By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. — Benjamin Franklin —
October 4th (Saturday)
The situation in Saudi Arabia is heating up, it seems that riots have broken out and the holy city of Mecca is under curfew but no one seems to know why. They were not affected by the Arab Spring movement, definitely not during the holy month for pilgrimage at least. The WHO and CDC teams have begun to evacuate from the area, not without losses though. It seemed that they have lost personnel there but were reluctant to divulge the reasons why. Countries with pilgrims have also begun their efforts in evacuating their fellow countrymen from Saudi Arabia.
The Prime Minister gave an impromptu speech this morning, something which I have never seen before. He was urging those with families in Saudi Arabia to remain calm, the Government is trying their best to bring them home, including sending our own planes to ferry them back. It was nonsense, if everyone is doing the same, how could the Saudi airports cope? The whole thing smelled of a cover-up, especially so when I noticed the presence of our Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, standing behind the Prime Minister. What was he doing back here?
Instead of listening to the prepared speech, I switched over to CNN, at least the reporters here are doing their jobs of asking the right questions. A CDC official and a FEMA representative were on the dock right now, answering the questions thrown by the reporters. That seemed strange, if it was a riot, why are the CDC being questioned? A few minutes into the session and there seemed to be more questions than there were answers, even so, those were vague.
I was beginning to worry now. Called my parents for a family conference over breakfast with the TV news running in the background. Surprisingly enough, Dad noted that there was no live feed of the situation in Saudi Arabia, all they had were just over the phone interviews and reports. I told them about the situation I learned from Lionel coupled with those I read online regarding the NCoV infection. It was either to stay put or to move in with my elder sister in the capital (500km away from us). In the end, we settled on the former.
My parents left for the markets and shops to stock up on our necessities. We need at least three months’ worth of food for a family of six, if my sister decide to join us.
Talking to my elder sister, Erin, could be daunting to some, what more when she is a lawyer practising with the corporate big wigs. She was working, as usual, despite the fact that it was the weekend. I told her to drop what she was working and pay attention, this was serious stuff. She has heard about the problems in Saudi Arabia but was too caught up in her work to pay further attention. I told her about our plans of digging deep and holding out if there were to be an outbreak of epidemic proportions. She said she need to discuss it over with Mark, her husband and their son, Carl. Mark is a business man dealing with car parts, she was lucky to have him. I never understood what he saw in my sister, she has been a workaholic ever since she started school, whereas I was the laid back happy-go-lucky younger brother, trying my best to follow in her footsteps. Before I hung up, she said that I was over reacting. Come to think of it, I might have been. I hope she could give me a reply by tomorrow.
In fact, we have been taking things for granted, for far too long. Here I am, faced with a possible disaster and yet I found myself seriously unprepared and totally helpless. The Internet came to the rescue as always, even so, this is one luxury that would be lost immediately when power fails. I spent the next few hours searching and downloading every manual, documentaries, DIY books and even YouTube videos, covering the basics of survival, right down to the mundane chore of changing the rubber washer in the taps.
I came across this documentary series (or some would call it reality TV shows) entitled Doomsday Preppers. I had a quick look at the previews, seems like there are people out there who have made it their purpose in life to survive any possible catastrophe by being well-prepared. The realisation that I haven’t had a clue just how big this thing would turn out to be struck me hard. There would be rioting, looting, pandemonium in the streets, probably even a hard crackdown by the police and army (if needed), all hell would break loose and it could signal the fall of society as we know it. I haven’t even considered all of the possibilities.
I left the computer to download on its own, while I made arrangements with both the solar panel and rainwater harvesting company to come and do a routine systems check. They were scheduled for the afternoon. I took a quick look around before leaving the house, there was much to be done; thicker curtains for the windows and barricades for the balconies amongst them. Blessed with eidetic memory, I didn’t have to visit my parents’ place to figure out what their house required.
I stopped at Home Depot, I needed all the necessary tools and materials for some serious DIY. I had my fair share for hammering nails while hanging up wall pictures at home,as for sawing wood, that was back in high school, I’m not even going to touch on plumbing. I had nothing at home that was usable. Had to make sure that they aren’t battery powered. If the shit hits the fan, batteries will run out pretty fast.
Spent the rest of the day learning lessons from the Internet and from the maintenance workers. Heavy sessions committed to memory. Organised everything for easy reference if the need arises.
I wonder, am I overreacting? Do I worry too much? What if all these were unnecessary? The CDC and WHO should have everything figured out by now. Although SARS was bad, then there was the Avian Flu but it didn’t affect us that much. Well, not as much as what I was doing right now.
I kept the TV on throughout the night, much of it were generally the same. Interviewing some experts, reassurance were given and no one should panic. Anyway, these were the news from the United States and some from Saudi Arabia, a world away from where I am right now. Everything should be OK.