During strange times on Earth filled with likely terror scenarios from inside and outside forces of destruction. It always good to have a manual handy and I would have to recommend that to be the book by Richard Guarte entitled "Surviving Doomsday: A Guide for Surviving an Urban Disaster". I luckily live around the woods and have a vast supply of nature handy in case the poo hits the fan. But with a book like this around it most assuredly can help the cause. It is a pleasure to get to interview Richard and present this information.
“Surviving Doomsday” is a pretty striking title for a book. Why did you choose such a dramatic title and does it have any personal meaning to you?
RD: The title “Surviving Doomsday” (SD) may seem a bit extreme, but it’s meant to grab the reader’s attention and to convey the seriousness of the topic. In any event, try telling the folks in NY and NJ that were recently affected by Super Storm Sandy that their experience was anything short of doomsday. Some of these people had well over four feet of water in their living room, along with one hundred mile per hour winds trying to knock down their front door. The pictures of the destruction tell a story that most of us find horrifying. Being prepared would not have prevented any of the events that occurred, but it would have provided the residents of those most affected areas with options – before, during and in the aftermath of the storm.
What motivated you to write SD and what is your intended audience?
RD: Everyday extreme weather events and other disasters occur in the U.S. and around the world, and everyday many people are caught completely off-guard. Most are unprepared, or underprepared, and many are forced to rely on the government, and their agencies, to bring them food, water and other survival basics. Most people discover, at the worst possible moment, that this aid is often slow in coming and inadequate when it finally arrives. As a survivor of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, I learned this the hard way. The goal of SD is to have an impact on the reader and to motivate and inspire people to take the first steps, and to get prepared. SD was written for everyday people. You don’t need to be a survival expert to be prepared. The book is a roadmap with easy to follow instructions, suggestions, and tips on everything from food, water and first aid to security and even survival fitness.
When you talk to people about making survival preparations, what is their first reaction?
RD: Most people just make a joke and say that they have not made any preparations, but if something really bad happens they will be coming to my house. I tell them not to, since I probably won’t be there. Some of these same folks say they have always thought about storing some extra food, water and making other preparations, but that they have either been too busy to actually do it, or they just lack the money to get started. In any case, they hope that nothing will happen, and if it does that the government will be there to help them out. (Or they will go to someone else’s house). Many figure, why bother devoting time, effort and money in preparation for something that may never occur? The simple truth is that survival planning and preparation has not become a priority for them. Either because they don’t appreciate the danger or because they just don’t know where to begin – so they do nothing. SD doomsday is meant to show them that anyone can get started with just a few dollars and a few minutes a day.
Since you mentioned money, isn’t it expensive to make preparations? It seems that many people would like to be prepared, but just can’t afford to spend the extra money, especially during these tough economic times. Do you have any suggestions for these people?
RD: Preparations can be expensive, but being prepared need not be. SD provides the reader with some of the resources, information and tools they need to start making preparations at their own pace, and within their own abilities and budgets. Being prepared is not always about buying stuff. A big part of being prepared is about mindset, and developing survival skills and situational awareness. In SD we discuss many ways to disinfect and filter water using readily available household items – cost is practically -0- but you need the know-how. If you have the skills, you can always figure out a way to improvise and use what’s available to you at the moment. Stuff can be lost, damaged or even taken from you; the skills you learn will stay with you for life.
Why should people take the time and spend the money to be prepared? Won’t the government help after any major disaster?
RD: In many instances the government, and its agencies, have been widely criticized for their inability to adequately respond to the needs of ordinary citizens in the aftermath of a crisis. Many lawmakers have been calling for deep budget cuts to FEMA and other aid agencies. Others have raised concerns that the existing budgets are insufficient to adequately respond to any widespread disaster. At the end of the day, the public should not place their reliance on resources that may or may not be there when they are most needed.
I read in your book that in 1992 you survived Hurricane Andrew, how did that affect your view of survival preparedness? And do you think you would have ever written this book if it wasn’t for your experience during Andrew?
RD: Hurricane Andrew was my personal wake-up call. I tell my story in the Introduction to SD and I often look back on that moment as a life changing event. I don’t wish such a thing on anybody, but I decided to turn a negative into a positive. If not for Hurricane Andrew I never would have begun my research and I never would have been motivated to write this book. But the most important thing is that I pass along what I have learned to others, so that they can hopefully benefit from my experiences.
It seems that one of your main goals is to motivate people to take action. Why do you think people are so reluctant to take that first step in their survival planning?
RD: I sincerely believe that most people just have no idea of the risks, and even if they do most don’t know how to get started. In SD I remind the readers that they must take the first step and just begin. Their survival plan may not be perfect, their supplies may not be complete, but by having a plan and making some basic preparations they will always be far better off than if they had done nothing at all. I always encourage people to take that first step and then continue building on their efforts – a little at a time.
In the book you talk a lot about the “Fragile Infrastructure” that supports our way-of-life. What do you see as the biggest risks we face in the coming years?
RD: No one has any way of knowing what the future brings, I’m no different. That’s why I urge people not to prepare for specific events, but rather to prepare for the unexpected; this means always addressing the core survival elements first. I do, however, believe that in the coming years we will probably see an increase in the intensity and frequency of natural disasters – we are already seeing some of this. Weather patterns around the world are changing, and we continue to see more areas affected by devastating droughts, and ironically other areas by floods. Food and water will of course, continue to be a big problem as the world’s population continues to grow and the world’s access to these necessities is further challenged. Lastly, the electrical grid and all the electrical gadgets that run our world, have certainly made life easier and more convenient, but I fear that any prolonged absence of electrical power could have devastating effects on the supply chain, the financial markets and social order. Therefore, I am especially worried about the electrical grid and its vulnerability - not only as it relates to natural disasters, but also to possible terrorist activities such as cyber attacks.
For those people out there who are still not convinced, what can you tell them that might help to get them motivated to start making preparations?
RD: Being prepared is not about gloom and doom, it’s about peace of mind and it’s about options. It’s like having an insurance policy – you hope never to need it, but it sure comes in handy when the unexpected occurs. The main goal of SD is to provide the reader with information to help them increase their chances of staying alive, in an urban environment, before, during and after a crisis. No one can do this for anyone else; people need to do it for themselves. This is a process that will take time, effort and money; but readers have a major advantage - someone else has already done much of the heavy lifting for them. SD was written with the average person in mind. Each chapter covers a different topic (food, water, security, etc.) and there are even check-off lists of survival tools and supplies at the end of the book. It’s concise, straight forward and easy to understand. The reader just needs to make the commitment and to get started.
There are lots of sources of survival planning information, books, web sites, blogs, etc. What makes SD different?
RD: There are many good sources of information, a lot more than just a few years ago. Many of these sources however, fail to address the everyday person and their needs. Some sources advise readers to leave the cities, move into the country, to build fortified bunkers, and to store many years worth of food, water and supplies. Some sources advise people to leave their homes and “Bug Out” to the woods to live off the land. For most people that advice is just not practical or useful. SD is a step-by-step guide containing a simple and easy-to-understand approach to help everyday people plan to survive a potential crisis where they live, work and play – urban areas. SD focuses on the basics survival elements – food, water, first aid, security and sanitation. These are all things that are within reach of the average person. The other stuff may sound exciting and make a good plot for a movie, but in the real world it is beyond the reach of most people.
Surviving Doomsday – A Guide to Surviving an Urban Disaster is available on Amazon.com in the paperback format or for the Kindle. You can also “Like” the Surviving Doomsday Facebook page for the latest news and survival tips at - www.facebook.com/survivingdoomsdaythebook
About the Author
Richard Duarte is a man on a mission. He doesn’t live in an underground bunker, and he won’t be preparing for a zombie apocalypse. He has, however, survived some very scary events and has spent the last twenty years figuring out what works and what doesn’t – often the hard way. He is a father of four, a grandfather, a husband and a responsible member of society that refuses to delegate the responsibility for his family’s welfare to the government, or to anyone else for that matter. When he’s not writing, speaking, teaching or thinking about survival, he’s busy practicing law and running his law office in Coral Gables, Florida