ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – Following the terrorist attack on 9/11, experts and authors focused on the threats facing the nation and what our citizens should do to prepare.
At that point, dirty bombs and chemical weapons were high on the list.
As you heard on KMOX earlier this week, the focus is still on terrorism. Now, however, our infrastructure could be wiped out from a computer terminal.
Beyond that, there’s the threat from Mother Nature in the form of earthquakes, storms and floods.
In part three of our Awaiting Armageddon series, KMOX’s Megan Lynch looks at what could happen in a worst-case scenario, and why it’s spurring some people into action.
December 2006. A massive ice storm bears down on Missouri and Illinois. It knocks out power to more than half a million homes and businesses.
Downed trees and power lines make roads impassable.
“I had two weeks without electric power, and that was an eye opener.”
Mike Slack lived in Springfield, Missouri, when the big ice storm hit a decade ago.
“The grocery stores, 90 percent of them in town were closed because they hand no power. The few that remained sold out of supplies within 24 hours,” he says.
The experience was so unsettling it triggered a lifestyle shift, going from completely unprepared, to now housing stores of food — enough to last at least a year.
“I try to keep a couple hundred gallons of water stored away,” Slack says, and he raises his own livestock for food.
“While deer are plentiful in most of the state, if you have a lot of hungry people out there hunting, they’re just not going to last that long,” he says.
“The wildlife population is just going to disappear like that,” explains Bo Brown, who teaches stone age survival skills at a camp in the Missouri Ozarks.
Brown warns if there’s widespread collapse, resources found in the wild won’t sustain all of us.
“Hundreds of thousands and probably millions of people living in the cities are going to have the same idea. And if it breaks down to that level, you’ve got Somalia,” he says. “You’ve got roving gangs, whoever’s got the best tactical knowledge and the best armaments are going to be able to take what they want and the government, wouldn’t be able to stay ahead of all this.”
“If somebody else has it and they need it, they will go ahead and try to take it,” says Matt Canovi, a former marine who has three decades in law enforcement, and now offers training in personal security.
Canovi is most concerned about a cyberstrike that would cripple communication, transportation, power or financial systems — “anything that would throw those into turmoil would cause tremendous social, political, economic unrest, and even could be criminal unrest.”
“All it would take is for the electricity to be out for two weeks, or three weeks, or four weeks in an area, and it would be total chaos,” projects Chad Huddleston, Southern Illinois University – Edwardsville anthropology professor.
He has recently focused his research on groups preparing for disaster.
Survival sites post lists of things that will disappear first: Canned foods, rice and beans, charcoal, cooking oils, first aid supplies and toilet paper.
“Everything is devastated around you for miles and miles,” Huddleston says, “and there’s no way to get out and there’s no one in particular coming to help you, those items do disappear, and they become very important invaluable resources for those people that need them or want them.”
Huddleston says looking at past catastrophes in the United States and across the world, there’s often more cooperation than conflict.
Yet he knows not everyone has that degree of faith in human nature: “There’s no end of fear in our society.”
Anxiety is spreading, and it could be your neighbor who’s stockpiling supplies.
Check out part four of Awaiting Armageddon, next.