In today’s episode of the Survivalist Prepper Podcast Lisa and I talked to Anthony about his preparedness journey. Anthony has been at this for over 2 decades and started around the time of the Y2K scare.
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Evolution of a Prepper
Where It All Began
In the late 90s, I worked in the IT industry. For a few years in the lead up to the year 2000, the majority of my time was spent testing IT systems for Y2K rollover compliance. At least half of the systems I tested failed miserably, and although they were all office-based software systems, it certainly opened my eyes to how vulnerable computer-based systems were and what the impact might be to society if something more critical than a customer database failed.
I was newly married with a 1yr old toddler and had recently purchased my first house. From a financial perspective, we were riding pretty close to the edge while restricted to a single income.
I don’t have a memory of the moment I decided to start “preparing” for Y2K, but I think it was around the end of 1998, which gave me a good 12 months to get my house in order. The front room of the house became the Y2K room, with an ever expanding pile of buckets full of rice, beans and cans of food. I already owned firearms, so that part was easy. As luck would have it, I came across an old 12v generator that someone gave me for free when I expressed and interest in it. That then led to stockpiling fuel for both the generator and the 4wd.
These “preparations” did not go unnoticed by my friends and family. It was surprising to find out who was supportive and who just laughed, as it wasn’t always who I expected. The one advantage I had when talking to people about it was that most of my job consisted of testing for this event, so I had at least a small measure of credibility.
My perception of the what the worst case Y2K scenario might look like was basically a power grid failure. I thought that there was a reasonable likelyhood of the testing missing some obscure system or part of a system that might then fail and cause a domino effect of cascading failures. Based on this assumption, I hoped that any outage would be limited to weeks or at worst a month or two. Just to be sure, I ended up with 3 months worth of food, water and other essentials all ready to go on New Years Even 1999.
New Zealand is the first country to experience rollover into the new year, so as their rollover to the year 2000 happened, I was searching for any news reports on the internet saying NZ had gone dark. If the NZ grid failed, then we had 4 or 5 hours notice that the same would likely happen to us. Luckily for everyone, NZ didn’t miss a beat. This news, or at least absence of bad news, dropped the anxiety levels considerably as it meant that any outages would be due to isolated issues and not a worldwide vulnerability.
In the weeks after the Y2K date rollover, people actually laughed even more at my stockpiles. I laughed a bit with them and joked that I had done my job of testing and fixing systems too well, as nothing had failed. Inside, I was doubting myself pretty seriously. I was trying to work out if I had overreacted and gone a bit off the rails for the previous 12 months. In the end, I guess I just wrote it all up to experience and was grateful that nothing bad had happened.
Fast Forward 13ish Years
Life had rolled along as it does. I had a total of 3 kids, an ex-wife, and a pile of debt resulting from a combination of divorce, losing my job during the GFC and suffering a very uncomfortable period of unemployment. I was also newly remarried and traveling a fair amount for work. Things were stable and happy, with the trend definitely up.
One afternoon during a work trip, I was waiting in my hotel room for approval to inspect an underground mine. While flipping through the channels, I came across Doomsday Preppers. The episode was about a guy who was putting measures in place to make sure he could contact his extended family if the grid failed. He was using a combination of VHF and HF ham radio systems to make contact with family members in the same town to the other side of the country. That got me thinking about how I would make contact with my family if anything went wrong. The next episode I watched was about people preparing for a Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). I did laugh a bit at this one, as the people featured were absolutely ridiculous! The next evening, I was curious about exactly what a CME was, and how likely it would be to occur.
The only way I’ve ever known to deal with things is to understand them. Initially this threat had seemed too wide and varied to get a handle on, so I just started reading about one SHTF cause, and progressed onto the next one when I felt I understood the risks. This took a few weeks before I was thought I mostly understood the big picture of which threats were likely to occur, what the impact would be and how best to deal with each type.
At this point, I’d like to seriously thank a few people for providing the resources that enabled me to take a quick brain dump of the issues and how to prepare for them. I’ll list all the influencers here, even though some made and appearance later than others. After Alex Jones, who I had to stop listening to because he stressed me out, came Jack Spirko. Jack had this laid back approach to learning and doing that really resonated with me. Dale and Lisa Goodwin provided a fantastic resource for newbies with their Survivalist Prepper Academy, and the archived podcast episodes perfect for someone who was desperate to get a handle on the different topics under the SHTF banner.
I binge read every post apocolyptic fiction book I could find, so thanks James Rawles, Angery American, Franklin Horton, Sarah F Hathaway, Mark Goodwin, Scott B Williams, Bruce Buckshot Hemming, Joe Nobody, Arthur Bradley, William R Forstchen, Glen Tate, Steven Konkoly, Jonathan Hollerman, Matthew Stein, Shelby Gallagher, Rick Austin and Charley Hogwood. I’m sure there were others too, but these guys were the ones that have really helped me get to where I am now.
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