There comes a time, after the world leaves, after all the reporters have left, and the non profits take their profits (that were supposed to go to victims), and go home, that you realize that except for those in your community, you have no one to turn to.  This is your new extended family, and you must take care of one another.  The Calvary has come and gone, and most likely weren’t much help really.  Now you’re going to have to fight for yourself.  You are a survivor, and totally responsible for your life and those around you.  You’ve got this.  

The looters

After the world leaves your disaster, a lot of that free help is gone too, and you’re left on your own, trying to tread the waters of the aftermath of the disaster by yourself.  By now you’re in full auto survivor mode.  You’ve been gathering supplies and gear, so you’re pretty well set. 
You have your shelter for now, so you can focus on getting back to your land.  You’ve probably already detected and searched, and hopefully found your missing valuables.  Maybe you beat the looters, and the body searchers didn’t steal you blind.  We saw both after our fire. We had looters kicking in doors to people’s evacuated homes and stealing all they could carry off, the day of the fire.  It was insane.  Afterwards the looters didn’t stop. 

Like wasps at a picnic, they came back with a vengeance and took all they could from the fire victims.  If it wasn’t chained down, it was gone.  They stole food, supplies, gas, propane, generators, and even full size RV trailers.  Some were from in town, and others put on fake uniforms, posing as officials, and stole the victims blind.  A few were caught in the act.  Our Sheriff did his very best to keep out the looters, but he only had so many resources available to him. 

It’s only the natural progression, because a couple of the searchers and officials took their share while everyone was evacuated.  We heard multiple reports of searchers taking jewelry and silver coins, and even a city councilman stealing a gold bar from someone’s burned house.  I would not have believed it except the same info was told to us from multiple reliable sources and we saw that items were missing during our own searching. 

The Case of the Missing Coins

One nice lady thanked us for our volunteer community service.  She knew we were doing all of this for free without even donations, so she told us we could search her house and keep everything we found.  We searched it with detectors, shovels, and screens, and we found five old silver dollars and five silver dimes. The night we found them I called and thanked her for her generosity.  I offered her the coins just in case they meant something to her or her family members.  She said “what?  That’s crazy,  there were 200 silver dollars and 200 silver dimes.” They had been locked in a closet and after the fire, they were on the ground, under ten inches of ash and metal. 

To this day we don’t know who took the coins, but we do know the property was inaccessible for over a month while the searchers looked through the houses for bodies.  There was plenty of opportunity to steal them. You tell me where those coins went….

We made too many searches where the stuff was already gone with no explanation other than thieves and looters must have got there first.
We had a huge success rate with the homes that weren’t looted, but let’s face it, we can’t find something that is no longer there.  It was very sad.  Opportunity makes some honest men into thieves.  

Gouging the Survivors

We were volunteering to help for free, paying for Tyvek suits and gear out of our own pockets.  Most people didn’t even have the cash to tip us for our gas. We found melted gold rings, coins, gemstones, and pounds of silver.  People were very happy to get their valuables back.  Most were very grateful and some even tipped us to pay for our gas.

Watch out for crooked merchants

After the disaster your cash will go really quickly.  Everything you had is gone and now you need to buy new stuff to rebuild your life.  Amazingly everything is way more expensive now.  It’s called price gouging in a disaster, and if it’s a national disaster, you can report it, because it’s a federal crime.  There’s always someone trying to profit off of people’s misfortune. Don’t be a victim here.  

The Clean-up after the world leaves

So after you search for your stuff,  FEMA will come with a large excavator and dump trucks, and take your house foundation and the ash, along with the top 12″ of dirt.  It’s a very sobering event, because all you have left now is a plot of land with a giant depression in it where your home used to be.  Hopefully now your yard is clean enough to live on, like “camping out” living.  A FEMA contractor will test the soil for toxins and once they give you the green light, you might be able to set up your tent or trailer on your property.  If your lot still tests positive for the toxins, they will take even more soil, until you are completely clear of poison.

Let’s All Go Camping

After the world leaves, it’s going to be the worst camping trip in your life.  There won’t be any power, and the water from the pipes will be poisonous with Benzene, Toluene, Vinyl Chlorides and other wonderful modern chemicals. No, you don’t have TNT (trinitrotoluene) in your water, you have toluene, which is basically model airplane glue.  If you are lucky, the authorities will bring in portable bathrooms for residents so you can have some form of sanitation.  

How About a Drink?

No matter what you do, don’t drink the water from any of the pipes.  Don’t even bathe or shower in it, and do not cook with it.  It can cause a nasty rash, and possibly give you cancer.  Your life is now all about commercially bottled water for the next year or two, so get used to it, and make sure you have plenty of bottles available. 

Hitting the Bottle

You cannot filter out the chemicals in your tap water.  Boiling won’t fix the problem.  Don’t believe them when they say the water is safe. It will make you very sick and maybe even give you cancer.  It’s poison and not worth the risk. You won’t see the immediate symptoms.  If you expose yourself and your family to the water, there might be dire consequences years from now. 
It will be a good year or two before the water company replaces all the pipes underground, and clears the toxins from the water system.  Be very very careful.  I can’t stress this enough.  You don’t want to be a statistic.

In the meantime, you’ll either be running off a gas generator, or a portable solar battery bank, or maybe living really primitive with just a Coleman lantern.  You’re going to want lights and a way to charge your cellphone and flashlights because it gets really dark when the town is turned to ash and rubble.  

you loot we shoot

After the world leaves and you are all alone, my advice to you

The best advice I can give you at this point is to help your neighbors all you can.  Band together and protect each other.  Don’t try to be a Rambo.  Do not put up the “you loot we shoot” signs.  You will land in jail if you end up having to defend yourself.  Those kind of catchy signs show the authorities and courts that you are intent on committing violence, and it is no longer self defense. Stay vigilant and be careful.

  1. Ed October 6, 2023 at 8:18 pm - Reply

    Awesome you’re right on target

    • CaptainMike October 28, 2023 at 3:40 am - Reply

      Thanks Ed. Your Fire in Maui is very similar to what we went through here. The struggle is horrible afterwards, but you can make it. If we can do it, anyone can.