Surviving a flood or earthquake or tornado (or a similar time-limited event) is much different, I would think, than getting past a Zimbabwe level hyperinflation, increasingly tyrannical government, or another Great Depression. The consequences of any of these latter three examples could conceivably bump along for decades and because they affect the entire nation and the damage overcomes the reserves. Friends in other parts of the country won’t be able to help as they are being similarly affected. On the other hand, natural disasters are local events and more often than not over relatively quickly. The damages may take some time to repair, but the materials are available (or can be acquired) and friends and relatives can help. A general social breakdown may take us back generations if it’s bad enough, or even further. When Rome abandoned Gaul the Dark Ages began and the set-back was counted in centuries. How far back could it go? A person or group focused on general social breakdown might wish to concentrate on a particular time period, as in “We think, as a worst likely case, that society may devolve to the 1800’s level, so we're prepping at the technology level of 1800”. Another group might think it could well be worse, “No, the survivors will return to hunter-gatherer age, so we're developing really basic skill sets”. These are important questions because their answers affect what we do and whether or not all the thought, time and treasure it requires will ultimately be useful. There are at least three inter-related issues: Geography, Depth, and Consequences. Geography: Will the event be local or regional or even worldwide? A person would reasonably do different things if he expected the problem might be a storm-related temporary loss of power than he would if he were preparing for a massive global EMP occurrence. Depth: Events can be judged by the extent of their ripples. Primary events have few and short-lived consequences and are often resolved by direct aid. A heavy tree limb falls on a neighbor’s roof. It can be fixed by direct aid: four men and a chainsaw. Derivative events have many (sometimes conflicting) consequences, and are difficult or unlikely to be resolved by direct aid. Example: The major source of Frank’s retirement income comes from the four rental houses he’s accumulated over the years. The major local employer shutters its doors and the tenants can no longer pay their rents. Frank’s income vanishes, but the bank still wants their mortgage payments or they’ll foreclose. Frank’s problem is unlikely to be resolved by four men and a chainsaw. It’s a derivative problem in that Frank loses because the tenants can’t pay because the third-party asphalt shingle producer went bankrupt because the government required air scrubbers the company couldn’t afford. Derivative events always involve at least one third party and sometimes several. They are difficult or impossible to cure using direct aid. Consequences: Consequences are a function of Geography and Depth. A temporary loss of power will probably have consequences limited in area and brief in time. A derivative event has the potential to radically change life as we know it. Ask the Gauls. A complicating issue is that there’s never enough money for everything so choices must be made. The best choices are made when they are driven by a goal. And that means we probably should know what we’re preparing for. So, what are you preparing for and (follow-up question) what are your alternatives if something else happens?