For the longest time I was in denial, but recently my co-worker Eve Vawter helped me come to terms with the awful truth; I am a “Doomsday Prepper.” Well, maybe not so much “doomsday,” but a prepper most definitely.
Before y’all start pulling out your judgey-sticks to beat me with, hear me out. I live in Rockaway Beach (yes, like the Ramones song) which is located on a narrow peninsula between Jamaica Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Technically we are part of New York City, but we’re right on the beach and in some places our little peninsula is only four blocks wide. No, that is not hyperbole, see for yourself:
(Photo: Google Maps)
The neighborhood where I’ve spent more than half my life had a unique topography that makes us vulnerable to the wilder whims of mother nature, which was made abundantly clear when superstorm Sandy flooded us with 12 feet of water last year. It destroyed homes, washed our boardwalk away and covered everything with raw sewage. We went from a beautiful little urban beach town to this:
(Photo: Donald D’Avanzo)
There are tons of misconceptions surrounding the whole “doomsday prepping” phenomenon. This is especially true when you have kids. People either think you’re paranoid and that you’re waiting for the apocalypse to come at any moment, or they think you’re a drama queen with unrealistic fears. This is pure bullshit.
Survivalists refer to an apocalypse-type situation as “the end of the world as you know it” or simply TEOTWAWKI. It’s true that most survivalists consider TEOTWAWKI in their plans, but it’s the same way you would consider the cord breaking if you go bungee jumping. Most preppers don’t base their entire preparation process on it happening because it’s the worst case scenario and you’re not likely to survive it anyway. TEOTWAWKI would be something on par with a zombie outbreak. It’s probably an unrealistic thing to seriously plan for.
Most of us are sane, normal people who are simply preparing for when the “shit hits the fan” or “SHTF.” Storms like superstorm Sandy and hurricane Katrina are good examples of this. The power went out for months, all normal forms of communication were hindered or knocked off-line, thousands of people were homeless and I missed WAY too many episodes of “Grey’s Anatomy”; the shit had most definitely hit the fan. But it was temporary. Our preparedness kept our kids, warm, fed and comfortable until order was restored. Because I doomsday prep like a goddamn BOSS.
I wouldn’t categorize my family as serious preppers, especially after watching the “Doomsday Preppers” reality show. That being said, we DO have an impressive stockpile of emergency goods. We have enough canned goods and clean bottled water to feed an entire U.S. state. A real state too, not a lame state like Rhode Island. Fuck Rhode Island. We also have tons of non-perishable and/or long lasting boxed food, seeds for making an indoor garden if need be and even a stash of pet food. And vodka. Because no natural and/or man-made disaster would be complete without booze.
I have three
dictators children who are picky as hell, so I’ve worked to make sure there is enough kid-friendly food in our pile. This way, if another disaster strikes, the kids won’t go hungry because all we have are refried beans and creamed corn (because creamed corn is the Pinellas County, Florida of canned corns).
Having canned goods is all well and good, but there is nothing worse than eating them cold (cold raviolis are a crime against humanity). This is where a generator comes in (or as my husband calls it the “Genny,” because he likes to test my patience). We have a generator big enough to run most of the house, which is also useful for making sure my oldest child won’t go through Xbox withdrawal and try to sell her little brother for arcade money and a bus ticket to Atlantic City. This is great for keeping the fridge going (so we don’t necessarily have to dip into our reserved food), using my son’s nebulizer, running space heaters/fans for temperature control or any number of other tasks that require electricity.
The average Joe-6-pack has enough food and water to last for three days (or at least that’s the recommendation from the National Weather Center). My family has six months worth of live-saving goodness shoved under our beds and in our closets.
In all seriousness, the longer you can stay self-sufficient, the better. Especially when you have kids. There is this misconception that after a day or two someone will step in and help, whether it’s a charitable organization, FEMA, the Red Cross, etc. But you can’t count on it. Hurricane Katrina is a classic example,and I personally lived it after superstorm Sandy. Yes, there are state or federally run shelters that pop up during national emergencies, but they’re sometimes the worst place to go. Take a moment and Google “Hurricane Katrina Superdome” if you don’t believe me. Those people trusted the FEMA to help them and they got filthy, uncomfortable, sweltering, over-crowded, sewage filled mess in return.