.

"Without the support and hard work of my family, I might still be in prison for false charges and the truth about what happened on the Danziger Bridge might have never been known," said Lance Madison.

"These defendants will be facing very, very long sentences," said legal analyst Dane Ciolino. It was a far cry from three years ago when the officers involved in the shooting were given a hero's sendoff when they surrendered on state charges in the same case.

Note that it took federal intervention to bring these guys to justice and that no matter what sentences are handed down it won't bring the dead back.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

100 year old canned food can be eaten safely. "Among the canned food items retrieved from the Bertrand in 1968 were brandied peaches, oysters, plum tomatoes, honey, and mixed vegetables. In 1974, chemists at the National Food Processors Association (NFPA) analyzed the products for bacterial contamination and nutrient value. Although the food had lost its fresh smell and appearance, the NFPA chemists detected no microbial growth and determined that the foods were as safe to eat as they had been when canned more than 100 years earlier. The nutrient values varied depending upon the product and nutrient. NFPA chemists Janet Dudek and Edgar Elkins report that significant amounts of vitamins C and A were lost. But protein levels remained high, and all calcium values 'were comparable to today's products.'"

Hormel Foods also has some information on the storage of their products.

To Comment on this article
(If that link doesn't work for you try sending your comments to me, please put "Blog" in the subject line, thanks, Dave.)
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Working the Border

I'm reading a book I bought at Costco which outlines the life's work of Texas Ranger Doyle Holdridge who worked Texas's unsecured southern border, in various law enforcement capacities, for nearly four decades.

The book is a series of short stories (reports actually) each encompassing a criminal case Doyle worked. They are fascinating, easy to read and informative! In many of the cases I see lessons for preppers and survivalists that could arm them with knowledge that could help them survive in a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) or WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) situation. Here are a few:

Lessons learned from a Backpacking Poacher
In the tale of the "Backpacking Poacher" Doyle recounts how a locally famous deer poacher would have an accomplice drop him off at night near a ranch known to have bucks with big racks (antlers) and hunt for several days. This tactic insured no one would find his vehicle *** and know the poacher was operating in the area.

Carrying only food, water, sleeping bag and a rifle the poacher would "cold camp" (no campfire) returning to a predetermined spot to be picked up with his ill gotten gains at a prearranged time. Never caught, he was a ghost coming and going without a trace.

Doyle doesn't say if the poacher wore camouflage clothing, but it would have helped him elude detection not withstanding that stillness is great camouflage too.

If you need to move across contested ground to or from your Bug Out Location the poacher's lesson has something to teach you.
- - - - - - - - - - -

Tommy's (El Cheapo) Burglar Alarm for Light Sleepers

A guy named Tommy who lived along one of Doyle's beats had a simple, but very effective homemade burglar alarm consisting of a microphone in his rural gas station with a wire running to a speaker in his nearby home. Dishonest travelers thinking to make an easy late night score on a closed gas station soon found themselves staring down the barrel of a 12 gauge shotgun.

Probably only good for inside buildings, the microphone/speaker setup can guard several nearby locations at once if each mike is attached to a different speaker.

One of the advantages of this setup is that the intruder doesn't know he's alerted the owner(s) and may more easily be taken by surprise.

One disadvantage (aside from heavy sleepers) is that the system is constantly "on" and transmitting thus using power which could be a problem if the electricity is out.
- - - - - - - - - - -

While working the Texas Governor's security detail Ranger Holdridge learned, via several personal experiences, that anti-gun governor Ann Richards was a Bitch. I could have told him that.
- - - - - - - - - - -

(If At First You Don't Secede this next tale takes a bit of enplaning to get all the groups involved (or not) identified. The original "Republic of Texas" (1836 to 1846) had nothing to do with these modern day whackos other than that the idiots appropriated the name. Three groups all claim or claimed to be the "The Republic of Texas" but couldn't get along even with each other hence the three splinter groups of stooges. There is also a "The Republic of Texas" ROT biker rally held every year which may/may not have anything to do with any of the aforementioned groups. To from your own "Republic of Texas" please form a line on the right.)

Lessons learned from a Bunch of Idiots
In 1997 one of these groups of idiots who'd organized themselves into outfits they called "The Republic of Texas" (not to be confused with the original Republic of Texas) kidnapped two people attracting the attention of law enforcement:
Another incident occurred in Fort Davis, Texas a year later in March 1997 when a faction of the self-styled "Republic of Texas" militia group seized hostages. The Republic of Texas group believed that the annexation of Texas as a state in 1845 was illegal, that Texas should remain an independent nation, and that the legitimate government of Texas was the group's leadership.[12] Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe were taken at gunpoint in retaliation for the arrest of member Robert J. Scheidt, who had been arrested on weapons charges. Leader Richard McLaren then declared that the group was in a state of war with the federal government.[13] The property was then surrounded by the entire Jeff Davis County sheriff's department, state troopers, Texas Rangers, and agents of the FBI.[12] McLaren's wife, Evelyn, convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week-long standoff. The McLarens and four other Republic of Texas members were sent to prison.[13]

Ranger Holdridge was one of the Texas Rangers sent to quell the "rebellion" by the half dozen or so rebels. Using standard police procedures the assembled Law Enforcement Officers (LEO's) negotiated with the splinter group until the hostages were released and all but two of the kidnappers surrendered. The remaining two took to the hills and the chase was on.

One rebel took a stand on a mountainside shooting it out with a police helicopter and dozens of LEO's in a deadly firefight which he lost.

The second runner escaped temporarily; hiding out with other militia groups who found him too crazy even for them and was captured as he was being kicked (literally) out of a car that was supposed to be taking him to a new safe house. He's got about 90 years left to serve on his sentence.

The first lesson to be learned from all of this is that when local law enforcement outnumbers your group by hundreds to one committing major felonies and then publicly proclaiming your position (both ideologically and geographically) is not a good group survival tactic.

Secondly, it would have been helpful (to the two runners) if they'd done their bugging out in the middle of the night so as to reduce the chances of being seen and chased.

Thirdly, once again stillness helped a person elude dozens of pursuers on the ground and in the air.

Fourth, when many of the people chasing you think you're dead and have given up searching for you; don't call a newspaper reporter to remove all doubt about your breathing rate and promise revenge.

And the last lesson to be learned from these idiots: as far as I could ascertain all of the members of the "Republic of Texas" group that were involved in the hostage stunt went to prison. So the third thing we can learn from this is don't hang out with people who advocate breaking the law, and especially don't hang out with people who are committing felonies!

Also, a midnight break-in at the supermarket because Herald Camping has convinced you that tomorrow is "TEOTWAWKI Tuesday" will likely land you in jail which is definitely not where you want to be if it turns out you were a week early.

Reading this report, JRG wrote to say:

"One of my acquaintances occasionally trespasses on large ranches to go arrowhead hunting. What he does is park adjacent to a construction road crew, then cross the road and fence on the other side. The road crew figures it’s the rancher, the rancher thinks the vehicle belongs to someone on road crew, no one suspects a thing."

Thanks JRG!

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Lessons learned from a Sporting Goods Store Burglary
Responding with a friend to an alarm at the friend's store they and the cops quickly determined the perpetrator had fled the scene. Too quickly as it turned out because as Doyle looked behind a hot water cooler in the back of the store he found himself nose to nose with the burglar.

I'll quote Ranger Holdridge for the lesson on this one: "A man needs to stay on his toes all the time." In a situation like that you "Never let your guard down. You just never know what's going to happen."

To Comment on this article
(If that link doesn't work for you try sending your comments to me, please put "Blog" in the subject line, thanks, Dave.)
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.

Saturday, September 10, 2011


Your home is your castle right? This precept of English Common Law came over on the Mayflower and is firmly ensconced in American Jurisprudence. But would it have any relevance in the aftermath of TEOTWAWKI?

Let's face it, the lack of law and order is an integral part of the definition of The End Of The World As We Know It).

In modern America we depend upon the police to defend our homes. You don't see high walls topped with broken glass and barbed wire surrounding inner courtyards in your neighborhood. There are no heavy wood or metal gates barring access to your front door.

Esthetics and cost, not strength and armor plating, likely played a major part in the selection of your front door. So how would your castle fare in the absence of law and order?

Got moat?

Castles in the Middle Ages had loopholes and cleared fields of fire.

Thanks to the greed and avarice of the developer that built your home (or maybe your unwillingness to pay a king's ransom for a five acre spread) there's probably a gap of just a few feet between your castle and the castle next door. Local zoning laws likely determined the limits of your castle's field of fire long before you bought the place.

More to the point, because your castle lacks projecting towers at the corners, once an attacker gets up against the wall of your house it's next to impossible to dislodge him without sticking your own neck (or arm) out a window to get a clear shot at him. If the attacker's accomplice is covering the windows of your wall dislodging the wall hanger becomes dangerous indeed.

Then there's the minor little problem of simultaneous attacks from several sides. How's the modern castle dweller to cope when there are barbarians at the gate in a post TEOTWAWKI world?

First off, keep in mind that the attack will likely develop from a foraging foray by a lone looter or small gang of looters rather than a planned raid by a SWAT team or combat infantry squad.

A looter looking for food, medicine and other valuables will likely stumble upon your stay at home Bug-In-Location by chance. Greed being what it is he probably won't call to his comrades until he's checked things out (and stuffed his pockets) for himself.

He'll consider a locked door a signal that treasure awaits inside. Yet leaving your front door open merely invites surprise attack. You want it plain that the front door is unlocked but not gotten through without a bit of (noisy) effort.

I say "front door" because looters going through a neighborhood will most likely take the route of least resistance. Scaling back alley walls or climbing fences between yards takes a lot more effort than walking up the street checking/kicking in front doors.

Let's do a little channeling. No, I don't mean attempting to contact your long dead great-great-grandmother. In the days when castles were more than tourist attractions castle builders went to great lengths to channel attackers into what we today would call kill zones via exterior constructions called barbicans.

"The Barbican passage contained Murder Holes in the ceiling and arrow slits on either side of the barbican passage. The barbican is also referred to as the Death Trap."

You can build your own interior barbican with little or no effort. In fact you probably already have one. It's called the foyer or vestibule.

If you already have burglar bars on all the windows (you should) and security gates on the side & back door(s) you've likely done a lot more channeling than most of your neighbors.

Now for the barbican.

Remember we're talking about the end of the world as we know it when your life and your family's lives are on the line, not some WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) interlude after a tornado, hurricane or earthquake when law and order will soon be restored because in some jurisdictions under some conditions this could be considered luring the looter.

If your front door is partially open held loosely in place only by one of those stupid chain door guards you've got your noise maker in place. Simply throw a box of books, an easy chair or some other heavy object directly behind the door on the hinge side so that whoever shoulders past the chain guard will find himself further delayed by the door not opening fully.

Filling the foyer or hallway with fluffy stuff (large and medium empty corrugated cardboard boxes, metal buckets, five gallon paint pails, floor and table lamps with shades anything that forces the intruder to pick and choose his steps will further delay him while whoever is on guard takes aim from the other end of the hallway.

Challenge or shoot!
At this point whether you challenge or shoot the intruder will depend on you and your situation. Obviously in a WTSHTF situation you'd want to avoid bloodshed if at all possible. After Armageddon you might have no choice.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Many people who've only recently begun thinking about how they will get along if the support system we call infrastructure (electricity, water, natural gas, gasoline and communications) ceases to function for a little while (tornado, hurricane, earthquake, etc.) often think in terms of flashlights, spare batteries and cooking on the BBQ for a day or two.

For longer term solutions (and not having to worry about dead batteries & empty bags of briquettes) I suggest solar powered yard lights and solar ovens either (hand made or purchased.

To Comment on this article
(If that link doesn't work for you try sending your comments to me, please put "Blog" in the subject line, thanks, Dave.)
Unless you specifically ask me not to, I'll post your reply here in the blog so everyone can read it. Of course I'll remove your name, email address and any other specific information for privacy purposes.