Y2K Faces

Visit Sally's new website, www.SallysKitchen.com.

[The Story]
[Shopping Storing]
[Emergency Test]
[Banks Water Waste]
[Bean Theory]
[Why Buy the Book]
[Original Site]
[Preparedness Quiz]

Buy our book


Site by
Connection Expert

Seven Faces of Emergency Preparedness
by Sally Strackbein

1. The Puppy
2. The Grasshopper
3. The Ostrich

4. The Porcupine
5. The Sheep
6. The Dolphin
7. The Vulture

1. The Puppy
There is no need for emergency preparedness.

The puppy is too busy having fun to worry. This belief is based on lack of knowledge. People busy with their lives have no time to research emergency preparedness. They may have been over warned by Chicken Littles in the past.

2. The Grasshopper
Someone else will take care of me.

I call it the Grasshopper Theory because in the Aesop fable, the grasshopper sang and played all summer while the ant toiled and stored grain for the winter. In one version, the grasshopper eats the ant's food. In another, the grasshopper dies. We are used to hearing that the sky is falling and then someone performs magic and the sky doesn't fall.

I know intelligent people who behave like the grasshopper. They don't notice the need to store food. They are so busy scurrying to do their own work or play that they have no time to think about the risk and the horror of being unprepared for an emergency. They leave emergency preparedness to the Red Cross and FEMA.

3. The Ostrich
There is a risk. It won't happen to me. Let's pretend there will never be an emergency in my area.

Like the ostrich, with his head stuck in the sand, many of our "leaders" expect that the Red Cross and FEMA will charge in on white horses and save the day.

Government officials who stick to this position are shortsighted. They know emergencies happen and they feel powerless to stop them. Instead of standing up and shouting "fire" they are willing to let everyone burn to death to avoid a panic.

4. The Porcupine
There is a risk. It may happen to my area. I'll take care of number one. I have my own emergency preparedness plan and I won't share.

The porcupine won't let you get anywhere near him. He is a solitary creature, unwilling to share or be part of a community. At least porcupines are honest.

5. The Sheep
There is a risk an emergency may happen. The authorities need to get the communities ready. Individuals cannot be trusted.

The sheep wants to be taken care of. The corollary is the shepherd who wants to take care of the sheep. This theory is espoused by the same folks who gave us the welfare state. Authorities can be elected officials at the local, state or federal level, religious or spiritual leaders or even committees of concerned citizens.

The sheep/shepherd metaphor serves both viewpoints because it promotes passivity in the sheep and more control from the shepherds. Hitler was a shepherd.

The shepherds hold community meetings and politely listen to plans to store food and water in schools and churches, but they dismiss and embarrass anyone who wants to prepare for their own family. They maintain it is divisive to buy supplies for your family because others cannot afford to.

This is the common denominator approach that gave us the excellent schools in our inner cities. Don't let anyone strive harder or plan more. It might hurt the feelings of those who don't.

6. The Dolphin
There is a risk an emergency may happen. Individuals need to prepare for their families while helping the greater community prepare. The whole is greater than the sum of individuals.

The dolphin lives in a community of other dolphins, but is frequently willing to take risks to save human beings from sharks or drowning. I have an abiding faith in the basic goodness and quality of the people of the United States of America. I just returned from a trip to Singapore where a cab driver bent my ear about how wonderful the U.S. was for taking care of the world. We saved the world from monsters time and time again. In World War II, it wasn't just the "leaders" who did it. The common men volunteered to fight. The common women took care of the businesses and factories while they were gone. People just did what needed to be done. Sometimes we make poor decisions, but the basic desire to make the world a better place always rises to the top.

I want millions of minds thinking about solutions to the inevitable risk disruptions. Amazing ideas will appear. Those who prepare their families will feel comfortable and will have time to think about preparing the community at large. They will consider aspects of the situation that may escape the consciousness of common denominator planners. Only those living with special situations can fully understand their own needs. I think in terms of my mother, who needs heart medication, or my little dog, who needs a sweater (he shivers when it gets below 65 degrees) and food.

The common folk have a right to know and to make their own plans.

7. The Vulture
There is a risk of emergency. I'll take advantage of anyone and anything I can.

Those who know emergencies will happen are quietly perching and waiting for the inevitable banquet.


I am distressed at a common mindset I perceive. In 1999, some influential members of the established Y2K community implied that personal preparedness is bad and community (read communal) preparedness is good. I don't think drawing a line in the sand is helpful. Let me explain.

I am very much for community preparedness. It is desirable to have stores of food, water, blankets and other supplies at schools, churches, fire stations and any other places suitable to house and feed people who need it. I support this effort.

Ray I and were both quoted in a Washington Post article. dated December 7, 1998. It described, in a humorous way, some of the preparations we are making. What did not come through was that we prepared to provide water and warmth for our extended family, neighbors and friends.

While the "everybody gets fed at the school" concept may work well when everyone lives two blocks from the school, it doesn't fly when lots of people live two miles from the school. Think very clearly about what it means to discourage the average family from preparing.

Look at the numbers. Let's take a local elementary school. Assume, for this discussion, that each classroom holds 30 students each day. If each student has one parent, that would mean 60 people in each room. Additionally, there are plenty of families that do not even have school age children, so add a half a person for each child (I'm guessing here) for a total of 75 people in each room. Assume it is winter and the schools are the only warm places. (How are the schools going to be warm when no place else is? If the infrastructure fails, what is so magic about schools?)

Picture masses of people camping at school and sleeping on the hard floor, wedged in like sardines. Toilets are overflowing into the halls because the municipal sewage system doesn't work. There isn't enough water because the principal overruled huge tanks set up on the playground. The cafeteria doesn't have enough plates and utensils to eat off, but that doesn't matter because there is no gas for the stoves and ovens anyway. If they store a lot of peanut butter and crackers it might work. Add some canned and dried fruit and maybe it will work.

I think you have my point. I know the numbers are silly. Ray and I prepared because we didn't want to sleep in the school. We have our own septic system, so our using it will have no impact at all on the overburdened sewage system. We have a wood stove to keep our house warm and will be happy to let our cold neighbors in. (This is not an invitation to the whole world. I urge you to make your own plans. If you can't, support a relative or friend who can.) I don't know about Ray, but I would be happy to show up at the school and pull some shifts cooking, but I really think those eating there ought to do the work. I suspect that I'll be the only one in the neighborhood with a stove to cook on, so I am planning to be the neighborhood chuck wagon.

    I firmly believe families like ours, who prepare for ourselves and several other families, can make the difference in how many people die. If one family in five prepares, I think we could make it in an emergency.

I cannot tell you how to prepare. If you have a pond in your backyard, stocked with fish, you may not need to store food or water. If you live in a high-rise apartment, you may need to ask yourself what you will do if the elevator quits. There are as many different answers as there are questions. Ask your own questions.

I get very upset with the "don't start a panic" mentality. I want to start a controlled panic now and put the food manufacturers on notice to gear up their canning plants to accommodate the needs of the nation. It might take a dramatic effort on their parts, but it needs to be done. It needs to be done even if we are only going to do the school bit. What kind of food are you going to store in the schools? How are you going to store the water? Will you have the people bring their own bedding and toilet paper? How are they going to stay clean? Are you going to provide all the necessities and for how long? Are you going to provide dog and cat food? Who is listening to these pleas and is it really possible to motivate anyone who has the power to act on the behalf of communities?

Public officials will not take the risks necessary for communal preparedness. I am confident that, if adequately informed, citizens will prepare for their families and neighbors . They will prepare enough to make a major difference.

My neighborhood is not the same as your neighborhood which is not the same as the Southern California neighborhood we used to live in. Decentralization and information are the keys. Given the opportunity, solutions appear - the right solutions for individual people. When people are informed, magic happens. There is no one right solution for every case.

Let people decide for themselves.

www.y2kkitchen.com   Copyright © Sally Strackbein   sally@y2kkitchen.com


Copyright © Sally Strackbein

[Home] [The Story] [Neighborhood] [Shopping Storing] [Speakers] [Contact] [Recipes] [Emergency Test] [Banks Water Waste] [Bean Theory] [Why Buy the Book] [Original Site] [7 Faces of Denial] [Beyond Y2K] [What's New] [Y2KTodayOpEd] [Y2K Recipes] [Y2K Bean Theory] [Y2K Problem] [Links] [Truth] [Y2K Faces] [Real Stories] [Y2K Test] [Readers Corner] [Ray's Corner] [Government] [Preparedness Quiz]