Residents prepare for catastrophe

  • Gregory Majewski, of Jaffrey, shows the different types of rope that can be used in various situations during an event at the Monadnock Rod & Gun Club. Staff photo by Abby Kessler

  • Mark Majewski, of Jaffrey, demonstrates how to use ropes and carabiners in a variety of different situations. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • John Palumbo demonstrates how to keep bees during a “Self-Reliance Discovery Day.” (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lee Nemeth, owner of Kolga Silver, discusses the benefits of investing in silver. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Hermon Maynard, of Jaffrey, demonstrates how to filter water using three buckets during an event at the Monadnock Rod & Gun Club called “Self-Reliance Discovery Day”. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

  • Lee Nemeth, owner of Kolga Silver, discusses the benefits of investing in silver. (Abby Kessler / Monadnock Ledger-Transcript) Staff photo by Abby Kessler—Monadnock Ledger-Transcript

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Tuesday, September 26, 2017 10:13AM

When an ice storm, hurricane, or flood strikes John Palumbo will be ready for its aftermath.

He wouldn’t say the exact number of days worth of non-perishable food he has stowed away in his cabinets at home but estimates it’s at least a year’s worth. He knows how to purify water, has taken a course on how to use an amateur radio in case telephone lines go down and has equipped his house with a generator and a woodstove.

“I wouldn’t say I’m ready for any storm. If something happened to my house that would be hard. But I’m ready for a lot of things,” said Palumbo, whose business card says he is a preparedness consultant and runs a Facebook page called NH Homesteading & Prepping Network.

He said when the ice storm slammed the state back in 2008, he used his generator, fired up the woodstove and all was well.

“We kicked our legs up,” he said, adding that he spent much of the time reading books and playing board games while others scrambled with how to deal with the situation. 

Now, his mission is to teach others how to prepare for the worst.

Palumbo organized an event called “Self Reliance Day” at the Monadnock Rod and Gun Club in Peterborough that ran all day Saturday. More than a dozen booths were set up during the event with instructors and vendors teaching a number of survivalist skills, including long-term food storage, water purification, herbals, mapping, how to use a Dutch oven, and amateur radio demonstrations.

Mark Carbone, president of the rod and gun club, said this was the first year it has hosted the event. He said more than 100 people filtered in and out of the area throughout the day aimed at people interested in learning and acquiring self-reliance skills.

Palumbo was handing out sheets of paper throughout the event titled “The New Survivalist” with a disaster preparedness and self-reliance checklist that included things like having a plan, home preparation, and how to pack a bug-out bag (a portable kit that contains items needed to survive for about 72 hours after disaster strikes.)

He said there’s a degree of preparedness that ranges from casual to extreme. 

“There are different phases, people don’t need to go whole hog, you can do a 30-day supply or something like that,” Palumbo said.

The event on Saturday was used to show people those phases. 

Palumbo taught a number of skills on Saturday, including the basics of beekeeping. He also showed some people how to make new candles out of old wax.

Another table had two solar ovens laid out in the sun cooking food. One of the ovens could be purchased online, a medium-sized black box with four reflective panels on the side. The other a cardboard pizza box lined with aluminum foil. In the commercial oven, there were two pots, one filled with a breakfast strata and the other filled with water cooking beats. In the cardboard oven, shredded cheese melted on tortilla chips and bacon sizzled on the silver foil.

“You can cook brownies, and cookies, and soups, and all,” said Ron Swisher, the solar oven instructor. “With the right conditions and all you can actually fry foods.”

Swisher said it acts like a slow cooking crock pot, no electricity needed.

Another booth taught people how to filter water using three buckets, some sand, rocks, and crushed up coal. Someone else taught a course on tying knots, another how to use a Dutch oven, and someone else demonstrated how three solar panels light up a bulb.

Lee Nemeth and Mike Catalano Jr. – of Kolga Silver, a business that’s only been up-and-running for about a week – were at the event on Saturday selling blocks of silver, the smallest size starting at $88.

Nemeth said silver can be used as a form of bartering or an investment if storms wipe out power at a bank, or money loses its value. He said the first scenario is happening right now in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, and the second scenario is playing out in places like Venezuela where hyperinflation has become a problem.

Nemeth argued silver only climbs in value over time.

George Streicher, of Jaffrey, said was walking around to each of the tables in the afternoon.

When asked if Streicher considers himself a survivalist or a “doomsday prepper,” a term used to describe a person who plans for disaster, he was reluctant to say yes.

“I can make it on my own,” he said. “And I can help my family. But there’s a whole lot more to this.”

The thing that caught his attention on Saturday, a small, portable solar array.

“That would be awesome just to have something simple set up for a backup,” Streicher said.

A person by the name of Bill, who wouldn’t give his last name and said he was skeptical of the media, said he came to the event to learn.

Standing at the solar oven table and eating breakfast strata cooked in one of the ovens, Bill said he thinks he’ll go home and build one himself.

“I won’t buy one but I’ll go home and make one,” he said.

Although he has some tendencies, Bill said he still wouldn’t call himself a prepper.

“I wouldn’t call myself a prepper prepper or a hardcore prepper, but I like knowledge,” he said.

Bill said some of the stuff he has read about preppers comes across as crazy, but then he steps back and wonders.

“It’s like I’ve read a lot of the prepper stuff and a lot of it’s like … ?” he said. “But if you go back ten years and see what some of the preppers we’re saying like, ‘yeah your tinfoil hat is on a little too tight’ but a lot of it has come true since then. The whole thing with the NSA and everything.”

He also pointed to examples of the 2008 ice storm, Hurricane Maria, inflation in Venezuela, and the Great Depression as things that have happened that preppers would likely be ready to handle.

“It’s like America is great but there’s nothing saying it can’t happen here,” Bill said.

And it’s anyone’s guess if and when calamity will strike. When that time comes, some will be ready and others may not.

“I look at this, we (in the community) look at this as insurance,” Palumbo said. “You have house insurance, you have car insurance. Your car and house insurance is so  that you can get your stuff back, the life insurance is so that your family can have fun when they bury you, this insurance will keep you alive.”