Which roads are safest for travel?

Hi!  I’m new to prepping but feel I am making good progress. I’ve got a good start on medical supplies, food, water (including a Berkey) but can’t get my mind wrapped around bugging out. Part of my stress lies with the topic here. The apocalyptic books I am addicted to always talk about roadblocks and stopped traffic that makes travel impossible. So two questions really. First, is that overly dramatic?  Second, are interstates or back roads better?  I live in a rural area, have good neighbors who know how to handle weapons, have a well and creek, and have room to garden. My hope is to be the spot where people can bug out too but I know I need to prepare for that eventuality. As I write this I realize there’s one other question. Any idea in a shtf situation will travel become bad as in dangerous?  Sorry for the length of this. 


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    • 7

      I could have sworn I hit save on my comment last night. No biggie. This one will be briefer.

      Re: works of fiction, books, movies, etc. I think imagination has its place here because thinking about potential scenarios helps us predict potential outcomes and responses. The human brain does this. We regularly cycle through scenarios in an attempt to seek the optimal way of getting through any given situation.

      Re: Interstates v back roads. You know what traffic is like in your area, so, exercise judgement. In general, I think it best to avoid interstates. No matter how early a start you might have (city and suburban dwellers), and no matter how much ground you might gain, if you’re not careful, you could find yourself slowing or gridlocked as more and more unprepared attempt to get on the interstate. Back roads could be okay. They offer plenty of flexibility, but one can’t be certain (in an emergency) that some towns/villages might decide to physically block the onslaught of people fleeing their affected areas.

      Re: you being rural and when to BO. It could be that you, being in a rural area, may not be as affected as urban or suburban areas might be in a BO event. And although you’ve availed yourself to others (as a destination to BO to), there might be conditions (eg., being overrun by fleeing civilians, armed neighbors, community members, or adjacent groups seeking additional space) where you yourself might need to BO. My advice in this: stay prepared, no matter how unlikely a situation might seem right now.

      On a related note…

      This is addressed to those who live in rural areas.:

      As a community of preppers, we should collectively keep in mind that attribution is hard. That is, it can be challenging to say whether or not something or someone is a definitive threat.

      In the wake of an $SHTFevent it’s highly likely that sane, otherwise law-abiding preppers will just be passing through your community to wherever they feel most comfortable (relatively speaking). Some might flee to state or federal parks, game lands, blm lands, forests, or wildlife preserves. In other words, they’ll just be passing through your communities, towns, or villages.

      I’m sure some city and suburban dwellers actually own property in rural and remote areas and the last thing a reasonable, sane prepper wants is conflict between neighbors that have never met, especially when it’s completely avoidable. We’re all better served if we bear this in mind.

      I’ve started a new topic that addresses questions I have for rural residents and encountering other preppers in the wake of a SHTF event. If you can, please have a look. I’d really like your thoughts and answers.

      • 8

        Thanks, Matt. I appreciate your response. As to your question to rural people, I was thinking about that too. I can’t imagine shooting anyone walking through but it would be a bit scary to be the one on foot. My feeling is people would assess your situation carrying a backpack and not walking through the middle of their yard and decide you are okay. I fervently hope my little spot is a safe area because it could easily be a good long-term sustainable place. I have a lab and 2 half lab half Doberman mixes and life would truly Be much more enjoyable in a long-term situation if I could remain. I shall prepare though!!  Thanks again. 

    • 10

      Sorry this ran way, way, waaaay longer than I wanted, but your post kicked me into thought experiment mode and it’s been interesting.

      Hey @KKW. Welcome to the wonderful world of prepping. It sounds like you’re off to a good start. All though many view prepping as survival, I also view it through the lense of it’s a way of life built upon hope. That is, it’s hope for the world that exists beyond disaster, emergency, and conflict.

      While I personally don’t do apocalyptic books, per se (though they’re probably pretty good for revving up the good ol’ amygdala) I do enjoy the ocassional disaster movie. And I think fiction has a genuine place here; because, frankly, imagination -whether book, movie, or gedankenexperiment- can help us think process scenarios and our possible responses. That kind of predictive process can, in the end, help us better navigate events when we encounter them in the real world.

      Answer to first question:

      I don’t think it’s overly dramatic to expect impassable roads in the event of an emergency. Hell, consider how, in everyday life, roads can come to a crawl as people rubberneck the most minor of fenderbenders. Have you ever encountered traffic congestion¹ and when you arrived at the point where everyone before you slowed and nothing was there? So, why wouldn’t a $BOevent be any different (or worse)?

      The simple fact is this: most people aren’t prepared to react in an emergency/disaster², much less be prepared for one. So, in the wake of an $OMGevent; and, after people get over their initial shock, they’ll be scrambling. They’ll scramble to get home (if they aren’t already), gather their families (or meet them), grab supplies, and eventually cram themselves and their shit into their vehicles, get gas (if they need it), and joining the throngs of others who were equally unprepared.

      Everyone’s amygdala³ will be juicing them up as their fight-of-flight response kicks into overdrive. People will be using their primitive brain, not their prefrontal cortex. People’s anxiety and fear will be maxxed out. Most people will be driving at high speeds, putting themselves and others at risk. They’ll be making bad decisions out of desperation and fear. Those emotions and bad decisions can and will, inevitably, cause strife, road rage, slowdowns, accidents, etc.

      Answer to second question:

      PROs: higher speeds, cover greater distance faster, more lanes, generally well maintained
      CONs: more traffic, exits spaced miles apart

      Imagine that you BO as soon as possible (5-15 mins). There’s probably a decent chance you’ll be way ahead of most people. You’re making decent time, not too many cars so far. As you progress along the interstate, people from surrounding areas are also BOing, followed by their unprepared. Consider the bird’s eye view of this situation: for every on-ramp, more traffic enters the interstate, slightly slowing those already there. As the volume of traffic increases and everyone attempts to leave their respective areas, traffic will slow and eventually stop. Knowing this, you plan to get off at the next exit. Brilliant idea! HA! See ya, suckers!

      How far do you think you’ve made it?

      Eventually, others will have the same idea as you: Get off the interestate! You’ve managed, but now you’re stuck in traffic because of gridlock on the surface streets. There’s a line of people trapped in line for the on-ramp to the interstate. They’re blocking the intersection. Now traffic is building up behind you as others have the same great idea. You now have a choice: hoof it or hoof it.

      Back roads
      PROs: slower speeds, usually single lane, less traffic, route flexibility
      CONs: getting stuck behind a tractor, slowdowns in towns, access to more roadside services

      You’ve just bugged out. You’re on a remote back road that you’re kinda sorta familiar with. Like a good prepper, you’ve done your research and you’ve kept up-to-date on those road construction/repair projects. Good job. As you make your way, you’re slowing down for every tiny spit of a town. It’s slow-going, but you’re gaining a lot of ground and fairing a hell of a lot better than those idiots that probably took the interstate. Suckers.

      Eventually, you approach a slowdown. What’s the hold up? Probably a fucking tractor. As you pull forward, you can see blinking lights just ahead. Probably an accident, you think to yourself. So, you settle in to wait your turn just like everyone else. So, you settle for making faces at the little kids in the back of the SUV in front of you to pass the time. Beats obsessing over your watch and your odometer.

      As traffic crawls forward, you notice that the grey Jeep that passed you miles back is slowly picking up speed and headed back the way you came. People are being turned around. The sheriff (or perhaps some of the locals; or perhaps even a local militia) have setup a roadblock. They don’t want outsiders in their town.

      From the Prius in front of the SUV, you hear raised voices, then shouting. “I’m just passing through! I don’t want anything to do with you! Just let us pass. PLEASE!” A gunshot jolts you. The SUV kids duck for cover in a din of horrified screams. It was a warning shot. So, you turn around and try to find another way, just like everyone else.

      Alright. That’s what I’ve got in me for the night.

      Be well. Be safe. Be healthy.


      1. Wanna nerd out? Having trouble sleeping? Read up on traffic congestion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Traffic_congestion
      2. About bystander effect/apathy: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bystander_effect
      3. The what? The amygdala: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amygdala
      • 4

        Oh! It showed up. Weird. Okay. Upvote the one to keep. 😉

    • 8

      Personally, I would avoid the interstate because of the likelihood that the exits will be blocked in order to funnel traffic to the location the authorities have selected as an evacuation point.  (This was actually part of the Washington, D.C. area’s emergency preparedness plan after 9/11.  Evacuees fleeing D.C. by car were to be directed north on the interstate and were not to be allowed to exit that highway until they reached Frederick, MD, where an evacuation facility was to be set up at the fairgrounds. )  I would try to take back roads instead and try to map out several different routes ahead of time in case my preferred route was blocked or othrwise impassable.


      • 5

        From experience I can tell you this happens on back country roads as well.  During hurricane evacuations roadblocks are set up at intersections to funnel everyone in the mandatory evacuation areas out into safe zones.  Usually this eases up as you get outside the coastal counties.  The key is to leave before the published mandatory evac time if you don’t want herded like cattle.

        These roadblocks become big bottlenecks because everyone stops to argue with the police and explain why they need to go the other way!  We once spent 3 hours to cover 10 miles due to this.

    • 8

      If you have ever bugged out from a coastal hurricane or tried to take “back roads” after a major accident in any major city you will know that highway type choice won’t make any significant difference in progress to your destination. It’s a crap shoot at best.  

    • 8

      Good morning KKW,

      Not a long narrative question; clearly written with brief background.

      For travel, the Interstate highways are best.  There will be stages of restrictions but still maintained for traffic and patrolled.  They are part of the nation’s evacuation plans.  These plans have been tested, exercised and refined.  

      Avoid ther apocalyptic books and glance at some of the hurricane evac after action reports.  Not the most current, but see if web access is available for:

      FEMA P-757 / April 2009, titled “Mitigation Assessment Team Report HURRICANE IKE IN TEXAS ANd LOUISIANA.  It’s got stuff besides vehicle evacs in it;  good for exposure purposes to the related subject areas.

      Back roads could be closed to private vehicle traffic.  Neighbors with weapons could translate to firearms discharges and enough reports to authorities could have the area designated from “off limits” to crime zone.  It depends on the state authorities.  My area, for example, after the “Beltway Snipers” event of a couple of decades ago, has these plans in place and staffed for compliance.

      From my experience as a former Federal Emergency Manager, working SHTF situations, problems in abundance.

      All is not absolute.  Some apocalyptic pubs are the same as the official docs.  My favorite example is the Metro Washington, D.C. vehicle evacuation plan.

      Leave early, very early.

      • 6

        Hi Bob,

        Do you happen to know if the D.C. evacuation plan still calls for funneling the evacuee traffic up the I-270 highway to Frederick, Maryland?



      • 6

        Good afternoon Zabeth,

        Had spoken to someone knowledgeable about D.C. area vehicle evacs.

        It’s still I-270 to Frederick.

        The important change of emergency management doctrine is to emphasize Shelter in Place.  With the pandemic situation, the key word is “congregate”.  There are max efforts to keep evacuating cars parked on the side of highway and “mingling” with others. 

        Am still on the lookout for any new cyber version of the metro D.C. evac plan and also looking for the pulp version.  Both have/had narrative instruction and basic map. If I get anything will post here.

        A tangent;  It requires a group (ie NGO)and this allows setting up a publications account from the Fed agencies. Some of the products are good.  My dormant org has an account with 3 orgs.  

        Keep well.

        ~ Bob

      • 4


        Zabath, was just sent above link.  It’s not for the evac long haul route but still worth studying.

        At end of article are 2 links to a pamphlet and a municipal map.

        ~ Bob

      • 2


        Zabeth, See if above link at section titled “Know Your Zone” gives current evac route.  I’m sure it’s still I-270 to Frederick.

        Re your explicit question, it depends on the current variables and am guessing they are still the same even with telecommuting and reduced personnel.

        Maryland’s above linked document is like Virginia’s.  A micrometer is needed to measure which place has more traffic congestion for an evac.

        Recommend have car loaded to max with everything needed.  Shelters must be “non-congregant” ie Government provided dorms, motels. Don’t plan on this.  The school floor with cots is on hold due to the pandemic.  I know because I run a portion of my county’s shelter.

      • 7

        Hi Bob,

        Thanks for the helpful links.  I will check them out 🙂  Here are two others I came across online: https://ops.fhwa.dot.gov/eto_tim_pse/reports/2010_cong_evac_study/ntl_capital_region.htm


        The material at these two links is older but quite interesting I think – particularly the “Regional Emergency Evacuation Transportation Coordination Annex”  which starts at about page 271 of the approximately 396-page-long “Regional Emergency Coordination Plan” from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG), accessible via the second link.  It discusses several different emergency scenarios (including, among other things, a dirty bomb, or conventional explosives, etc.) and what evacuation strategies are suggested for each scenario (for example:  closing off entrance or exit ramps, synchronizing traffic lights, changing lane directions, using city buses to evacuate people, staggering employees’ departure times, requiring sheltering in place to avoid clogging the roadways, making all highway lanes HOV lanes, etc.).

        I also came across two maps of major evacuation routes people might possibly be required to take after they leave the D.C. city limits.  Again, these are older but may still be instructive.  I will try to insert them at the bottom of this reply.

        Thanks again!


        Highway Evacuation Routes Out of D.C.

        Evacuation Routes West of the National Capital Region

      • 4

        Great stuff, Zabeth. I lived on the road of the facility [Mt Weather] they evacuated Congress to on 9/11 in VA. It was a caravan of SUVs at high speeds under full armed escort. I could not have left my house had I wanted to. 

    • 7

      What are the likely events you will have to dal with?  Some demand bugging out and for others, bugging is very unlikely.

      you live in a rural area.  What is your exposure to wildland fires?  When flames are bearing down on you, bugging out is by far your best option., especially if your major concern is human life and safety.

      Three years ago, precisely to the day, my wife, I, and our cat had bugged out at 1 AM, faced with the Thomas Fire, California’s biggest at the time.  It turned out to be a rather pleasant experience, all things considered, partly because we had prepared for this eventuality.

      The first three miles were the hardest. – grid down, traffic lights not working in an urban area is no fun…

      We also are likely to experience earthquakes.  If we are close to the epicenter, bugging out is much less of a feasible option.  Infrastructure will b damaged, including roadways.  Remember the motorcycle cop who fatally  discovered a collapsed interstate overpass in the Northridge quake?  I am likely to camp out in my backyard if the house is damaged and work with my neighbors to repair.

      Keep your options open and be flexible.  Stay informed

      • 6

        Interesting data point about the traffic lights not working. I have never had to evacuate (and never had to deal with a natural disaster) so I would have not thought of that.

      • 6

        I’m in a rural area on acreage with a private road 1 km to the nearest state road.

        My main peril is wildfires….without neglecting a tree arriving at one of my house walls at 50 mph.

        We’ve got an inflatable boat for an evacuation from here into the Chesapeake Bay.  The danger is hiking  to the boat at night.  The state roads are typically loaded with stalled and wrecked vehicles.  Trees, branches and other debris are over the road.  Public sector efforts are reallocated to major roads and the Interstate. 

        Virginia’s DOT has a slogan “Don’t drown.  Turn around” re flooding over roads.  Neglected from this scenerio is that the multitude of cars lined up behind lead vehicle at flooded area preclude any turning. 

        The mid-Atlantic seaboard is overbuilt and overpopulated. Here in Tidewater Virginia, those not young, healthy and prepared are in danger. The support systems are not present.

        Thus, besides a life jacket, Madam and I have smoke evacuation hoods that fit over hard hats. 

    • 9

      I think what is vital to understand with a question such as “are interstates or back roads better?” is that there is no correct answer.  It comes down to your location, the situation at hand, the weather, your vehicle, and several other factors that you will need to analyze before making the decision.  What might be the right choice in one situation could be deadly in another.

      For instance, if you were fleeing an earthquake you’d likely want to avoid old bridges and overpasses because they may no longer be safe.  But if you are fleeing a wildfire you’d want to avoid roads in which fallen trees could be blocking.  If you are fleeing a flood you’d want to be sure to avoid low-lying areas.  etc etc etc

      What you can do now is prepare for making that decision.  Have maps and a compass in your car, but also try to memorize as much of your local road system as possible.  Know what radio station would be broadcasting emergency information and have it saved.  Be aware of physical obstacles such as bodies of water, mountains, etc in your area.  Have a backup plan if a bridge or mountain pass becomes un-passable, but also recognize that if you need to get over a river or mountain range you will only have limited options to do so.  Identify those barriers and your options to navigate them so you can make quick and informed decisions.

      And if we reach a point that militias are setting up roadblocks than god help us.

    • 7

      Seems a lot of the responses are dealing with crisis such as wildfire, earthquake, hurricane, etc.  However you specify travel during a SHTF situation.  IMO, in such a situation, make sure you are the first out and stay off major roads.  At the first sign of a mass exodus from a city, I feel certain the suburbs will be the first to act, as they will be the first impacted.  They will be unable to absorb so many hungry, desperate travelers and I feel certain they will set up roadblocks at natural barriers… such as rivers/streams.  Want an example.  Three days after Hurricane Katrina struck, authorities blocked the bridge that connects the city of Gretna to New Orleans. 

      I then think, with time, you will see a trickle down effect as more roads are closed the further away from the city.  So my advise is to get where you need to be quickly.  Travel during a SHTF event will be spotty at best… and extremely dangerous.  When tired, hungry & scared, the best of people will act in ways not thought possible.  That is why I’m the opposite of you.  Last thing I want are these people on or near my property.

      BTW, at that point, having room to garden means nothing if you don’t already have knowledge, equipment, chemicals, & seed in storage.  After a SHTF crisis, you will survive on what you already have… not what you wish you had.  That is why I keep all those things in storage, plus already grow those items so as to KNOW what they need.

      • 5

        What is your definition of a SHTF crisis and how would it differ from fire, flood, earthquake, etc.?

      • 7

        I think most preppers consider a SHTF crisis as to be on a very large scale, over a rather long time period, with a corresponding collapse of society.  More of a one time event as opposed to naturally occurring, constantly occurring, localized events… such as fires, flood, earthquake, etc.

        After any of these listed events, help is always available and on the way.  It may be tough for a bit but our government will be there to put things back in order & provide food, shelter, resources, etc.  A SHTF crisis would be so large as to overpower any government action.  One would basically be on their own to survive.

        Think of maybe a large asteroid strike as opposed to the Tunguska strike. An EMP attack as opposed to 9-11, etc.

      • 5

        Thank for your clarification and response.  Something like an asteroid strike is somewhat like an earthquake – little or no advance warning before the event..  Long term societal event, leading to something like contemporary Venezuela, more warning and usually sufficient opportunities to pull the plug, isolate, or whatever strategy appeals….

        A truly SHTF event was the asteroid strike 65 million years ago which marked the end of the Cretaceous Period and the demise of nearly all dinosaurs (except birds)and many other life forms.  That is a rather rare event and I think i will take my chances.

        For that matter, many objects that could strike the earth are tracked and their tracks calculated so that measures can be taken to avoid contact.

        You certainly have a point that in “routine disasters” like EQs, fires, etc., hlp is available from relatively unaffected regions.  I think thee lesson to draw from recent events like Katrina is that aid will come, eventually, but it is best to prepare for a good two weeks, minimum, of self sufficiency.

        Home construction here in the wake of the Thomas fire is still underway, three years after the event.

        It is best to be well informed, be ready to either bug out or in, depending on unfolding events.  It helps to be lucky, as well

      • 10

        There are all sorts of events, just as there are all sorts of preppers.  What one person might categorize as a SHTF event might be a minor blip on the screen for another.  What one person considers bugging out might simply be a temporary evacuation for another.  Where one person might have water & food to last a “normal” crisis of say a week or less, another prepper might have enough food in storage for years.  Where one prepper might be out of luck when their food stores run out, another prepper might be self sufficient.

        To me, the most important reality is for folks to realize they may have to survive on their own for a given amount of time.  Too many people today make no plans whatsoever & expect, or demand, government aid & assistance immediately.  As seen after localized events, say a hurricane or earthquake, the truth is that even then, aid can be days away.

        So the question become, how long do you think it will take for help to arrive?  Luck is always a factor but how prepared one is, becomes another big factor.  For some folks, having a few days food & water is enough & where their prepping ends.  For others, it is a lifelong journey where one is steadily adding to their resources & knowledge base.  Either case is better than doing nothing.

    • 9

      Sounds like you are right where you need to be and should plan on hunkering down and only bugging out as a very last resort.  Dont expect for help to be en route and plan to provide for yourself.  I believe most people can do long term storage of a years worth of rice, beans and water for around 1000 dollars per 2 people. Not sure how big your creek is… but if it can float a kayak you might consider tracing it’s course on a map.  I live in northeast texas but am only 10 miles as the crow flies from a river that eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico.  I dont see my wife or myself wanting to hoof it through the wilderness for days or weeks on end, but we might be up for letting the current carry us to relative safety.  I believe waterways would be marginally safer than roadways in a shtf scenario.

      • 9

        Creeks and rivers are classic routes, but bear in mind, they’re also gathering places for humans and animals who are thirsty. Being in a kayak out on the water doesn’t exactly provide good cover if you’re drifting through hostile areas.

        Just a thought. Not trying to be a downer.

    • 11

      A lot of good advice already presented here that I agree with especially being flexible to the situation and evacuating early if possible.

      I like watching overlanding travel Vlogs and one that stuck with me is when a few years ago Nicaragua when protests erupted and cities and towns were blocking the roads in protest. These two guys filming made two big mistakes 1. driving at night and 2. not turning around when the road was blocked, the result was protesters trying to rob them. They did get away and rented a very sketch motel room but did get out safely. Turning around is not always the answer, my point is being flexible to make quick decisions when the situation is not safe.

      In a different scenario with a road issue, when hurricane Ike hit the Houston area years ago, my parents were living near the coast. The Houston mayor told residents to evacuate before the surrounding cities, the result is when my parents evacuated it took them 12 hours to drive what would normally take 1 hour. Learned lesson is leave early.

      • 11

        That would be scary to be cornered down a road. The other day, my friend was going home in the early hours of the morning (she works the night shift) and was driving down this road. She came to a four way intersection but the right and left roads were blocked off for construction. Suddenly this man stepped out into the middle of the road and walked towards her car. She stopped and just watched him. He acted like he had a gun and was yelling for her to get out of the car. 

        She couldn’t go left or right, and she didn’t want to drive towards him, so she just reversed until she could turn. I personally would have drove straight at him.

        Cars are great, but aren’t the most maneuverable when you need to turn around quickly on a narrow one way road.

        My friend ended up being ok. She called the cops and they arrested him. He probably will just be out in a week or two terrorizing someone else though, because that is how the system works.

    • 7

      Growing up in a hurricane prone area I learned to never try to bug out unless you did it a couple days early.  Not only are there just too many cars on the road but when they start running out of gas they make perfect barriers, ensuring most are stuck in place.  The hurricanes always had advanced notice too, yet people were still not prepared.  
      In Atlanta there was very little warning of the ice storm a couple years ago.  The city was paralyzed and many were trapped in their cars for 15hrs in freezing temps.  Im sure earthquakes and many other situations where there is no pre warning are tougher to prepare for.  It just shows the need for us having an emergency kit in our vehicles. 
      I’m fortunate enough to be able to afford 4 wheel drive vehicles now.  I also keep a full tank at all times and have an emergency kit.  Most of my life I was lucky enough to have a car that wouldn’t break down so I definitely get that we all have different capabilities of prepping.  But even with a small budget just knowing the need to be prepared to the best of your ability puts you ahead of the pack.

      • 7

        Great lesson to keep an eye on the news, weather radio, and other sources to look out for those disasters early. Leaving before other people can mean the difference between you leaving or not.

    • 5

      KKW and all thread participants;

      For a real world current event example involving thev thread’s theme, safest roads for travel:

      Spend some time reading up on the current Washington D.C. and environs arrangements.

      I must emphasize it is best to belong to a group to develop a correct assessment.  Most will not have worked a road transportation event.

      It’s obvious that Marine Corps Base Quantico will have priority on the Interstate Highway  (I-95) to D.C. – and the US route (US1) going to D.C. also.

      Anything paved or with gravel near Dulles Airport can mirror The Marine Corps’ plans.

      Other arrangements being exercised or on hold “just in case” means to carry extra Clif bars and water.

      Forget the water routes.

    • 9

      FDB42194-1640-45AF-9A13-C70DC97E5AB5I just saw this image this morning from the Indonesian earthquake.  Trying to evacuate during a large scale emergency just puts you in more peril.

      • 12

        That is a powerful example of having your BOB so that you can evacuate in a moments notice and beat the crowd, of bugging in instead of evacuating, and also of the ability to bug out on foot. 

        I feel for those people, that must be such a confusing and difficult time.

      • 6

        Agree, Robert.

        An evac by walking (FLC = Feet, Leather Covered) is a good solution frequently not prepared for.

        Unless leaving by car at first reported shockwave, one’s situation could be worse. Indon is also experiencing the pandemic and stuck in a car next to someone’s else’s car doesn’t help the social distancing protocols.

      • 5

        Here in the states most people seem to take our way of life for granted.  We have had a great infrastructure of power, water, medical and food distribution for so long most don’t even give it any thought at how that could change at a moments notice.  Many in the less developed world have had to deal with hardships their whole lives and can function a little better with minimal resources.  I’m not saying they don’t suffer, as they do, but just that most in the US are really soft now and don’t even know how to make a fire and cook with it.  I hope I never live to see a massive disaster here.  As I’ve stated to many, always be greatful when you can go to sleep with a full belly and in a safe, dry place.  And I really wish all those people well through this.

      • 9

        Don’t know if it was mandatory to evac.

        The situation also had a heavy rain day. Sulawisi Island would experience snakes and other wildlife all over the place.

        These poor folks are currently undergoing their COVID vaccination program which makes matters worse for those just immunized; their immunity system is temporarily weakened.

        I used to work in Indonesia with oil industry.  The locals smoke too much and it affects their health.

        Jakarta and some ASEAN emergency responder groups are working the rescues.

    • 5

      Soooo, if you bug out or intend to bug out by vehicle firstly you need to thoroughly recce the PRIMARY route, and multiple alternative escape or diversionary routes. Try and avoid MAJOR roads ( Autobahns, Motorways, Freeways etc) because (1) its the route most likely to get griddlocked and overwhelmed, or closed by the authorities (2) it has the least  easily available exits. (Often on Freeways you cannot get off for over 20 to 30 miles. The best option is the smaller local and county roads and trails ( weather / climate permitting).

      Your BOV ( bug out vehicle) needs to be as bland, boring and unappealing as possible, everything you need must go INSIDE the vehicle not bolted to the outside which advertises your presence and screams STEAL ME (or hijack me)

      If you are going by Foot or Bicycle you need to avoid ALL of the primary and secondary roads and where possible go cross country ( route needying reccying again to ensure you dont trespass someplace and get shot) .  it is better to PARALLEL roads rather than walk on them, IE walk parallel to the road about 100 or 200 yards away from it using the geograpghy where possible  to conceal yourself from anyone watching from the road.

      The same rules apply if you are bugging IN from say your place of work.

      You may wish to PREPOSITION supplies along the escape or get home route ( caching) which will allow you to travel lighter.

      For every section of your route you need escape routes and alternatives in case of trouble, you also need RENDEZVOUS locations  for family members  who may get separated from you or who have to travel alone / later, so you can meet up with them along the way.

      You may have navigable water ways in your area that you could travel on by boat / canoe / kayak.

      • 2

        Part 2-LAPTOP-DST10SJIHuricane RITA EVAC 2005

      • 6

        Good morning Bill, It’s changed re the water evacuations. Now it’s strict and enforced rules. This is applicable to navigatable waterways and also the – literal – “backwaters”.  I’m transmitting from a backwater on the tidal flood plain.

        All the navigatable waters are designated a form of critical instructure and protected accordingly. 

        Some exceptions present but not clearly defined.  A couple of years ago (Hurricane Rita?) some private-sector volunteers from the Louisiana area’s “Cajun Navy” went to New Bern, North Carolina to help in rescues. The locals loved the help.  The area’s US Coast Guard and state/local Emergency Management orgs were officially against the Cajun Navy efforts. (Unofficially, they were treated as part of the team [much politics not for discussion here]).

        Of course the watercraft matters mimic the road evac.  No one is approaching the emergency centers by road. Some of these places were mentioned here at TP.com; Mount Weather Blue Ridge Mountains area , NORAD/Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs area (the nearby resort just might be for NORAD stuff).

        What’s good about being on the water is less disease. Roads will each have the abandoned dead horse with the mosquitoes. 

        My skills are land navigation and not water.  It doesn’t matter though. Magnetic compasses won’t work if authorities deem needed to handle evacuations.  

        My free advice to all: Leave VERY early or shelter in place.

      • 6

        “If you are going by Foot or Bicycle you need to avoid ALL of the primary and secondary roads and where possible go cross country ( route needying reccying again to ensure you dont trespass someplace and get shot) .  it is better to PARALLEL roads rather than walk on them, IE walk parallel to the road about 100 or 200 yards away from it…”

        I’m sorry but I believe this to be bad advice.  Any thru-hiker or long-distance-runner will tell you that the surface on which you are walking or running plays a significant role in determining how fast and far you can travel.  The differences between concrete, asphalt, dirt, or sod significantly impact speed, distance, and wear and tear on the walker or runner’s body and equipment.  If you throw in unkept/uneven ground with roots, holes, bushes, rocks, and downed trees into the mix, you are now talking about a situation in which you will be moving much more slowly while simultaneously tearing up your equipment and body at a faster rate. For example, in the road-running community, we measure ourselves by the distance we run, knowing the surface is predictably consistent.  In the trail-running community, we measure ourselves by the amount of time we run, understanding that it is the wear-and-tear on one’s body that is the hard limiter.  Hiking and distance-walking are the same- even and smooth surfaces require less mental and physical energy, while uneven and rough surfaces require mental focus and tire you out much more quickly.  Uneven and cluttered surfaces also raise the potential for falls and ankle-sprains, especially if you are carrying a heavy pack.

        And if you are on a bicycle- on a relatively flat elevation most people of decent athletic prowess could hop on a bike and cover 60+ miles a day- on a paved road.  But 100 yards off that paved road, I suspect most people would be lucky if they could cover 10 miles, assuming they didn’t crash or get a flat tire.  Riding a bike off-road/path is very difficult, and frankly can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing.  Unless you have the right equipment and experience, don’t ride your BOB loaded bike off-road if you can help it.

        Now sure, if you’re in a WAR ZONE or a ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, or otherwise find yourself in a situation in which other humans are the main threat, by all means, stay off the road.  But if you are fleeing an earthquake, fire, hurricane, or one of the other far-more-likely disaster scenarios you may be fleeing from on foot or bicycle, stay on the roads and paths and get your body to safety as quickly and efficiently as possible.  

      • 5

        It comes down to if there is a threat of violence, robbery, ambush, or being detained /turned back then cross country wins. But if its simple evacuating to reach safety you are 100% right. Speed is essential if you are being chased by a Hurricane, but stealth is essential if its a violent societal collapse type issue.   So sensibly travelling by road in the first 72 hours to avoid a natural disaster is prudent PROVIDING those routes are open and traffic is flowing. But after say 72 hours and people are now hungry, without fuel or shelter and getting desparate, and perhaps traffic is gridlocked then cross country navigation makes the best choise. 

        Its amazing how quick things turn nasty when food, fuel and shelter run short.

    • 5

       If you are going to BO, then the safest roads for travel, which can change depending on situation at hand, is only part of the equation.

      Where are you bugging out to? What do you plan to do to sustain yourself when you get there?

      Those two considerations could make a difference as to your choice of the road less travelled.

      For most people, bugging out is a choice made for them by extreme or clear and present danger. They have no choice, but to leave. For example, being in the path of a wild fire or flood.

      Once you bug out, those above two questions come into play.

      If you are thinking about the apocalyptic scenarios as you stated about your books, then I would humbly suggest that there are very few places where you can truly disappear or have the skill sets to live undetected. Canada is the second largest country in the world. Even in our vast Northern regions, people and word get around.

      If you can find a way to acquire a property or cabin in a rural area, then you have a place to go if you have to BO. Some people I have spoken with purchased a place with a couple of trusted friends and a good legal agreement stating conditions and estate matters.

    • 3

      Edited to add: Apologies to OP – I just realized that you are already in an existing rural area.

      So, my first answer would apply to people looking BO. 

      If your hope is “to be the spot where people can bug out”, then I would suggest you get firm arrangements in place before hand with respect to who comes, their skill sets and what is necessary for them to bring if they come. Skills sets must be used and practised. If someone says they can hunt, and they have only read about it, you’re heading for trouble.

      You also need to cover long term hardship scenarios. Is your situation with the additional people sustainable? Neighbours are good to have, but if they move? Or, maybe they will have people arrive as well?

      On another post I linked an article about Katrina and how many more people showed up on a person’s rural property than were originally intended. It was the old story of the two families told two families who told……

      They able to cope because of their preparedness (and kindness), but there were practical issues of sewage.

      The scenario side of prepping can be exhausting some days. I have accepted that I cannot prepare for every single scenario and aim for as much self-sufficiency as possible, with the understanding that throughout the ages, community is how we survived in the long run.

    • 10

      My thoughts based on personal experience… we evacuated for Hurricane Rita and faced a nightmare traffic scene.  We live in a mandatory evac zone and are required to leave (not everyone does, but riding out a big storm is very unpleasant and can be fatal if your house is damaged). 

      Roadblocks and traffic created nasty bottlenecks and dramatically slowed down traffic, but it wasn’t impossible.  It took us 20 hours to go north through Houston and then drive west to Austin (it’s normally a 4 hour trip).  The first 3 hours were on a short stretch of county road (about 10 miles).  A roadblock was set up at the highway intersection forcing everyone to turn north on the highway.  People stopped to ask questions and argue with the police which caused the slowdown.

      We spent the next 14 hours or so getting through Houston, this was a mix of highway and side streets.  Eventually we decided to stick to the highway and made it through.  We turned onto a smaller highway about 60 miles NW of Houston and the traffic broke up. 

      Travel becomes impossible when the road becomes physically impassable – traffic accidents, flooding, snow/ice, mudslides etc.

      Lessons learned… 

      -Leave BEFORE a mandatory evacuation starts – even 2-3 hours makes a big difference.  Stress this with anyone you discuss it with. 
      -Smaller roads are equally risky for delays, but if you know the area you may have better luck finding gas
      – Keep gas tanks full when a hurricane / wildfire / other dangerous situations are “nearby”. 
      -Cell signals will be overloaded and unreliable (maybe they are better now – we didn’t have smart phones at that point).  Have non-online maps if you want to take alternative routes.  

      Ironically Rita turned out to be a huge practice drill for Houston (the storm weakened some and turned at the last minute). Rita happened immediately after Katrina (which devastated our next door neighbor New Orleans), and Houston hadn’t experienced a major evacuation in many years. Local government officials over-reacted and didn’t coordinate well.  People in relatively safe areas were told to leave before the high risk coastal areas were evacuated.  The mess resulted in significant improvements – there is now a phased area wide evacuation plan, fuel delivery plans, and the ability to make major interstate highways one-way out of town to reduce delays (It’s called “contraflow”).  The next big hurricane (Ike) caused much more damage in the area, but lacked the evacuation horror stories.  Hopefully the area remembers the lessons.  If you evacuate a city/area which never experiences major evacuations, it’s much more likely to be a mess.

      • 8

        After H Andrew a prepper who was an MD from Florida kept a log of his families evac.  He had a vehicle filled to the brim with fuel, plus extra jerrycans of fuel.   He delayed leaving for some reason so when he finally set off the  traffic was horrendous. Cutting to the crux of his story  (1) he drove for 14 hours non stop at an average speed of 5 to 10 mph because of traffic, (2)All the primary and secondary routes were gridlocked. (3) He ran out of fuel in the middle of nowhere in Georgia because his vehicle travelled so slowly for so long. (4) all of the filling stations were either closed by the authorities, overwhelmed by travellers or out of fuel.   They had to weather it out by the side of the road.  I believe they dodged the worst of H Andrew  but if it had reached them full strength in GA they would have been stuffed.

        Those fleeing Katrina and 911 also found traffic chaos and neither food nor fuel available.

        Better to leave early and suffer inconvenience, than to leave late and never arrive.

    • 6

      As a mother of two young girls, evacuating scares me. We already try and stay cautious and stay away from putting ourselves in compromising situations, but if we ever had to do a forced evacuation it could get scary. Do you all have any tips on how we can stay safe if we were trying to evacuate from a major city of millions of people?

      • 9

        Teach the kids that its a family game like the Boy scouts / Girl Guides, encourage them to learn to choose the clothes and equipment for their bug out bags, practice overnight camping trips first in the back yard then at a camp site. 

        When you do go its WITHOUT Makeup and Jewelry, go as the plain jane, the frumpier the better.

        If you live in the US of A consider fire arms training and buying a gun, one that the girls can be taught to use.   Failing that pepper sprays and batons ?

        On the road teach the girls to watch as well as you for strangers ( stranger danger)

        Dont stop if people try to flag you down ( unless cops)

        Avoid city centers, shopping districts, gas stations and ran down high crime areas.

        Your essential stuff, Cash Credit cards etc goes in a money belt/ garter OUT OF SIGHT, with a dummy purse / snatch with $15 in it to hand over to robbers.

        Consider teaming up with another family.

        You MUST become very VERY familiar with all of the roads, cycle routes, tow paths, country trails etc heading out of town.

        if there is only the three of you then only travel by day, if you have to use hotels and motels then get a door jamming wedge, dont rely on the door lock.

        Get on the road at daybreak the next day.

        Never ever let your cars fuel level go under what is needed to get out of the city limits or half full which ever is greater.

        If driving out DOORS LOCKED.

        Only stop for UNIFORMED police check points

        I could go on BUT PREVENTION is always better than cure so its much better to be very well informed by constantly monitoring media sources if problems in your area are likely to get worse. Then GET OUT before TSHTF.

        Its better to leave prematurely and return unscathed if nothing happens,  but you will be delighted if you get out early and then all hell breaks loose behind you.

        If you have a preplanned destination ( moms, hotel, camp ground, cabin etc) consider prepositioning kit, clothes and essentials at your destination in order for you all to be able to travel fast and light.

        Prepper rule number 1 is NEVER BECOME A REFUGEE, remain in control of your family and its liberty, you really dont want to end up in a government shelter (Remember the Arena in New Orleans during Katrina when single women were being gang raped in a supposed safe environment.)

      • 3

        @Bill Mason I like your idea of stashing some stuff at a family members house. That will greatly improve our response time because we won’t have to pack as much and can move faster because we will be carrying less. That’s also smart to look ‘frumpy’ and as unattractive as possible. If I ever get around to making a 72 hour kit, i’ll be sure to put some unflattering clothes in there. Maybe go get some baggy genderless clothes from the 90’s at the thrift store.

      • 7

        Jessica, Soonest, contact your local Emergency Operations Department and consider also contacting your State Department of Emergency Management.  Ask for the official evacuation map/route for your area.  Both your city/county probably have a website.  The state surely does. 

        After learning official evac route(s), study best/safest local route to get there. Drive this rout a couple of times unless already doing this for other reasons.

        After loading up vehicle like Bill discusses nearby, get onto the official evacuation road and remain on this route.  It is the best patrolled by both law enforcement personnel and other evac personnel.

        The scares will slowly evaporate after building up some familiarity with the plan to leave dwelling and getting onto evac road.


      • 6

        Jessica, glance at: https://www.fema.gov/locations. You’ll see the box to type in your ZIP and you’ll get started with getting official evac map.

        If necessary, also check: fhwa.dot.gov/about/webstate.cfm titled “State Transportation Web Sites”. 

      • 2

        @Bob thank you for the great idea of lookup up our official evacuation route. That will bring comfort as I know where we will be going and what road we will take. 

      • 10

        Jessica – I would like to add a couple of points to the very good tips that Bill Masen has provided.

        What I am about to say is not intended to make you (or anyone) more anxious, but is based on street-proofing. Street proofing for yourself and children very much applies during an evacuation.

        First, beware the “broken wing” predator. This applies to you or your children.

        This is the kindly old, seemingly infirm person, of any gender, who is having problems loading something into the back of a van or other such vehicle in a gas station parking lot, hotel parking lot, side of the road, fast food parking lot or grocery store parking lot.

        The victim, goes to help and as they bend over and in to lift or place the item into the van or other vehicle, they are incapacitated and thrown into the back of the vehicle.

        This has happened to people. The outcome is usually very bad, which brings me to my second point.

        Never, ever, ever allow yourself (and teach your children this) to be taken to a secondary crime site. Run if you can, scream and yell. Fight back. If there is a gun in your ribs, (and this will take courage), fine, let him pull the trigger. You may be wounded but it will make some noise, which can attract attention and help.

        You may even die, but it will be far better than to be taken to a secondary crime site where the predator intends to take his time torturing you and then killing you.

        Most victims give in when they see a weapon at the first approach. The minute a predators wants to take you to another place, they are not “just robbing you”.

        The next point is for your children’s protection. I don’t care if it’s a bug out bag or they are carrying a school bag, teach them that if they are approached by a predator who tries to lure them or actually gets in range of grabbing them, this very simple thing, “Drop everything and run baby, run.”

        This was based on an actual event witnessed by a detective. I heard him speak about the incident.

        A very young girl, around five years old, was abducted and raped. She was alive and in hospital. When her father came into the hospital room, the little girl put out her arms and as he hugged her, she began to cry and said “I didn’t lose my books, daddy.”

        The detective went on to say, we admonish our children every day, “don’t lose your books, don’t lose your bag, don’t lose your mittens. How can they run or fight back loaded down with bags and books? Teach them to drop everything and run, baby, run.”

        There are street-proofing courses for children. I strongly recommend everyone have their children (and themselves) take one. Many parents over-estimate their children’s street smarts. In hidden camera trials, there were parents who were very surprised to see their child fall for the “can you help me find my doggy” predator.

        Predators will go where there is prey and the chaos of a stressed out parent(s) during an evacuation or other disaster is not going to stop someone like that.

        A last suggestion, find a reputable martial arts school and have your children train, (as I would suggest you do). In my training, our youngest students were five years old. They were not trained to be violent or braggarts about their abilities. The children carried themselves with confidence and good bearing.

        A predator always wants the easy victim. They don’t chase the strongest antelope in the herd. They go after the young, the old, and the weak.

        Again, no intent to alarm, but there is no easy way to say some of these things. This is an issue close to my heart.

      • 8

        @Ubique it’s sad that we live in a world where we have to worry about things like this huh? Martial arts sounds like a fun sport that can help my girls build their self confidence and hopefully protect us someday if we needed to use it. I’ll have to look around and see what’s open with COVID and all, but that’s something i’m going to want to get them into. I’ll have to teach them not to pound on each other though when they are having a fight. hahaha I also like what you said about teaching them just to run at the sight of danger. My mom always taught me to scratch, punch, kick, and scream like h*** if I was ever in a situation like that.

      • 5

        Jessica – It is sad. I wish the world were different. No worries about the girls fighting each other. In a good school they will be taught the correct way to use it. Your mom was wise to teach you to fight. 

        I was introduced to martial arts (Taekwando) by a co-worker. She knew I had done dance many years before and thought I would like it. From the first moment I watched the class demonstrate the patterns, I was hooked.

        It was a tough military style school, but the training was impeccable. You don’t have to be “super athletic” or “Bruce Lee” to enjoy and reap the benefits of martial arts.

        I’m not a large person  (5’5″) and I was older when I started and couldn’t do a split for my life. I trained every day and soon, I could do full splits and touch the wall behind me over my shoulder with my toe, when stretching my leg up in front of me.

        There were great fellow students, and I wouldn’t have traded my training for the world. It changed my life. It was a wonderful stress relief from a high stress job, too.

        There are other forms such as Grav Maga, which originated in the Israeli Army. It is focussed on street fighting.

        I also went on to train in other forms. I found Aikido my second favourite martial art. It uses physics to combat an assailant. For example, if the assailant pulls you, then you go with his force and push him. If he pushes you, you pull him toward you. There is much more to it, but the idea is not to waste your energy and use his force to your advantage.

        Regardless of what you train in, enjoy it, but also remember training will only work if you are prepared to use it. For every kick or punch I executed during drills, I visualized an opponent.

        In other words, in real life, if you can’t escape, you need to be prepared to use it. Always remember two things: your biggest weapon is your brain and always trust your first instinct about a person, place or situation, no matter how silly you might feel at the time. Your first instinct will keep you safe if you listen to it.