Fact: Your Chances of Surviving a Post-Collapse Urban Environment are Slim

Simply put, urban survival will be quite a bit different from survival in a remote wilderness area or even a sparsely-populated suburban area.  Let’s game some options, remembering that these options are general.  These actions aren’t specific to the type of breakdown of society (external by an attack from a foreign nation, or internal from economic collapse, for examples).

So, we have our collapse.  Let us “X” out a nuclear war/nuclear terrorist attack, as we can deal with all the other scenarios in variables without radiation to contend with.  Let’s identify the largest challenges faced for that high-rise apartment resident in Manhattan, or the family in the brownstone on the South side of Chicago.  First, let’s game the scenario:

After “The Day,” the city was almost completely without power.  You and your wife and two children were not able to leave town.  All mass transit was halted or discontinued.  It has been three days, and your family has been listening to static on the radio for the most part, with “campy” pre-recorded disaster broadcasts that have not been helpful or informative.  One of your neighbors left this morning after saying goodbye: he and his family had a boat, and they were heading out of the harbor, hoping to use one of the major rivers to make an escape.

They didn’t have room to take you or yours, but you wanted to stay put and not follow your neighbor’s idea: that there were plenty of boats whose owners were not going to use them…probably dead following the rioting and civil breakdown.  You’re beginning to think you should have listened to him.  Now you can hear angry voices outside, and you go to the window.  A mob has gathered at the top of your street!  They’re armed with rifles, bats, axes, machetes…and there are about 500 of them.  As you watch, they’re making a move toward the first house on the opposite side of the street.  Your house is less than half a block away.  There are no more cops, no more laws, no more order, and no help will be coming…on The Day After Doomsday.

Sounds pretty bleak, huh?  That’s because it is unless you keep a cool head about you and stay in focus.  Here are your primary tasks, and in this order:

  1. Defense: without a clear plan and the means to execute that plan, you’re going to have problems.
  2. Secure Domicile: in itself a part of the defense, as if you live in an easily-entered structure, you’re going to need to fortify it and have a security system and a guard/lookout schedule.
  3. Food and Water: always critical.  We touched on some of this in the last segment with water.  You should have at least a one-year supply for each member of your family of nonperishable food.
  4. Medical supplies and equipment: This entails the ability to perform first aid, to perform long-term supportive measures, and both short and long-term definitive care for special needs members of the family.
  5. Cohesion: your family needs to function akin to a well-oiled machine, as best it can.  Faith will be a key element: in God, in one another, and in what you are doing.  The inner discipline for each family member and for the group as a whole are key to enabling success for you and ensuring your survival.

Now let’s talk about what you’ll be facing, keeping in mind we already did not specify what type of disaster caused the end of it all.  A nuclear war will have radiation and probably foreign invaders at some point.  An asteroid impact will have traumatic weather catastrophes and cataclysmic effects all over.  What we are focusing on here is a city that is (for all intents and purposes) physically “intact” but is no longer functioning…its infrastructure is crippled, the social order is defunct, and chaos is the word for the day.  What are you facing?  Here are some of the challenges:

  1. Complete lack of food outside of your supplies: akin to a swarm of locusts, people will descend upon the grocery stores, convenience stores, dollar and discount stores, and big box stores…until the stores are no more…looting everything and anything they can grab.  Happened in New Orleans, I’m here to tell you…and it’ll happen again.  Dogs, cats, birds, and anything else that crawls, walks, flies, or runs…will be eaten.  All of this within the first week to two weeks.
  2. Cannibalism: when the disaster strikes, there will be a lot of people who will actively hunt other humans for food.  For those smiling naysayers, you may wish to read about the Donner Party, the Andes aircraft crash, and numerous other accounts of such things.  You can take it to the bank that it will happen again…and the “Drive By” also becomes the “Drive Thru.”
  3. Disease: it is a well-known fact that dead bodies, poor sanitary conditions, and lack of clean running water and working sewers will all contribute to diseases.  Typhus, E. coli, and plague will all return…diseases that are not a threat will quickly become out of control after the SHTF.
  4. Bad Guys:  Lots and lots of bad guys (and gals, not to leave you out of the loop!) doing really bad things and trying to do more bad…to you and yours.  We’re going to do a piece just on this, so I’m not going to burn out all my fire at once.  Suffice to say there will be gangs and small packs of “opportunistic entrepreneurs” out roaming the streets of your town…and they’re not looking to sell you on “Amway.”  They’ll take what they can…including your life.

So, what to do?  Well, here’s the first step to defeating all these factors:

Have a plan, and work that plan until it takes effect, and get out of town!

You’ll need to train, game out the scenarios, and work on your preps if you must hunker down.  The best thing to do is get out of the city or town.  In a high-rise apartment building, you’re going to be very limited in what you can take out of there effectively if the vehicles are not working and the electricity is out.  It’s hard to carry hundreds of pounds of gear and supplies down a dark staircase fifty stories and then escape a city in ruins or turmoil.  The odds are against it.  The key is to have a place…a safe place with supplies that you can reach…and when the time is right, get out of that city.

It will be important to form teams, within your own family, and potentially including others who live near you of a like mind.  Here’s a rule to follow:

No “free rides,” any allies outside of the family must have their own supplies and be self-sustaining to be a legitimate ally.

You must trust them implicitly: A real trust, not the BS handshaking of men and the hugging of women once a week at a card party or barbeque.  No, a real trust based on knowing them well, and for as long a time as possible.  You don’t want to undertake an endeavor, and then end up at the rendezvous point, and having them kill you and take your supplies.  Gasp!  Ohh!  Perish the thought, right?

Wrong: Know that human nature means in a disaster a “switch” can be flipped at any time and those you thought were your allies are now attackers.

You’re going to have to get together with your family and the other family or two who are on your “team” and figure a way to exfiltrate out of the city with as many supplies as you can carry.  Most of the gangs will be looking for easy pickings, therefore if you present a unified defensive posture…everyone knowing their functions and carrying their weapons and moving as a unit…this will dissuade them.  Wolves usually prey on the young, the weak, the old, and the sick first.  Men are no different.  They would prefer a bunch of fatsos sitting around in their living room with their supplies than a group of families that has their “S” together and can defend themselves.

This is not to give you false bravado.  There are skills you need, happy family, to be able to make it through.  I hope one of your family members is a veteran.  If not, seek one out and pick up some training.

“Thank you for your service,” is the BS line that everyone uses on you when they haven’t served…it makes them feel good when they say it to you…as if they have checked the “patriotic block” on a form.

You’ll really thank a vet if you’re trained by one.  How about this for an idea?  If there’s not one in your family or on your “team,” then find one…and pay the veteran to train you.  I can see the frowns now.  Nobody likes to open that wallet.  I guess you’ll have to weigh what is more valuable to you and determine where your priorities lie.

Thank the veteran with more than lip service in this instance, and learn valuable skills that you could have picked up if you had served.  You will need some combat skills, such as how to work as a fire team, how to clear a room, and communication between members, be that vocally or with hand-and-arm signals.  In the end, it will be up to you, and you will only receive in proportion to what you extend of yourself.

You’ll need to practice and drill getting out of your locale.  You’ll also be wise to equip your team (your family and another family working with you) with Motorola’s and stick them in Faraday cages until it’s time to move out.  There is still time to game and implement this thing; however, the more quickly you move on it the smoother you can make it for yourself and others.  The time to be prepared is yesterday, and the disaster can come tomorrow.  Let us know your thoughts and any suggestions you have, and stay in that good fight!  JJ out!


Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.

Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.

Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published October 19th, 2017
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21 Responses to Fact: Your Chances of Surviving a Post-Collapse Urban Environment are Slim

  1. Infowarrior & Lover of God says:

    Thanks for this information. The only thing you left out is money. The economy is in the pit, the pay scale is low even for skilled workers, some can’t even find one job, many of us are unemployable for many reasons and the sum bag shit eaters that own gun shops and so called survival catalogs will turn themselves into gougers with prices already going through the roof for freeze dried food, guns, ammo and other supplies. Now you would think that gun shops would just give their stock of ammo to those who belong to a militia or to neighborhood watch groups to protect our communities and them as well, but do you think that the dirty greed scum bags would?
    There are many fine articles written about this subject but the reality is far from your planned execution of defense.

  2. Emmet Smith says:

    Another good article by J. Johnson.

    If for some reason you are possessed to wait it out in an urban environment, here’s a couple of ideas:

    1) Rent a cheap warehouse space in a run-down area of town. Break up the floor and bury a 100 square foot plastic cistern packed with supplies and water. Cap the hole with concrete with a hidden entrance. Small ATV with trailer and gas. Cost for shelter: $15K + monthly rental.

    2) If in suburbia, start installing a pool. Get half way done, then tell the neighbors the city planning commissar has nixed your application with new regulations. At night drop in a large plastic water cistern in the hole and cover with some dirt. Use shrubbery to hide the entrance. Fill the rest of the hole the next day and plant sod. The neighbors will be unaware of your plan and their envy satisfied that you never got to have your status symbol, which they don’t have. Cost again would be around $15K.

  3. A Arizonian says:

    It’s happening in Venezuela right now!

  4. A Arizonian says:

    You just got instruction from a Vet for free, the wise will inform others to sign up for the same sound information!

  5. A.k. Steele says:

    Read ‘Stacy’s Quest’ for what life will be like for those left behind.

  6. Tecumseh1768 says:

    If by “veteran” you mean someone from the special forces then ok, they can teach you something. The vast majority of veterans were trained to follow orders and would not last long without the supply lines and overwhelming firepower provided by we the taxpayers. Check their 214 as there are many self proclaimed “operators” these days.

  7. JohnZ says:

    Well, I’m glad I live Up North, that is in Northern Michigan. I live in a small town of less than 1000 people and everybody knows everybody else. Most are really decent people, even my insurance agent and my mechanic. We do have some problems even in little towns such as the one I live in: drug addiction and the like. Last year, there was a series of break-ins, where guns, ammo, computers and stereo equipment were stolen, unfortunately by a vet. Why he did this I don’t know, had full military disability. Someone explain that to me…
    That is about the extent of crime up here. Everybody has guns. Every body who does so hunts.
    Lots of game up here. Deer, turkey, water fowl, small game. When the SHTF and those now trapped inside the urban hell holes cannot escape, there will be plenty to go around up here. Not to mention that unused acreage that can be converted into massive garden plots for food. There will be no reason for anyone to starve up here,while those caught in the urban and suburban areas will be facing starvation.
    BTW I have quite a bit of long term food storage, ammo and even a BOB if needed.
    What I need now is a decent water purifier…..the river is less than 100 feet away.LOL!
    MY brother thinks I’m daft for buying emergency food and getting involved in prepping but when the U.S. economy fails and it will, and the stores are empty and he can no longer buy his meals in frozen form, then maybe he will realize the truth.
    It won’t take a nuclear weapon, an asteroid strike or earth quake to create this kind of chaos.
    It will be the result of a corrupt government and bankrupt nation, one that has borrowed and spent itself into oblivion with endless wars, out of control military spending, endless welfare programs, endless subsidies and massive bureaucracy that is endangering America’s future.
    The Federal Reserve, owned and controlled by the Rothchild Kazarian mafia is bleeding America to death as it has done so to every nation in Europe. IT has been the goal of the Fed ever since its creation. IT has created the debt and the means by which it now has COMPLETE control of the government in Washington. It is the reason why America has been involved in so many needless and unending military actions around the world; not for peace, freedom or democracy but for the RKM to rule over the planet and make debt slaves of all of us.
    This is how America will fail: enslaved to the massive debt it has accrued over the century since the creation of the Fed in 1913 and soon, very soon, those chickens will come home to roost. Even now the signs are all too plain for those who wish to see them. Massive store closing, car dealerships with large inventories, home sales in decline or not even worth mentioning. Malls shuttering. Big retail chains like Sears/K Mart now ready to fold. Many other now in bankruptcy and closing stores. The truth is this: Since the beginning of 2107, the number of store closings compared to last year was equaled by June, which means if the current trend continues, the number of store closings will be twice that of 2016.
    It won’t be any invading army the American people will have to face. It will be ourselves. The American people are largely to blame for allowing this to happen. They voted for and put the worst of the worst into office. They confuse patriotism with blind obedience. They remain largely ignorant of the truth, instead choosing entertainment in the form of televised sports, that have become nothing more than a militarized event; stupid programs that display talentless people. Cop shows that are far from the truth. Lies told by the CMMM /controlled mass mainstream media. The people demanded and got largess from the government and at that point the destruction of the Republic was guaranteed.
    The government with its endless lies, deceit and propaganda have led the American people and possibly the rest of the world to the brink.
    Those in Washington can and should no longer be trusted. Nor their mouthpieces, the media whores and presstitutes who spew nothing but lies and propaganda and distraction.
    The deep state rules America.
    The truth is a stranger in America.
    “The further a nation strays from the truth, the more it will attack those who try to tell it the truth.” George Orwell.
    The rule of law no longer exists in Washington, only the rule of men and men are easily corrupted.
    Be prepared, stay safe and become informed of the truth.
    One of the few websites I trust implicitly is Veterans Today, whose senior editor is Gordon Duff, a Marine Viet Nam veteran and with so many former military, intelligence and law professionals on its staff, many of them who reside around the world and are capable of uncovering the truth. Veterans Today was created by people such as the late Col. David Hackworth and Capt. Eric May.
    Veterans Today – Military Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal – VA – Veterans Administration

  8. Texas Chris says:

    They’re literally dumpster diving in Venezuela as I type… They’ve eaten all the dogs, cats, and zoo animals.

    • XRGRSF says:

      I don’t know where you’re getting your info other than the American Ministry of Propaganda. My best friend of 40 years wife is Venezuelan, and in near constant contact with her family. According to them it isn’t that way at all. There’s enough food, medical care is readily available, and the system is working. There are spot shortages, but Venezuela is not collapsing in spite of US sanctions, and propaganda.

  9. XRGRSF says:

    I’m former SF with a Ranger tab, and 3 tours in ‘Nam followed by 2 years in the Rhodesian Light Infantry. That left me a bit beat up, but a good judge of people’s capabilities. IMHO, there is very little trainable human material left in the US. If someone hasn’t been trained by professionals, such as the military, they aren’t going to pick it up on the weekend in a period of a few months. Those who have been trained can refine their skills, and stay sharp by training on the occasional weekend, but those who haven’t been trained can only be familiarized. I suppose that’s better than nothing.

    The only effective way to train is to do several weekend sessions followed by periodic 2 week “deployments”. It’s also best to work against other teams (aggressors). That just covers the tactical part of the program. After the tactical program there’s the survival part. Even so called “dedicated preppers” will seldom invest their time, and effort into a endeavor this intensive.

    There are a ton of books written on this subject, and plenty of instructors ready to take your money, but reality is that if you don’t already have “it” you aren’t going to get “it” overnight. If you want “it” you have to really want “it” bad, and you have to work for “it”. Otherwise, just lay in food, water, essentials, and defensive weapons. Familiarize yourself with their use, and remember the power of prayer.

    I’m old so I hope this hurries up, and happens while I’m still able to participate.

    • samw says:

      Just remember there are two ways to fight, The Art of War (attack the weaknesses avoid the strengths ) and The Continental Line (force against force ). The Art of War says numbers alone do not assure victory.

  10. samw says:

    Will the FOP be a cohesive well armed gang?
    I by far prefer hand signals over radio if you practice enough, silence is golden in the woods. Wether game or enemy talking is dangerous. I know whisper microphones.

  11. samw says:

    So instead of two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner. Democracy is the mob deciding who’s for dinner.

  12. samw says:

    I am thinking that people are pack organized unless they have rules like our Constitution the further we stray from it the more savage we become. For me I will defend the Constitution from enemies foreign and domestic. Those that don’t WTSHF……

  13. Craig Escaped Detroit says:

    When the real “SHTF” (I’m thinking “grid down”) in any particular region, city, etc… this (grid down) is what is likely to 100% destroy the entire suburb or city from fires that will not be able to be stopped because the city water pumping system will be down and that means the FIRE HYDRANTS will not be working.
    And don’t forget, that all the sewer systems will be down (pumps not working), and so every toilet will stop, every basement will become a SEPTIC TANK. The houses will be toxic from sewage and mold. ALL your basement preps will be floating-submerged in crap.

    So even if a fire-crew actually showed up, there would be no water.
    A single fire on any street, would jump from house to house until the entire city was gone. NO way to survive if you stay.
    He who panics first, panics best.

    When the GRID goes down, it’s time to get OUT right now. Don’t wait for the fires to start. Be prepared (mentally & physically) for YOUR house to eventually burn down.

    Having a car/truck/ or small trailer, PRE packed as a “BUG OUT TRAILER”, etc. parked in the corner of your garage..is a wise move.
    I don’t think anybody has to evacuate every time the power goes out, that would be silly.
    But you gotta get out before the mass exodus begins and the roads get jammed.

    • Jeremiah Johnson says:

      Dear Craig,

      Spot on, Sir: Excellent advice. Especially the municipal sewer systems. What I experienced firsthand in New Orleans…people wading out into the submerged streets when they subsided enough to do so…and then suffering terrible infections because of the sewage and contaminants.

      Biggest thing is to act decisively at the right moment. Thanks for the comments. Very sagacious, and extremely accurate.



  14. A Arizonian says:

    Amen and Rah JJ!

  15. wdmca1720 says:

    Mr. Johnson, you pen some great articles indeed! However, there’s something in this article I have to disagree with, and that is anyone who thanks you for your service.
    As a proud U.S. Navy veteran, anytime I’m out in public and see either active duty or someone who is a veteran, I always thank them for their service. You wouldn’t believe the positive reactions I have gotten.
    I thank those who have served because I’m proud to have served myself and it prides me to be in the company of fellow veterans or active service personnel.
    However, in a SHTF scenario…ok. You can’t trust anyone, but as far as thanking someone for their service, come on.

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