So here I am in North Florida right now, battening down the hatches as Tropical Storm Fay makes her approach. According to the Weather Service predictions, the small community where I am is right in Fay’s crosshairs. They’re speculating that she might have achieved Hurricane status by the time she arrives.
Most folks are preparing as usual. The last of these storms that hit this part of the state was more of an adventure than a disaster for me and those I hang with. Generators, food, chainsaws et al were in place and ready to go. They are this time, too.
Some folks overlook less common preparations until it’s too late. Have extra cash and keep it on your person. I like it folded into secure ZipLoc bags in a money belt. When power goes out, so do credit card machines, and many of today’s generation of moneychangers don’t seem to know how to process a charge card other than electronically. Stock up on bleach. Yes, it can be used to purify water in a pinch (retch!) but mainly, there are cleanup issues. Floods tend to accompany hurricanes, and floods float sewage everywhere. Friends who were in New Orleans for weeks after Katrina reported sometimes being chest-high in water that was brown with feces. Bleach is a most effective field decontaminant. Stock up on pre-moistened towelettes, a.k.a. “baby wipes.” They’ll seem worth their weight in gold when the water stops running.
My corner of the Backwoods Home bailiwick is the gun room. When emergency services are stretched to the breaking point by natural disaster, the Bad Guys know they are more likely to be able to literally get away with murder. Ask Miamians about the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, or New Orleans survivors about what happened after Katrina. In such situations, I would be keeping a semiautomatic .223 carbine close to hand at all times. Where I’m posting from right now, that sort of thing is low on my list of concerns. In time of disaster, the back-country folks here come out in force, but to help others, not to plunder.
Greater concerns are suddenly-homeless dogs that go desperately feral…large livestock maddened by terror sufficiently to attack humans after escaping from blown-down fencing…and, here, venomous water moccasins that get very temperamental when flood waters move them unwillingly from their swamp to your front yard.
Every piece of equipment you deploy is going to face a ruinous hostile weather environment. My fancier sporting guns with their deep blue finishes and Circassian walnut stocks will stay in their (dessicant-filled) gun safes. On my hip will be a Glock 31 pistol with polymer frame and Tenifer finish. The cops who worked Katrina told me that the Glocks were the only firearms among them that didn’t rust in constant exposure to that environment. It will be in a synthetic holster on a synthetic belt: the septic environment you face in floods will ruin leather, but the pathogenic filth can be wiped off plastic and machine-washed out of heavy duty nylon. The G31 holds 16 .357 SIG cartridges – powerful, likely to penetrate deeply enough into large animals, flat-shooting enough for long shots – and will be backed up with its subcompact 10-shot baby brother in the same caliber, a Glock 33, where my other hand can reach it. The smaller gun will take the 15-shot spare magazine for the larger.
For any serious shooting needs, my “hurricane gun” is an old beater 12-gauge pump shotgun, a Remington 870 traded in by a police department on AR15 rifles. Mechanically perfect on the inside, it has enough pitting on the outside that I no longer worry about what will happen to it in the rain or the muck. One-ounce 12-gauge rifled slugs at about 1400 feet per second should take care of any large, “hard target” that requires emergency shooting.
As they like to say at the police Street Survival© Seminars, it’s about “preparation, not paranoia.” The longer I’m alive, the more experience confirms for me that bad things are most likely to happen to the people least prepared for them.
Mas loads a well-worn Remington pump gun with Remington 12-gauge rifled slugs, with spare shells attached to the stock in a butt cuff. Glock .357 pistol rides in Kydex holster by FIN on nylon mountaineer belt by Jack DeShong.