Post Disaster: Organizing a Survival Community

There are countless critical tasks that must be performed to harden a small town or community for survival in the wake of disaster – far too many to cover in a simple blog posting. However, there are some major tasks – some non-obvious – that I believe to be absolutely critical. In the immediate aftermath many victims will be running on adrenaline (they may not even feel like victims at that time). However, with every tick of the clock people become increasingly hungry and the opportunity to prepare to grow food locally slips away.

One of the more obvious critical needs will be appointing leaders. In the perfect world this would also include developing and approving some sort of charter (a “mini-Constitution”), however there will probably initially be no time for this. One way to compensate for lack of time to produce and approve a charter is to strictly limit the initial term of office for the new leadership. This will simultaneously buy time to produce the charter while helping to keep the leadership under control.

In the case of a major disaster that results in social breakdown, one of the not-so-obvious critical tasks would be to commission the immediate production of a local currency, the defining of a minimum wage to establish a real value for that currency, and the thoughtful distribution of some of that currency throughout the community. This currency might initially take a very primitive form (e.g. signed napkins), with the understanding that in the future it must be redeemed for a more formal currency (after which the original currency would lose all value). The community must also be willing and ready to protect the currency strictly (capital punishment has historically been a punishment proscribed for counterfeiters in many situations).

NOTE: While the old banking system may rightfully be credited with contributing to the cause of the disaster, this does not diminish the critical role of honest banking in a new economy.

Other critical tasks include the organizing of both internal and external security teams. The internal security team would serve as the community’s police force, while the external security team would serve as its military. The external team should immediately establish 24×7 security roadblocks for all roads leading into the community, and define policies that govern those roadblocks. All of these teams, as well as those in leadership positions, would be paid with the community currency.

Our book, When There is No FEMA – Survival for Normal People in (Very) Abnormal Times, has an entire chapter that describes in detail the organizing of a survival community, including complete checklists of what to do and when to do it. No other book covers this critical aspect of disaster preparedness. It can be previewed and ordered from our web site at