(National Sentinel)Â Disaster Preparedness:Â Last week in the days and hours before Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeastern Texas, scores of people flocked to area stores for basic supplies — food, water, emergency medicines, gasoline.
Most sold out within a few hours, leaving thousands of people out of luck, out of time, frustrated, angry, andÂ scared.
The same thing is happening in Florida now that the next massive storm, Hurricane Irma, is approaching. As reported by theÂ Miami Herald, store shelves are already bare just about everywhere:
Wal-Mart and Home Depot were far from the only stores with empty shelves as South Floridians filled social media timelines with photos of empty shelves at stores including Publix* and Wal-Mart. Calls late Tuesday to Publixâ€™s office werenâ€™t returned, but a Publix in Pembroke Pines said it expected additional supplies at 7 a.m. Wednesday, while a store in Doral said it did not know when it would be getting more water.
*Publix is a grocery store chain in the South.
Many large chains like Walmart and Home Depot are pooling their vast resources and are sending hundreds of trucks filled with everything from water to flashlights and food to besieged stores. But clerks in other local retailers including CVS say that as soon as their shelves are restocked with emergency supplies, they are gone within minutes.
And within a few days, Irma will be so close to landfall in Florida that the trucks — and the cargo planes, and the ships — will stop coming.
Everyone will be on their own after that, and at this point, it’s impossible to predict what kind of damage Irma will inflict, though as the largest-ever recorded Atlantic storm, certainly you can use your imagination, especially with the devastation of Harvey so fresh in our minds.
Now, imagine a grid-down scenario or a situation where widespread civil unrest and deadly violence has broken out. Stores will just as quickly sell out of goods — or be taken over by armed groups — only toÂ remain empty. There won’t be any massive convoys of trucks sent by giant retailers so local chains can restock shelves; retailers won’t send their assets into a war zone.
There won’t be any cargo planes. No cargo ships.Â Nothing will get through.
Don’t depend on the military to resupply you, either. The Texas Guard and Texas Army National Guard was activated to help provide disaster relief for besieged Texans following Harvey; the Florida National Guard has been activated by Gov. Rick Scott to provide similar relief following Irma’s landfall. But again, these forces are not having to deal with armed resistance and complete social breakdown. If that were the case their mission would beÂ far different; providing disaster relief would fall way down the list, if it showed up at all.
The point is, waiting for a disaster to occur isÂ not the time to prepare for one — especially one that will involve a lot of violence. And that may be just around the corner.
There will come a time when the emergency won’t be weather-related. At that point, if you’re not already prepared for it, you won’t survive — not without help, anyway. And you may not get it.
Food for thought as Irma bears down on Florida, store shelves empty, tempers flare, and desperation sets in.