Lessons learned from the Houston bug out

Discussion in 'General Survival and Preparedness' started by Hogleg, Oct 8, 2011.

  1. Hogleg

    Hogleg Monkey+

    My wife and I were talking last night about this last night. While it occured some time ago, I still believe the lessons to be valid.

    We thought we were prepared. We had hurricane “boxes” with food, water and enough other items for 10-15 days on hand. For some stupid reason I got spooked about staying home. We decided to bug out. We knew where we were going and had made detailed plans. The pick-up was loaded and ready to go in less than 3 hours. The Storm was still 12 hours away. News reports showed our BO route was slow, but moving. We were not concerned about gas supply because I had 10 five gallon cans, of which 8 were full. I filled the other two with gas from the wife’s car despite the bad taste I got in my mouth due to my lack of experience ripping off gas tanks.

    Like any battle plan, it all fell apart at the first shot.

    The plan was to drive about 3 miles from our house and hook up the camper, which was at a storage facility. We made it to the storage facility, only to find the automatic gate opener was not working. Someone had hit it with their car. The office was closed. I tried to pry the gate and about then a police officer pulled up. After an ID check and some serious discussion, he decided he had bigger fish to fry and let us go. We decided to proceed without the camper and this was not a big concern since we had the backpacks/tents in the truck anyway.

    That whole deal caused a delay of about an hour. It ends up not having the camper was a blessing.

    About two miles from where we would enter the interstate highway, traffic was stopped. Not moving at all. No problem, as I knew a back route to get us away from Houston. So did about 10,000 other people. Alternate route 1 was a fail. No problem, I knew another way. Fail. The wife picked a route from the map, which took us through some neighborhoods. Dead ends – fail. This all caused about 2 hours delay and a quarter tank of gas. The storm was now less than 9 hours away and reports had it strengthening.

    LESSON 1 – Have a GOOD set of maps. Don’t rely on the typical gas station folder. After this, my wife found a Texas Atlas that is about an inch thick and has every passable road in Texas on it. It stays in the BOB now.

    It took us 3 hours to get on the interstate. By then, they had opened the inbound lanes to outbound traffic and it was moving, but VERY slowly. I had used half a tank of gas to get roughly 4 miles from our house. The kids were going nuts. Everyone had taken a pee in a cup, but other bathroom facilities were being requested. The drinks and snacks we had in the cab were about gone. If I pulled over, who knew how long it would take to get back in line and people were short tempered. Common sense told me to stay away from the interstate, but after our experience trying back routes before, I decided to try it.

    We actually moved a bit in the first hour. We made it another 20 miles from home, but bathroom requirements were becoming critical. So I decided to find a gas station on the feeder road. BIG MISTAKE! The line of cars had the whole feeder road blocked. There were heated arguments going on. The police were not allowing anyone to pass because of line cutters. It was complete bedlam. About then, the youngest went poo in her pants and it started to rain a little. I finally, at great risk of being arrested, locked in the 4-wheel drive and went along the grass side of the interstate to get away from the gas station mob and get the smell out of the car.

    Lesson 2 – Someone will have to do more than pee. Have some method worked out. We still have not solved this, but a plastic bed pan is our current idea.

    We drove for about 2 miles and found a country road. There was an auto repair place with a parking lot and lights. Some cars around, but I did not see any people. The lighted lot was attractive since we had a mess to clean up, needed to restock the cab and I would feel better about a full tank of gas. I popped the bed cover and decided right away I had problems. The clean clothes were of course, the hardest to get to. I had also forgotten to bring a funnel, so the refill was going to be sloppy at best. My sons and I proceeded to unload the bed of the truck. Gas cans, food boxes and other stuff all came out in order to reach the clothes bags. Then there was a search to find hoohaws (baby wipes).

    Wife and daughter went to find place to clean her up. I sent my oldest boy to watch over them. About then, the first car pulled up. Then, out of nowhere, there were other people walking towards us. I realized my pistol was in the truck and that did me about as much good as it being in El Paso.

    Lesson 3 – Keep you weapon on you. Out of all of this, I felt so silly over this one item. I KNEW BETTER.

    Two young men got out of the car. They had their headlights shining on our gas cans sitting on the ground, boxes of food and water spread everywhere.

    “Hey mister, can we buy some of your gas? We are about out” said the first one.

    “WOW! Look at all that water he has – can we get some of that too?” came from the second one.

    Then a man and a teenage girl walked up: “Sir, we are desperate. We are out of gas and have no water – could you help us out?”

    “If you folks need some water, no problem – I will give you some. I am sorry, but I can’t help you with the gas. We barely have enough to get to where we are going” was my response.

    “But you have so much – what is that – 50 gallons? I have cash, how much for a can of your gas buddy?” one of the young men said.

    The next car pulled up about then and rolled down the window and said “Is he selling gas? How much”?

    “Naw - He is being a stingy bastard” someone said.

    “What’s the problem guy – you got lots of gas it looks like to me” someone else said.

    I proceeded to try and load stuff back in the truck. Hell with filling up. Just get it back in the bed and get out of there. I looked up and saw we now had a crowd of 10-12 people, standing around, talking.

    Someone, I am not sure who, threw a wad of money at me and proceeded to pick up one of our cans. I stepped in and stopped him. “No way dude - it ain’t happening. This is going to get out of control real fast if you don’t back away. Go get your money and just back away.” I said.

    About then, the rest of the family came back. My oldest (14) went directly to the cab. I could tell he was heading for the pistol. While I had my chest stuck out proud, I also did not want to escalate this whole mess.

    I asked the wife if she had found water and a hose to help with the cleanup. She had, and pointed to where it was at on the far side of a building.

    I yelled out “Hey! Hey! If you need water, there is a hose on the side of that building. If you need gas, cut the hose and siphon these cars (waving around to the lot). If you don’t have anything to put water in, I will give you some water. Now please just leave us alone.” It worked!

    We got everything back in the truck and headed out. Somehow, in all of this, we ended up missing a gas can and one box of food.

    LESSON 4 – Think about the packing order of your bug-out-buggy. I believed gas would be all we would need and had it at the back. Food and water were next, following by packs and clothes. We have a bed cover, which restricts access towards the cab, so you have to pull everything out to get to it. Think it through.

    While the wind was gusting a little by then, the radio was saying the storm had shifted east. We could expect wind and rain, but the worst was going to miss us.

    After the rush worn off, we all became very tired. I was a danger driving. Again, complete indecision set in. There was no hotel room within 100 miles of Houston. We were out in the country anyway and too scared to go back towards the interstate. I kept driving on country roads, trying to generally head west and avoid any small towns. That truck did not have a GPS and our handheld was packed away in the back. I found out later that we had been heading North East, right back towards the storm.

    LESSON 5 – Don’t wait until you are exhausted to figure out shelter. With three kids in the back seat, sleeping in the truck was not going to be a good solution. With the wind, a tent was just plain silly.

    LESSON 6 – Have a frigging compass or GPS in the truck. They are for more than just hiking.

    I found a bridge on a secondary road that was a railroad overpass. The wind was getting serious by now and the rain was making it difficult to see with tired eyes. I parked under the bridge and turned off the lights to sleep for a few hours. Everyone was sprawled out, miserable, hungry and fussy. I had just nodded off when someone saw water next to the truck with the lightning flashes. We were parked right next to a creek, and the water was up to the edge of the road. We had to move to higher ground. We drove for a short bit and the road was blocked by a downed tree limb. It was large enough to have hurt us in the truck – another worry.

    I doubled back, found another lane, and it went through an open field (we could tell from the lightning). We just stopped the truck where there were no trees. The gusts would shake the truck, but only the kids were scared it was going to tip over. It really was not that bad. At one point in time, I decided to at least get some of the food we had in the back. Ignoring the rain, I almost lost the bed cover when a gust hit it, and gave up. All of our prep was for nothing. All our stuff was within 5 feet of us, and we could not use it.

    We waited it out until dawn and headed back home. I figured out later that we had never gotten more than 60 miles from the house, which was undamaged.
    Ajax, Falcon15, weegrannymush and 8 others like this.
  2. beast

    beast backwoodsman

    lessons learned the hard way dont get forgotten
    just remind the family that you were lucky, including the undamaged house
    and make sure they too learned
  3. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Excellent way to make the points, even if the hard way. Thank you.
  4. Mountainman

    Mountainman Großes Mitglied Site Supporter+++

    Number one mistake:

    "Lesson 3 – Keep you weapon on you. Out of all of this, I felt so silly over this one item. I KNEW BETTER."

    If this was a real SHTF situation you would have been screwed with what happened. Also, where was the shotgun for close range crowd clearing? If you don't have one you definitely need one! Great intimidation tool.
  5. tulianr

    tulianr Don Quixote de la Monkey

    Excellent post Hogleg. I appreciate you putting this out. I think we can all benefit from the reality check that you went through. It's amazing how the best laid plans can fall to hell in the blink of an eye. Your ugly experiences during that one bugout obviously left you a wiser individual; and hopefully we can all take something away from what you've shared.
  6. Ladyhawke

    Ladyhawke Monkey+

    Thank you for sharing, I was riveted by your story...and will be rethinking some of our own planning.
  7. swalt

    swalt Monkey+

    You are really lucky things didn't get out of hand. I am about half thru with Lights Out and it is really making me re-think a lot of things. If you haven't read it yet, I suggest you do so asap.
  8. Seawolf1090

    Seawolf1090 Retired Curmudgeonly IT Monkey Founding Member

    A very good post! Glad the lessons were learned without bloodshed.

    Hope those other folks learned THEIR lesson on bringing supplies......
  9. Alpha Dog

    Alpha Dog survival of the breed

    Thanks for posting this I try to read alot of survival books but when it come first hand like this I seem to retain it better. I can see myself where you was and it helps me rethink my plans and supplies. It is scary just how fast even the best plans can be side tracked by one small action. Something I do alot of is when it's quiet and I have a little down time, I run different what if's and how would I handle this senerio's over and over in my mind and try to come up with several different ways I would handle a situation. I learned that in a surviving a shootout class a few years ago. If you mentaly plan and practice different senerio's they won't be such a shock when they happen and you can deal with them quicker and more effective,
  10. Yoldering

    Yoldering Monkey+++

    I read your post yesterday morning and later on during the day I was leaving Houston too. We were caught in a minor traffic jam and were stuck there for a while. I used that opportunity to discuss your experiences with my wife. It turned into a really nice long discussion. Thank you for posting it! The traffic in Houston sucks a lot! I am really glad I don't have to go there very often...
  11. Gafarmboy

    Gafarmboy Monkey+++

    Thank you

    Nothing drive home the truth like a large friggin hammer...
    Glad you lived to make this post so that the rest of us could learn.
    If you can not protect what you own, you won't own it long.
  12. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Excellent post, and thanks for sharing. lessons learned the hard way are not soon easily forgotten.
  13. weegrannymush

    weegrannymush Monkey+

    I have many times watched "evacuations" on TV newscasts and shuddered mentally at the totally blocked highways and the misery of the zillions of folks trapped in their cars. The scenario is so obvious and has happened so many times in so many places, that I can't figure out why the powers-that-be still don't realize that these severe jam-ups will occur and that such huge evacuations are no win situations for all concerned. Indeed, it's a miracle if there is no actual loss of life sometimes. I suspect even rabbits would have learned by now. Certainly survivalists and preppers should be able to have the foresight to know the true reality of such a situation. All it takes is a couple of overheated cars or one accident to stall the entire evacuation!

    My family and I had a comparatively small incident here in Central Ontario a few years back and it was a big enough lesson for me. We were stuck in a traffic jam because of an accident on the trans-Canada highway (we were heading home from our small town to our rural home, a distance of about seven miles).....vehicles blocked in every direction, no way forward or back, or even "around". And because the highway in that area is the only road going anywhere (no sideroads to speak of) there were no alternate routes. We were stuck for about four hours till the highway reopened - our greatest need was for washroom facilities, oh how I suffered, lol! I was just at the stage of getting out of the car and walking the rest of the way home when thankfully, the line started to move. My bathroom never looked so good!!

    So what is the answer? Danged if I know.....you folks who have to evacuate to escape hurricanes etc. are in a bit of a quandary. Obviously, evacuation has the capacity to become a major source of trauma but staying home is not an option, if the evac is "mandatory"....the only solution I can see is to be ahead of the horde and GET OUT EARLY (sorry for shouting) before the others even think about it. And if you are a monkey, you should be prepared with everything else you need and have plans in place....you should be able to leave hours before the rest of the populace who, God bless 'em, are running around like the proverbial wet hens, trying to find the things they need to take with them. But there really is no fail-safe way around the situation at all, at least as far as I can see. It is a major hurdle in everybody's BO plans, to which not much thought or consideration has been given in any Survival Books that I have read (and that's probably because none of the authors have the faintest idea of how to beat the problem either!!!).

    Sorry, I didn't mean to write the Great Canadian Novel........
  14. Falcon15

    Falcon15 Falco Peregrinus

    Must have been Hurricane Rita. Excellent story.
  15. Wolfgang2000

    Wolfgang2000 Monkey++

    Thanks very much for sharing.

    I had 2 set of kids living in Lake Charles, LA for Rita. I called them a week before and told them to top off all their tanks and get prepared to leave. My daughter in law though I was over reacting, "after all it was (then) predicted to hit Houston". My Step son did fill the cars tanks, and his gas cans. The problem was they didn't KEEP the tanks filled.

    The day before the storm, they get woke up at 0600 by the police informing them that Lake Charles was now under a mandatory evacuation order. By then their cars only have 1/2 or less in each of them. (It took a P/u and 2 cars to get that crew out.) Of course ALL the gas stations were sold out by 0700. But the cans they filled were enough to fill all the vehs.

    They were on the road by 0800. The traffic on I10 EB was VERY SLOW. They called me at at about 1400 and they still had not made it to Lafayette, normally a 1 hour drive approx.

    Thankfully they never lost cell service. I got on the horn to my son who was able to guide them around to another US highway (190) which was moving better. Their fuel light came one when they turned onto the street of their friends house.

    Do you think they would change the way they do things? Of course not. You can lead a horse to water........
    Gator 45/70 likes this.
  16. Gator 45/70

    Gator 45/70 Monkey+++

    ^^^Cool wolfgang...I drove into the bowls of Hell on Hwy.190 after Rita to bring in a load of gas,food,ice,baby item's to family member's...
    They also had evacuated to Toledo Bend...Only to have Rita come in on top of them...In camper trailer's and toy hauler's...You can't help ''stupid''...( Some member's of my family !!! )
    They were better off staying put...But that story i have already posted here...
  17. Capt. Tyree

    Capt. Tyree Hawkeye

    Prep Awareness

    Like a backhanded slap to the face, the 1-2 punch of Katrina and Rita barely a month apart in 2005, caused alot of us Gulf Coasters to be very prepared for Ike in 2008 and on into the future. The level of self-preparedness will never again be as lax as before Katrina / Rita.

    Everything from weather report gathering (from different sources), gasoline storing and preserving, to various methods of food and clean water storage and stashing---and yes the personal defense implements to make it "stick", have been honed to a sharp edge.

    Lessons learned through personal experience as well as the accounts of others make us all better at enduring future troubles.
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