The Right Way to Prep

I-94 in Detroit Yesterday

Frequently, I harp on two points. The first is to not prepare for a specific event, but to prepare for the second and third order effects of ANY event. The second point I harp on is to have more than method of escape planned.

Friday night, when I went to bed, there was a moderate thunderstorm on-going, but no real threats. When I woke up just a couple of hours later (I went bed at 2:30 AM and got up at 6 AM), the entire metro area was flooded. My subdivision sits on a hill, so my house was secure, but the end of the subdivision entrance was under at least 3 feet of water.

Michigan Avenue, the major west suburban trunkline for those who don’t live here, was under 4 feet of water at the crucial I-275 junction.

The Metro Detroit freeways are actually cut down below the surface of the City, because it seemed easier than building up. That was a mistake. Below is a picture of I-94. The water was so deep, even hours later, that the Michigan State Police sent Dive Teams out go underwater and check fully submerged cars for dead bodies. It was that bad.


This is the very reason I discuss preparing for second and third order effects. The flood was a first order effect. The second order effects were blocked roadways and water everywhere. The third order effects were the inability to resupply food, get to work, and cascading cell phone failures. Those are the things you need prepare for, rather than just saying “I’m preparing for a flood”.

If you prepare for the second and third order effects, it doesn’t matter what the event that occurs; you’ll be ready. The problem in preparing exclusively for, say a Chinese Invasion, is that all your preparations won’t necessarily help in the current event. Having all kinds of night vision, ammo, and tripwires will not help you one bit if you are trapped behind a flood.

However, having food, water, and battery-operated lighting will help you no matter what event you face. That’s the goal we should be striving for. The right was to prep is to prepare for second and third order effects. In this event, I had radio contact with others who could help, even if the phones went fully down.

From my sub entrance

If your emergency plans only involve bugging out by vehicle, your entire plan is out the window in a flood situation. Keep in mind, also, that flooding can be secondary to other events. An earthquake can cause flooding. A power grid attack that takes down power will result in mass flooding at the first storm due to storm drain pumps not working. The lesson here is to always have alternate escape plans, like foot routes out of the area.

The entire philosophy of preparing for second & third order effects is fully described in Volume 1 of the Tactical Wisdom Series, The Base Line Training Manual.

I decided to use the flood as a readiness test (Since I was clearly not going anywhere), so I began a foot movement towards a local trailhead that leads out of the area. Along the way, I encountered a local man, who was removing a manhole cover, and placing his vehicle over it. He explained that he does this to help with water flow into the sewer and letting the air bubbles flow out, allowing faster drainage. I took a quick note, because he had completely drained the street around him quickly by doing this. He placed his vehicle over it for safety.

I quickly realized that my first route out was impassable due to water, but my second foot route would be high and dry, because it’s the railroad bed, that intersects with a power line, which then intersects with the same trail system. Use the PACE concept: Primary/Alternate/Contingency/Emergency in planning routes. I have 4 vehicle and 4 routes out pre-planned. Testing during an actual flood validated that my plan was viable, despite a setback from the primary route.

I hope this helps you plan and triggers your thinking.

We have finished the writing and are now editing Volume 2, Fieldcraft. We are hoping for a weekend launch or early next week. The cover is being done by our graphic design contractor as I write.

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Donation – June 2021

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Published by JD

I am the author of the Tactical Wisdom Series. I am a personal protection specialist and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. I conduct preparedness and self-defense training.

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