Monday, June 16, 2014

Bug Out Camper/RV?


I live in the mid-hudson valley, NY-USA, 100 miles from NYC.  In the event of a hyperinflationary-SHTF event, I plan to stay here.  There is one circumstance that would compel me to move:  a meltdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant that is 36 miles away.  This is not far fetched, since it is the third most likely atomic facility to undergo a catastrophe in the US (a fault is 3 miles away).  If the 9/11 terrorists had crashed their planes into it, it would have been all over for about 20 million people.

I have friends who live 150 miles north in New Hampshire, but they are not reliable.  If I and my wife were on our own, would we be better off in my 4WD pickup truck, or in the truck towing a small RV?  I already own the pickup and would have to buy the RV.  I have no other use for the RV, and storage would not be a problem.  In the event of a meltdown I would hook up the RV and go north, living in the RV until I found suitable quarters.
Your thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated since I have nothing but the greatest respect for your opinion.

Hello Marvin,
Thanks for your email. Sorry for the delay in replying.
As you correctly assume, the best thing to do during an economic crisis is to stay put. It seems that a lot of people believe that if the dollar goes down, we should all hit the nearest national park and go Man vs Wild. That really solves nothing. An economic collapse can change the landscape of the country in a way you may later choose to leave like I did but such a thing does not happen overnight and abandoning the safety of your home and neighborhood as a kneejerk reaction doesn’t change the financial problem the country is going through. 

You mention a nearby nuclear power plant and that sure sounds like one of the potential threats to keep in mind, along with terrorist attacks, house fires and natural disasters. Everyone needs a bug out plan and in your case it should include a strategy so as to deal with a nuclear power plant failure/attack. Now, the doomer point of view is that if something goes wrong there wouldnt be enough time to do anything about it before being radiated. That simply isn’t true. Even after a nuclear attack, depending on distance you may have enough time to move away from danger towards safety. There’s a good chance you would have at least a few minutes and having the right strategy may save your life. You need a contingency plan for family members to rally at a specific point if scattered when the event takes place, prearranged supplies ready to go, a route (avoiding the radioactive plume, going downwind) and a bug out location to go to.
In general I recommend having an actual place to go to where family or friends can provide shelter until you get back on your feet. This is something that has to be discussed, don’t just assume it, even with people you consider good friends. Family is in general more likely to help one another but there are exceptions. Having someone already occupying a building, with supplies, beats having to buy and maintain various bug out locations, which isn’t very realistic for most people.
The RV is actually a good idea and it helps in a few areas. First, there’s no need for it to be the most expensive trailer, although it should be serviceable and taken care of, which does cost money if you expect it to work properly when needed. A small RV you can arrange it so as to have most of your supplies ready to go. You just hook it up and hit the road. Being portable means you can head in any direction and keep moving if needed. An RV also means you may go to someone’s place and not “overstay” the welcome as much by staying in the RV and not invading the privacy of someone else’s home as much, which may become a problem in the long run.

Now RVs are not the end all solution for bugging out. They aren’t exactly bomb proof and the outdoors can be harsh on them faster than you’d think. They need maintenance which can be expensive even if you take care of most of the manual labor. During some emergencies you may not have the time to take it with you or you may lose it during the evacuation (floods, etc)
In conclusion having an RV is a pretty good idea.  Don’t overestimate the towing capacity of your vehicle and plan for the extra fuel needed when bugging out. Make sure you have enough. With a bit of patience you should be able to come across a used one for a reasonable price.
Good luck!



Anonymous said...

If the 9/11 terrorists had piloted the plane into the nuclear power plant It certainly would have done a lot of damage but very doubtful it would result in either a large relaes of nuclear material or a melt down. It would have been an expensive and complicated demolition and cleanup and that alone might be a good reason to close the plant and do the simple demolish and cleanup. But it serves no good purpose to spread alarm over inaccurate information.

Don Williams said...

1) Re Anonymous at 1:15PM

a) While the airliner might not have cracked the nuclear reactor containment building, it would almost certainly have shut down the electrical grid running the water pumps that keep the reactor cooled. Including the backup diesel generators. A hot reactor running in power generation mode would probably melt down if its coolant was abruptly shot off.

b) A hot reactor core melting through its container and hitting a flooded floor causes a massive steam explosion. Whether that would breach the containment dome is debated.

c) Plus a lot of used fuel rods are stored at nuclear plants in a swimming pool and will meltdown /burn if exposed to air -- giving off a massive plume of highly radioactive smoke that would spread miles downwind. The fuel rods' heat boils off water from the pool which has to be constantly replenished.

d) We saw what happened in Japan. Now imagine that happening but reactor workers unable to take emergency actions because of a massive fire from burning jet fuel. The workers that had not already been incinderated, I mean.

And responding firemen crews unable to get close enough to refill the fuel rod pool with their hoses before it is exposed and ignites.

Anonymous said...

Additional idea: register to an independent radition monitoring website like
So that you do not rely on official media and be the First one to bug out.

Anonymous said...

It takes several days for cooling water around spent fuel rods to boil off completely.

In the U.S. only the older rods are moved, unlike at Fukushima where the entire core was removed from reactor #4 and moved to a cooling pond - resulting in much more heat from 'young' core elements than you'd see at a U.S. reactor.

Bringing in diesel gensets to re-circulate the water between the spent fuel ponds & the cooling towers would not be a problem.

Please remember there were no containment domes at Fukushima - those buildings which exploded so spectacularly were only 'weather covers' not rated for _any_ overpressure.

Anonymous said...

Mr Williams. You assume a lot. Yes the famous China syndrome. But would it happen. You are making assumptions. If the containment building is not shut down/destroyed then the reactor can be taken off-line and put into a safe mode. If the reactor was for some reason not taken off line and put in safe mode but the cooling water still flowed (which was the problem in Japan) then again no problem. Could it happen? Could a jet plane destroy a reactor building and cause a meltdown? Yes, there is a 1% or less chance it could happen. Would it put everyone within 200 miles at risk of death or cancer? No. In fact it probably wouldn't put anyone at risk except those sent in to fix the problem (which is what happened in Russia. Would it be a disaster? Absolutely, an economic disaster costing billions to clean up and safely remove all nuclear material. So the bottom line is there is a less the 1% chance of a meltdown but no civilians would be harmed and it would cost billions to clean up. Hell! Obamacare is going to far more damage then that!!!