My interest in survival began on September 10, 1979. On that day a massive tornado, actually 4 tornadoes coming together to form a monster, hit Wichita Falls, Texas. My wife had asked me over and over that day to take her to Sykes Center Mall in Wichita Falls and I told her there were storm warnings and that it was silly to make the 10+ mile trip. Sykes Center Mall took a direct hit – glad I didn’t give in. The day before I had seen a small water spout over a railroad tank from the roof at work and that was on my mind at the time.
After the tornado, my father and I went over taking some supplies that we had to see if we could help. The damage was unbelievable. Entire sections of houses and businesses were gone along Southwest Parkway, making it impossible to know even where we were; no buildings, signs or other landmarks remained until we came to where the bank used to be and only the vault remained. We learned the next day that the manager and 6 employees went into the vault, closed the door and when they emerged they were all they remained of the Safeway store and surrounding strip mall. The devastation went on and on for miles.
At our home, ten miles away, we found ourselves without electricity, water or gas for the better part of the next three days. The trunks all came from Wichita Falls and were cut due to the storm. We cooked on the fireplace, charcoal grill and used my camping equipment to get through.
Following this experience, we began to put away items to make sure we never found our family in this situation again. I brought home boxes from work and we put away gallon jugs of water, canned foods, and personal items for my wife, my children and myself. I amped up my camping equipment and purchased my first rifle and pistol to go along with my shotgun as well as several boxes of ammo for each. I took my wife out and taught her how to handle each of my guns so that she could defend herself and the kids if necessary.
We had gone back over as a group from work and took some supplies to give away. We were surprised at how people pushed and shoved for what we had brought. I put this away in the back of my mind as something to prepare for in the days ahead. If people acted like this on day 2 of a disaster, what would happen if it lasted for a week, or a month, or even longer?
The next thing I did was to stock up on firewood both at my house and at the farm located three miles north of my home. We also stocked the pantry there with food and other emergency items. Since there were three ponds on the property and a creek, we felt we had the needed water in case of emergency. We also placed some ammo there as well to make sure we had backup.
This experience changed the way we packed for travel both short and long trips and the way we looked at situations that occurred on a daily basis. I guess this made up preppers for life!