One could argue that the city is the crowning achievement of man’s collective technological, economic, and cultural might and sophistication. Because we’re human; insatiably curious and rarely satisfied, cities have grown into megacities. The mere thought of large cities evokes feelings of decadence and revulsion in some, similarly, others view the country and those who live there, i.e., rural areas, with amusement and disdain. Having lived in some of the most prominent cities in the country, I’m going to weigh in on this one as it relates to prepping.
When SHTF, which is safest and most likely to survive the event unscathed? Well, that depends on a great many things, chiefly, the known hazards of the area and the level of preparedness of those who live there. Prepping is no more alien to New Yorkers than it is to the inhabitants of Utqiagvik, (Barrow) AK. Again, the first steps in crafting an effective and viable emergency plan are a hazard analysis followed by a careful needs analysis. The concentration of so many people, the ready availability of goods and services as well as the relative ease of moving around are all part of the lure of the city.
However, in the aftermath of disasters as well as in the face of planned events, our modern infrastructures can be easily overwhelmed by the concentration of people and the collapse of the modern supply chain. To add to the confusion and chaos, moving large groups of people in a large city is challenging in normal times.
Recall that New York City’s subway was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in late October of 2012 and the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, MARTA, struggled to maintain regular operations with a three-fold increase in its daily passenger load during the 1996 Olympics.
Of course, in many small towns and outlying areas, mass transit is minimal to nonexistent. Outlying areas tend to be sparsely populated over a large geographic area. Depending upon the nature and extent of the disaster, it may take a while for help to arrive. Factor in the damage to roads and bridges, you can clearly see the makings of a long and slow recovery. Sometimes, small towns and rural areas never fully recover from a disaster or when the major industry shuts down.
They sort of settle into a prolonged depression where people talk and dream of better times. I’ve always believed that people in smaller communities are closer to their neighbors and perhaps a bit tougher and more resilient than their city cousins. Certainly, if you live in an area in which the nearest large grocery store is an hour away, you know a thing or two about emergency supplies and being ready for the worst. Whether they're friendlier or kinder, I hope to find out for myself.
All of this leads me back to the purpose of all of this: building a community. Regardless of where you choose to live, you need other people. Aside from the goods and services, we need regular, positive, and healthy interactions with other humans. This might not be given much thought while your young and healthy; however, good health and beauty quickly fade. A shoulder to cry on, a couch on which to sleep in a pinch or a trip down memory lane over coffee. Inevitably, relationships have a season. Despite our intentions, times change and so do people. We move on and away or our circumstances change. None of this is to suggest that you should forgo forging viable relationships when the opportunity presents itself. It’s a
reminder of the fragility and the fleeting nature of all things truly worthwhile and invaluable.
I’ve enjoyed my life in big cities with high tech movies theaters, world-class museums, and haute cuisine. There’s always something to do and the opportunity to meet new and lifelong friends is always present. I have fonder memories of living in the farmhouse in rural South Carolina that my grandmother grew up in.
Every fall, I'd watch the birds fly further south for the winter. I didn’t know that cows grew winter coats until I saw them do it. Going outside to play in the backyard was roughly 500 acres. I have no idea where the closest grocery store was, and the closest neighbor, whom I don’t think I ever saw outside was also family. Fewer people and a slower pace of life are two of the many realities that will require very little in the way of adjusting. I’m really looking forward to becoming an old man in the country.