March 28, 2015


Do the Channel Islands of Southern California make a good bug out location?

First of all, I think bugging out via sailboat is an excellent option.  It gets you away from the primary threat--other humans.  However, staying at sea permanently wouldn't be fun.  If the SHTF in America only, you could sail away to another country that hasn't collapsed.  If the collapse is global, you'd have to find an island to settle after you bug out or a sparsely populated coastal region somewhere in the world.  After 2 years, the chaos will die down and most people will have perished, and you could return to the mainland of your choice.  So will the Channel Islands work?  Islands are often a destination in zombie and eotwawki movies.

The biggest reason why I wouldn't bug out to the Channel Islands is because there is a nuclear power plant on the coast 100 miles north (upcurrent) and another power plant 50 miles east of the Channel Islands.  If those go into thermonuclear meltdown, like Fukushima, they will release lots of radiation into the ocean.  That's going to spoil the ecosystem around you and render all the potential seafood harvests dangerous.  However, just 3 years after the Fukushima event, fish within a 20 mile region were mostly under the legally safe radiation levels.  But Fukushima was treated after it melted down.  The California nuclear power plants won't have the same luxury.

But what if the collapse of society is a slower event and the nuclear power plants are shut down in a way that prevent them from melting down OR you are ok risking radiation?  Will the Channel Islands be ok then?  We only need to ask two questions: will the island support life and will you be able to avoid dangerous humans?

Can you survive on the Channel Islands? YES

Have you ever read Island of the Blue Dolphins?  It's based on the true story of an Indian woman who survived by herself for 18 years on San Nicholas Island of the Channel Islands.  If she could do it by herself, you could do it with some gear and some knowledge.

Now, look at something else...

You see all those brown dots scattered along the beach that look like a termite infestation of wood?  Those are thousands of sea lions.  Females weigh 200 lbs and males weigh 600 lbs!  And they're just laying there all fat, slow, and unconcerned about predators on land.  The ones that are accustomed to humans will allow you to get within 20 yards before moving.  These ones are unaccustomed, so you can probably get within 80 yards, before they start moving.  Even if you miss the shot, you'll hit the one next to it.  Easiest hunting in the world.

There are also tons of fish and birds.  You can even bring mice traps to catch all the mice.  In fact, they might make good bait.  I'm not aware of any edible plants, but you can do gardening.  Santa Rosa Island used to have deer, but they're not native, so they were removed, DARN.  San Clemente used to have goats, but they're not native, so they were removed, DARN.  San Nicholas used to have sheep, but they're not native, so they were removed, DARN.  Catalina used to have feral pigs, but they're not native, so they were removed, DARN.  But, Catalina has buffalo and deer, but too many people live there, DARN.

The islands are somewhat dry however.  It seems like two of the big islands - Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, each have a year round stream or two, but that's about it as far as readily available fresh water goes.  If you were to go to Santa Cruz or Santa Rosa, I would recommend avoiding the largest, most reliable stream, because that is likely where others will settle.  Catalina has a small lake and some small reservoirs, but I don't recommend Catalina, since it has a sizeable population already.

How many other people will attempt to survive on the Channel Islands?  Catalina island already has a population of 4,000.  We can safely assume that at least half of them will attempt to survive there--likely more.  San Clemente Island is an Air Force base, so they probably have 100 people or so.  They probably won't try to survive on the island, but I'm not sure.  The other islands are part of a national park, so they are basically unpopulated, except for a ranger or two and whatever visitors happen to be there at the time.

When the SHTF, I do believe that some people from LA and San Diego with boats will attempt to survive on the islands.  I wrote about this in my previous blog about the SHTF in Los Angeles and their predicted behavior.  There will be so much chaos that people will get desperate and give it a try.  I figured that there are 54,000 boats in the LA region, something like 42,000 motorboats and 12,000 sailboats.  If 25% of them set sail, that will be 3,000 sailboats and 10,500 motorboats.  Perhaps 500 sailboats and 4,500 motorboats will try to go to the Channel Islands.  This amounts to about 20,000 people.  Let's add another 4,000 from the San Diego region to make a total of 24,000 refugees.  Since Catalina is the most familiar to people and the closest to most of LA, they will receive the majority of the visitors, about 14,000.  Will the people of Catalina accept them?  I don't know.  There might be a conflict.  Maybe they will be turned away and try another island, but if the motorboats are out of gas, what alternative is there?  I would say that about 6,000 would go to Santa Cruz, because it is the largest and closer to the coast than Santa Rosa and San Miguel.  I would guess that Santa Rosa will get about 1,800, because it is the second largest.  About 1,100 to San Clemente.  It will catch much of the San Diego population.  400 to Santa Barbara (the Catalina rejects).  400 to San Miguel.  200 to Anacapa.  And 100 to San Nicholas.  However, each of the channel islands typically has one dock for the whole island (if they even have a dock).  I imagine that when the boaters come within sight and see a veritable flotilla in the bays around these docks, they might think twice about landing.  Sailboaters can pass them up, but if motorboaters are running out of gas, they won't have a choice.

But in any case, let's go with those numbers.  If the people have fishing poles and/or guns, there shouldn't be a problem with providing enough food, at least initially, on most of the islands.  Catalina and Santa Cruz might be the exceptions.  Catalina is out of the question, because of all the people.  According to my predictions, Santa Cruz will have a sizeable population competing for resources.  Santa Cruz has many fish and birds, but doesn't look like it has many sea lions.  But on the other islands, sea lions will outnumber people.  On San Miguel, which is where the sea lion picture from above comes, sea lions will outnumber people by a ratio of 100 to 1!

So, food wouldn't be the limiting resource.  Water would be.  A stream might be year-round, but if over 1,000 people are drinking from it, which will be the case on Santa Cruz and Santa Rosa, it may not be enough water.  Anacapa, San Miguel, San Clemente, San Nicolas, and Santa Barbara have no year-round water.  They will only have a minimal amount of stored water at the facilities/ranger stations/campgrounds.  This will result in the death of many of the 2,200 who try to settle there, while others will move on, but some will overcome and survive regardless.  If you are a prepper/survivalist, you probably know of ways to collect water or get fresh water from saltwater, but the majority of the others on the islands will not.

So what's the result of this?  Should you try and survive on the channel islands?  If you have a sailboat, I would say no.  Find better islands when the SHTF, but if you are low on food, you might want to take a detour to San Miguel Island first and get a couple of sea lions and turn them into jerky before you head out on your journey.  But if you have a motorboat or really want to try, you can.  If no people were bugging out to these islands, I would choose Santa Rosa or Santa Cruz, but too many people will end up there, so I would recommend bringing a desalinator, solar stills, or a distillery with you and trying San Miguel, San Nicholas, or a remote part of Santa Rosa (and by remote, I just mean away from the perennial streams).  Then, in the first year, you can dig small reservoirs in multiple channels and attempt to store rain water in any way possible.  You should be able to enjoy a life of solitude with an abundant amount of food.

Depending on the size of your boat and where it is located, others on the island or boat goers might discover you though, so be prepared.  If they are starving, just offer to shoot a sea lion for them :)  You can even offer potable water, but then will they notify others that you have fresh water or will they try to steal your desalinator or distillery?  It's something to consider.  A manually operated Katadyn desalinator working around the clock can only supply fresh water for 24 people.  A distillery and solar still will have similar limits.  Perhaps you can pay the other survivors on the island a visit and show them how to dig for fresh water and create fresh water from solar stills using all the plastic, glass, bags, containers, etc. that they have.  Then wish them good luck and leave without them following you.

After 1.5-2 years of surviving on the island, I might go back to the mainland to eventually become part of a larger community and society that will spring up.  I think the central California coast would be nice.  I wonder who will be living in Hearst Castle.

March 21, 2015


What will the people of LA do and how will they move when the SHTF?  If an event like a massive solar flare or EMP happens and the electricity goes out permanently, here's what I envision.

If you're from Southern California, you probably know that Southern California does not have enough fresh water to support its population.  So, even if people remain calm and there's no looting, you know there will be water problems, but let's be honest, LA will be pure chaos if the grid goes down for good.

Below is the satellite image of Los Angeles.  If you are anywhere in the American Southwest, there are two places to find fresh water naturally--rivers or mountains.  There are a few rivers in Los Angeles, but you typically can't count on them having water.  Even if they did, they have dirty water.  Mountains will often appear as green islands in the satellite images.  Any of these green islands are capable of supporting life.  So, in the pictures that will follow, I will show the mountains as green islands.  The populated area of the Los Angeles Basin is highlighted in red.  The farmland is highlighted in blue, and the coast is highlighted in purple.

You'll also notice 26 black dots.  These black dots are large bodies of water, like lakes and reservoirs.  So, the people of LA will have a few choices for getting fresh water: have water stored up, catch rain, distill it from the ocean, scour it from water heaters, pools, bodies of water like the black dots, or they can head to the mountains to find creeks.

Food will be an issue too obviously.  For that, people will attempt to fish along the coast, fish and hunt in the mountains, scour farmlands, or just drive elsewhere if they can get away.

I wanted to see if I could predict how people would move around and how they would die, so I started with my 4 week post-shtf pie chart to get a starting point for an indication.  Here's that pie chart:

With this pie chart as a starting point for population prediction, I tweaked the numbers to represent the population of LA.  Two of the big changes being that the people of LA are true city slickers, and there isn't a lot of farmland nearby.  They rarely leave the LA Basin.  Wilderness to them is staying at a cabin at Big Bear.  Also, they will need to make a long drive up to the central valley or to the Coachella Valley to find sizeable farmland.  This will be difficult on perhaps only one tank of gas and a couple million people all trying to leave LA at once.

Based on this information, I anticipate the Los Angeleans to spread out in this manner:

56% stay in the urban area
28% go to the mountains
7% go to farmlands
4% go to the coast
5% drive or fly elsewhere away from Southern California
(a trickle of people will sail away or try the channel islands)

To make the predictions more exact, I divided the mountains and farmland into divided parts as shown below with predictions of how many people will attempt to survive in each of them.

Here is the same map converted into numbers.

As you can see, there will literally be millions of people migrating to different places attempting to survive.  According to these predictions, over 3 million people will go into the mountains surrounding Los Angeles.  They will settle along creeks and attempt to survive.  So.....


Just because a wilderness area is unpopulated right now, do not make the assumption that it will also be unpopulated after the SHTF.  It is only a minority of people who will head for the wilderness, but a minority still equals millions.  Millions of people will come to the conclusion that they'll need to head for the mountains.  In dry locations like the American Southwest, the problems will be amplified, since there are limited perennial streams.

However, many of the people heading for the mountains around LA won't go there right away.  Many will go there only as a last resort.  Many will make it to the mountains and die of starvation within a month.  If you do plan on going to these mountains surrounding LA, I recommend staying super low key for the first 4-7 months.  I would hideout in a VERY off the beaten path location.  I would not camp near a body of water.  I would fetch water and store it, while eating supplies of stored food.  After 6 months or so, most people will have died, and it will be safer to move to a more permanent bug out location.

The water holes, indicated by the black dots, will be the most dangerous places.  I figure about 40% of the city population and many of the mountain refugees will conglomerate around these water holes.  Do you realize how many people that will be?  It will be an average of 112,000 per water hole.  That's like 26 Rose Bowls.  Some of the popular ones might even have 300k or 400k.  That's crazy!  But they'll have to go there.  They will be drawn there so that they can at least get one of their necessities - water.   However, people will be starving.  The violence will be intense.  People will begin to kill each other for scraps of food.  Cannibalism will likely occur in these places.  Prostitution and rape will occur.  Gangs will take over.  Those water holes, which are mostly peaceful lakes today, will become some of the most gruesome scenes in human history.  Avoid them at all costs.

The coast people will simply be the ones who have fishing poles and figure their best chance of eating will be to fish.  They will also eat muscles, kelp, and anything else from the sea.  As long as they can scavenge some water or figure out a distillery, they will give it a go at the coast.  Violence will happen here as well.  I can almost guarantee that pier gangs will be established.  It will probably start with a couple guys with guns walking up and down the pier.  Once they see somebody reeling a fish in, they will come over and steal it at gun point.  Or perhaps, they will simply prevent people who are not from their gang from coming onto the pier in the first place, and they will take all the bounty for themselves.  You might even get pier shootouts among rival gangs.  I think you will also have some people who are fishing and catching nothing and after staring out at Catalina for a few days they think they will have a better chance of finding food on the island, so they will attempt to cross over to one of the islands to fish there.  They will probably try to steal a boat or water device of some sort.

Some will travel to farmlands.  In most places in the US, a higher percentage of people will try for farmlands, but because there isn't a lot of farmland nearby, less people from Los Angeles will attempt it.  Also, by the time they realize that they will need to try something desperate like travel to farmland, the roads might be jammed by abandoned cars.  I figure a couple million people will initially attempt to leave LA within a few days (assuming that cars are working.  In an EMP they might not be.), so it might be very hard to get to the central valley or the Coachella valley, especially if you only have one tank of gas or less.

Most, 56% or 7.3 million people from LA, will not make it out of the Los Angeles basin.  Nearly all of them will die.  Maybe 2% will survive, mostly via violence.  Some pretty women will be able to survive, because the wicked criminals will desire them for their good looks.  I even think some of the thousands of celebrities will be able to survive by being taken captive and protected by the gangsters that rise up.  I can totally see the possibility of warlords having some of the hottest celebrities as their concubines.  : / 

I estimate that 5% will attempt to leave Southern California altogether.  It will be difficult, because they'll need to stock up on gasoline and avoid traffic jams.  5% might be a very liberal estimate.

I like to think of the sea option, too.  A few thousand will escape LA on boat.  I counted about 14,000 boats in the LA region in slips and at buoys.  There will be even more boats parked at homes.  So, let's assume there are 54,000 boats in the LA region.  About 12,000 are sailboats and 42,000 are motor boats.  With all the chaos, danger, and road blocks, I predict that many boat owners will take to the sea.  Plus, some will be stolen as well.  Let's say 25% of the boats in the LA region set sail.  That will be 10,500 motorboats and 3,000 sail boats.  I would guess that 6,000 motorboats will go to the channel islands, like Catalina, while 4,500 will go along the coast, probably north.  On the other hand, sailboats don't rely on fuel, so they have more options.  Less of them will sail to the channel islands, perhaps 500.  300 will sail out to sea, perhaps towards Hawaii, the South Pacific, or just out to sea for awhile to get away.  But the majority, 2,200 will sail north in hopes that San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, or any other location is not in upheaval.  So, just to finish up with the Channel Islands thought, we would see 6,500 boats go to the islands, or about 24,000 people.  I would guess that 14,000 people would go to Catalina, 6,000 to Santa Cruz, 2,000 to Santa Rosa, and 2,000 to others, but who really knows?  However, I think a lot of sailboat people will be coy and fearful of docking.  They will probably sail close and spy on the land with binoculars.  They won't like what they'll see, so they might have to stay at sea for awhile.

1 year into the collapse, I estimate that 86% of Americans would perish.  For Los Angeleans, I would say about 95% would perish.  They are in a baaaaaad situation.  If you live in Los Angeles, get out quick when the SHTF.

----update 6/8/15----
I just realized I didn't even mention the radiation threat from a potential thermo nuclear meltdown at San Onofre.  They say to stay outside of a 50 mile radius of any nuclear power plant that goes Fukushima, and to avoid 100 miles downwind of it.  So after all the calamity that has already been mentioned, we need to take this into account too.  Perhaps people within a few miles people will get really sick and die, while people further out will only get sick and then get cancer and die later, and people even further out will not have any immediate health effects, but will die years later??  I'm not sure, but a 50 mile radius of San Onofre carves out a large part of  LA region, primarily Orange and Riverside Counties.  Take a look...

LA is screwed big time if the S ever HTF.  So, if I estimated that 95% of LA people would perish, let's bump that up to 96%.

March 14, 2015


Here are some predictions of what people might do when the SHTF.  I had in mind an EMP or CME for these predictions.  People will react in different ways.  Most people will be clueless, but will try different things.

At approximately 4 weeks after the electricity goes out and stays out (SHTF), people will be engaged in the most diverse activities.  Here are my predictions of the main survival activities of people at that point.

Most of the Stay at Homes will either be in denial, too old to help themselves, or people with water and food at home or nearby.

Refugee camps will likely be haphazard stadium situations.  Some of the local politicians will feel responsible be too prideful to tell everyone to go away, so they will bring all the people together, round up a couple bread trucks, and.....that's about it.  It really will be the blind leading the blind.

Many people will attempt to travel, scavenge, and loot without getting violent.

About 5% of Americans will be incarcerated at some point in their life.  I figure all these people and then some, will engage in violence in order to live.  In fact, at about the 2 month mark, I predict about 14% will be engaged in violence in order to live.  It could even be higher than that still.  People will go to great lengths to live and allow their loved ones to live.

Water will stop running from the faucet and food will quickly be emptied from shelves, so I suppose about 19% of people will be forced to go to sources of water and food and they will probably end up camping there, because they have no other plans.  We will see millions of people camped near main bodies of fresh water, even if they have nothing to eat.  Lake Mead of Las Vegas and Pleasant Lake of Phoenix are two of the best examples of this.  These places will be horrible sights to see.  People will be starving and getting desperate.  People will fight over scraps of food.  A lot of violence and stealing will initiate in these locations.  Cannibalism will probably initiate in one of these water holes.  Peaceful people will turn violent at these water holes.  Prostitution will occur.  Many horrible things will occur in these places.  As much as possible, you will want to avoid these places.

Some people will have no plan at all and they will just drive and wander aimlessly.  Or some people will believe that the problem is only in their city, so they will attempt to travel to the next city to see if things are better there.  They will continue to assume that the grass is greener on the other side, but will be met by disappointment at every location on the map.

I figure about 19% at this time will be attempting to find food on their own.  If a man has a gun or a fishing pole, there's a good chance he'll attempt to use it to acquire food.  Others, who happen to have seeds, might attempt to grow a garden, but they'll need to have a plan for food in the meantime before harvest.  Some might attempt to forage, even experiment by eating random things in the wild.  Overall, this group are the go-getters who have realized that the government is not coming to the rescue.

I figure 2% will be bugged out with supplies.  Half of them will be preppers who were prepared to do such a thing if the day ever came.  The other half were those smart enough to put 2 and 2 together to see that things were going to get ugly, and they quickly scrambled to put together enough supplies to attempt survival in the wilderness or a rural area.

By 4 weeks, up to 11% could be dead.  Some of these will be medical patients, elderly that rely on machines, people running out of medication and having heart attacks etc., and people having emergencies, but no hospitals to save them.  Some will actually die of thirst in this period.  About 10% of America's population lives in the southwest where there is not enough of readily available water.  We all have about 80 gallons of water in our water heaters and toilets, and then pools and local ponds/lakes/rivers, but some cities have very few reserves, such as Tucson, AZ.  They are in serious trouble if the SHTF, so I think many of them and other desert dwellers will be in trouble.  I'm not certain how many wells will work without electricity or how easy it will be for people to get water from them.  If somebody knows, comment below.  Others will die in city fires.  Riots will happen and accidents will happen, so fires will be started.  When city OR wildfires start, no one will be available to put them out.  There will also be some deaths from violence in the first month.  I figure most violent deaths will occur in the second month as most people near starvation, but some will die in the first month too.

Keep in mind, the activities of people will be very fluid and dynamic.  Most people will do multiple activities in the pie chart.  For example, they might remain at home, then go to the refugee camp, then loot peacefully, then camp on farmland, then wander aimlessly before they die.

Here's a look at my predictions of the US population in the first 12 weeks after the SHTF.

As you can see, it starts off with 100% at home, but after 12 weeks, only 3% are still at home and alive.  Essentially, all Americans will be internally displaced - aka refugees in their own country.  This will be hard for people to take.  5 of the categories grow and then decrease: refugee camps, scavengers, campers, wanderers, and the ones who struck out.  1 Category gains strength and is the dominant group of people after 12 weeks: those engaging in violence.  3 categories are slim, but grow a little: the ones bugged out, the ones adopted by a survival community, and the ones evolved into a survival community.  We often hear about the survival rule of 3s, which indicates we can only survive 3 weeks without food, but the reality is that it's closer to the 7 week mark.  That's about when deaths begin to happen at a rapid rate.  From week 7 on, people begin to starve and die from violence/cannibalism at a very rapid rate.  By 12 weeks, about 53% will be dead.

The first 3 months will be the most chaotic, but here's a look at the first 3 years.  The chart only shows the actions of the LIVING.  The dead are just removed from the chart.  The timeline along the bottom gives you an idea of the population still alive.  As you can see, after 1 year, approximately 86% of the population has perished.  This is on par with the congressional report that indicated that 90% of Americans could perish in a year if there was an EMP attack.

3 categories grow and fade within a year: the scavengers, the campers, and the wanderers.  They will simply run out of resources and either die or join a survival community.

Believe it or not, after 3 years, some people might still be in their original home.  It would only be less than .5% of the original population, but they would make up about 5% of the surviving population.  These people would probably be preppers or very resourceful people in good locations with a water source and the ability to grow/raise their own food.  There are plenty of very rural homes in the US that have farm animals, someone who gardens, and someone who has a gun - that's a simple form of the necessary equation to survive.

2 categories are still around, but will be shrinking: the violent ones and the ones who struck out.  Why is this?  The violent ones will essentially be surviving off stealing and hoarding food products from pre-shtf.  Eventually, the canned food will run out.  At that point they will do 1 of 4 things:

1) They will kill each other off for the last remaining scraps.  Some of this will happen.  You might even have situations where a tyrant will purposefully widdle his own men down.  He might have 400 men and decide one day that he really only needs 300.  He'll have the 300 kill the 100.  Less mouths to feed.

2) They will go on farm/garden raids.  They will find people who are surviving and growing their own food and they will steal from them.  After 2 years, fuel might have degraded too badly for them to use, so as ridiculous as it sounds, these guys might become biker in bicycle gangs.  Or they will ride horses or sail boats, but those are harder accomplishments.  The small amount who are still engaging in violence after 3 years, will fit this category.

3) They will take over a survival community at gunpoint and force the community to continue producing food in order to feed them.  It will likely be a slave labor - feudal system type of thing.  So, if you survive 2-6 years into the collapse and come across a survival community, be alert to the type of social structure they have.  They might have formed in this way.

4) They might evolve into a survival community themselves.  Perhaps the tyrants will be smart enough to realize that they can't loot forever, so they will attempt to transition into a farming community.  It might work if they can get seeds, some equipment, and some reference books or people who know what they're doing.

The violent groups that do option 3 or 4 will account for the majority of the increase in the 'Evolved into a Surviving Community' category.

The ones who strike out to hunt, fish, garden, and forage will mostly either die or evolve into a surviving group or be adopted by a surviving group.  That's not to say that a person couldn't hunt, fish, and forage forever.  Trappers did that pretty well in North America for a hundred years.  So, the numbers of this group will dwindle, but be added to the numbers of the survival communities.

The group that bugged out with prepper supplies is actually decreasing in population, but is increasing in terms of percent among the surviving population.  Not all of these people will survive, because about half of them were impromptu bug out people, who were ill prepared.  Plus, not all actual preppers who bugged out will survive.  My main guess for why they didn't survive is because they didn't get rural enough.  Others who bugged out will evolve into a surviving community with others or be adopted into a survival group, which increases those other categories, but there will still be some families who bugged out who are still living by themselves and have not joined a larger survival community yet.

By 3 years after the shtf, the largest groups of survivors will be the surviving communities.  The ones who make it into these groups will have been lucky enough or skilled enough to have survived the collapse of America.  They're not entirely out of the woods yet, because there is still violence, illnesses, and droughts, among other things to deal with.

As explained already, these surviving communities formed out of the other categories dwindling.  As a result, we can vaguely predict the nature and temperament of the survivors.  Survivors can be divided into 2 types: the good guys who survived the honest way and the bad guys who survived by lying, stealing, and killing.  It will be nearly evenly split between these two types a few years after the collapse.  The good guys will be made up of the ones who stayed at home, the ones who struck out, the ones who bugged out, most of the ones who were adopted, and about a third to half of the ones who evolved into a surviving community.  The bad guys will be made up of the ones doing violence still and half to two thirds of the ones who evolved into a surviving community.  The bad guys will be located closer to cities and populated valleys, while the good guys will be located in more rural and mountainous areas.  It's very possible that we could see wars between the mountain people (good guys) and the valley people (bad guys).  If this theory interests you, you should read my post about power shifts after the collapse.

What are your thoughts about these predictions?