If the U.S. were to suffer a catastrophic event you will want to evacuate as soon as possible. Unless we suffer an event that destroys your local highways you should be able to travel on these roads. This means one of your most valuable assets will be a reliable means of transportation. For most of us this will be the family vehicle. Although the vehicle that you drive may not be the perfect vehicle for evacuation it may very well be the only vehicle for many of us. If this happens to be the case then you have to use what you have. Many of us cannot afford to go out and purchase another vehicle primarily for the purpose of evacuation. The type vehicles your Group have will play a part in determining the location of your evacuation point. You do not want to choose a location that will be difficult or impossible to get to with the vehicles you have. This means taking a number of factors into consideration:
• Weather conditions: You could very well be required to evacuate in the middle of winter when travel will be difficult due to snow and ice conditions. You could also be required to evacuate during a period of heavy rain where travel to your evacuation point may be difficult due to mud or high water.
• Terrain: As with the weather the type of terrain you have to cross should be determined by the type vehicles the Group will be traveling in. Rough un-improved roads will, in most cases, require four wheel drive with high ground clearance.
• Distance: Gas may be hard to come by; it would be wise to have an evacuation point that can be reached on one tank of gas. Otherwise you will have to have a cache of gas in route or extra gas stored at your house. If you will be caching gasoline then make sure it is in the proper container. It would be very dangerous for you as well as others to bury a can of gasoline or diesel.
• Route: It would be unwise to have an evacuation point requiring you to travel through a large populated area or over bridges.
These things must be considered when choosing an evacuation point; after all, it will do little good to a have a stocked evacuation point and be unable to get there.
Other than choosing an evacuation point that is obtainable in your vehicle, the next important point is to maintain your vehicle. Again, it will do little good to have an evacuation vehicle that won’t crank when you need it or if it breaks down in route. This not only means you will have to keep the vehicle in good mechanical condition but also having fuel. This means keeping at least a half tank of fuel at all times. This should also include keeping at least ten gallons and maybe more fuel in fuel cans that you can quickly get to.
Let’s look at another scenario. Let’s assume you can afford to purchase another vehicle. This can be a secondary vehicle or your primary vehicle.
If this is to be your family’s primary vehicle then a four wheel drive pick-up truck or SUV would be the ideal vehicle. A vehicle such as this is an ideal family vehicle, then add an aggressive set of tires and you have a vehicle that should be able to reach most evacuation points.
I emphasize a four wheel drive, because again you should plan for the worst case scenario. When you have to evacuate you want to be able to go regardless of road conditions. Some roads may be damaged, some may be closed. If necessary you want to be able to travel cross country.
Now let’s look at the best case scenario; let’s assume you can afford to purchase a secondary vehicle. You will use this vehicle as a second vehicle but equip it to be used for evacuation purposes. The most versatile vehicle would, again, be a four wheel drive truck or jeep.
Let’s look at a couple of important points. First, assuming you are going to purchase a vehicle primarily for evacuation purposes you should, again choose a vehicle with the worst case scenario in mind. Meaning you would have to consider the possibility of an “EMP” attack. As you know in the event of an “EMP” attack all electronics will be destroyed. This of course will include all motor vehicles produced before about 1970. After this computers became more and more common, until todays vehicles are loaded with computers.
My reasons for choosing a pre-1970 vehicle are not only because of the possibility of an “EMP” but also because of maintenance and repair. Beginning about 1970 it has become more and more difficult for an individual to maintain and repair their vehicles. Everything on the vehicle is computer operated. You need expensive diagnostic equipment in order to tune the engine. Most if not all axillary equipment as well as most accessories are not repairable. Items such as seats, windows even mirrors are electric powered. The same is true for starters, alternators, fuel injectors, ignition parts and etc. These parts must be replaced rather than repaired. With most pre-1970 vehicles you could perform most repairs with every day hand tools. An old saying was that with a pair of pliers and a piece of bailing wire a good mechanic could make any car run. Although a little exaggerated this was not far from the truth. If you had a set of spark plugs, points, and condenser you could make most vehicles run.
Since there were no SUV’s before 1970 I would choose either a jeep or a truck. There were panel trucks and vans, which would work depending on personal preference and need. In either case, your vehicle of choice should be four wheel drive. The jeep is a relatively small vehicle, although there was a jeep truck. These vehicles will give you the added advantage of extra cargo space plus, in most case more ground clearance. Ground clearance plus four wheel drive with an aggressive set of tires will allow you to travel over rough terrain. This will also allow you to travel through mud and snow. Although not necessary, you add a winch to one of these vehicles and they become almost unstoppable.
Although you may want to modify the running gear to some extent, other than that I would modify little else. You would not want to upgrade the electrical system in that this would defeat the purpose you have the vehicle in the first place.
There are a few things to consider and remember when rigging out a truck to be used as an evacuation vehicle. Of course the truck will perform perfectly well if it is brought back to original condition, with original equipment. There are however modifications that will increase its capabilities such as a winch, spotlights, C.B. radio and etc. This will mostly depend on personal preference. I mean if you have the money and desire this would be really good excuse to build a really nice truck.
Regardless of how much you may modify the vehicle; I would recommend a few basic requirements for the vehicle:
• If a truck choose ½ ton, long wheel base, this will give you much more cargo space.
• Six cylinder, or small V-8 engine. This will give you much better gas mileage, as well as easier maintenance and repair.
• Manual transmission, this way the truck can be pushed to start in the event the starter fails or the battery is dead.
• One or two barrel carburetor, much easier to adjust and in most cases better gas mileage.
• If you choose a truck install a camper shell, this will enable you to carry more passengers and/or cargo if necessary.
• Aggressive mud and/or snow tires depending on location.
• Trailer hitch.
There are items that should be stored in a tool box kept on the truck:
• Hand Tools
• High lift jack
• Tow Strap
• Spare Fan Belt
• Spare generator belt
• Set of spark plugs
• Spare fuel pump
• Set of tire chains
• Spare generator
• Spare carburetor kit
• Spare radiator hoses
• Spare spark plug wires and ends
• Assortment of wire terminals
• Assortment of hose clamps
• Spare thermostat
• At least 4 quarts of oil
• Starter fluid
• Good set of jumper cables
• Tire chains
• Spare fuses
If you or a member of a Group one of the rules should be that everyone should have a vehicle in good repair and capable of reaching your evacuation point. Now having said that here are exceptions to all rules. There will be situations where it may be necessary or even advantageous, for whatever reason, to share ride. In this case it well be very important to have a plan. Everyone should be well aware of who is going with whom. You surely don’t wait until you are evacuating to figure who is riding with whom.
Now, once you have reached your evacuation point you need to know what you are going to do with the Group’s vehicles. For the most part this will depend on whether you drive directly to the evacuation point or if you are drive as close as possible and then hike in.
First of all as stated in “Out Of Harm’s Way” I would, if possible have chosen an evacuation point you have to hike into. The reason for this is because if you can drive to the evacuation point other folks can also. This is a source of trouble. If people find a Group of folks that are doing well they will either want to join or, even worse, take over the camp. Most of the people that will do this lack the ambition to hike very far. The further you are off the beaten trail the better.
If you leave the vehicles behind I would suggest the following procedure:
• Drive as close to the evacuation point and unload the vehicles. Then drive the vehicles at least five miles back down the road and leave them. Scatter them out and hide them as best as possible,
• Before leaving them make sure you remove any thing that may identify you.
• Remove all the gasoline.
• Remove the rotary cap.
• Remove the battery and take to the camp for emergency radio power at camp. (The battery can be removed when you unload for camp, just keep the vehicle running.)
These precautions are to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to find. This will also make it impossible for anyone to start the vehicle and drive away. Chances are if anyone happens to find these vehicles, they will in all likelihood, destroy it or at least damage them. In either case, the vehicle will have served its purpose by getting you to your evacuation point.
Let’s look at the advantages in buying a pre-1970 truck:
First, since the truck will be at least forty years old it should be relatively cheap, of course this will depend on the condition of the truck. If the truck is to be bought primarily for an evacuation vehicle it does not need to be cosmetically perfect. However, if you should happen to need a dependable truck you can of course buy a pre-1970 truck completely reconditioned in like new condition. It simply depends on your needs, your wants and your pocket book. You can spend as much or as little as you wish.
The second and third reasons are due to the same thing and that is, a truck per-1970 will be computer free. It will have a distributor, breaker point ignition system, carburetor and manual fuel pump, and windows will be manually operated. This will mean you will have a vehicle that needs no special equipment or computers in order to tune it up or diagnose an engine problem. This in turn means you will be capable of maintaining and repairing the vehicle yourself. To tune this engine all you need, other than common hand tools is a set of feeler gauges, a timing light and the specs. Another important point is that the auxiliary equipment found on a pre-1970 vehicle is repairable. Items such as a starter, generator, and carburetor, can be repaired where on newer vehicles this auxiliary equipment is sealed and non-repairable.
With all the newer model vehicles you can perform no maintenance on any part of the vehicle without special equipment.
A pre-1970 vehicle is immune to EMP or electromagnetic pulse damage. This is due to the fact that there are no computers in these vehicles. In the event the U.S. suffers a successful “EMP” attack all of the newer vehicles will be rendered useless by the bomb.