While Greece is experiencing turmoil and an unclear path forward, individual Greeks are coping with bigger, more immediate problems, such as how to feed their families. If you are following world news outlets you know that Greek banks are closed. When the bank is closed, no money can be withdrawn. When families don’t have any money, they can’t purchase food at the grocery store. This may seem simplistic, but many Greeks are finding out the hard way what happens when you are not prepared.
According to CNN Money, 76% of American families live paycheck to paycheck. This means they are frequently withdrawing cash that was just earned at a job. This also means that 3/4 of Americans are not saving money for difficult times and are not prepared for an emergency. Think of it this way: if you live in a suburban neighborhood like many Americans, 3 out of every 4 neighbors in your neighborhood wouldn’t have enough food to last a week and must go to the grocery store or a restaurant several times each week. Imagine if the power was off for a few days after a bad storm passed through. Your friendly neighbors could become not so friendly, and perhaps want what you have! If you don’t think that disasters happen, then think again; they happen all the time. And the government may not be there to help you.
In 2012, Hurricane Sandy slammed into the East Coast of the US and knocked out power for a week (at one point more than 15 million people had lost power), killed scores of people, affected 18 states and canceled thousands of airline flights. Would you be ready for a disaster if it happened to you? What if the bank is closed and the shelves at the grocery store are empty, like in Greece?
On a personal note, I recommend that you stop what you are reading now and assess your personal situation. What can you do to prepare for a worst case scenario such as a violent storm, power outage, or something more unimaginable, like war? Do you have water, food stored, cash on hand and a means to protect your supplies? Like many Americans, I live in a normal neighborhood where families reside and working people go to work every day to make a living.
Recently we were impacted by seasonal storms that caused a power outage. I felt like I was prepared; I had a flash light, some stored bottled water and a few other items, so I felt confident. However, the storm truly tested my preparedness. I had been monitoring the storm using the local news media’s weather website prior to the storm. When power went down and all the lights went out, I thought I could just depend upon my cell phone to monitor the storm using the local weather app. Murphy’s Law was obviously in play, because when I attempted to access the app, their weather website and app went down. I was surprised, to say the least. But the bad luck continued. My cell phone “froze” and wouldn’t allow me to make calls or even turn it off (it’s an Iphone – go figure)! Luckily, I remembered I had an old battery powered weather radio and I was able to use it to monitor the storm and determine when it had passed. We were also able to use our land line phone, which doesn’t require power to operate (unless you have a cordless phone). Who says old world technology like land line phones and weather radios are dead??
Another angle that I’d like to add to my experience was the human factor. While I was busy trying to secure my family during the storm (we stayed in our closet) and solve communication problems, another dangerous tale was playing out in my neighborhood. There’s a small convenience store in my neighborhood that also experienced the power outage as we did. Despite the fact that the power outage seemed to last forever, in reality the outage only lasted for 2-3 hours. Yet I found out later that a thug attempted to break into the neighborhood store, but was dissuaded when the owner of the store used a little “fire power” demonstration. He quickly tucked his tale and ran. But what might have happened if things were different?
When I found out about the potential looter days later I was shocked. Crime in our neighborhood is practically non-existent and most people in the neighborhood take pride in being friendly and trustworthy. The small town camaraderie and familiarity is alive and well; yet it only took an hour or two for someone to reduce the situation to looting. Are you prepared to defend yourself and your family if looters show up at your door during the storm?
Soon enough, Greeks may be experiencing the negative effects that follow a major catastrophe, natural or otherwise. Hopefully they (and you) will remember that luck always favors the prepared. Be prepared, for anything.