Congratulations to Joshua, our final Preparedness Stories Contest winner! See how an ordinary afternoon turned into a fight for survival for Joshua, with vital lessons on preparing for unexpected, everyday emergencies. Read on or listen to the interview below.
Up to His Knees in Water & Afraid for His Life
EE: What would you say has motivated you to stay so determined over the years to become this prepared?
Joshua: The thing that really motivated me was years ago I was stuck alone at home. It was just any other day. Just another basic storm, you know. And it was just raining and raining.
It started sometime in the afternoon around five. And after about two hours or so I was chilling upstairs and it was [still] raining nonstop. I decided to go downstairs and when I got to the bottom of the stairs I noticed that my feet [were] getting wet.
I turn[ed] on the light and I notic[ed] that the floor had layers of water on it. And it's like seeping through the concrete. Water was [pouring] in from a piece of piping or tubing that comes from outside and runs to where my power box is.
EE: This is one of the things that some people do overlook. Water will get through anything. And it sounds like in this case, that small opening was enough to get through and start doing serious damage to your home.
Joshua: I was really afraid for my life—that I was going to get electrocuted. Because you have water pouring out of the tube, running right down to where the fuse box is and you have to shut the power off at the fuse box.
EE: You ran across the flooded floor to turn off the fuse box?
EE: Wow. So you disabled the power to your house. And do you remember what you did next?
Joshua: Yeah, for four hours till 10 or 11 o’clock at night [I sat there] with buckets and a little push broom trying to push water towards the downstairs door trying to just throw the water outside. It seemed like the water was coming in more than what I was able to get out.
It didn't stop raining until I think like four or five o’clock the next morning.
EE: So just hours and hours of nonstop rain?
Joshua: Yeah, so at seven o’clock when I got up in the morning when I went back downstairs [and] I was literally up to my knees in water.
Joshua survived alone in a tent, in the desert outside his home, for days.
EE: And so at this point the house is unlivable?
Joshua: Well, yeah. For one, the stuff in the house started to mold and stink and would float upstairs.
So at that point I decided to set up a tent outside until I was able to clean up and get rid of the rotten stuff.
EE: How did you end up living? You must have been able to pull out blankets—something to sleep with? Food must have survived, so [were] you were able to scrounge something to eat?
Joshua: There was canned food and ramen—stuff that was easy to make. Everything in the freezer pretty much went bad [since I didn't have] power for ten hours or so. I was able to cook on a gas stove but had to use matches because there was no power.
At that time I didn't have a cell phone [and] no power to run the house line. Literally, I had to sit there because the closest person was my grandma and she was out of town.
EE: You were just alone with no way to call out?
Joshua: No way to call out, no way to let anyone know I had no power and couldn’t get anything, with food going bad int the fridge.
Three-Quarters of His Medication Wiped Out
If you're able, stock up on extra medication and keep it in a safe place.
EE: So you were there for a few days, surviving in that tent. You can't get ahold of your family who were miles and miles away. And you say that you have your blood clot medication that you need to take on a very regular basis. How did you handle that?
Joshua: Well what happened during the flood is my medical supplies—syringes, gauze, alcohol, my factor [medicine]—were all getting contaminated with dirty water
EE: Which makes them unusable, right?
Joshua: Right. You need sanitized stuff.
EE: And so you were able to rescue some?
Joshua: I was able to scrounge some of my medical supplies and go through and try to sort out what wasn't destroyed and try to get my factor [medicine] and get anything I could use out to the tent.
EE: How much you were able to salvage?
Joshua: I have a month’s worth sent every month and after [the flood] I had about a week’s worth of factor [medicine] and supplies.
EE: Wow, so fully three quarters of your medication was wiped out.
Joshua: Yes. It takes anywhere from a week to get authorization to send and then another week just to receive it. And when you only have a week’s worth, that can be really stressful.
EE: So what did you end up doing?
Joshua: Stretching it out. I was taking my medicine every two days and so I tried stretching that out an extra day.
EE: So you were able to kind of make due in that way. What's going through you mind as you're sitting out in that tent? Are you wondering whether you would be OK?
Joshua: I was definitely worrying about whether things were going to be alright. I'm sitting there underneath a tree, hoping I can keep things cool; enough just so I can keep my factor [medicine] at room temperature.
EE: How were you able to keep it cool?
Joshua: I would take the hose out there and spray around the bottom side of my tent and then the top of the branches where the trees were so that way when they were dripping down they would kind to build up the humidity.
After the Flood…Putting Out Fires
With equipment from his emergency supplies, Joshua was able to contain a large fire and prevent it from spreading into the desert.
EE: Since then— being in a true life or death scenario—that was the starting point for you. You've started your prep and you've been able since then to help out with some emergencies in your area, I hear.
Joshua: Yeah, twice now I've had to deal with fires. The lot next door to me has all kinds of brushes and trees. I got woken up at four o’clock in the middle of the night, ran out there and the hill above us was on fire.
With my buckets of water and my fire extinguisher I was able to put it out and to keep it contained to the trailer.
EE: Did you say that you keep a fire extinguisher. Buckets too?
Joshua: Yes I keep two five-gallon water jugs filled with water.
A thing I’ve noticed with fires is that initially putting out a blaze is there are a lot of burning coals there at the bottom and it's just going to reignite. [So] you hit it first with the extinguisher to stop the blaze and then hit it with water to keep it out.
A selection of Joshua's emergency supplies—fire blankets and multiple extinguishers.
EE: A two-phased approach.
Joshua: Yes, I kept the fire it contained to the trailer [that way] till the fire department showed up about 15 minutes later.
And then I had another active fire just a month later. [That was] was a team effort. Both my neighbors were out there helping to fight the fire. By the time the fire department arrived we pretty much had it out.
EE: This is the way that major wilderness fires can start, so obviously hats off to you and I hope your neighbors thanked you for being there.
Eight Years Later, And Still Prepping
A selection of Joshua's emergency supplies—long-term food and water.
EE: Thank you for sharing you story! Id' like to talk about your supply, what you managed to put away over the years.
Joshua: Over the years I've been able to stock up on a variety water in buckets and totes along with freeze dried and canned foods. I have a couple months’ worth of that separated in different totes and buckets.
EE: Is it separated in any particular order?
Joshua: Yes, I have different assortments in different containers, just in case I'm not able to grab everything.
EE: That's super smart because you never know what the circumstance is going to be, what you'll be able to grab, how much time you'll have.
Joshua: Just in case, I also have some water purification tablets, so I could either collect sources from natural sources or streams.
I also have a tent and other camping gear, clothes and other stuff. Warm gear, cold-weather gear. I have a gasoline and propane generator and a Jackery generator and the solar panels. I have that stuff in EMP proof bags.
Hydroponics are a great option for emergency supplies. With the right equipment they are easy to grow and super portable.
EE: How have you been able to collect so many supplies?
Joshua: Pretty much little by little. Every couple months I put a little bit of money away until I have enough to go out and buy like $100 or so dollars’ worth of water for food that's freeze-dried.
I [also] have hydroponic stuff and seeds of every variety. But the thing about hydroponic buckets is that that instead of having plants stuck in the ground, you can transport your food.
Keeping Meds Stocked—More Complicated Than You Might Think
EE: Can I talk to you for just a minute as well about your medication? What have you done since then as you've prepared? Have you been able to build up more of a supply? Have you protected it?
Joshua: I have a little bit more of a supply, yes. [And] I keep it in double bags instead of sitting [open] on shelves.
I have some things in a five-gallon bucket in a tote so it's protected. I've actually taped it for pests and the water.
And then I have the gas-powered generator and portable power sources—the Jackery generators that I can use to run fans [to keep my medication at room temperature]. I have a little ice chest in my room and a bigger ice chest upstairs. I have an ice pack in my freezer, [too]. I can take them out of the freezer and put them in the ice chest with my factor [medication].
EE: You know, if more people took initiative the way you have, we'd be in a lot better shape. Thank you so much for sharing. We appreciate your story.
Joshua: Yes, thank you.
"Basic Hydroponic Garden" by J Wynia is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
"Lone Desert Tent" by RoadUP is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/