Realities of a disaster!

By “The Coach” – Contributing Editor


I thought I was fairly prepared for most disasters. Then Hurricane Katrina struck and I found out I was not as well prepared as I thought. The following article is a couple of the hard lessons that I learned during the days and weeks after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.

I live in a suburb of New Orleans, Louisiana. However, I worked in the central business district of the City of New Orleans at that time. I am retired now.

On Sunday, August 28, 2005, I was recalled to work to ride out Hurricane Katrina there. The price of gasoline increased, if you could find any, as the evacuation of southeast Louisiana was in full progress.

In the early morning hours of Monday, August 29, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the New Orleans area. As Katrina moved out, later that morning, of southeast Louisiana, we thought that the worst was over. Late that afternoon the sky cleared and we observed the devastation that Katrina had caused. Monday night we started to hear gun shots and the flooding of New Orleans started.


Tuesday, August 30, 2005, we could hear the gun shots continuing and the looting started. Law Enforcement and the military were non-existent at this time. It was from this point that we started to learn the practical aspects of how to survive after a major disaster.



I have always thought I knew what I needed to know and could survive most disasters, both natural and manmade. I was sadly mistaken.


My suggestion is not to have all of your supplies in one location. Have several cache, if not more, locations where your supplies are kept in equal quantities. This is an advantage for several reasons.


First, if a disaster destroys one of your cache at one location, you still have supplies in another cache location. It is doubtful that all of your other cache locations would be destroyed.


Second, if someone catches you off guard, you can use one of your caches to barter your way free and not lose everything that you have.


Third, if someone finds one of your caches and takes it, you still have your other caches to help you survive.


Now, I will give you something else to think about. Post Katrina, we saw many signs in the New Orleans area that said, “You loot, we shoot!” If you use deadly force on someone that is looting, when civilization and the government come back and order is restored, will you be charged with murder? It happened here in New Orleans.



I am NOT an attorney, however, if you shoot someone that did not pose an immediate threat of great bodily harm or immediate death to you or a close family member, you are probably going to have major legal problem. Many people went to jail, including police officers, for shooting looters here when civilization came back.


However, can you hold that looter perpetrator till the law enforcement authorities come by? Could you make a citizen’s arrest? If so, how long can you hold the perpetrator before you need to let him go? When can you shoot someone or detain someone?


You need to check with your attorney or your local county prosecutor to determine what the laws are in your area! I would write a letter or send your request in an e-mail so that you have their answers on paper. The laws on this change dramatically from state to state and from county to county. DO NOT believe what someone has told you about when you can and cannot shoot or detain someone. Find out for yourself! If you listen to someone’s advise other than your attorney or the county prosecutor, they will not be going to jail but you may.



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4 thoughts on “Realities of a disaster!”

  1. Coach, My Army Reserve unit was down to Miami after hurricane Andrew, we first went to a location north of Miami and met up with other units for a convoy south. We left around midnight with a police escort to interstate 95 where we picked up a state trooper for escort to our site in Miami. The police told all the drivers do not stop for anything or anybody as we have our trucks and persons looted or worse, if we did run over anyone the police would call it in. Our trooper escort told us the same thing plus to watch our mirrors as thieves would pull along side, get on your truck and heave goods into their vehicles. With in a half hour or so of getting to our site 12 police cars went by and the trooper told they were going to a aid of a police officer who had been shoot for his gun. there many instances of guns being stolen from police and service members. I hope I never have to shoot some one but I will do what I have too to protect my family and myself, it is better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.

  2. re: shooting looters, not sure I’d want to inquire on the legalities of it with anyone that might later be investigating or prosecuting me for having had to do it. “Didn’t you ask about this exact scenario last year, Mr Smith?”. Better, imo, to give the looter a cheap toy handgun afterwards and stick to the story that “it looked real enough to me at the time Officer”.


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