July 9, 2012

155 Hours - A True Story By Guest Writer Larry Neff

People are hardwired from birth for self preservation and survival, after all that's how we got here in the first place. This fact is often forgotten in a modern world containing all of the luxuries we religiously take for granted. Most people aren't prepared for anything out of the ordinary- be it a storm, a power outage, a water shortage, etc. They are comfortable on their cloud and overlook the thought that it can one day be pulled out from underneath them. 
When the haze of a modern world is lifted, most people find themselves in a panic- not really thinking level-headedly about anything  that they do. Not all people react this way, but the people who do largely affect the people who are prepared. In most survival scenarios the first thing you should prepare for is the people who are unprepared, because they are everywhere- and you will surely run into them on your journeys. Every once in a while I come across a personal disaster story that really sticks with me. The story I am featuring below, by guest writer Larry Neff- shows a man who is prepared survival wise for an unexpected disaster. The people who aren't prepared are the surprises in this story, and not the storm itself. Panic and unsurity are not things that people handle very well, and they will always be a big part of whatever disaster you encounter.

In situations like these it is best to avoid areas of panic, and if you are thoroughly prepared you can do this easily. One way to prepare is to make sure that you have enough supplies to get you through until order is restored, and forsake excess trips to areas of worry. Another simple way is to make sure you have always have enough gas and cash on hand to drive to an area that is unaffected by the disaster- where people are more likely to act civilized and altruistic. In the end, you can never be too prepared for the unknown- because you never really know what you will get.

155 Hours
"A major storm hit my little town here in West Virginia on Friday 6/29/2012 at about 7:30pm with hurricane-force winds.

Me, my wife, and our three kids were stopping by Gino's to pick up pizza's that we ordered, when all of a sudden, the sky turned black as soot. We were in line at the drive-thru and I said that this wasn't a 'normal' storm. I knew it was something else. All of a sudden, a big burst or puff of wind hit our vehicle and shook it pretty hard. I swear it felt like it shoved us back an inch or two and the dirt and dust that was hitting us, sounded like something getting sand-blasted- if you've ever heard that. I immediately peeled out and went across the street because there is a Lowe's there---so I headed for the loading bay around back.

The loading bay is a ramp that goes down into the ground about 9-11 feet, so I backed all the way down to the doors, and not a second too soon. We watched in horror as the trees bent over and touched the ground, repeatedly! There was stuff flying everywhere. My kids were crying and my wife was freaking out and I was calming them down the best that I could. It didn't last very long, but it was pretty scary. As the sky got brighter, and everything calmed down, we pulled away and drove through carnage.

The town that we just drove through, minutes before, was a disaster area. There were huge trees lying on top of cars and houses. Telephone poles were snapped off like toothpicks, while the transformers dangled by wires. Cars and trucks, flipped over. As we got on the highway to head back to our home about 12 miles away, the leaves were over an ankle deep on the roads all the way. It truly looked like a bomb went off. We were worried about what we would find when we got there.

As we tried to get to our house, we had to turn around and go back because the huge oak trees that lined the road were twisted and snapped off like twigs and lying in the road. We tried another way and it was worse--tress down everywhere. So I tried the back way, and after a little work, and maneuvering around many obstacles, we were able to get home. There were what seemed like thousands of limbs in our yard but nothing too bad. Our porch swing-glider was intact and where we left it.

I cringed at the thought of the trampoline in the back yard, but as I went around to look, to my amazement, it was right where we left it too! We got lucky, but so many didn't. There were no warnings on the radio or nothing. All we knew was that the power was out and would be for a while. We checked on neighbors (even though I don't like them) and of course, my mom and dad (they live down below us). I went in the house and dug out flash lights and dug out the candles. We lit some and just sat there in shock.

The next morning, we put batteries in a jambox and scanned to see if we could hear some news, but there wasn't too many talking about it in depth. They just said that 95% of the state was without power. Then, the day heated up. We opened all windows and doors but it didn't seem like it was helping. The next 8 days was some of the hottest on record--95°-100°+. Sitting in hot temperatures for long periods of time will make you very cranky, I can attest to that. We were putting cold, wet rags on ours, and the kids' heads to keep us cool. We would take cold showers but ten minutes later you couldn't tell that you took one. It was a bad situation.

Day in, day out, we just hung in there, hoping that the power would come back on, because the second that it did, the air conditioners were coming on with a quickness. At night, we sat around and talked with our 12 year old daughter and our 3 and 2 year old little boys. I got out my flat-top guitar and played silently in the background. My 3 year old had his nose stuck in the Nintendo DS. We had plenty of food, canned stuff and all that, so we were OK in that department. We also had water.

I went out to try and get some ice and propane bottles for my camping stove (because the ones I had in my building were missing) and what I saw enraged me. I've never seen people act the way they were acting. They were pushing little old ladies out of the way to get water. It was mass stupidity. Thousands of people were lining up to fill up there car tanks and gas cans (that's the first thing you do when it storms, dont'cha know). Lines were miles long. People were fighting and arguing. I went home because I feared for their safety had one of them crossed me.

The next day I went out and it was worse. I live by a huge lake and it was full of campers from other places. They were using up all of our resources. I went to a store to get propane bottles and this lady had about 50 of them in a buggy. I asked the clerk were more were and he told me that that lady got the last of them. She immediately looked to the ground. I calmly walked out with a fake smile on my face, known around here as the 'Insto-matic grin'. People were going crazy everywhere I looked, me knowing that most of them were NOT from here. All traffic laws were thrown out the window. It was dangerous.

I finally found a couple bottles of propane and made my way back home. All I needed it for was to make coffee, and trust me, none of those people wanna see me without my morning coffee or they would see CRrraaaaaZy! I have a propane wall mount hooked up to a hundred pound tank for back up in case the power goes off when it's cold, but I didn't want to unhook it and all that. I was sweating enough. People stopped by to see me daily to check and see how we were doing, with stories of how crazy people were acting.

As far as ice goes, there was none to be found. It was a thing of the past, like so many things that we take for granted every, single day. There was no FEMA or anything else for the first several days. Wait, I think FEMA did actually go to the Greenbrier the 2nd day, Tiger Woods was there playing golf. He must've needed water, it didn't help his game any from what I've heard.

To make a longer story a little shorter, our power finally came on Friday morning in the A.M.. I woke everybody with a loud WOOO HHHOOO! OHHH GOOODY! as I cranked the air on. I sat there and watched TV like it was the first time ever! We finally slept without being sticky-wet nastiness. I was relieved. But I immediately felt bad for all who still have not gotten power. back I want them to get it SO bad.

Little things we take for granted a lot, like power, cold air, lights, computer, etc., etc.. But it's also sickening how we've all become so dependent to these things. This has opened mine, and my family's eyes on some things like how we need to be better prepared and most importantly, become more independent. I mean, I like TV a little, and a lot of the other things, but, in a way, I would love to go back to the old ways and leave all of that behind. I can easily go into the woods and get something to eat the same as I can go to one of the many streams and get water. A lot of people here don't depend on nobody but themselves. We know the government is a joke, really. That is, unless you are one of the 1% at the Greenbrier. I think we all need to do an assessment and become more independent so we don't end up like all those crazy, panicky nuts running amok and fighting over the last loaf of bread."

A True Story Written By:
Larry Neff of West Virginia

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xoxo disaster girl


  1. Well written story.
    It's really alarming how dependent the people have become. It's so easy to buy food and necessities from supermarkets. But it takes only a few unfortunate disasters to cut the supply lines for those supermarkets and shops. And because capitalism, there will never be any official famine - just skyrocketing prices.

  2. It looks like the towers are a solar farm and they are connected to the electric plant across the border in Nevada. This is according to the California government...found it on a website on the internet. There was a lot of controversy around the building of it because the planning was done behind closed doors and was not open to the public. solar power in Nigeria.