Storm Shows Americans Are Totally Unprepared: “I have no food, I have no cash, so I’m trying to forage for something”

norcal-storm(Pictured:The aftermath of 2014 California storm)

As the biggest storm in five years took aim at California this week cities across the state distributed sandbags, cancelled school and warned residents to prepare for power outages. And though the storm didn’t really live up to the media hype, some people did take the warnings to heart and made last minute trips to the grocery store to stock up on foodstuffs and other supplies just so they wouldn’t have to go out in the rain.

But not everyone was prepared. One San Francisco resident in particular highlights just how susceptible America is to disasters and what to expect in the event of a widespread emergency.

“I thought we were going to watch tv all day, but now the power’s out,” Beth Ludwig said. Her mom added that the kids had never experienced a power outage before.

Georgia Virgili was one of the hundreds of thousands in the Bay Area who lost most of the conveniences of modern life.

“I didn’t have power,” Virgili said. “I couldn’t get my car out of the garage, I have no food, I have no cash, so I’m trying to forage for something.” (CBS)

The storm that swept California over the last 48 hours wasn’t really that severe. Moreover, the public had nearly three days of advanced warning that it was coming. Yet, even this was apparently not enough to convince people to make even the most basic of preparations.

Mr. Virgili was totally unprepared, as are about 99% of Americans based on recentpreparedness surveys conducted by The Discovery Channel.

 As many as three million Americans now fall into the category dubbed ‘preppers’ – people who are making detailed plans for the end of the world as we know it.

The preppers are an ever-growing group of survivalists who take extreme measures to prepare for a major catastrophic event.

Given the various threats faced by humanity, including scenarios like an economic collapse. a rogue attack targeting our power grid or massive natural disasters, one can only imagine what it will look like should the system as a whole experience a sustained large-scale disaster.

To give you an idea, here are a couple of pictures taken in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Within 72 hours the system began to break down as transportation systems in large metro areas came to a standstill. The only supplies available were being distributed by the National Guard and availability was so thin that FEMA had to place emergency orders for more food. There was no clean water, no gas, and grocery stores had been cleaned out to the point that people resorted to digging through the trash just to find a meal:


Luckily, the emergency was similar to what we saw in California, so it didn’t come as a surprise to government officials, who had already mobilized the National Guard with distribution areas for Meals Ready To Eat and filtered water:


Time and again we see the same story play out during disasters. During winter stormsgrocery store shelves have been cleaned out. After the Haitian earthquake tens of thousands were left without medical aid and armed gangs looted and killed anything they could. And who could forget Hurricane Katrina, where the government failed so miserably with their emergency response that it took them three days just to get clean water to those stuck in the Super Dome.

Now consider what would happen if something like this went on for days or weeks. What about months?

A recently released Congressional report suggests that a worst-case scenario grid downpower outage lasting one year would leave 9 out of 10 Americans dead. This is an extreme example, of course, but certainly a plausible one and it emphasizes just how serious and horrific it will be for those who are not prepared.

That nearly 99% of Americans have made absolutely no plans to insulate themselves from disasters and emergencies is shocking, but to be expected. Most people are under the impression that all of those billions of dollars being spent by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency are for supplies that will be distributed to the general population should disaster strike. The government will help, but their capacity in an extreme emergency will be very limited. Former Secretary of DHS Janet Napolitano has warned that their response teams will likely be overwhelmed and she has recommended that people have at least a two week supply of food and water. But that warning has fallen on deaf ears, as evidenced by the “tragic” stories we hear in the aftermath of disasters on a regular basis.

America as a whole is not prepared.

If the worst happens we can fully expect a complete breakdown of our civilized society within 72 hours. What’s astonishing is that much of what is to come could be prevented if every individual took responsibility for themselves and put together a basic preparedness plan that included some emergency provisions like a 30 day food supply, water reserves,medical supplies and a personal defense plan.

Hattip WhoWuddaThunkIt

Recommended Resources:

The Prepper’s Blueprint: Prepare Yourself For Any Disaster

The Pantry Primer: Build a One Year Food Supply in Three Months

52 Weeks to Preparedness (Free Online Web Series)

Suggested Preparedness Supplies:

Meals Ready To Eat (Full Course Meal, With Flameless Heater)

Mainstay Emergency Drinking Water

Tactical Field Trauma Kit (With Quikclot)

The Prepper's Blueprint

Tess Pennington is the author of The Prepper’s Blueprint, a comprehensive guide that uses real-life scenarios to help you prepare for any disaster. Because a crisis rarely stops with a triggering event the aftermath can spiral, having the capacity to cripple our normal ways of life. The well-rounded, multi-layered approach outlined in the Blueprint helps you make sense of a wide array of preparedness concepts through easily digestible action items and supply lists.

Tess is also the author of the highly rated Prepper’s Cookbook, which helps you to create a plan for stocking, organizing and maintaining a proper emergency food supply and includes over 300 recipes for nutritious, delicious, life-saving meals. 

Visit her web site at for an extensive compilation of free information on preparedness, homesteading, and healthy living.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published December 13th, 2014
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  • wwr

    I save water and fruit jugs and coke bottles for water. I have 50 or 60 coke bottles with water in them and 10+ jugs so I can last a couple of weeks. I have 50 or 60 cans of food waiting for the blackout and most are meat products. Yuppies don’t seem to know meat is better than veggie products for survival and you can survive on a can of corn beef hash a day but you will starve on a can of beans or corn.
    The article does not mention guns and ammo- if you can not defend your food and family then your neighbors will kill you and take them. My plan is to survive on my own for a couple of weeks then become a robber when I run out. iIve been to several survival schools in the military and am well trained for this. I’m a sniper too so your food is my food!

    • Eddie

      What a tool. Armchair commando, more likely. I’ve got preps and plenty of long guns to defend my family from clowns like you. You’d last about a month on your pathetic pantry and then become vulture food if you came anywhere near me and mine. I could reach out and touch you, too, at 600+ yards. I’m one of many with shoot back capability. Good luck with that “plan” of yours, Grasshopper!

      • Caitlin

        Agreed. Most people with the sense to prepare, have also included defense in that plan I’m sure. After his food runs out, he’ll be trying to rob people that weren’t smart enough to prepare and have already eaten what little food they actually had around the house. Good luck finding that 0.25% of the population that A) prepared more that a few days worth of food and B) don’t have a closet full of guns and ammo. It won’t be my house 😉
        wwr’s plan is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard…not to mention selfish as he is 70 years old and actually planning to prey on innocents to extend his selfish life. If you click on his name you can read his other stupid posts and opinions, which is where I saw his age.

  • ssohara

    To me this is just stupidity. I’m not a prepper, but we’ve always had 2-3 weeks worth of food (more if you count bulk grains and seeds) and water and a months’ worth of prescription meds on hand, plus the usual emergency supplies – a first aid kit, toilet paper and sanitary wipes, candles and flashlights, plus extra batteries, firewood and blankets. A fondue pot heated with sterno in case we need to heat something we can’t stick on the grill or the fire. I mean, this to me is just a no-brainer. We’ve had power outages – we just light candles, read books or play Scrabble and go to be early. BFD. If things really hit the fan though and the grid goes down for months, we’d be in trouble. So I guess I’d best do a little more planning to be extra safe. But even when I was a college student, I couldn’t imagine being this lacking in common sense.

  • disqus_3BrONUAJno

    A water distiller will beat all the water one can store, as long as there is a source of heat and water of whatever condition to distill. This is especially true if there is a river or a lake nearby. Just as one can feed a man for a day by giving him a fish, one can provide clean potable water forever by having the means to distill. A mob will not see the sense in stealing a still when they are fixated on bottled water.

  • Eddie

    Poor folk have lived for many generations on rice and beans/legumes. Eaten together, they make a complete protein meal. If we’re talking a few days emergency then several gallons of water and a few dozen MREs, canned food, or backpacker meals will suffice. Beyond that, you’ll be standing in a FEMA/Red Cross line waiting for your food and bottled water unless you’re better prepared.

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