“People are walking like zombies looking for food. It’s like a movie…. It’s like the end of the world.”

I can hear it already: “There’s goes crazy ol’ Father Z again! Every time there is a big disaster, he posts about prepping!”

That’s right.

That’s because it could happen to you.

Natural disasters happen. Man made disasters happen. They can happen where you are and to you.

Do you have any sort of plan? Taking care of yourself and your loved ones is not something you want to be sloppy about.

I read in one story about the devastation caused in the Philippines by the super typhoon

Typhoon Survivors Hunt For Food ‘Like Zombies’

The zombie thing is a bit of a joke in pop culture. This isn’t a joke. Nope. Not funny at all.

Survivors of the super typhoon that has devastated several islands in the Philippines have begun scavenging for food and looting shops in order to stay alive, witnesses say.

Shopping centres and grocery stores in hard-hit Tacloban have reportedly been stripped of goods as rescuers’ efforts to deliver food and water are hampered by severed roads and communications.

“Tacloban is totally destroyed. Some people are losing their minds from hunger or from losing their families,” high school teacher Andrew Pomeda, 36, said as he warned of the increasing desperation of survivors.

“People are becoming violent. They are looting business establishments, the malls, just to find food, rice and milk. I am afraid that in one week, people will be killing from hunger.”

Witnesses described how survivors are forming long queues at aid stations, waiting desperately for handouts of rice and water.

Some sit and stare, covering their faces with rags to keep out the smell of the dead.

One woman, eight months pregnant, described through tears how her 11 family members vanished in the storm, including two daughters.

“I can’t think right now. I am overwhelmed,” she said.

During a visit to Tacloban, President Benigno Aquino acknowledged that looting had emerged as a major concern after only 20 out of 390 of the city’s police officers turned up for work following the typhoon.

“So we will send about 300 police and soldiers to take their place and bring back peace and order,” he said.

“Tonight, an armoured vehicle will arrive and our armed forces will display the strength of the state to put a stop to this looting.”

Aid agencies have warned that many of the 480,000 people whose homes have been destroyed by the bludgeoning force of the cyclone face a desperate battle to survive.

“Everything is gone. Our house is like a skeleton and we are running out of food and water. We are looking for food everywhere,” said Jenny Chu, a medical student in Leyte.

“Even the delivery vans were looted. People are walking like zombies looking for food. It’s like a movie.

Nancy Chang, who was in Tacloblan City on a business trip from China and walked three hours through mud and debris for a military-led evacuation, said: “It’s like the end of the world.


The rest is horrible.

“It’s like the end of the world.”

TEOTWAWKI can happen to you.

Having a plan and a ready stash of potable water, grab-n-go food, clothing, a back up of necessary meds, and… yes… weapons and ammo for hunting and for protection are bare necessities.  After a while money won’t be worth much, compared to, say, a can of pickled okra.

I say, spend some money now for things that have real value, including items that can keep you and your loved ones healthy and alive in time of need.

“But Father! But Father!”, you might be howling. “GUNS? For protection? You are a fear-mongering war-monger.  People are nice when we are nice to them.  Besides, Pres. Obama will send the government to help us! And you hate Vatican II!”

Sure when the food runs out, people will be nice.

I rather think that people will get strange.  Wait until all the people who are on (often over-prescribed) drugs for their depression or for their other mental states… come off their meds way too fast and get a crazy.  People who are hungry and thirsty and frightened for their children can get pretty desperate.  And dogs get wilder fast and form packs.

You can always trade ammo.

We are all nine meals and three days of water away from looting and violence.

Look. Aside from EMPs from attacks or CMEs, when tornadoes rip through places like Joplin, Missouri, I think about readers here. There are floods, earthquakes, … lots of bad things happen to real people.  They can happen to real people like you and like me.

You might want to read the Deep Winter series.  Lights Out and One Second After also present scenarios that provoke thought.  There are lots of books in this genre.  This genre of writing is not great literature, but it drills into the sorts of things that could happen to you and me.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Global Killer Asteroid Questions, Semper Paratus, TEOTWAWKI and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. EXCHIEF says:

    In this era in which people unwisely think nothing bad will ever happen to them BUT if it does the “government” will take care of them, your advice to be prepared is well taken. Even a “minor” weather related event can wreck havoc that at the very least will seriously inconvenience folks if not put their lives in peril. Where we live a major winter storm could cause a prolonged loss of power, make traveling to the closest town for food impossible, and drop temperatures to 25 below zero. Without some advanced preparation that could make one mighty cold and hungry and if roads remain impassable for a week or so (could happen very easily) starvation and hypothermia are not your friends.
    So we prep for such things with food supplies for 90 days, gasoline to run a generator which can power our well pump and thus provide water for family and animals and, yes guns and ammo in the event they are needed for either protection or provisions. We also keep our vehicle’s fuel tanks full during winter and have a “go kit” in each vehicle consisting of food, water, sleeping bag, extra clothes, an amateur radio transceiver, and, yes a gun and ammo.

    We hope and pray such survival items are never needed, but then I suppose the people in the Philippines did as well. Been in the public safety business too long to take chances and certainly long enough to know that relying on government is too risky.

  2. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    So sad, and so horrible. We are sending some money . . . all that we can manage.

    The Church distinguishes between two kinds of taking goods that belong to another: unjust and just. The unjust taking of another’s goods is called stealing, and is a serious sin. An example of this would be during a national emergency, to loot television sets, designer clothing and shoes, jewelry, and liquor.

    An example of taking which is not a sin would be in a national emergency, where no other form of relief is available, would be to loot food, water, warm clothing, medical supplies, and the like – items necessary to sustain one’s own life and that of one’s family. Under such conditions, commercial items which constitute the necessities of life belong to anyone who can obtain them.

  3. Lin says:

    Just finished reading Cyberstorm. Not great great literature either, but really makes you think about what one would need to survive during a major cyber attack! We are so dependent today on the Internet and computers that it may not be a nuclear war or natural disaster that takes us down. Since we live in a rural area, I see buying a farm in my future. And fortunately, we live about a mile away from a fresh water lake. I totally forgot about people running out of medications. Perhaps we don’t really want to live through that. Confession! Live near a priest!

  4. Maltese says:

    Don’t buy a farm–you will be the most vulnerable person on earth! When I hiked in Glacier National Park, I had bells on my backpack to signal to bears my approach. The week before, someone was attacked by a bear–and died–because they threw food at an approaching bear. If things were to get really out of control, a small community in Idaho or Montana is probably your safest bet stateside. Like a said earlier, a rosary, a Remington 870 (with LOTS of buckshot and slug-rounds on hand), plenty of MREs and canned foods, tons of water you can make potable through filtration or other purification, and high-end (-40 degree) down sleeping bags will see you through. Also, a wood-burning stove and lots of firewood. But stay in a community; please don’t make yourself carrion to the looting bears! (think crazy-eyed cannibals riding in old pickups with 50 cals on homemade mounts)!

  5. Elizabeth D says:

    I live 5 minutes walk from a lake and I think that I could go a number of days without eating if I had to. I have a spare container of instant coffee on hand, which would provide about a month’s worth of anti-hunger-pangs relief. Plus I live 4 minutes walk from a Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration chapel where I can pray for God to provide the help we need. And I have 2 vegetarian MREs.

    double posting what I posted on an older post:

    I got a robocall today from the head of a group I have given to in the past, Cross Catholic Outreach saying they are collecting donations to send to local Catholic partners to help there. Cross Catholic is endorsed by the USCCB and their approach is that they partner with LOCAL Catholic parishes, charity groups, religious sisters etc to fund their own LOCAL and Catholic-identified initiatives. I like this better than giving to CRS. You can go here to read their pitch for assistance for the Philippines and donate: http://crosscatholic.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=292169

    Basically, they intend to collect donations and wire money to local Catholic organizations already on the ground to do what they can beginning immediately.

  6. Maltese says:

    Oh, and a .22 and bird shot for game. Big game can be taken down with a slug round out of a shotgun at 100 yards, if you are good.

  7. StJude says:

    Awful what has happened in the Philippines. My thoughts and prayers are with them.

    I dont live in a coastal area… no where close but i do live in an area that has tornados and winter storms. It only makes sense to have at least a weeks worth of food and water.

  8. Priam1184 says:

    I’d be dead inside a week I think. I live in an urban area and hunting, except for people, is not an option if the car doesn’t work. Don’t care how many guns or how much ammo I have it wouldn’t be enough to hold off an angry, starving mob if I was on my own without an army, and violence was the only option. Large amounts of food and water (enough to share with your neighbors so maybe just maybe you would have some friends when the mob showed up) are a good idea though. [What you describe could be part of the plan, starting with some networking so you don’t have to handle everything alone.]

  9. Patruus says:

    The American meteorologist and blogger Anthony Watts, who has some Philippino ancestry, has recommended that donations for typhoon relief be sent to the Philippine Red Cross at http://ushare.redcross.org.ph/

    The amount to be donated has to be specified in Philippine pesos (PhP), and that’s easily estimated via a Google search query such as “50 USD in PHP”.

  10. Rachel K says:

    Yes, it is good advice to be prepared, we do become reliant on the “system” to provide for us to the point where we don’t think for ourselves any more.
    But the poor Philippino people; many of them are in such poverty, they could not have provided much for themselves in the way of extra provision. We are privileged to be able to do so for our families.
    I also note with unease reference in a report to relief services providing for “vulnerable girls and women” – afraid this usually means the abortifacient pill. Reminds me of Mother Teresa saying wryly- ” I was hungry and you have me a contraceptive” .
    Are any reputable Catholic relief agencies able to access those in need yet? Here in Europe we have the excellent Aid to the Church in Need founded by Bl John Paul’s friend Fr Werenfried van Straaten. I am hoping they are able to help and will send a donation.

  11. Pingback: Maybe it’s time to shut off the world..and pray | therasberrypalace

  12. pmullane says:

    Another point about arming oneself Father, is that you can become a source of order in the chaos. A stout man with a gun can ensure that the weak have access to the provisions available, as well as the strong. We can only help those in need if we are able to help those in need.

    God Bless the Philippines.

    [And if you carry two guns, you can arm someone else in a pinch.]

  13. Moro says:

    And Go to confession. Situations like this might make it difficult to get to a priest

    [All the more reason to create a network of people on whom you can carry (and who can rely on you)… including a priest.]

  14. akp1 says:

    Yes, be prepared, and especially be spiritually prepared. I’ve read reports on the Philippine disaster that people had stocked up in preparation, but all was washed away along with their homes, so there is only so much we can prepare for.

  15. Phil_NL says:

    The one thing about these kind of scenarios is that the methods recommended to deal with them tend to assume a couple of facts which may be true for much of the US, but rarely elsewhere.

    For starters, options become much more limited if basically your entire country is urban/suburban. The nearst land one could live from (not to mention the literally millions of people who’d compete over it) without ransacking farm-animals you don’t own or having extensive survival skills, may be hunderds of kilometers away (I’d say 200, in my case), not to mention he fact that posession of weapons and ammo is pretty much illegal over here (in the Netherlands) unless you set up an extensive sports-shooting cover-up.
    Secondly, in an urban setting the amount of emergency stocks and equipment one can reasonably stack up are much smaller – a generator in an apartment doesn’t tend to be a realistic option.

    There are plenty of scenarios where getting out in time is the only viable strategy, and if one cannot get out, things will start getting nasy very soon; the only hope then is that it will clear up before your front door gives way.

  16. Imrahil says:

    Well… one of the good things to prepare oneself with is to, quoting our reverend host, go to Confession.

    Another is to memorize a couple of prayers, absolutely including the Rosary, acts of faith, hope and charity, and most importly of contrition.

    Another is to get some decent education.

    Why so?

    Because the time may come when you sit in a corner starving and thirsting… or perhaps not thirsting (drinking possibly dirty water, but if one is thirsty…), only starving… those who were more ready to get violent robbed all your stored goods, that is apart from those which the flood itself took away… the gun was jammed when it should work, and they just ran over you…

    one of the most important things is not to despair – certainly not in the moral sense, but preferably also not in the psychical sense.

    In the lesson, or admittedly only discourse, on what to do when being held hostage, our captain told us to think about things, no matter what, for example counting prime numbers.

    If you have some education, it may become easier to occupy your mind while awaiting slow death.

    In fact, coming to think of it, a little pocket Bible (which I don’t have yet) of a size you would not think likely to be destroyed by the catastrophe might come in useful.

    Also, you might get learn some casuistry for not to get mad from false guilt when missing the Sunday Mass or stealing your bare necessities.

  17. Imrahil says:

    It would, perhaps, also be useful to learn some rhymed verses, preferably of a joyful nature.

    Old King Cole was a merry old soul, and a merry old soul was he /
    He called for his pipe, and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three. /
    Every fiddler he had a fiddle, – – And a very fine fiddle had he /
    Oh there’s none so rare, as can compare with King Cole and his fiddlers three.

  18. Imrahil says:

    Coming to think of it, about the guns and ammo…

    I do not mean to contradict our reverend host about their usefulnesd (though that’s illegal in some places), [Illegal won’t be the biggest problem.] but in such a situation they could become an occasion of sin of different degrees depending on the person’s psychic constitution under unexperienced extreme conditions. [Pah! So could anything else.]

    By which I do not primarily mean running amok and killing other people.

  19. Maltese says:

    Don’t forget knife fighting:


    But remember what Sartre said: “…handing over a bank note is enough to make a bicycle belong to me, but my entire life is needed to realize this possession.” Get a good fixed-blade, but train your mind and your body to use it. Many prep with dry goods and guns, but wouldn’t be worth a hoot if something bad really did happen because the most they can lift is their fingered remote! Actually I have a friend who practices with a knife almost every day, and swears he can draw and kill faster with it within ten feet than anyone with a gun!

    But, memento mori: live every day like it could be your last.

  20. Imrahil says:

    Reverend dear @Fr Z,

    Illegal won’t be the biggest problem.

    Not then, but for the time being it’s kind of uncomfortable to put oneself in danger of imprisonment. [Well, we all want everyone to be comfortable.]

  21. Imrahil says:

    Reverend dear @Fr Z,

    yes we do; we just bear incomfortability when it must be.

    And that was not even touching the question whether obedience in conscience could be owed to these laws.

  22. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    Super Typhoon Yolanda hammered the Philippines with a ferocity greater than the strength of Hurricane’s Katrina and Sandy combined. Médecins Sans Frontières described the devastation as unprecedented for the disaster-prone archipelago. The storm may have claimed up to 10,000 lives, with tens upon tens of thousands of others suffering without food, water, shelter – affected for their very survival by the warzone-like devastation left in its wake.

    Yet, you chose to write a post without a single word of support for the afflicted or urging readers to directly assist by donating, however small, to Philippines Red Cross http://www.redcross.org.ph/ or Catholic relief agencies.

    Learn from Pope Francis and put into action direct help through the Church as a field hospital after battle.

  23. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    The Pope shared his concern for the victims with pilgrims at today’s Angelus in Rome.
    “I want to assure the people of the Philippines and of that region who were struck by the terrible typhoon of my closeness,” he said.

    The crowds who were gathered for the noontime prayer in St. Peter’s Square clapped in solidarity.

    “Unfortunately, the victims were many and the damage enormous,” Pope Francis continued.

    “Let us pray a moment in silence, to the Madonna, for these our brothers and sisters,” he asked.

    The square packed with pilgrims fell silent for a moment before the Pope led everyone in a Hail Mary.

    The Pontiff then exhorted, “Let us try also to reach out to them with practical help.”

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