The neighborhood meeting was interesting. Very obvious some people had nothing. Not that you have much, but to have nothing would be bad. They wanted everyone to give them some food. You indicated you had hardly anything and was thinking about leaving. You did give some apples to the one neighbor, but the other neighbor didn’t want anything like that. You think that is just crazy because if you are hungry, you should be grateful for anything you can eat.
Something that really worried you about the meeting was how forceful some of the neighbors were. They wanted to raid houses of people who were gone or had already left. They said they knew preppers and wanted to get their stuff. They actually have you very worried. Yes it is day three of the power being out, but that is really crazy. You aren’t sure you want to stay here, but you aren’t sure where to go. From what you understand, the power outage is very widespread.
You walk home and the kids let you know that your cell phone rang twice. You shut off last night to save on the battery, but turned it back on this morning. The first message was from your boss letting you know that work would permanently shut down until the power comes back on or they could figure out a way to run without power. The second message got your complete attention. It is from your snowbird neighbors asking you to call back. They know the power is out.
You call them back. They are having intermittent power outages. They encourage you to go into their house and get what food they have to eat if you are getting low. They also encourage you to get out of the area if possible and get somewhere warmer if possible. They aren’t sure if they have extra gas in the garage, but you are also welcome to it if you need to use to get out of there. They don’t trust some of the neighbors either and think it would be better to leave.
You think that people are really panicking after three days, but you have no idea how long the power outage will go on. You have a decent vehicle that gets very good gas mileage – 30 miles to the gallon -, but with only a half tank of gas you aren’t going to get that far, maybe 250 miles. You are really contemplating leaving though. It would make sense.
The rest of the day goes on like the day before. The kids want to play charades tonight and everyone gets a good laugh. You think it feels great to laugh after the few days. When it gets dark, the kids are ready for bed and you follow them after making sure no one has any candles burning. You don’t need the house burning down.
After a good night’s sleep, you decide to leave that night. You don’t know when the power is coming back and the weather is getting decidedly cooler. With what you have, you will get a little ways down the road and you never know what you might find.
You tell the kids to pack a bag with clothes, extra shoes, and anything else they may need including things to entertain them. You aren’t sure when you want to leave yet, but good to have everything ready to go. You walk over to your neighbors through the back way. You have a key to their house and open it up. You find their small pantry with 25 cans of soup, fruit, and vegetables. Not much, but much better than nothing. You also find some crackers and a box of cereal. You load everything into a box and check the garage. They have a five gallon container with gas in it for the mower. You call one of your sons on the cell to come over and help you carry things back. The gas might be old, but you will take a chance on it since you see a empty can of fuel stabilizer in the trash.
As your son and you are leaving, you hear some of the neighbors outside. You stop your son and listen. They are talking about breaking into the house tonight and taking what they can find. You call your snowbird neighbors back to let them know what you have heard. They have everything of value locked up or with them. You tell them you took what food you found and the gas in the garage. They thank you for letting them know and encourage to find your way to them in Arizona. From Iowa, that could be a challenge. You and your son lock up the house and take the back way home so not to be seen.
With an extra five gallons of gas you can get about six hours south going normal speed if you don’t find any more gas. The kids want to leave. They are scared and worried. You dump the gas into the car and start loading it up with their bags, blankets/sleeping bags/pillows, any car chargers, emergency supplies like candles, matches, flashlights, and batteries. You also grab all the food you have and some pans to cook it with if you can. You grab the paper plates, plastic flatware, and cups as well as a can opener and a few knives. You only have 3.5 gallons of water left, but you load it up too. You pack for yourself and load that up too. You decided at the last minute to grab the empty gas container. You just never know.
The kids want to leave right now, but something tells you that is not a good idea. You decide to wait until dark to leave. You open the garage door now. The car doesn’t look packed to go anywhere so hopefully your neighbors won’t suspect you will be leaving. You and the kids go outside and start cleaning up the yard. The kids do find a few more apples and take them inside. You pack up a lot of outdoor things and put it away in the small utility shed. You walk around the house and make sure everything is locked, secure, and shut off.
One of the nicer neighbors stops by and asks what you are doing. You joke with them about having nothing better to do than get the house ready for winter. They laugh and said they had been doing the same thing. They tell you they are leaving town tonight and ask if you want to join them. You tell them you are planning to do the same thing and decide to meet them about five miles down the road so the other neighbors won’t get suspicious. You privately aren’t sure this is the best thing to do, but you think there will be safety in numbers.
The kids are getting hungry and decide to finish the cereal for supper. You aren’t hungry due to being nervous about leaving. The kids and you decide to clean up the house the best you all can and see if you have any last minute things to pack. You check with the kids to make sure they have any money with them that they could have, their cell phones, chargers, pocket knives, and flashlights from their bedside tables.
You decide it is dark enough to leave. You get in the car and kill the lights. At the last minute you grab your tool box, car oil, and antifreeze. You get the kids in the car after last minute bathroom trips and start the car. You inch out of the driveway and get out to shut the garage door. You really hope you can come home to the house the way you left it. You get in the car and leave. About a mile ahead of you, you see your neighbor doing the same thing you are – driving without lights and driving slowly.
You meet him at the corner. It is very obvious he is more prepared than you are. When you mention it, he just laughs and tells you not to worry about it. He has always liked you and your family and will be glad to help you if he can. He has a place he knows you all can go and it is time to make it there. You both drive slowly and you are following him. He avoids town and just from what you can see on the edge of town gives you the chills. The grocery store windows are broken out. Cars are abandoned on the edges of the road. People are wandering around. You can see fire in what looks to be downtown.
You get further away from town and it starts to get better. You are both still driving slowly to save on gas. Your neighbor turns on to a gravel road and you wonder why. The neighbor stops and you get out to talk to him. He knows the next town has the roads blocked and lets you know that you all will be taking out of the way roads. He tells you that a safe house is coming up if your family wants to stay there with him for the night. You are tired, the kids are tired, and you agree.
Now for you: Would you continue to stay with the neighbor? Do you feel safe with the neighbor? How far would you drive? What are you willing to do in the next few days and weeks to stay alive?
Thanks for reading!