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Mississippi flooding | Preparedness gear proved its worth


Preppers/survivalists/bushcrafters prepare for disasters, hoping they never have to use their stuff.

Our preparedness gear came in handy recently when the Pearl River in Jackson, Miss. flooded, and mandatory home evacuations were ordered.

by Leon Pantenburg

The south has been socked with rain for the last several months. Since January 1, Mississippi has received more than 20 inches of rain. This has saturated the ground, lead to flooding, and in some cases forced residents to flee to higher ground.

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That was the case at Harbor Pines Mobile Home Community, located about four miles from where I live. We drove by and saw the flooded community. My wife Debbie decided we should do something. She contacted the management office and offered to set up a free food station on Saturday, when the major cleanup would start.

We were open for business at lunch time.

This is where out preparedness gear worked out great. We arrived about 9:30 a.m. and were ready to serve food by 11 a.m. The menu was chicken stew and chili. We kept up with a steady stream of hungry people. I had to leave once to get more ingredients!

Here is the gear and supplies we used.

Tropical Envy Boutique, a nearby local business, loaned us a canopy to cook under in case it rained. Luckily, we needed it more for shade.

Pantry: Many of the ingredients we needed were already on hand. I bought hamburger at Kroger’s, even though we have a freezer full of venison. (We didn’t know if someone might have a food allergy. If all the food was USDA approved that could help eliminate any concerns.)

We had plenty of canned pinto, black and chili beans on hand. We could have used dehydrated onion and garlic, but opted for fresh. Though we did do a grocery run, our food storage could have been used exclusively to feed people.

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We could react quickly because our gear was ready to go, and much of the food was already available.

Camp Chef Double Burner Propane cooker: Our cooker gets used regularly throughout the year. It went on a hunting trip just three weeks ago. The cooker is sturdy enough to hold two full heavy cooking pots. It provides enough heat to flash fry fish. (Here is the stove review.)

We also had plenty of propane on hand, but I got a new tank anyway, since we didn’t want to risk running short.

If necessary, a very efficient stove can be made out of salvaged bricks.

This stove can be made with 16 bricks and no tools. In the aftermath of a disaster, make several of these and start boiling drinking water and cooking.

Dutch ovens: Every long term preparedness kit should include at least one Dutch oven. (Here is what you need to get started in Dutch oven cooking.) We used 10-inch and 12-inch deep Dutch ovens and a tall cast iron gumbo pot. The cutting boards, knives and kitchen utensils came from our kitchen and camping gear.

Seasonings: We store bulk seasonings. Eating food that tastes the same every day can be dangerous. Some people might quit eating entirely. We had plenty of seasoning available for the stew and the chili.

Recipes: I maintain that simple, tasty recipes that can be cooked outside are survival tools. Our chili and chicken stew recipes were nothing fancy, but they tasted good on a cold morning. (Here are three go-to recipes for the beginner Dutch oven cook.)

Disasters have both good and bad associated with them. The bad part, of course, was the property damage. Many people had to leave quickly – some with only 30 minutes notice – and find some place to stay until they were allowed to go back home. For some of these people, that travail lasted six days.

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Since the gas and electricity was shut off, any frozen food was spoiled. One lady on a fixed income told me she had just spent $274 on food the day before she had to leave. All that food spoiled.

Debbie ran the drive up for folks who were taking food to shut-ins.

Several disabled people had a hard time finding a refuge that could accommodate wheelchairs. A man, his wife and three children came to eat. He told me that he had bought a trailer in the park three years ago so he could save up to buy a house.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen now,” he said. “I’ll have to spend money to clean and repair the trailer, and who would buy it after all this flooding?”

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But the good part was wonderful. There was a bustling “Can Do” attitude about all the cleanup work. We fed the trash collectors, the mail carriers and prepared chili to go for shut-ins who had just returned home that morning. Every one was cheerful and had an upbeat attitude.

There were volunteers from church groups, civic organizations and neighbors all over, doing whatever they could. You never saw so many smiles, though I did see tears in the eyes of one woman as I handed her a hot bowl of chili.

Debbie and I didn’t do that much. But we were thankful we could do something, and that the preparedness tools were on hand so we could respond quickly. That’s kinda what preparedness is all about!

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