Portland, Oregon, seemed to be a new litmus test to see how not only Oregon but any state would react if the water supply suddenly became cut off. While this rare scare was only due to E. Coli and the threat of getting diarrhea (or maybe worse) as a result of contaminated water, the run on bottled water in the grocery stores was proof that few people have extra water on hand for disasters. You can only imagine what the scenario would have been had there been a major natural disaster that cut off water for two weeks or more. Those scenarios of people looting other people’s homes for water have likely been haunting people’s dreams.
It’s made some think about just how prepared my home state of Oregon is, or any state in the nation, when it comes to disasters. Is there a stigma developing that stocking up on supplies makes you look like one of those eccentric survival groups who’ve developed a stigma for being outcasts? Also, the idea of hoarding has evolved into such a negative connotation in recent years that people may not be stocking up on things just because it looks crazy.
Polls don’t lie either when it comes to how unprepared we may really be. A Zogby poll from last year showed that only one in four Americans are prepared for a disaster, let alone showing any concern about such a thing occurring. On a sociological level, there could be a tendency to tune out the potential of disasters so we can live a better quality of life. Is this an over-trust of the government, or are we planning a mass communion when the worst possible scenario happens?
How Would America Really React in a Disaster?
We’ve seen so much speculation and fiction that show America breaking down into social anarchy if a natural disaster put us all in desperate situations. Even with the government keeping Northern Command on hand to handle social unrest, it seems to indicate the government also doesn’t trust what we’d all do when in a state of panic. But how do we really know for sure how everyone would react?
If you’ve ever participated in disaster tests in your local community, you see very educated and real-world scenarios play out with people working in complete cooperation. Many local cities now put together faux disaster scenarios to demonstrate how people really react when needing to survive. When you read about all of them, you’ll see that many of them were complete successes and showed how well we function in helping others when under duress.
We’ve also seen real-life disasters and the stories of everyone kicking into high energy to help others survive. It seems we all have that instinct to go to a different level of automatically helping others first when the reality of a major disaster happens. At that point, it doesn’t seem to matter what your ethics were beforehand, or even if you’re the worst criminal on earth.
It could be that if there was a major national disaster, we’d be much more peaceful and work in communion than pop culture represents. Perhaps the only reason we’ve thought otherwise is based squarely on our fear of the unknown and the sometimes uncertainties of human behavior. While we know not everyone will be peaceful during a disaster, the worst side of human behavior may significantly be in the minority.
Should Our Preparations Be Pared Down?
Perhaps the American public really is prepared for a disaster, though just not going overboard with supplies. Each family having a small amount of bottled water and canned food can be enough where it could technically be shared with everyone when all of a state’s population has supplies on hand. This ratio can help eliminate the problem of only some having supplies and then being raided when nobody else bothered to prepare.
As far as water, using a bottled water company that delivers water in gallon jugs once a month is a very affordable option to keep water stored in your garage or storage area. It’s something I do regularly to keep enough water on hand for two weeks. This and basic canned foods to last the same amount of time (plus the usual radio, flashlight, and first-aid kit) are all you really need without looking like you’re turning into a survivalist.
Being calm at preparing for disasters will make those incredulous to human behavior even calmer about how we’d react if the worst possible disaster ever happens. Having communion in simpler preparation would also help the government realize we wouldn’t devolve into primal behavior when there isn’t any food or water in local communities for weeks.