Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tsunami warning

Like the rest of the world, we’ve been following the tragedies in Japan with great concern and sorrow. We know people with many connections in Japan, and they’re still unable to reach some of their friends to learn if they’re okay.

Even for those in Japan who were not immediately affected by the earthquake or tsunamis, life has changed. My brother received an email from a Japanese colleague as follows:

Well this is a really disaster. I was in a queue for gas over one hour, but that was sold out. At shopping center bread foods, all sold out. I just got a few peach cans. One nuclear and five oil power plants stopped in Tokyo area. Also North Japan two nuclear power plant is almost blowing up. Power allocation system will start from this morning. Because of that power failure, train water stops. Tokyo mid town and hospitals will be prioritized. My company locates in Yokohama......I will take a day off tomorrow in the bed without heater cause of PC stops at office is no meaning. It seems tough days has just started.

I was reading an article this afternoon which spelled out the current events as they unfolded, and it included this line: “For Japan, one of the world's leading economies with ultramodern infrastructure, the disasters plunged ordinary life into nearly unimaginable deprivation.”

This struck me as profound because it echoes our situation here in the States. If the bleep were to hit the fan as swiftly and tragically as it has in Japan, our ordinary lives would be instantly plunged into nearly unimaginable deprivation. Chew on those words for a few minutes.

Right now the scale of rescue in the Land of the Rising Sun is, well, off the scale. Nearly two million people are without electricity, and 1.4 million people have no water. Hundreds of thousands of survivors are huddled in emergency centers which have no heat or electricity or (probably) food or water. All those emergency centers can offer to survivors right now is shelter since most are cut off from rescuers because roads and airports are impassible.

And this doesn’t even touch those who have died, those missing, and those injured – many of whom cannot receive medical care. And don’t forget the meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear power plants. And don’t forget the destruction of the infrastructure means food distribution is interrupted.

In short, Japan is a mess. God help them.

What kind of impact can Japan’s situation have on America? At first glance, little to nothing; but that’s incorrect. We may not be facing the physical tsunami Japan has endured, but we cannot forget the potential economic tsunami. Japan is the second-largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, behind China. In Dec 2010 they held about $890 billion worth. They need money to repair their infrastructure. What will happen if they suddenly try to sell those Treasuries?

The market would be flooded with Treasury notes, that's what. The value will go down. The U.S. government will do everything it can to keep the value up, including printing more money to buy them. Our dollar tanks.

Could this actually happen? I don't know. Maybe. It's a scary thought.

To change subjects just a bit, the Lewis household just made the difficult decision to take some of our meager savings and buy more storable food. We have a seasonable business, and it’s important that we salt away as much money as we can during our fat times to get us through our lean times (which are now). But with gas prices already up before this tragedy, our concerns are that food will become prohibitively expensive and/or scarce. Once more we are trying to purchase a commodity (food) when it’s still fairly inexpensive and readily available.

This decision to use some of our savings to buy food and other supplies is not just difficult, it’s scary. But you might say we see a tsunami on the horizon and are trying desperately to reach high ground. Preppers a lot savvier than us are doing the same thing.

Is this the flashpoint for our economy? Will this be the Archduke Ferdinand moment? Who knows? Who could have foreseen that a poor fruit seller in Tunisia would be the trigger that sent the Middle East into turmoil? Can an earthquake and tsunami in Japan truly impact our economy?

I don’t know. But I’m scared. Remember that old saying “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”? I’d rather have one bird (food) in hand than two birds (money) in the bush.

I hope you'll do the same.


  1. I haven’t a quarrel with your post though I am of the opinion that were god inclined to help the Japanese the effort would have been more appreciated by them before the tragedy occurred.

  2. It's just my opinion, but I consider all food storage a savings account.....the interest gained is being able to live thru whatever happens....and it's value can never be reduced unexpectedly....

    When I was little, we lived in Kansas, and I wasn't in any tornados but witnessed their destruction ~ 3 years ago we were in a flood.....It's great to have all your preps in place, but be sure they are stored in a way that they survive all imaginable disasters, or else it's all for nothing....

    Anyone believing your part of the world is immune to natural disasters have a false security, nature is unpredictable.....If you lose all your prepping items, you end up in the same predicament as those who never prepped to begin with (that's learning the hard way talking).....

    Another thing that many don't fully realize, the amount of time it takes to get thru the disaster is long and every step of the way is a fight......We see the initial chaos, maybe revisit places like New Orleans on each year anniversary, but most people don't realize how long and sad the disruption lasts and how nearly impossible it is to keep surviving......

  3. It's amazing how quickly things can change.
    I'm not really fearful but my next check will be going for a bit more fuel and a couple of other items.
    Japan's rice growing and agricultural provinces took a huge hit. Along with everything else that has happened.

  4. Extra food stores is always a good idea. Our ancestors did it, we should too. Store it, use it, replace it. Get into the habit.

    Anonymous Patriot

  5. What exactly will you be adding to your food storage?

  6. Thank you for this post. I bought canned goods, prepared meals in pouches, pasta, rice, juices, peanut butter today. I have a closet that is called my Hobbit closet and I am squirreling away all the food I can afford. I am concerned about upcoming spiraling food prices and consider my efforts a savings account that is more real than paper in the bank.

  7. Buying out of panic could be an expensive option. Better to be on the look-out for great deals during calm times. You shouldn't have to run out and buy your food supply in one or two trips. If you see a super cheap deal on coffee one day then stock up. (I once found tins of my favourtie coffee for 1/3 of the price because they were changing the colour of the packaging) If you're using these things daily anyways you'll be happy you have them, and naturally on the look-out for deals to re-stock your supplies with.


  8. I'm overwhelmed with grief at the catastrophe in Japan. I want to turn away from it since it hurts my body to acknowledge it. But I won't turn away. When we talk about those in true need, these are the people we mean and tomorrow I'll be donating what I can afford.

    Good luck to your friend and may God bless him with relief, a warm bed and a full stomach. Tonight I am astoundingly grateful for mine.

    Just Me

  9. Thanks for this. I don't normally discuss such matters with most friends and family, but I'm in firm agreement. I know that in Alaska the smallest thing can easily disrupt our "normal" lives up here and certianly Japan as such a super power can have an impact, even if that means waking up some Americans. I'm going to post this one on facebook now and then go back to playing dead (like another blogger said today.)

    Anna in Alaska

  10. Patrice,

    Tomorrow I will be making one more trip to Restaurant Depot for some final supplies before we begin packing away all the things we have gathered into mylar bags with oxygen absorbers. We just placed an order for some of the powdered items we will need and, one thing that was interesting/concerning??, was how many of the survival food suppliers were out of stock and items were backordered. There are more people implementing a long term food storage plan in their homes than we know. Some places said it could be up to a month before the items might be shipped. Luckily, we found one that has the items we wanted in stock. Aside from the catastrophe in Japan, exactly how much does everyone think a loaf of bread or gallon of milk will cost when gas is $5 or more a gallon? Is the truck driver that delivers it to the store for you suppose to do so for free?

  11. Excellent post!! We are doing this as well, and it certainly is a scary situation. I think that most people don't understand what kind of economical impact this is likely to have on an already eroding monetary system. Thank you for sharing, and we're praying over here on the east coast as well. :)--S

  12. Every disaster seems to be a time to turn back to the God that created the universe. And yet, people still look to others instead of the God who created them. He always makes a way of escape for the believer. Isn't He Wonderful?

  13. I'm of the same mind. I'm sending an email today to my California relatives to please, please, please make sure that they have the recommended 2 weeks of food/water at home and an earthquake bag in the care. I'm sure most of them will write me off as a nut, but at least I'm going to try.

    Here at home, it's budging hubby on getting a water supply in. We have a well, but a power loss takes out the pump, ground shift (very unlikely) could close the well.

    Another thing to keep in mind among the other events affecting food production. That tsunami that went kilometers inland dumped seawater over lots of fields and tore down rows and rows of greenhouses. Sowing the land with salt.


  14. What is noteworthy to me about the Japanese earthquake is the number of people who cannot get home because public transport is down and roads are closed. They are stuck where they work, without power, in sub-freezing temps at night. This is not something many planned for.

    Here at home, I am once again thinking of increasing my pantry stocks, because a)we can afford it now; and b) food is NOT going to get cheaper this year, considering the effects on our economy of the disaster in Japan. I might as well have a year's worth of everything we normally eat, alongside the power-out food.


  15. Patrice and Don,
    You are quite wise to move some of that green paper into TANGIBLES!
    The price of fuel and anything made from petro by-products will skyrocket.

    The Japanese have already just this morning experienced a 5 point drop in their opening stock market. They will have to dump billions into their banking coffers in attempt to help to stop the losses from surmounting into a global financial meltdown.
    the Japanese will be running in negatives for years ahead, due to their financial inability to continue any technological productions or, in any mass employment plant manufacturing areas where nuclear power was the source of energy and water pumping....which is quite vast an area in this tragedy.

    The likelihood of the Fed to NOT print more quantitative easing money is slim, especially with Obama planning to secure another 4 year term, next year.

    It would behoove all of us to start securing our property boundaries, for the value of our livestock and farms will soon be the agrarian backbone of this country....again.

    God Bless and Pray for Japan's people, who will be dealing with this unfolding trauma and tragedy for years to come.


  16. Thank you for your post and you wonderful blog.

  17. Patrice, the hardest part of the tragedy in Japan is that we spent 3.5 years stationed in the Tokyo area and made friends with several of the locals. It has been 7 years since we departed and have slowly lost contact with them. We have never forgotten the warmth and friendliness of these friends that we made. I have said a prayer every night for the people of Japan and prayers have been a fixture at services for the last several days.


    PACNW Righty

  18. Hi Patrice, This is Karen H. I'm not registered with this, so it ends up posting as anonymous. Anyway, I was wondering what the prepper viewpoint is on radiation, especially any that may be coming to the west coast of the U.S.

  19. Karen H., I'm not overly worried about radiation from the Japanese nuclear facility affecting the west coast of the U.S. Three thousand miles is a long distance, and ocean winds would disperse the radiation to the point where any amounts that made it to shore would be not much more dangerous than a dental x-ray.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not making light of this situation; and I think the Japanese people have good reason to evacuate the area around the facility. But I don't believe it will be harmful here.

    That said, we do not have any iodine pills and had not seen the need for them. I've changed my mind. Once things calm down and the pills are more readily available, we'll probably stock up on a supply. I am not familiar enough with radiation poisoning to offer much advice. I've heard, for example, that the effectiveness of pills may be limited depending on the type of radiation and even one's age. This is going to take some research.

    ...But I will add that this has been an excellent wake-up call for a lot of people.

    - Patrice

  20. Specifics will have to come from someone/someplace else, but I can give you generalities about the Potassium Iodide. In general...two predominant radioactive byproducts of a meltdown involving a uranium reactor are a radioactive isotope of cesium and a radioactive isotope of iodine. One of the predominant health effects comes from the iodine being readily taken up and accumulated in the thyroid and frequently causing thyroid cancer. If you take potassium iodide beforehand, it is also taken up readily by the thyroid but then leaves no place for the radioactive iodine to reside. Sounds like a plan, except taking PI is not without some potentially nasty side effects. First and foremost, if you are allergic to iodine, it's off the menu. Vomiting and weight loss are not uncommon. And in some cases you can actually damage the thyroid, inducing hypothyroidism. So, heck of a choice, eh? What I don't know is how much you have to take for it to be effective, how long before exposure you need to start, or how long you need to continue. You need to do a lot of your own research on this subject, and unfortunately straight answers are not easy to come by. It may all be a moot point as far as this particular incident is concerned anyway as potassium iodide in this country is gone, gone, gone. (Wish I had a big stockpile, I hear big numbers are being posted on E-Bay!)

    Jeff - Tucson