Survival lessons learned: “Water is more important than an AR-15”

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I was reading an amazing survival story on reddit.com last week. I strongly advise anyone to go and read it and all the associated comments and posts that go with it. It really set me thinking.

The story goes like this. A brother and sister fell on hard times and had only her disability payments to live on. They had only ever held retail-type positions before so there were no savings and quite a few health issues. They became homeless “in a large city in the northern midwest of the US“. In winter – when the temperature fell to -10F degrees. There was no section housing available and no one would rent to them.

So, they bought (sight unseen) a tiny plot of land in the Ozarks, packed everything they owned in plastic totes which they threw in the back of their soon-to-expire truck, and headed deep into the woods. The plot was $120 down and $300 a month. They took four totes of dried food and all their firearms. When they arrived at their plot they were pleased to see a shack on it. It had housed a meth den. It was moldy and had been devastated by wildlife. But it became home.

 

They set to, making it kind of habitable though the horribly cold first winter. They used the plastic totes to collect rainwater, lining them up along the drip line of the roof. That and a Sawyer Mini (and eventually a Big Berkey) water filter kept them in drinking water. It was slow and laborious. The guy made a great comment “What use is an AR-15 if you don’t have water?” In the end he sold most of his weapons for pennies on the dollar for items that were more use.

In fact the things he leaned from this period of his life made me sit up and rethink a few priorities for my own SHTF planning.

  1. The most important aspect of survival was other people. In his case the local Ozark “hillbillies” as he calls them, became his friends. They all helped each other out whenever they could. The hillbillies taught him about catching a cooking wild life. They would leave him logs. They gifted him a wood stove. He would get them deals when he visited town. Not quite a quid pro quo  but a thoughtful exchange of items for people who needed help.
  2. He sold most his guns. It wasn’t Zombie Apocalypse – just a couple of people down on their luck. He kept just two firearms in the end, one for hunting and one for self-defense.
  3. Water was the key thing they had overlooked. He needed more than was available and he had to work very hard to get enough for all purposes.
  4. Boredom is the enemy. He managed to make a video player work of his car battery and they watched old movies during the winter to keep sane.