We saw it in the aftermath of the recent Haiti earthquake and we’re seeing it now. When average people run out of food and water, and the heads of households can’t provide for their families their reactions are quite predictable – do anything and everything you can to survive. (Video follows excerpts and commentary)
Heavily populated parts of Chile still were without water service and electricity Sunday night because of Saturday’s 8.8-magnitude earthquake, and reports of looting raised fears about security in some areas.
The nation’s hardest-hit major city, Concepcion, declared an overnight curfew. The death count from the earthquake doubled on Sunday from a day earlier, to 708 deaths.
Calling Saturday morning’s quake an “unthinkable disaster,” Chilean President Michelle Bachelet said a state of catastrophe in the hardest-hit regions would continue, allowing for the restoration of order and speedy distribution of aid.
Desperate residents scrounged for water and supplies inside empty and damaged supermarkets. On Sunday morning, authorities used tear gas and water cannons to disperse looters in some areas.
On Sunday afternoon, people were seen entering a mill looking for ingredients for bread. In the evening, a CNN team passed a dozen gas stations that were being looted, with people siphoning gas.
In addition to food, gas and emergency supplies, looters were targeting appliance and electronics stores, Van Rysselberghe said.
Some small business owners resorted to protecting their shops with rifles and shotguns, said Rysselberghe, who also considered the current police force inadequate.
Those rushing stores to get DVD players and other electronic are clearly “looting” and store owners, in our opinion, have the right to open fire.
But what do we call people searching for water and food? Without water a person dies in three days. While these people may be ignorant and careless for failing to prepare themselves and their families, can we call them looters for trying to acquire the basic necessities for life? Anyone reading this would do the same if it came down to that.
At the same time, a shopkeeper defending their store or a homeowner defending their home to protect their food and water supplies would be fully justified, in our view, in using deadly force.
A situation like this is very fluid and the lines between “good” and “bad” will be blurred very quickly. The system can quickly fall apart and justice becomes an individual interpretation, as the laws holding society together are temporarily, and in some cases permanently, torn apart.
President Bachelet’s claim that this was an “unthinkable disaster” is ridiculous on its face. As President of a country that lies pretty much right on top of the South American and Nazca tectonic plates, one would think some disaster preparedness would have been initiated.
There is a history of earthquakes right along this fault line. The last major one, having occurred in Chile in 1960 killing around 3000 people, was the most powerful earthquake in recorded history.
Of course, as politicians the world over are more concerned about re-election bids and special interests, it makes sense that Ms. Bachelet never gave any thought to a potential earthquake disaster. Her concern, like the concerns of most elected officials, is herself, not the people she purports to serve.
Something like that couldn’t possibly happen on his watch, right?
Well it did. And it will happen again. Will Chile or California be prepared for the next ‘big one’ ? Will the Gulf coast be prepared for another Category 5 hurricane?Â Will FEMA or your local government be able to mitigate a major dirty war terror attack that may involve poisoned water supplies or a chemical bomb that spreads across a major metropolitan area?
If history is any guide, governments will be slow to respond, and people will die unnecessarily as a result.
This is why preparation on a personal level is not only something we recommend here at SHTF Plan, but it’s something that even our own Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends. They, like us, know that the bureaucracy of disaster response can kill just as many lives as the disaster itself.
While it is impossible to prepare for every emergency scenario, it’s not at all difficult to maintain a two week reserve of food and water. Some home defense planning may be a good idea as well, because if you can’t protect it, you don’t own it.
Rather than depending on the response of government officials, take responsibility for yourself and your family.
CNN Reports on Chilean Disaster: