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Authors Note: The article Teaching Children Financial Self-Reliance created so much attention and was shared so many times, thank you, that I have posted a savings plan on my Totally Ready facebook page. Please check it out and challenge yourself and your children to become more financially self reliant. I will also be posting money saving tips there each week.

The Paradise California firestorm set the nation reeling with the unbelievable number of people who lost their lives and around 15,000 homes and businesses destroyed. There are many videos online of the horror as people drove thru pillars of fire escaping destruction normally seen only in movies that we roll our eyes at and say how overdone the images were. This time they were all too real.

Could a disaster happen to you? You bet it could – it has to many, and it will in the future. Food supplies quickly disappear when looming disaster is apparent. You may say what is the point when everyone in Paradise lost their food storage? Those in Chico, California thankfully did not. Where did those from Paradise flee to for support and refugee? Chico. We see this with every disaster, food storage used to help the survivors, not just ourselves.

You don’t live in a fire prone area? What about the gas line explosion this past September? The pressure in the natural gas pipelines under three Massachusetts communities spiked to 12 times their normal level just before the explosions and fires destroyed dozens of homes and killed an 18-year-old man. That can happen anywhere. Truck drivers are planning a nation wide strike April 12, 2019. OR On January 7, 2019 a storm system in southern California unleashed mudslides, no trucks going thru. On December 10, 2018 a storm kept dumping immobilizing snow, sleet or freezing rain across five southern states, leaving dangerously icy roads and hundreds of thousands of people without electricity. 

What if the grid went down and there were no deliveries to stores for a week or more? What about blizzards, floods, illness or other challenges confining you to your home for a week or two? Then there are non weather related disasters such as a strike at the port. There are so many scenarios that can cause us to need to survive on our food storage.

“An important part of the Lords storehouse is maintained as a year’s supply, stored, where possible, in the homes of faithful families of the church.” Russel M. Nelson

When a disaster can be predicted people will not only stockpile food, they will hoard it. What is hoarding? As those who are creating a self reliant lifestyle know, there is a difference between “preparing” and depriving others of needed supplies. 

Storing food and accumulating a supply of the items we use each day is a way of becoming self reliant. It helps us to care for our family’s needs during a personal, local or national crisis. We use the items we store and we rotate and add to them as needed. We are willing to share when times are tough for others. Storing food and supplies enables us to rely on ourselves and our family when challenges arise, instead of turning to the government. Those who prepare do so during times of plenty when food and supplies are available to all, in quantities sufficient for all.

Hoarding is acquiring food and supplies before or during a crisis in quantities far beyond what is required by their circumstance, making supplies less available for others to fulfill their needs. It is purchasing every tube of toothpaste when on sale, far more than is needed, leaving those who need toothpaste no way of purchasing any. Those who hoard are not willing to share what they have, and often resort to violent means to protect their supplies. Hoarding deprives others.

After nearly every crisis we see hoarding, and too often, looting is normal. After hurricane Florence this year we saw people taking things they could not possibly use. People did not just purchase enough for their immediate needs, but filled shopping carts full. Under these circumstances it has often become necessary for store owners to limit the number of items that an individual can purchase. 

Once this happens, food suddenly becomes really valuable to people (even though they take it for granted today). Any small shipment of food that arrives will be quickly grabbed. It only takes one day without food to remind people how much they actually need it. Expect the atmosphere to be that of “near panic” if food is delayed by as little as a day. The level of panic will vary from city to city. Some cities and towns may experience very little difficulty receiving food. Others may face a crisis.

We saw a little of this during the recent government shut down as families were panicked after missing just one paycheck. Food was available but they had no money to purchase any. Job loss and slow downs can happen to any and all of us. No job is 100% secure. 

Cities depend entirely on food shipped in from farms and food processing companies. When a mass exodus from the disaster area begins, the highways may be jammed up at critical locations, causing gridlock for the trucking industry. If we’re lucky, some trucks will continue to roll. If we’re not, nothing gets through.

Not only have Latter-day Saints been warned to prepare by their leaders for decades but also by the United States government. I am sure this is also true for many living outside the U.S.. 

In North America and elsewhere, the church has provided a way to prepare through Family Home Storage Centers. If you have not already taken advantage of this resource, you should. Products are of the best quality and sold at terrific prices. 

I attended a ward conference in Southern California. During the Relief Society meeting the stake president shared that the use of their center was overwhelmingly greater by those who are not LDS members.  

Remember Y2K? During the months before I was contacted by more non-members of the Church for help in preparing than members. The irony was that most of those contacting me were referred by church members who had been warned by prophets yet had not prepared.

I spoke at a conference of service missionaries assigned to our local center. They shared a chart showing the use of the center by stakes, with an additional column for non-member use. The non-member column was more than twice the size of any Stake in the region. 

When this information was presented one of the men in the meeting asked, “What do they know that we don’t know?” Could it be that we are so accustomed to our bishops storehouses and welfare canneries that we just don’t understand the gift these centers are?  Could it be that we have become complacent as we haven’t had a national crisis recently? 

Let’s learn from the pros, those who have survived disasters.

Survivor #1

“You eat a lot more food when you are cold. We should have stored more”

Survivor #2

“All the food storage in the world means nothing if your kids won’t eat it. You might be prepared to take care of your children and their needs, but what about when the neighborhood children start to show up at your door? Although neighbors can be a great resource, they can also be a huge drain on your emergency storage.”

Survivor #3

“Think of the things that are your comfort, your escape, a cup of hot chocolate, a glass of milk and a ding dong before bed. Stock up on those too. You will need that comfort after day 3.”

Survivor #4

“We are all entirely dependent on outside sources of everything. If trucks stop rolling due to road damage, or gas shortages you are without for a long time. We learned that fast.”

And from a prophet:

“Too often we bask in our comfortable complacency and rationalize that the ravages of war, economic disaster, famine and earthquakes cannot happen here.  Those who believe this are either not acquainted with the revelations of the Lord, or they do not believe them.” Ezra Taft Benson

Do we believe the Lord? Will we do as Paul has taught when teaching of the last days, “Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.”?

It’s a new year and a chance to create new goals and develop new habits. Heavenly Father has warned us for a reason, now let us get serious and show our gratitude for that warning by heeding it and preparing.