Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Strategic Relocation: How Would Your AO Do Without Systems of Support?

In truth, most of us don't make a choice about where to live based solely on survivability.  There are other primary factors, such as gainful employment, proximity to family, etc. that have such immediacy that they override many of the survival factors.  Still, it is useful to determine how survivable your home area of operations (AO) would be, no matter why it was chosen.

So, Ol' Backwoods is in the process of making a move to a new area, and I wanted to see how my new AO stacks up against survival considerations.

Strategic Relocation--North American Guide to Safe Places, by Joel W. Skousen, is a fascinating book, considering the best places to live in North America if the national systems of support (power grid, interstate food and fuel delivery, etc.) were to be unavailable, as during an economic, social, or governmental collapse, or a highly-lethal epidemic.   One disappointment I had about the book was the lack of clear direction on choosing  a place to live; there is lots there about what to avoid, and lots of maps, but not a lot about what to look for.

I was browsing around the other day, and found this article by Robert Wayne Atkins, otherwise known as Grandpappy, that has bullet points of what to avoid and what to look for, that seemed to correlate well with the 6 basic categories of human needs (food, water, shelter, energy, security, health/sanitation).

So, I'm going to quote the bullet points below, and discuss the applicability of my new AO.  You should do a 'check up' on yours, as well.

All of the text below are excerpts from Mr. Atkins' article, with the exception of Ol' Backwoods' comments, as regards my new AO, which will be in red.

Avoid the Following Areas
  1. Avoid an area that is controlled by a corrupt government that tramples upon the rights of ordinary citizens.

    There are at least three layers of government that must be taken into consideration for a retreat area:

    • The national government should be relatively stable and it should not be totally corrupt.
    (Not a lot I can do here, if I want to remain an American.  The federal government, though stable, is thoroughly but arguably not yet totally corrupt, as at least two of the three branches (well, one and a half) at least make pretense to follow the Constitution. -- Backwoods) 
    • The regional government should compare favorably to other regional governments. In the United States of America the state governments are the regional governments. Some states are safer to live in than other states because those states still treat their citizens as responsible law-abiding adults. But the citizens in other states have lost many of their original constitutional rights and they are now very easy victims for any criminal that wants to take advantage of them.
    (Although it spends too much money on welfare for those who will not work, the state government in my new AO is no worse than other states in this regard.  While there is regional corruption, the state government appears to be committed to the preservation of individual rights, as it has recently fought the federal government in court over them.)
    • The local government should not be corrupt. Some small communities are controlled by totally corrupt local law enforcement officials. These areas should be avoided.
    (The local government genuinely seems to be the bright star in my move, as the small town's government seems to concern itself mainly with utility services, roads, and the like.  The local sheriff appears to be pro-Constitution, as does the local police chief in the small town near my new place.)
  2. Avoid an area that is dominated by a religion that advocates "believe as I do or die."
(Being the U.S. South, this area is very much "Bible Belt", and I suppose it could seem hostile to atheists, agnostics, or those of non-Judeo/Christian religions.  But as Ol' Backwoods is a committed Christian, I have been accepted with open arms by one of the local churches.)

Look For an Area That Has All the Following Characteristics
  1. Its residents still have the right to own firearms to protect themselves.

    (The state government in my new AO has the right to keep and bear arms in its constitution, and has shall-issue concealed carry, and does not prohibit the ownership and use of militia weapons, such as full-auto rifles.)  

    There are several levels of firearm freedom as follows:

    • Any law abiding resident may own and possess firearms. There are no forms to fill out and no fees that must be paid in order to own and carry a firearm. In my opinion, this is a correct interpretation and application of the second amendment in the Bill of Rights.
    (No, my new state does not have Constitutional carry.)

    • A law abiding resident must file a simple form requesting permission to carry a firearm, pay a small fee, and pass a simple background check.
    (Yes, this is shall-issue, which the state in my new AO has.)
    • The laws and regulations for firearm ownership are extensive and very few law abiding citizens are granted the right to carry a firearm.
    (Ol' Backwoods would not move to a state like this.)

    • Only government officials and their police force and law-breaking criminals carry firearms. Honest law abiding citizens are prohibited from having firearms for any reason. In other words, an honest person does not have the right to protect his family from criminals.
    (Ol' Backwoods doesn't even travel to states like this.)

    In [Robert Wayne Atkins'] opinion, either of the first two areas above would be a reasonable place to live....

  2. It is a lightly populated area.

    (See Mr. Atkins' article for much more discussion on this bullet point.  I only excerpted it. -- Backwoods)

    A lightly populated area: Each farm or ranch consists of somewhere between five acres up to about two-hundred acres. The soil and weather conditions in these areas have proven over a long period of time that homesteads of this size can adequately support the people who live on that homestead. The homesteads are relatively close to one another and they are not isolated. If one homestead is attacked then the neighboring homesteads will hear the gunfire and they can immediately come to the aid of the homestead under attack. Because of the small but reasonable number of people in the area there will also be a surplus labor pool that can work in nearby factories. Therefore this type of area would have the potential to be self-sufficient over a long period of time because it has an agricultural base, and it supports farm livestock, and it has small factories that make a variety of useful items for sale to the residents within the immediate area and which permit economic trade for other necessary commodities from more distant communities. This type of area will also usually contain several small towns that are twenty or thirty-miles apart where there are doctors, dentists, repair shops, and a variety of small stores. In my opinion, this type of area has the best chance for survival during a serious long-term hard times tragedy event.

    (The paragraph above describes my new AO very well.  The nearest larger town, which though it has a "mall" cannot be considered a "big city", is over 35 miles away.  The state capitol is roughly the same distance in the opposite direction, but is on the other side of a major regional river.)
  3. It is at least several hundred feet above sea level.

    Hurricanes have destroyed many coastal areas. Heavy rains have caused flooding in areas that have no previous history of flooding for the past 100 years. Therefore, if you want to relocate to a safe area then that area should be at least 300 or 400 feet above sea level. In addition, your home or retreat area should be on high ground compared to the area around you.

    (Though hurricanes have been known in my new AO, they rarely cause more than local flooding.  The new AO is between 350 and 800 ft ASL, depending on how close to the river and dam one is.)
  4. It has short mild winters.

    A short winter means a long growing season. A long growing season usually means you can harvest two crops... [see more at Atkins' site on this]

    On the other hand, a long winter means that you have to devote more of your time during good weather getting ready to survive the long winter. In other words, you will be extremely busy cutting and stacking huge amounts of firewood so your family doesn't freeze to death during the winter. This is not the best way to utilize your time during a serious hard times tragedy event. Although cutting firewood is a necessity, it is work that could have been significantly minimized if you had just selected an area with a short mild winter.

    A long hard winter also means more time trapped inside your home waiting for spring to arrive.

    (My new AO is in the U.S. Deep South, with a humid subtropical climate, and it does indeed have short mild winters.  Forage and hay crops are grown here during the winter.)

  5. It has a history of good average rainfall (not too much rain or too little rain).

    Fresh drinking water is an absolute necessity for long term survival. Rain is also necessary to provide good crop yields and to support any type of livestock. Therefore, any area that does not constantly replenish its water is not an area that is conducive to long-term hard times survival.
    (Historical average annual rainfall in my new AO is 54 inches, with a significant dry season in the late summer / early fall to allow time for harvesting crops that are sensitive to moisture at harvest time.  In addition, my AO is situated near the banks of a major regional river, whose damned lake provides the source for municipal and county water supplies.)

  6. It is surrounded by farm land, dairy cows, and other typical farm livestock such as horses, pigs, sheep, goats, and chickens.

    Regardless of your primary occupation, your family will need to eat. If you have a marketable skill (mechanic, repairman, doctor, nurse, etc.) then you may be able to trade your skills for the necessities your family needs to survive. But if those necessities do not exist in close proximity to where you live, then your family may starve to death.

    (There are many cattle farms nearby, as well as sheep, goats, chickens, and horses, raised either commercially or on hobby-level or consumer-supported agriculture farms).
  7. It has a reasonable supply of trees and forest timber land.

    Lumber can be used to build a multitude of things. With a reasonable supply of trees a sawmill could produce lumber and a variety of things could be built. This provides jobs and facilitates normal commerce. And lumber is a renewable resource. Just plant new trees after you cut down the mature trees.

    (Oak and other hardwoods, as well as pine and other softwoods, are available in national and private forests within a 30-minute drive of my new AO.  There is much forested private land within minutes.)
  8. It has a few nearby manufacturing facilities of any size.
    During a serious hard times tragedy event manufacturing facilities can be the lifeblood of a community. They permit the division of labor which improves productivity and achieves economies of scale.

    (This is a real bright spot, and the reason for which I came to the area.  There are no fewer than five manufacturing plants with a five-mile radius of my new AO, with many support businesses such as welding, metal work, etc.  All depend on the low-cost electricity from the hydroelectric dam nearby, which is another advantage to the area.  One of the plants is a worldwide-market utility metering company.  Another is a well-known aerospace company.  About 30 minutes away by car are plants manufacturing auto parts.  The local municipalities actively compete to bring in more manufacturing all the time.)
  9. It is not on a major freeway or interstate.
During good times being close to a good interstate highway can be a significant advantage. However, during a serious hard times tragedy event the reverse is true. An interstate highway will be the shortest easiest path for everyone to travel who is trying to escape from a dying big city. You need to think about the ramifications of this issue on your own.

(My new AO is roughly 10 miles to the nearest interstate, which is really too close.  If I moved further out into the country, I would by necessity increase that distance, which I plan to do.)

Give these criteria some consideration for your AO.

And if you read this far, please give me a comment.  Too many people don't read these days, even if the subject might save their live someday.

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