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Year End Disaster Plan: Are You Ready?

You Got to Let Go of Remote Control: The Wake-Up Call is in Your House!

Don't ever doubt the power of just one mind.

Or the world-wide power of just one rhyme.

Don't ever doubt the force of the bassline.

Or a record gone round to burn the house down.

You got to let go of remote control! You got to let go of remote control!

You got to let go of remote control! You got to let go of remote control!

Hey world, you know you got to put up a fight

Hey world, you rumble in the jungle tonight

Hey world, keep bringing it the rest of your life

You got to put up a fight, You got to put up a fight!

- Michael Franti and Spearhead

(Ok, you don't have to or anything, but I'd strongly recommend that you listen to the song while you are reading this blog post - sometimes things just need the soundtrack.  This is one of them - you can see it on youtube actually: and the song is downloadable in various places. We need the sound to go with the ideas here, and who better than Franti?)

Ok, folks, time for our wake up calls!  Today is the end of the year preparedness wrap up.  This is not your normal blog post, this a party, and like all the best parties it has a soundtrack, some singing and dancing, some call and response.  Because this is the year that normal started to go to hell, and we got our wake-up call!  But that doesn't have to be bad news - knowing that we have to be responsible, that our future is in our hands can be empowering too.  Time to let go of the remote control, to let go of all the things we let operate on remote control, and time to take charge of our futures.  We got to put up a fight on this one - we're not going gently into any kind of night.

Who's out there now?  How many of you got your wake up call this year that we can't count on everything working the way it always has? By my count there were 14 states that had a significant portion of their population lose power for more than a day or so: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, New York, Connecticut, New Hampshire (some of y'all are just logging back on), Texas, Indiana, Iowa Minnesota, Michegan, Ohio, Alaska.  I'm probably underestimating the number, too.  Ok, report, who am I missing??  What was it like?  Were you ready - would you have been ready if it lasted longer?

What about the places where a large number of people had to grab their bug out bags and run?  Iowa, right, and Minnesota, Californians from the Wildfires, and Lousianans and Texans from the Hurricanes.  Name your states, folks!  Call out loud!  Did your plan help you?  What will you do next time?

And time to sing out, all those folks who weren't part of any official disaster, but feel like they got hit by an earthquake anyway - you lost your jobs, you lost your homes, you are still sitting in your homes, but what you had ain't worth nothing and you know that all the things you assumed would keep you secure, well, they aren't so solid anymore.  Time to find some small measure of security in all this bad.  What can you do now to insulate yourself from the next little earthquake?

What about the 1 in 5 Americans who ended last winter in debt to their utility companies, struggling to pay for increasingly unaffordable heat, light and power?  One out of every 20 Americans got shut off last year - that's more than five million households who had to live without a major utility! Anyone want to bet that number won't go up?  Can you manage without them?  We've got to get the coal fired electric plants closed down - are you ready to make do with less energy?

And yes this was a rough year for America, but it certainly isn't just America.  Check in, all of you from the 91 countries that the CIA notes had serious shortages of oil, gas or electricity.  What about the victims of floods in Britain, riots in Greece, the Earthquake in China, or any of the other disasters that hit around the world?  Anyone here reading from those places?  Don't stay silent!  Sing out and tell us how you do, how you did, and what you'll do next time.

Ok, so you survived.  How'd it go?  Were you safe, were you strong?  So you made it through - were you ok, were you ready?  What did you learn in your trials this time - what will you change for the next time?

What about those of you who had no trials - do you think you won't ever? Time to practice, because three days without power will teach you more about what you need to get along than all the reading you can do on the internet.

All of us who had our wake-up calls, either because our basic systems failed, or because we saw our neighbors lose theirs - it isn't just enough to shrug and go on - it is time to resolve that next time you'll be ready, you won't be stuck, you won't be powerless, just because you are without grid power.  There isn't any getting off easy in this life, unless you are rich - and most of us will never be that.

Do you have an evacuation plan, a bug out bag, a little cash in reserve and enough gas to get where you need to go?  Do you have a way of finding your loved ones if you have to get out?

Are you set with light, heat, cooking and anything else you need to be secure and comfortable at home in a power outage?  Don't rely solely on a generator - getting gas out of the ground takes power, and widespread enough outage will mean you still need those no-power backup systems.

Are you talking to your neighbors, talking about how to manage systemic problems?  How will you deal with waste, with food, with the elderly and ill in the neighborhood?

Most of all, are you set to take care of yourself and your own needs, maybe to help others, or are you likely to rely on safety nets?  There's no shame in relying on a safety if you really need it - but I think there is some shame in making use of a safety net you could have avoided requiring.  The safety nets are most likely to catch those who need it if those of us who can take care of ourselves as much as possible.

It is so easy to live in the world and trust that the systems will keep you going on remote control, that it is enough to do nothing, or maybe to do a little.  But if you haven't had your wakeup call, it is coming.  We have no choice but to let go of the remote control, to take responsibility for ourselves and our future.

What will you do this year to be more prepared? Remember, there's no getting out of it - we've all got to put up a fight, because no one is going to make it easy for us.