Why The City Might Be Your Best Bet (Part 2)

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Today, I’m continuing a two-part series on the Top 10 lies and half-truths about urban survival.

If you missed the first five last week , you can read it here.

There were several comments last week by people in rural areas who said that it was either their way or the highway, were QUITE angry that anyone would suggest that people living in the city might have ANY advantage over rural folks, and almost went so far as to say that city people didn’t have any chance of surviving in a populated area after a disaster.

Well, those people missed the point. The point isn’t to convince people living in rural areas to move into the city. It’s to get people, no matter where they live, to put a plan in place to increase their chances of surviving short-, medium- and long-term disasters right where they are. Or more to the point, right where they’re likely to be when a disaster happens.

For too long, rural folks have been telling prepared people living in cities that we’re all going to be killed by roving mobs of zombie-like gangs and looters after a disaster. In addition, they say that our only hope is to bug out to the country… or leave our friends, family and jobs and move to the country now.

That may be great if you want to and can pull it off, but the fact is that the majority of people in the United States will continue to cluster together in cities, so this is important information.

One commenter said that the “correct” answer is to start out in a rural area when a disaster happens and move back to the city after everyone has died off. That assumes that you get to pick the timing of the disaster. The simple fact is that disasters don’t ask you to confirm that you’re ready before they happen.

Since most people live in urban areas, most people will be in urban areas when a disaster happens. As a result, they need to have a primary or alternate plan to survive right where they are if they can’t relocate to a rural area — if they even want to. It’s just practical. It’s as practical as rural people having a plan in place to survive in their rural home if a disaster happens.

One of the factors that helps people take steps to get prepared is to know that their plans have a chance of working. If the only information out there for people living in cities is the B.S. that they have no chance of surviving, then they’re more likely to be apathetic and create a self-fulfilling prophecy. “Why prepare if nobody’s going to survive in the city anyhow?”

That’s one of the reasons why I developed the SurviveInPlace.com Urban Survival Course… to give friends and family a roadmap to follow to survive disasters in urban areas if they spend the majority of their time in areas that are “urban” enough to have sewer, water, gas and other shared utilities.

With that in mind, here are the next five lies, half truths and myths about cities after disasters:

  1. Everything in the city will be picked clean within days: This is partially true, but it only looks at a small piece of a bigger picture. Specifically, it is looking at the first several days after a catastrophic event. On a slow economic decline like what we’re in now, crime will go up (everywhere) but distribution continues. There will be regional breakdowns in distribution (gas and produce in some areas will last a few months) but most things will get to most places.

    We’ve got historical examples of this… most notably in Germany, Zimbabwe, Yugoslavia and Argentina.

    If you’re looking at a Katrina-type event, electromagnetic pulse (EMP), terrorist infrastructure attack, etc., things are different. Any stores that aren’t guarded by people willing to defend themselves against violent attacks will most likely get picked clean very quickly. But then a vacuum will form and, since nature hates a vacuum, it will get taken care of.

    Specifically, the need for food and supplies gets filled by black market vendors, looters and by enterprising people who figure out where supplies are and how to deliver them to a waiting group of wanting customers for a profit that outweighs the risk. Again, there is historical evidence for this. Namely: Berlin, Beirut and Buenos Aires. Clean water didn’t disappear in these scenarios… it just got more expensive. It’s simple supply and demand. As a note, if you don’t want to buy items from black market vendors and pay black market prices after a disaster, you’d better get prepared now.

    Remember all of those people who are going to “get out of Dodge” and “head for the hills”? Well, they aren’t going to be able to fit everything in their cars and they’re going to leave a lot behind. Some will tell their neighbors that they can have whatever they left. Some of these houses will quickly get taken over by squatters, like what happened recently in Argentina. And others will get picked to the bone by looters. In any case, all of the supplies that they couldn’t take with them will be left behind.

  2. There won’t be any parts available: Myth. Imagine if China did a cyber attack that knocked out the East Coast, West Coast and Texas power grids tomorrow. Now imagine next week you need a part for your Audi, Saab, Subaru, Hyundai or, God forbid, an eco-friendly hybrid. Are you more likely to be able to find new/salvaged parts in a rural area or in a city?

    I know… I know. That’s why everyone should have a vehicle with easy to find parts. The reality is that not everyone has and disasters don’t wait until everyone’s ready. But this also applies to other things as well:

    Even parts like thermistors and flame sensors for furnaces, orifices for heaters, ejectors for guns, primers for ammo, or light bulbs… there will not only be more initial supply in urban areas than in rural areas, it will be more likely that when supplies run out, there will be enough demand in a city for someone to focus on fabricating/manufacturing new ones — even if the manufacturing process is powered by hand or animal power.

  3. Medical supplies will be cleaned out immediately: Half-Truth. Medical supplies will most likely get wiped out soon after a disaster, but that only tells part of the story. To begin with, in a major disaster, medical supplies will get wiped out in rural areas too, so urban and rural areas are comparable here.

    Next, we need to look at distribution again. When some enterprising person/company DOES have medical supplies/drugs to distribute, they are going to want to do it as simply as possible, with as little risk as possible and with as much reward for their risk as possible. That means delivering one truck to a big population center rather than several trucks to smaller population centers.

  4. There won’t be any jobs in the city: Lie. There will always be jobs (legal) for people who are willing/able to do anything in a city. They may not pay as much as you’d like, and they may not be doing what you’d like to do, but there will always be jobs. It might also require you to have skills, a good attitude and a willingness to learn. People with bad attitudes and bad work habits probably will have a hard time finding jobs.

    If nobody will hire you for a “job,” you can find out what jobs people are having a hard time getting done and start doing those jobs for hire. (As a note, I spoke with three people in church on Sunday who are looking for jobs. They say that they’re willing to do “anything”, but there aren’t “any” jobs. Meanwhile, I looked on a local help-wanted website and there are 233 postings. This was just one site and since most jobs are filled by word-of-mouth, I can only assume that there are many more.

    In rural areas there actually may not be any jobs available. If you’ve only got 20 families within five miles of you, they may not even want you on their property unless they know you well, let alone talk with you about paying you to work.

  5. EVERYONE left in the city will be killed… and killed again!: Half Truth. Many will be killed — most from fighting within and between gangs. But the question remains whether the city will be more or less safe from violence than rural areas. If you get a nice isolated rural house where you can shoot your guns and can’t see or hear your neighbors, who’s going to answer you if you yell “help!” or “fire!”? The answer is nobody. It doesn’t mean that rural areas are bad — it just means that they’re not as perfect as people argue that they are. This is a big reason why towns and cities were formed in the first place.

    This belief also assumes that nobody learned anything after Katrina. It assumes that nobody will use any of the 60+ million guns purchased in the U.S. since Katrina to protect themselves or their neighbors. Finally, it assumes that all police forces will act like the New Orleans Police force did after Katrina.

    Folks, the world has changed. There are more gun-owners than ever, more of those gun owners are getting advanced training than ever, and there are more gun owners of all political colors who are willing and able to defend their family from violent attack than ever before.

    There will be anti-gun cities like Washington, D.C., and Chicago that are hard hit because of the exodus of gun owners who want to obey the law. But in areas where individuals can own firearms, armed uprisings by gangs and thugs just won’t be allowed to last very long. In addition to infighting and killing each other off, good people won’t stand for it. They’ll do fine as long as they keep attacking sheep, but as soon as they hit a sheepdog, a family of sheepdogs, or a neighborhood of sheepdogs, they’ll have trouble.

    Are there potential dangers in the form of gun control from the Federal Government? Absolutely. And they apply both to people living in rural and urban areas.

So, what’s the point of this Top 10 list? First, it’s to get people to realize that they need a plan to ride out disasters in whatever area they spend the most time. If you spend 80 percent of your time in the city, have a primary or alternate plan to “Survive In Place” in your city, remembering that long-term travel in a survival situation may be unproductive and more dangerous than staying put. This is especially true if your loved ones are separated and you can’t reunite and bug out until the roads are packed.

Second, it’s to provide a foundation for people living in cities who have been paralyzed in their preparations because of the common (Bravo Sierra) school of thought that they’ll just be killed and their stuff taken by highly organized and disciplined gangs of marauders after a disaster.

Don’t buy into the lie. Have a plan in place to survive wherever you spend the most time, no matter how much less than ideal you think it is.

Personal Liberty

Dr. David Eifrig Jr.

is the editor of two of Stansberry's best advisory services. One of his advisories, Retirement Millionaire, is a monthly letter showing readers how to live a millionaire lifestyle on less than you'd imagine possible. He travels around the U.S. looking for bargains, deals and great investment ideas. Already his average reader has saved $2,793 since 2008 (documented in each Retirement Millionaire issue). He also writes Retirement Trader, a bi-monthly advisory that explains simple techniques to make large, but very safe, gains in the stock and bond markets. This is a pure finance play and the reason Porter Stansberry loves having "Doc" on the team. Doc holds an MBA from Kellogg and has worked in arbitrage and trading groups with major Wall Street investment banks (Goldman Sachs). In 1995, he retired from the "Street," went to UNC-Chapel Hill for medical school and became an ophthalmologist. Now, in his latest "retirement," he joined Stansberry & Associates full-time to share with readers his experiences and ideas.

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