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What if The Shoe Were on The Other Foot and You Were The Safe Haven?

safe-havenWith a ton of family in town this past week (especially over the weekend) I got to thinking what if the shoe were on the other foot? That is, what if we had to be the safe haven for family and friends who had to evacuate? Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy are prime examples. In this case, it’s not that the disaster has hit you specifically so it’s not like your electricity, food, or water resources have been affected but housing could very well be. Of course we would help out as much as we could, but with so many people in town and at our house I got to thinking about how much of a logistical problem this could turn into if things were a bit different.

Obviously, these people came with their own clothes, toiletries, money, and so on. But, what if they hadn’t, and all they had were the clothes on their back? That would be a significant burden for sure. Since they’re family and likely close friends you would do everything you could to care for them within a bit of reason, but you can’t do it all. Surely some of your preps would come in handy, from stored food to extra toothbrushes and, no doubt, the 400+ rolls of toilet paper in the garage. :)

Anyway, a problem I can see cropping up is what happens if not only family and close friends show up but maybe they unexpectedly bring their friends or even some neighbors? You know, the people they bar-b-que with every Sunday for the past 20 years. Now we’re talking about a LOT of people, some of which you may not even know and now you may be expected to care for them for an indefinite amount of time. That would get old very fast… even if it were just family and friends.

I can hear you saying they should get a hotel, stay in the local FEMA camp, or whatever. But, what if so many people have evacuated to your area and there simply isn’t anywhere else to go? I think places like Houston had this problem during Katrina. The point ist hat you may very well be stuck with them, like it or not. I can tell you that even after just a few days I was ready for everyone to go back from where they came and these were all of my wife’s family and close friends!

Regardless of where they should stay or for how long, there’s also another problem once you’ve taken everybody in, and that’s how do you logistically deal with all of them? Instead of just your normal family you may now have four or five times that many people at your home. We had dozens of people here for days on end and, fortunately, quite a few of them had other places to go. Still, it was a mad house. We had people staying everywhere, from in bedrooms and on couches to blow-up mattresses (a few of which were borrowed). We used every blanket and comforter in the house, not to mention towels I didn’t even know we had.

And you know the best part?…

The washing machine went belly-up just as most people arrived!! So, off to the local laundromat and the laundry keeps piling up along with dishes, dishes, and more dishes… and that’s even with using a ton of paper plates, cups, utensils and so on. The water heater never stopped and I’m pretty sure we started our own soup kitchen. Well, it wasn’t that bad. :) Many friends and neighbors did bring meals, which was a blessing.

So, the moral of the story is to contemplate what you would do if you had to be the safe haven for literally dozens of people? Where would they sleep? What about privacy? How would you feed them? What about bathroom and shower schedules (yeah, it could get that bad)? If they stay for longer than a day or two, how would others be expected to help out? What if they don’t? How about quiet time when the kids need to go to sleep because they have school the next day?

Perhaps the biggest questions are: would you be open to allowing this situation? Would your spouse? How many people could you house if you had to? And, what would you do if you had to turn people away (maybe even friends or family)? Could you?

And the most important question of all…

When have they officially overstayed their welcome and now it’s time for them to move on?

14 comments to What if The Shoe Were on The Other Foot and You Were The Safe Haven?

  • Morris

    I don’t know why you folks are getting all excited about all those people moving in with you if something happened. With so many preppers planning on buggin’ out to their retreat or family farm in the country somewhere, all those people will simply become squatters in those empty houses.

  • Having been in recovery clean and sober for a few years now, it’s easy to see things with a high degree of clarity. First (or close to first) rule #1 of healthy relationships; “It’s absolutely none of my business what others think of me”. If I’m living my values to the best of my ability, then it becomes very easy to outline requirements and duties of those who choose to stay (if invited), and also set forth in no uncertain terms which types of behavior will not be tolerated. Maybe the petty shortcomings come with one or two warnings, maybe the biggies are a one strike and you’re out. What I do know for sure is; if my house is in order (metaphorically and literally), through faith and trust in God, he will help me walk through any challenge he puts before me. I know this because it’s been proven over and over in my life without exception.

    • No doubt that if days turn into weeks then some serious ground rules are in order, especially with people you don’t know. I know Pam mentioned that she had a friendship ruined because of ungrateful house guests… I can only imagine how quickly friendships and family relationships could get ruined in a true emergency.

  • dbm

    I have run into this situation several times over the years. People show up at your door, down on their luck and you try to do the right thing and help them out. Without fail, it always ended up a NIGHTMARE. The “visitors” eventually end up taking advantage of the situation. You become the maid and the butler while wiping out your food storage that took time and money to build up. They never truly appreciate it. Never again unless extreme circumstances. Been there, done that.

  • Wendy

    Prep your gardens now. Get yourselves growing. Harvesting. Preserving. So much we can do Now.

  • Heartless Joe

    Here is a novel suggestion: Charge the freeloaders rent! It can be in the form of money, labor, code of conduct, barter, contract for future payment, and/or anything else of value. Anyone who falls behind in their rent gets evicted. When you want somebody to leave, raise their rent.

    A wheelchair bound grandma can take her naps by the phone, or watch over the kiddies with a whistle to summon help.

    Kids can pick bugs off garden plants, weed, harvest, water, etc.

    Anybody who is able bodied can spend half a day looking for work, and the other half sawing firewood (with a hand saw, cause we don’t want to disturb the neighbors) or cooking.

  • GoneWithTheWind

    Sounds a lot like the problem with illegal immigration except they aren’t even friends and family.

  • Pam

    I’m glad you brought this topic up. As far as supplies are concerned, one could always add a couple hundred pounds of rice and beans for a relatively small investment to stretch the current supply. When it comes to water, unplug the washing machine and everybody has to bathe in a bucket. Excessive flushing would be a challenge! In desperate times, most people prefer to sleep on a floor rather than asphalt. But there is a far more serious aspect to this circumstance than accommodations.
    There has to be a clear plan (or several for different situations) made ahead of time and spouses have to be on the same page. The hosts absolutely need alone time everyday to attend to their relationship and compare notes. Only ONE person can be ultimately in charge. Man is “King of his castle” and guests MUST respect that or they can’t be allowed to remain. 2Thess 3:10 tells us that any who will not work should not eat. If your home becomes a commune, your ‘guests’ should be willing to contribute to the well-being of the whole. Each family unit should have a head that would provide appropriate discipline. If a parting of the ways is necessary, be prepared to present a clear, calm rationale to the party concerned as well as guests who remain.
    We had very dear friends leave town about 10 years ago to live in a big city. We planned for their return should ‘things go south’. Two years ago they came for a two week visit and what an eye-opener it was for us. They now have 7 children who are undisciplined and disrespectful. The parents became demanding and by the end of their visit we were being treated as servants in our own home. Needless to say, plans have changed and we are no longer friends.
    Duress brings out the worst in people and without a strong bond between spouses, ‘others’ will play two ends against the middle.

    • Wendy

      These are very valid points. I have been preaching to my family and friends for years about food supply…buying a bulk item everytime you go to the store is not that hard. You can prep on as little as $5 bucks a week. One Key I would like to point out keep storage away from daily use items. As you rotate from storage. That must be replaced.

  • ellen

    I guess now would be the time for the wash tub and plunger to get to work. How did they even know you had these supplies? Is there a secret agent or spy in your home?
    A few supplies in plain sight but the rest hidden away under cover, and when you are out of food you are out. If able they will help but if not they will move on. once the freebe is no longer available.

    Sounds cold but there are those who take and do not ever give

    • T.R.

      Your right , thats why this is not a black or white issue , but rather a case by case issue .

  • T.R.

    This is kind of a political statement , but politics in any nation are unavoidable . One thing we should consider , that may change things and is a distinct possibility . We may be called on inadvertently , to help provide for the resistance . If the government becomes the enemy ( think of the Red Army durring the russian revolution ) those that prep today may need to help feed and arm the resistance , again its a choice , but if you think of the long term welfare of your country ( a country your children will have to grow up in ) ……..your actions could very well determine the future of Liberty . Just something to think about , and only a choice you can make .

  • Morris

    You bring up some valid issues. And if they’re re-locating only temporarily due to some localized disaster, do you expect them to
    compensate you for eating/using up all your supplies and the wear and tear? If so, how do you do that? What would they do? Send you a bottle
    of wine and thank you note after it’s all over and your house is (almost) half destroyed?