I have a new acronym for you: AGAR. I hadn't heard of this one until yesterday, when a friend who an Army Reservist shared it with me. AGARs refer to those civilians who do not have a means to leave an disaster area and thus must be relocated using government or charitable organization assets. They have not the means, the plans, nor the ability to seek the aid of better prepared citizens to help them in their time of need.
AGAR stands for "Ain't Got A Ride."
We learned during the Hurricane Katrina debacle that there were a lot of AGARs in New Orleans. As I have commented here in the past, I find it astounding that a citizenry in a city that everyone knew was a flood risk - the cemetaries are covered with above ground tombs - collectively had so little in the way of planning or ability to get themselves out of harm's way. If your city looked like this, wouldn't you have a plan to get out of town if things started looking bad?
I can speculate as to why that is, and in doing so I'd probably upset some people. But that's not my point for bringing this up.
If you're preparing for emergencies, you need to work the AGAR factor into your prepping calculus. AGARs will put an extra burden on limited government and charitable organization resources. They will seek your help in getting them out of harm's way, providing them with food and shelter, cash, clothing, and whatever else they need. Many of them will resort to crime, either in an earnest effort to feed their family during a catastrophic emergency or simply for the sheer hell of it.
Some random thoughts:
- Prepare for people who will earnestly need your help. I'm not really good about determining what the best practices are for doing so (How much extra food do I store for charity? How many extra people would I take in during an emergency?), but any preparations we make here are better than none.
- Do NOT plan on relying on the government for anything. And I'm not being critical about the government when I say that, believe it or not. With tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of people needing the most basic services post-Katrina, the government will have its hands full. The more you can do for yourself, the better off you will be.
- Think about those tough conversations now, and get your family to think about them, too. If one of my fourteen year old step daughter's "besties" and her family show up at our house needing help, what will our response be? Can I tell my stepdaughter we simply can't accommodate them? And if we do, am I going to be resentful about having to feed, shelter and protect a family that I'm quite sure spent the last few years thinking I was a freaking lunatic for wanting to be ready for the emergency from which that same family now seeks refuge in my home? This may sound odd, but I challenge you to put yourself through that mental exercise. It's not fun. At all.
- As I mentioned last Wednesday, the sooner you find like-minded people around you, the better off you will be.
Don't be an AGAR.