Prepping for a Suburban or Rural Community by Michael Mabee is an essential instruction book for any prepper’s library. The best thing this book does is get you thinking about more than just yourself and your own family. It’s a pretty quick read. It only took me a couple days to read, but there’s a lot of information packed in here.
One of the things a lot of folks forget is that there are almost 320,000,000 other people in the United States alone. There’s not going to be any such thing as going “lone wolf” in a major disaster. Our population density alone means that our neighbors are going to be in this situation with us. Even if you feel that the “didn’t get it” folks should be left to their own devices in an emergency, what they do (or don’t do – like sanitation) is going to affect you. If they aren’t prepared for even the idea of food rationing, what’s to stop them from mobbing a supply truck, for example, or if there’s no plan to handle waste your drinking water could become contaminated. So isn’t it in your best interests to have everyone on the same page? Plus, there’s the sheer human-ness of helping each other. It’d take a complete sociopath to not care what happens to your neighbors and fellow townspeople – especially the most vulnerable of our elderly and our youth. I like that this book is put together with everyone coming together as a team to face a disaster together.
Mabee has really put a lot of thought into this book. He highlights a path for creating a Civil Defense group that would be ready to handle emergencies such as hurricanes (our town could have used a faster, local emergency response to Hurricane Sandy, for example) all the way up to an EMP blowing out the grid. The structures and plans he details are very well thought out and make practical sense. He first makes a rational, reasoned case as to why towns should prep, and then proceeds to lay out a blueprint for an organization that would provide support for most disasters.
Where to start
After a disaster is the worst time for a community to start planning for an emergency. It will be difficult, if not impossible, to get supplies in quickly, especially if the disaster is regional or larger. Reactive communities are communities that don’t survive long or well. Proactive communities will have a much better chance of getting through the nastiest of disasters than those who never thought about emergency preparedness or continuity of government.
Breaking down the different issues a town would face, Mabee addresses each subject in turn. Water, sanitation, communications, etc. are all given in depth coverage. He even devotes considerable time to a security force and, in my opinion, the way it’s laid out in the book would make it much harder for such a group to become a dictatorship during a major emergency.
One of the things he covers that I absolutely LOVE is elections – continuing the democratic process as much as is possible. That’s one of the things that I think is often overlooked in books on preparedness, or in disaster flicks or prepper fics. Keeping our democracy alive is as important as keeping our people alive.
Included in the book is a whole chapter with sample bylaws and such for a Civil Defense organization, as well as a suggested structure for organizing people into a chain of command. This really is a step-by-step manual for creating such a group, at least from the practical how-to portion.
But who’ll do the work?
One of the concerns I did have with this book is that it’s a little high-level and doesn’t address the human factor. Our country’s social structure is changing and getting organizations off the ground is hard. Not impossible, mind, but hard. Social clubs, churches and religious organizations, and activity committees are having trouble retaining members or finding new ones. I’m a member of our local Lions Club and Women of the Moose, and I volunteered with our Chamber of Commerce and several other local event committees that interfaced with our Mayor and Town Council. At almost 40 years old I was the youngest person in the Lions and WOTM. For the Chamber I was about middle of the road, but most of those folks were business owners or representatives of local businesses. For the town events I wasn’t the youngest, but there weren’t many younger than I.
To add to the greying of the volunteer base, the internal politics were, ahem, startling to me when I first saw them. I mean, the politicking in the Pagan community can be a bit much at times, but that was amateur hour when contrasted with the question of what kind of benches were going to be placed downtown by the Beautification Committee or where should the giveaways for the Golf Tournament come from.
It was, again much like my experience in the Pagan community, also very sad to see that 90% of the work was done by 10% of the people (and to be fair, part of that is because the same 10% have been stuck doing it for so long that when someone tries to come in to help, the 10% feels protective and “that’s not how I do it” if someone wants to make changes).
Getting people to get the work done on something like a beloved Parade was hard enough – I am not sure how you’d get the people to work on prepping. They’d have to admit that they’re very concerned by what many see as vague, uncertain future disasters (though if you’re reading this, you’re probably as concerned as I am about some of the not-so-vague things going on!) and then actually get their community energized and mobilized, and then have to convince the town and its residents to spend the money to prepare! That’s a tall order and I wish there’d been some advice on how to handle the push-back and other issues surrounding bringing up the subject, and how to motivate people to prepare.
There’s no I in team, but there is in “personal responsibility”
Mabee doesn’t shrink from advising individuals to prepare, too. The idea of the community preparing doesn’t exempt his readers from doing their own work of being prepared. He devotes a whole chapter to individual prepping. He points out how the whole community will be better off if each family prepares. Even if they only have the 72-hour kits that FEMA and the Red Cross suggest, they’d still be more ready than most Americans. Having your own food and supplies for 72 hours allows time for your local government to start implementing emergency procedures, for supplies to come from outside the area (assuming that the disaster is localized) and for other help to come. The book includes several useful checklists for people new to the idea of prepping that will get them started, and may make even the more seasoned prepper think about what items they have stashed away.
To Sum Up
All that said, this book is a huge resource for any community. I’m actually thinking of buying several copies and sending them to my town’s Mayor, police chief, fire chief, Chamber of Commerce, and the presidents of the Lions, American Legion, and Moose. It’s certainly thought-provoking and has a ton of great information. I’m glad I reread it. This book has earned a spot on my “must read” list and I highly recommend it.
What about your town? Do you think it’s prepared to handle a major emergency?