Friday, September 02, 2011

It Can Happen Here Too

These days, I shake my head at the sheer number of natural disasters that seem to hit the world every week. Earthquakes, tsunamis, flooding, mudslides, drought, famine, and the list goes on. I am not a biblical person, but even I see that something is happening. Preppers talk about when TSHTF, to break it down, when the s*** hits the fan, and I cannot help but wonder if it's hitting it now.
I do not consider myself an extremist, or an alarmist, but as much as I hate paying attention to the news for it's depression factor, one really can't avoid it these days. Our planet is going through massive changes, and we are simply in the way. Some of those changes, we as a people helped hurry along, like the depletion of the ozone layer, global warming and species extinction. Up here in Canada, we get a glut of news from across the border, and many of my countrymen/women seem to have adopted a "won't happen here" attitude. This according to a 2010 poll conducted by Phoenix SPI. 31% of people polled last year seem to think a basic 72 hr emergency kit is unnecessary, and 27% in 2009, 27% in 2008, 24% in 2007, and 16% in 2005.
I'm not sure why these numbers are climbing.
Saturday, Nov 10, 1979 more than 200,000 people, including my family, were evacuated from their homes in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. A train had derailed due to improper lubrication of a bearing, spewing styrene, toluene, propane, caustic soda, and chlorine into the air. Thankfully, no one died. (But I clearly remember my mother going back into our apartment to get our dog.) The city was all but abandoned and only reopened properly on November 16th. To date, this evacuation is the second largest, after the evacuation of new Orleans; after devastating Hurricane Katrina.
There have been a rash of earthquakes off the shores of British Columbia, even in the past month. Quebec had a quake of 3.6 magnitude on the 27th of August. An earthquake of 3.5 magnitude was felt 46 KM southeast of Cornwall, Ontario on August 24th of this year. I could go on, but suffice to say that we here in Canada have more quakes than you might think, and these are at least felt even if no damage is done. Naturally, British Columbia has far, far more than we here in the east do. This spring brought extreme and sever flooding to our western provinces, and a severe drought came to Southern Ontario this summer; effectively throwing food production and food prices into the collective crapper.

We're also "lucky" enough to have our own "tornado alley", which covers the British Columbia interior, the Province of Alberta, Southern Saskatchewan through southern Manitoba to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Southern Ontario, Southeastern Quebec, and Western New Brunswick. According to Environment Canada, we get an average of 80 tornadoes a year. The deadliest Canadian tornado was an F4, in Regina, Saskatchewan, killed 28 people, and injured hundreds on July 30th, 1912. It had a funnel three blocks wide and demolished the downtown core of Regina. Now I don't know what business might have been impacted back then, but I know if that were happen today, Regina would have serious food shortages and a much higher fatality rate. Fires happen so often across the country that most of them aren't even covered in the media. The most recent one that caused a mass evacuation was on Sunday, May 15, 2011 and over 7000 people ran for their lives. The local police clearly experienced some confusion after they ordered an evacuation and then closed roads for safety reasons. The only fatality was a helicopter pilot as he did his best to help battle the fire in the community. The fire destroyed roughly 2/3 of the town, 374 properties were destroyed and 52 were damaged. The town hall and the library were completely gutted.

My point in all of these examples is that disaster can happen anywhere, anytime. No matter what country you live in, no matter how rural or urban. It is our responsibility to do the best we can to assess the likelihood of a catastrophic event in our area and prepare. How to do that is a complex, personal and very involved answer.
Tomorrow, I'll share some ideas for a basic 72 hour pack for each member of your family, (furry ones too!) that you can grab quickly if you need to evacuate in a hurry.

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