A Case For the Golden Horde Going South When TSHTF

Not long ago I had an interesting conversation with a friend about what would happen after the balloon goes up.  He’s a cool guy who moved out here years ago from California because he thinks that at some point a collapse of some kind is going to happen and he didn’t want to get caught flat footed when it did.

He’d thought long and hard about it and decided that Maine was a good choice of a place to live because it’s less likely to be a destination for the golden horde.  For the sake of argument I’ll use this definition for golden horde:

Golden horde: The anticipated large mixed horde of refugees and looters that will pour out of the metropolitan regions WTSHTF. Coined (in the survivalist context) by James Wesley Rawles.

We talked for a bit and came up with a theory.

First, we went with a worst case scenario in that everybody was on foot or moving very slow in vehicles.  Using New York City as our starting point we figured that if people decided to flee they’d have four choices.  North to the colder states, west to the corn belt and other points in the midwest, south to the warmer latitudes, or east bugging out by ocean.

Of these cardinal directions east via the ocean is the least viable option.  Keep in mind I’m talking about the majority of the population.  Most people don’t have boats ready to get away during some kind of societal melt-down.  A few will make it out that way, but not many.

If a NYC resident decides to go west they will eventually run into the Appalachian Mountains.  They’re not big mountains to be sure, but if you’re carrying children, aren’t in shape, are used to following the path of least resistance, or have drug and alcohol dependencies, you’re probably not going to go over them.  They’re still mountains and it’s a lot of work to climb one.

At this point a person then has three choices.  North, south, or back the way they came.  If they are fleeing the city along with millions of others chances are good they’re not going to go back the way they came, which leaves north and south.

Which way makes more sense for people who are scared, disoriented, and looking for safety?  North is the cold.  For the last two weeks it’s been anywhere from below zero to twenty degrees here in Maine.  That’s pretty cold folks.  If it’s already winter the last thing people on foot are going to do is go to where it’s going to be even colder.  If it’s summer or fall people will know the cold is coming.

Most people that I’ve met from NYC are pretty good folks when you get them in a one on one conversation, but one of the things I found that they have in common is absolutely no idea about camping, hiking or other outdoor related activities that deal with the wilderness.  They live a concrete jungle and that’s where they’re comfortable.

So if a person is on foot, hungry, inexperienced in the wilderness, scared, and faced with mountains in front and cold weather and wilderness to the north which direction do you think they’ll go?

My guess is south.

Once again, I’m playing the big number game here.  Some will go over the mountain and some will go north, but I suspect the majority of people faced with these criteria will head south.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The south has a longer growing season and much shorter and warmer winter than us folks up here in the Northeast have.  With this bit of reasoning people will go south in droves looking for food, water and shelter.  Unfortunately, if the majority of the population does this the southern states are likely to be over run with refugees from the north.

Back in Maine I’m looking at a few disadvantages myself.  First, we’re at the end of the supply chain here.  If and when TSHTF we’re likely to be on our own much sooner than the folks in the cities or living in the south.

However, if a person is reasonably prepared this need not be a devastating blow.  First we need to stay warm.  Because it’s cold here many Maine residents have wood stoves they use to heat their homes.  Heating oil is expensive and relying on just one form of energy for heat is asking for trouble.  When the temperature drops to ten degrees and below for extended periods of time things tend to break down.  You know it’s nearing the end of a Maine winter when the temperature goes up to thirty degrees and people are walking around in sweatshirts and windbreakers.

Second, we need clean water and food.  Water in Maine is not really an issue as we have more lakes, ponds, streams and brooks than you can shake a stick at.  Some way to clean the water may be needed, but the resource itself is there.

Food is where your prepping will come in really handy.  If you have enough food to get through the winter that should give you time to get your garden in and possibly even do a little hunting.  As I’ve noted before, thinking you’re going to live off the land by hunting is probably a foolish notion, but if you can get out there and supplement your food stores with wild game then you have an advantage.  It’s like anything else, hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

In the interest of keeping this post semi-short I’ll stop here, but you get the idea.

If nothing else it was an interesting thought experiment.

What about your area?  Are people likely to head your way when TSHTF?  Are you prepared for them?  Some or even most of those folks are likely to be good people in a bad situation.  Will you help them?

Questions?  Comments?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor




77 comments… add one
  • irishdutchuncle January 30, 2013, 7:53 am

    I guess that means they’re coming right through here.

    • irishdutchuncle January 30, 2013, 9:04 am

      much will depend on whether there is road traffic. if the trucks aren’t rolling, then I-80, I-95, and the Jersey Tpk, will be the path of least resistance. (except from the local populace of the towns along the route) I-80, I-476 and I-81 make getting through the mountains relatively easy.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. January 30, 2013, 8:49 am

    Your reasoning above sounds about right to me, but I see a very high body count early on. Too many people at the same time – the people following would find empty shelves / tanks with the same ahead. If I lived in that approximate area, I’d stock up FAST before they arrived.

    Our area – not sure. I live very close to international border of US / Mexico, which already has plenty of people ‘bugging out’ from the Mexican side. I’m pretty sure they would stop coming if SHTF or national disaster.

  • Tim January 30, 2013, 8:49 am

    Personally, I’m unconvinced that the ‘golden horde’ is necessarily going to go *anywhere* far-a-field, unless they’re actively fleeing attack by some other population.

    People will stay relatively close to where they feel comfortable & “own” the neighborhood, even if they’re starving.

    • sam January 30, 2013, 9:53 am

      i tend to agree here. folks will be under the impression that the government will mount a rescue (eventually) until they have absolutely no supplies or choice but to lie down and die.

      frankly, that’s my plan, too. having small kids does not lend itself to thinking that food traffic to an isolated rural area is the least bit possible. we all know what will happen to those driving and appearing to have supplies.

    • Yikes! January 30, 2013, 11:16 am

      Yeah, I don’t know where this Golden Horde will exactly think it’s bugging out to.

      I’m on board here. People will stick with their families and friends, and only bug out if their homes are underwater.

      If I assume a really long-term disaster, maybe there will be a golden horde exploiting the landscape around every city. But if you’re camped out in The County the only people you’re going to run across are the ones who already know how to live out there.

      No mass migration.

  • Ray January 30, 2013, 9:25 am

    Your refugee with a car is gonna get 150+ miles ,after that its on foot with what they carry on there backs. If they start on foot they run out of rations in 3 days. They will be herded onto the interstates .They will be driven off or killed if they try to stop/forrage anywhere. Starvation will set in in 7-14 days,the weakest will start dieing on day one.They can walk (on average) 6-20 miles per day for 3-9 days. after that hunger sickness and despare will kill many of them. They are a people who have never known hardship, hunger or toil. They will start out with small children, puppy dogs and goldfish, and damn little food,little in the way of wepons and ammo,too many blanketts and piss poor shoes. They will start eating each other in 14-21 days. Thats just for the east coast cities. They won’t make it 600 miles. In 1864 61% of land was farmed, and the Army Of The Patomac had troble feeding 80000 men. Less than 1% of the land within 600 miles of the east coast is farmed today, How you gonna feed 80 MILLION? The west coast is even worse as the refugees will have to cross 1000 miles of waterless desert. No guys they will never get to Maine or Kentucky Or Iowa. Most(60%) will never get 400 miles, Of the rest 20-30% will be so sick and starved after 1-1/2 months that only the kindness of stangers could save them,And they most likely will find only hunters trying to eat them. MAYBE the lucky 1% make it as far as Appalatcha. This is another of the Survivalist Myths , like Bugout Caves, or “liveing off the land”. I’m with Tim .The smart ones will stay home .The rest won’t last a month.

    • Calamity Jane January 30, 2013, 1:40 pm

      Iowa!!! That’s what I’m talking about Ray! I fully expect to see NO HORDES. Unless you count hordes of cattle.
      Very few will make it to the upper corn belt.

      I totally agree with Jarhead too, South is already the direction a lot of homeless people go. Southern California has a problem with it, Florida and Texas ditto.
      Iowa weather can and will kill you if you don’t have proper shelter.

    • John Brown February 1, 2013, 2:04 am

      > They will be herded onto the interstates .
      > They will be driven off or killed if they try to stop/forrage anywhere.

      I think your post pretty much sums it up.

      I am not into zombie movies and such, but, I decided to watch the show The Walking Dead, towards the end of season three. Being an Atlanta show I probably should have watched sooner, just no interest in most TV shows beyond news and history.

      LMAO! It is a political statement and blue print. Crazy writers.

  • Wild Weasel January 30, 2013, 9:38 am

    I agree with Ray, it just doesnt make sense for where I live to leave. For me and my family and our location staying put and the community that we live in is our greatest asset. We cant be masters of everything, one of my new preps is seeking out those that have skills I do not posses and creating a relationship with them. It also helps with security issues being that a level of trust is created during a time when there is no crisis. When the time comes and I pray it never does it will take a team to survive. Prepping is not all bout tangible things its also about relationships.

  • farmgirl January 30, 2013, 10:34 am

    I live in Oklahoma. It never occurs to me to worry about folks from New York showing up. I worry about Tulsa, Oklahoma City, or the hundreds of small towns that are home to thousands of unprepared people. I think they would head to rural areas in search of food. My sister stops at the store every evening on her way home from work to buy what she’ll prepare for dinner that evening, or they eat out. And, there are thousands of people just like her. They are not prepared for anything.

    • Yikes! January 30, 2013, 11:21 am

      That’s the trouble with the “Golden Horde.” They’re not zombies, and they’re not amoral strangers; they’re your neighbors.

      Best make friends with em now, I think.

    • Jason January 30, 2013, 12:34 pm


      I am going to suggest that none of it ever occurred to you prior to reading speculative scenarios. Take your sister for example – none of the prepper thoughts occur to her & why? Because none of it real or on the visible horizon.

      In today’s day & age, people believe it first THEN see it through that filter.

      • farmgirl February 6, 2013, 6:31 pm

        The mere fact that I live in a rural area, and my sister is a city girl makes me more prepared. It’s too far to drive to buy groceries every day, so I stock up when I do go. Alternate heat sources because ice storms take down power lines, and tornadoes do the same in summer. Sure, she’s lived through some of the same weather events, but the store was always within walking distance. Not so for me.

    • Mechanic43 January 30, 2013, 1:41 pm

      Tulsa, OKC worry me too. Your right to be concerned but get your neighbors involved as best you can. Folks will also be coming from Kansas City(well some). Like your sister they will be scared and probably hungry. I’m not sure what part of Oklahoma your in but you will want to stay away from I-40 and 69. Just say’n

      • farmgirl February 6, 2013, 6:23 pm

        I don’t have any neighbors! Yikes!!

    • Jeremiah January 31, 2013, 11:38 pm

      Look at a map of OK. You have 75, 44, 40, 35, 169 and 412 as the major highways. Then you have the dozens of state highways. It is the crossroads of America. I like it here. But Stillwater, Tulsa and OKC are the three biggest cities in the state. Our hope is in the smaller communities with our volantere fire dept and the people in them. We pull for each other and will help each other. And the local sheriff know’s were all armed. And will provide backup if nessesary.

      • psycho February 5, 2013, 1:07 pm

        Good to see other Okies on here. I agree that our main issue will not be outside hordes so much as ones from OKC, Tulsa etc. That was the main reason for me to move out of OKC a few years ago. I am still a little close to OKC for my comfort (though I am away from the major highway routes) but have plans for keeping them off the homestead if needed.

        • farmgirl February 5, 2013, 1:35 pm

          Some of the things I’ve read suggest being 6 hours away from a big city, and so many miles from highways or interstate. That’s a little tough in Oklahoma! 6 hours away and I’m in another state!
          I’m too close to OKC and Tulsa for my liking as well, but it is what it is.

    • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:12 pm

      The six million people in greater Dallas-Ft. Worth would worry me way more than the Tulsa bunch. Eastern OK is a great place. I visited it three years ago (Tulsa to Fayetteville, Ark.) I also have a cousin there who inherited a cattle ranch. Laying low and staying alert will be what it’s about. If you can cut off access to where you are, that’s what will have to be done. Just stopping up a road culvert before a rainstorm can do it. The road washes out. Make it a lot of work to get where you are – after you already have everything you’ll need stored away.

      • farmgirl February 6, 2013, 6:34 pm

        Eastern Oklahoma is nice, especially southeastern. My dad has a lake house on Eufaula, but I’m way out west. I’d hate to try and bug out there, assuming I had to leave my farm. I’d rather stay put, but who knows? I guess I need to find someplace to go if I can’t stay here.

  • smokechecktim January 30, 2013, 10:43 am

    Where I live in the socal mountains I dont think many will get here for the reasons already mentioned. I think most city types will just die in place. No water, no guns, no food, waiting for the government to save them, they simply won’t have the means to go far. If the roads are passable they will drive till the gas runs out. If not passable I think they will still follow the major roads because that is what they know and are comfortable with. I think only a few will make past the 100 mile mark. Those that do, if not city preppers, will run into strong resistance from those who are already there.

    • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:24 pm

      Actually it’s more like lots of guns, some ammo, hardly any food and no common sense. Think Rodney King. That’ll be LA around day #4.

  • Jason January 30, 2013, 11:08 am

    Wild Weasel said –

    “Prepping is not all about tangible things, it’s also about relationships.”

    Excellent observation & I agree 100% & believe relationships exceed tangible things.

    As I read the article, what kept popping into my head was the thoughts of the original American settlers – the Pilgrims. Super low technology & complete lack of knowledge of the environment they had come to live in, but what did they do? Stuck together & made things work in an extremely all around hostile environment.

    Fast forward just a couple centuries & you have a more established community – the vast majority being in the harsher climate AND virtually NO technology especially relatively to today.

    Now today, a half a millennia later with technology & knowledge virtually light years advanced from the original settlers, the speculations become that we will retard back to the dawn of man mindset? Impossible.

    That’s the problem with much of today’s boxed & myopic thinking – it virtually eliminates possibility & most considerations for what we have achieved today as a society. It never ceases to amaze me that many go right to the worst case scenarios & totally wipe out any knowledge or advancements we have made.

    What we have become is a spoiled society, primarily lazy because we can buy whatever we want without leaving our homes by beating on a few keys on the laptop, pay without going to the bank & voila! Some guy, dressed in brown & driving a big brown truck drops it on our porch.

    Then …. OMG the guy in brown cannot make it here by 4 pm as promised so I better get on the phone and harangue the person who answers the customer service line. Hello? This is today’s reality folks.

    So now a national SHTF condition happens & what do we do or speculate will happen? Tap into the most influential & pervasive source of speculative information – Hollywood, like it or not – one cannot avoid its influence.

    Those movies show people slogging through minus degree temperatures, dying off one by one while people weep as the pillar of hope – the pet Chihuahua takes its final breath & fogs the camera lens in a dramatic symbol of lost hope.

    Then there are the Zombie hoards chasing people down. Gang bangers taking over sectors of major cities with shaved, tattooed heads, the president & all of congress & the senate flying to some massive underground concrete reinforced bunker to drink martini’s while complaining the olives are not fresh & the rest of that stupidity.

    However, that fantasy & exercise in pure creativity has taken over rational & reason.

    Personally, I do not think it will EVER get to a point of 25% less technology – and that’s a gigantic stretch. IF it did happen, I believe the vast majority will stay put wherever they sit currently & make due (the exception of course being nuclear fallout or something of an extremely prohibitive nature). There is much to be said for community, the local collective intelligence & simply understanding the lay of the land & environment.

    As for the Golden Hoard (speaking of the guy who moved from California to Maine) …. I live in San Diego where the weather is nearly the best in the world & I am not about to take a step down & venture out & into unfamiliar territory. Why torture myself?

    Regardless of my reasoning, I believe better than 95% will stay put because of a similar level of comfort for their particular environment & most importantly – habit.

  • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 11:27 am

    I live in a big city and staying here will be to dangerous I would be bugging out with small group about 20 men women children all family we would head west first then south looking for shelter where we can not really woods more rural area mostly avoiding people if possible we are well prepped beans band aids bullets it will not last forever and seeds people in the northeast are pretty resourceful when they need to be but 75 percent will die in 90 days kill each other starve and disease I am not looking for trouble. We will provide for ourselves hunt fish farm not loot harm or kill anyone

    • Ray January 30, 2013, 12:18 pm

      Northern; the problem is you think that there is someplace to go, THERE IS NOT. I’m from Ky,every year we get two or more Prepers scouting my moms farm for “cash sights” and “bugout locations”. Know why? Cause on the map/GPS its marked D.Boone nat. Forrest. The National parks/Forrest in the eastern US are a patchwork of small plots, with privet property between ’em. Its NOT one big forrest. Now add this; ALL of those farms have familys on them .So what you gonna do then. They might feed you ;once. But the chance that you can find a way to “live off the land” is non-existant. That land ALLREDY belongs to someone. If you want to have a mountain retreat I suggest you pool your money and buy now. Your plan to “go west” and “live off the land” is a fantisy ,and a bad one at that. I grew up hunting and fishing, I can make flower from acorns ,I know what plants to eat. I knap flint ,make my own bows, can make fish traps & snares And I would be hard pressed to feed a family of four In the winter in Appalacha. 20 people will use up the food recorce in a 20 sqware mile box in 2-4 weeks in the SUMMER. In the winter you’d be eating grubbs and worms in 2 weeks, or raiding and killing, That or starve.” Bugging out” and” Liveing off the land” are code words for” starving refugee”, It is a 1970s survivalist fantisy that looks realy good till the food runs out,and the “pie in the sky” free land turns out to have a family of nine liveing there,armed to the teeth and ready to kill to keep it.

      • Jason January 30, 2013, 12:50 pm

        Very good point Ray. I was going ask Northeastern Prepper if he has a concrete plan, all of the 20 people in alignment (seriously doubt the women will go along with it for more than a day or two) & has he actually done a mock run for more than a week.

        It all sounds so romantic to pack the covered station wagon & head to the little house on the prairie, scoop water from the gently flowing brook while wheat & corn are sprouting everywhere.

        Many times significant tragedies happens when dreams or fantasy meet reality. Ask Jarhead how many people get rescued or die from hikes in the Maine woods thinking “the snow looks so pretty, let’s go seek a place to meditate & get closer to nature, it looks like fun.”

        • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 2:39 pm

          To stay where I am at will be a death sentence
          Don’t count us out so fast

          • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 5:25 pm

            I have lived down south before and anyone with a concrete plan isnt going to last to long to many variables can go wrong you have to adapt to different situations and if you can stay where you are at then you are in good shape I am not and stop thinking people are going to live in the woods there will to many hunters

    • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:27 pm

      The people already living in the woods will be looking forward to your arrival…fresh meat.

  • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 12:31 pm

    Staying in place will be much worse not planning on ky more like carolinas or ga don’t want to give away to much info let’s just very flexible and you will be in similar. Situation must have skillset and be flexible if was so impossible all the settlers would have died

    • grayeagle February 2, 2013, 6:35 am

      you are assuming the roads will be passable,,i see bridges being blown across rivers,,so bring your boat too,,,

      • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:29 pm

        Exactly! By the end of week #1 I expect quite a few bridges and roads to become impassable. All it takes is a couple of semis or buses laying sideways across the bridge.

  • smokechecktim January 30, 2013, 12:44 pm

    Northeastern prepper: FIrst of all since you apparentlly have a group that has been prepping, you don’t fall into the golden horde group. If you are bringing skills with you you might have a chance of merging with another group or individual on the land. Like ray said, ANYONE who thinks he’s going the play grizzly adams and live off the land should research what happened during the depression. Within just a few months most of the accessible game had been cleaned out. Jarhead’s northeast, montana and the intermountains still had wildlife but that’s mostly due to lack of access.

  • Ragnar January 30, 2013, 12:47 pm

    A lot of good points have been made.

    The Golden Horde concept arose from the idea that people would flee urban areas following a nuclear attack. In other words, they had to leave or at least thought they had to leave immediately. The Golden Horde idea doesn’t really hold up in any other scenario. History shows that people do not flee in mass until they have to go.
    By then, they will be low or out of food, gas and water.

    We have become a dependent society. Despite all the evidence, we expect the government to take care of us. People who believe that help is coming are not going to go until they are certain that FEMA or some other agency won’t show up to save them. By then, it will be too late to go far.

    Water is an issue in most of the country. Interstates would be relatively quick to travel on foot, but the need for water will canalize travel and will extend distances. Then there is the weather. Heat and cold will reduce the distances people can walk in a day. In winter they will have to seek shelter and everything that delays movement will reduce the distance traveled.

    Additionally, where is the horde going to go? There is no food in the country. I live in a agricultural area. But farming has become specialized, almost all the land is corn and soybeans. Those are very time specific harvests. For 3/4ths of the year, there is not much edible food in the fields. Farmers have been getting rid of their bins for years. What is stored is in large elevators which will certainly be taken over and guarded by whatever government is left. If you take a drive in the country, you will see more flower gardens than vegetable gardens. Canning and home preserving are becoming lost arts. Here in the country, almost everyone is armed and will resist someone trying to take the food that they have.

    It is true that some people will leave when they have enough resources to go long distances but most who try to leave will not get far. There may be a Golden Horde, but it isn’t likely.

  • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 12:57 pm

    When the dust settles I would try work together I consider rural area sparsely populated not inthe middle of the woods I would try to help someone before trying to hurt them you just have to be ready for anything I do want to hear what you have to say I do not know everything Just trying to survive

    • Jarhead Survivor January 30, 2013, 3:18 pm

      Northeastern prepper – sounds like you’ve got a good attitude about survival. Today’s thought experiment was more to get people thinking than to scare the hell of them.

      That’s what makes us preppers though. If we have at least done some thinking about a topic and if by some crazy chance it ever does happen, well then, we’ve already got an idea of how to react to it. Rather than sitting around wondering what to do we can implement our plan and be two steps ahead of the rest of the crowd.

      • Northeastern prepper January 30, 2013, 4:59 pm

        There will be a small window of opportunity or bug in until it is safer to travel thanks jarhead for what you do and this site get good info and feedback

  • smokechecktim January 30, 2013, 1:31 pm

    At least you have a idea of what you wan to do and are working on it , which puts you way ahead of others around you.

  • Charles,,,, January 30, 2013, 2:43 pm

    Southern southerner here, nowhere else to go south here unless you wanna walk into the gulf of mexico…. SNOWBIRDS, they know about us, many have fishing camp’s etc. here, they have a general idea of the south and would come, plenty of game and fish, for now. I keep something in the garden all year round, if nothing but greens, as grandaddy would say, eat’um boy they’ll make a turd, southern for fill ya up a bit. Ahem!! Give away here is regional accents, a Bar Harbor boy from Maine shows up wanting to paak the caa in the yaad and he will be met with resistance in a high stress situation, most folk are friendly but it doesn’t take but a sentence to know where your from, even texicans and Oaky boyz have a different southern accent. Yeah the temp’s good here, been in the low 70’s of late, but come humidity, it drives most yanks back north. So whereever you are prepping for your area seems to be the concensus and to wait out those who failed to prep or those who head in another direction out of town.
    Food growing, son, if you have never planted a garden you “best” be digging in now and learn, gardening is dirt work, hard and dirty, with bad seed, buggy seed, bugz in general, and the weather hardly ever agrees with the growing season.
    Off the subject note, why does the media call it gun violence, in my lifetime I suspect I have seen 10,000 gunz and not a one of them was ever violent, the hands that chose that weapon is where the violence comes in. One man’s thought.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 30, 2013, 3:14 pm

      Charles – I was once asked if I was a Yankee or a Damned Yankee. When I asked what the difference was the guy said, “A Yankee comes down to visit then goes home again. A damned Yankee comes down here to live.”

      I assured him I was a regular Yankee – it’s waaaaay too hot down south for me. Love to visit, but happy when I can get home again and breath normally!

      • Jason January 30, 2013, 5:16 pm

        Damned Yankee – that was funny JH!

    • Nola Lewis February 1, 2013, 2:01 am

      Yes, we in the south are known for our hospitality, but we also don’t take kindly to strangers showing up unannounced and we are generally well armed and will take care of our neighbors. So if you come to GA, ask politely for what you need and you may get it, try to take it and you will GET IT.

  • riverrider January 30, 2013, 3:02 pm

    well having lived in the east, and having studied this very thing as an intern in college, i think people will head WEST instead. North, cold yes, but more cities/congestion to the north of almost all east coast cities. South, warmer yes, but again more cities and congestion headed south from most east coast cities. So that leaves West. in most cases it offers the only HOPE of escape, and its a slim hope. Hurricane evacs have shown there is a VERY small window of escape before gridlock sets in. That was shown in studies in the late 1980’s. its even more congested now. so any “horde” golden or otherwise will be headed west as far as the gas in their usually empty tank will take them or until they get stuck in a tunnel/ramp/bridge/crash/other jam. then they will be on foot with next to nothing, in poor shoes, and likely lacking even basic clothing for the weather much less food or water. if its a dirty bomb or nuke, multiply by 1000. most towns on the major roads have a plan to restrict access, so the human flood will likely grind on until enough just crap out and start sitting in groups along the road,waiting for rescue. haven’t any of you seen the refugee columns in bosnia, africa, syria et al? they will come, build it or not. best have a plan.

  • Ron January 30, 2013, 3:19 pm

    I think it depends on the exact scenario. If NYC/Metro area is in fact that big of a mess, those people north of NYC (Boston, CT, RI) are unlikely to head south; they’re more likely to head to Maine/VT, that neck of the woods. If it’s high summer, people are less likely to head south; if it’s dead of winter, then yes, a lot are heading south; and there are a number of population centers in the East that are West of Appalachians, i.e, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Illinois. And, of course, there’s a LOT of South as it were; VA, NC, SC, GA, FL, Alabama, Miss., Louisiana, KY, TN. Once again, depends on season; if it’s summer it’s likely to be easier crossing Appalachia than during mid winter.

  • Kiwi Mossberg Fan January 30, 2013, 4:28 pm

    Kiwi here folks, I live on an Island (a large on at that) surrounded by ocean, our most inland point is only 4hrs drive from a coast line (at most), so due to the nature of our largest city (1.5million) we have a north and south direction, south being into the island. Geography plays a huge part in the movement of people, River valleys, plains, mountains, swamps, rolling farm land. It all directs the flow of traffic! Rivers mean fresh water, Farm land means stock/food, coastal areas mean seafood, Mountains may mean snow.

    Now I am a fan of the sit by and watch the sheep disperse, push, fight their way out of an area, whether it be a mall, movie theatre, bus, stadium, car park. Humans are so messed up in that sense. There is never any give by some people, its like they are hard wired to be first! Hence I am a prepper who has stored enough to give other folks a week head start before I leave and work my way thru the burnt out cars, bodies on the street, and pass thru areas the hordes have travelled. This means I may need to take the harder route as I am confident that the sheep will be just that (go the easy way), and follow each other!

    • Tim January 30, 2013, 5:04 pm

      New Zealand. Now *there’s* a bug-out location. 4 million (decent & very civilized) people on an island-nation the size of Japan. It’s good, beautiful land, too. Thousands & thousands of miles away from…well…darn near everything that could threaten your life, including nukes.

      Anyone truly serious about relocating for survival would do well to consider New Zealand.

      • Jason January 30, 2013, 5:22 pm

        About 15 years ago I came extremely close to moving to Australia & almost kick myself for not going. I had a job lined up there ….

        It isn’t NZ, thought I’d love to go to Kiwi land, but it has plenty of land & enough Kangaroo meat to feed the entire population of China, twice.

        • Jason January 30, 2013, 5:23 pm

          correction – though I’d love to go there …

  • Elaine January 30, 2013, 5:31 pm

    I live in the South in Louisiana. Hospitality is king here but we are not pushovers. There is a definite “gun culture” here. I was gardening and hunting by age 6 (& I am a girl). I believe that just like when Katrina, Ike, etc have happened before, people will help refugees as best they can but will aggressively deter bad behavior. I don’t know even one person who does not possess guns and ammo. And I must say I agree with some of the above observations about people staying put. Katrina is a classic example-staying even when advised to leave and then being marooned. Just my two cents

  • Michael January 30, 2013, 5:56 pm

    I don’t believe in “The Golden Horde.” But, there will be smaller hordes. People will stream out of the South-East after a hurricane strikes, the federal government says there’s no money for much of a recovery effort, and smalll towns and rural areas are abondoned to go back to wilderness. People will flee the urbanized SW as their electical grid fails and they’re forced to live without electricty in 100 degree heat. We can handle these smaller movements without them causing anything larger than local, temporary collapes.

    People will be leaving the mega-regions of America and moving back to smaller towns and cities, but that’s a slow, generational migration. Places like Ames and Dubuque in Iowa would be better off with an influx of 500 skilled workers a year for the next 20 or 30 years. Nothing to fear there.

    The Puget Sound region’s (where I’m at) population will probably stay, more or less, stable. But, the footprint that we occupy will likely shrink as gas prices stay high, younger folks flee the ‘burbs, and local agriculture become more and more viable again. I really don’t see big numbers of people fleeing to here. We might get some “boat people” from China and Japan, but the Pacific is a mightly big ocean and the numbers that cross it would be small.

    There’s alway talk of “the big quake” around here, but most of the housing and infrastructure are built to take a hell of a big shaking and we’re set up to shelter and rebuild in place. There’d be some dispora, but it would be an absorbable number. Spokane and Bosie might feel a bit over-run for a month or two, but that’s about it.

  • Lumberjok January 30, 2013, 6:40 pm

    Maine….ya gotta love it. Last week, 2 days in a row of minus 29 at night and a daytime highs of minus 6. The average person on foot wouldn’t last 24 hours. Even ex military types with excellent bushcraft skills would find this climate very stressful. The local folks are friendly but anyone getting uppity would very soon be looking down the bore of a 12 guage. As for me….a well stocked woodshed…oil lamps …and a well stocked pantry. Turn off the electricity and crank the temp down to minus 42…all the excuse I need to sit by the stove and read a book.

    • Jarhead Survivor January 30, 2013, 7:15 pm

      Lumberjok, I’ve done it as I’m sure you have too, but I had a lot of good gear when I did it. If people think that a pair of bluejeans, work boots, and a good down jacket will get them through a wilderness trek up here in negative temperatures they are seriously deluding themselves.

    • Lumberjok January 30, 2013, 9:21 pm

      Yup….been there…did that ….got the tee shirt. The Boy Scouts of the late 50’s and early 60’s were a very different organization than the sissy-ass Scouts of today. Thirty pound pack….go to bivouac site on huge boards jokingly called cross country skis…telemark bindings…upon arrival…ponder how to replace the quart of blood from bleeding heels. Next….dig a snow cave or frame up a dome of spruce boughs and cover with a tarp. Were we comfy…no…did we die…no. My idea of roughing it now is a night at the Holiday Inn.

      The thing that strikes me funny is that some of the guys in my old troop live with only an oil furnace…if the power were to go out…they would be the first ones at the town office yelling for help from “the government”.

      If I had to winter over without electricity…so what…I can stay warm eat semi well…and maybe read Plato and Aristotle….which I have been threatening to do for oh so many years.

  • T.R. January 30, 2013, 6:48 pm

    I lived in Maine for about 3 years , I agree ………….most of the dorks from NY and the Ass from Mass , wil die off for lack of skills if they do go North . Maine is like Alaska , if you wanted to disappear , it wouldn’t be hard . A person could take the spiderweb of logging roads into the remote areas . Unlike Alaska , the game situation is not nearly to that high a level and an unskilled person may have a hard time . Then there is winter , a lot less severe than Alaska …………so I guess thats the trade off .

    • Jarhead Survivor January 30, 2013, 7:16 pm

      The other good thing is we don’t have grizzly bears up here. Nothing like a griz to ruin your day.

      • Michael January 30, 2013, 7:36 pm

        I spent a year Working in Yellowstone NP. Amazing place, but I don’t miss having to think about big bears every time I want to go for a hike.

        Fortunately, the only grizzlies I saw were though binocs and spotting scopes.

      • T.R. January 30, 2013, 9:49 pm

        Or snakes , we have to be careful about rattlers down here .

  • Denator January 30, 2013, 6:48 pm

    We live 60 miles south of St. Louis but I dont expect to many city folk making their way out to us. I suspect most will stay put with what they know and the few who venture out will meet a highly armed rural population out here. Now the people we know, relatives and friends that are unprepared are a different matter and we are already prepared to take in some of the more useful of the bunch but we cant be the savior of them all. That will be the hard choice , if the time ever comes. Fair Winds……………………………….

    • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:04 pm

      We live 40 miles outside of a metro area about the same size as yours. I can vouch for the fact that we are already discussing defense tactics for the day when the hordes try to “visit” us. It won’t go well.

  • Charles,,,, January 31, 2013, 5:41 am

    Ahhh Jarhead, the damn yankee thing, ahem, it is an affectionate term to remind the snowbirds they are in the south not of the south, every native has their pride of culture, have yet to meet one of those damn yankees that wasn’t likable……. even the newyorker breed, tho we give yankees who stay credit for being smart enough to see the beauty despite the humidity, bugs and critters that abound. Each region has it’s challenge’s, here it is keeping food from molding and picking up spores of every nature,,,,,,,

  • Ray January 31, 2013, 6:40 am

    I got to thinking about this post last night, It made me think of the Donner party ,They were a group of pioneers who started for california in the 1840’s (can’t remember the date) They were well set up for the day, with TONS of food as they started out. They made TWO, just two, realy bad calls on the trip. They took the wrong trail delaying them by months,and they stoped for ONE night at the foot of donner pass to rest. The rest as they say is history. Fyi, this is NOT the only time that this happened in the american west, Its just the most infamous (I think every new prepper should lookup and read this story The Donner party did ALMOST everything right and wound up eating each other . Survival is a game that gives no do-overs)

  • Granite Prepper January 31, 2013, 7:46 pm

    I live in New England as well…..NH to be precise. The cold will be a barrier…..no matter now you cut it, cold sucks worse than heat and will most likely kill more of the horde too. I say hunker down and weather the storm as it comes.

  • sirlancelot January 31, 2013, 11:18 pm

    having read this stuff over the years something like a economic collapse could turn cities into hell holes with rioting, looting and high crime sending allot of the population out on the highways seeking safer refuge.

    newer economy cars have a range of 300 miles with a full tank so the lines of refugee “drift” could be long indeed. read one gentleman’s estimate while he was working on a highway crew to be about 5000 cars per off ramp exiting to surrounding towns along the way out of the larger cities.

    i live on the east coast as well and with the Atlantic at our backs there are only 3 directions to go. NH and ME are colder, but allot of people summer there and are familiar with the area. they may still come. out west is popular during “leaf peeping” season and refugees might head for the Berkshires and upstate NY.

    not sure if heading south would be a good idea with NYC and DC in the way. that area will get ugly really fast.

    like some others here “bugging in place” will be my strategy. trying to make the place look abandoned and laying low till things calm down. people can get real evil real fast. a means of protection in my humble opinion is essential. now if we can keep the government from taking that ability away from us……………………..

  • John Brown February 1, 2013, 1:52 am

    > Are you prepared for them?

    I think what you will find is the southern border states, starting with VA, will destroy their telecommunications, borders, bridges, and highways to block access and force people to go north. Most will not make it on foot to a southern state and will not be allowed in if not a Christian with something to offer.

    • Jason February 3, 2013, 8:24 pm

      >> Southern states will “destroy their telecommunications, borders, bridges and highways ….” and “will not be allowed in if not a Christian with something to offer.”

      Where do you come up with this stuff??

    • Mark February 6, 2013, 5:02 pm

      I have lived in Texas and Florida and I can vouch for the fact that every house has at least a .22 rifle and/or a shotgun. You can bet your sweet bippy that, within a couple of days after TSHTF, those guns will be loaded and pointing out doors and windows. No Yankee will come in the South and take anything.

  • extremesgs February 4, 2013, 4:58 pm

    we’re not all ass from mass! ;-)

    My plans already including linking up with my network, then collectively making our way to one of 3 locations; Central VT, Northern NH, or Northern ME (and I mean Northern.. not “northern to MASSholes” like “Portland”). Time of year won’t matter. That’s only if one of our bug-in locations is unavail.
    Recently sat down w my “network” and figured out some logistics, too.
    As for helping anyone… You’ll get what you give, and I/we am/are selective. if you’re a POS looking for handouts, I’ll look for your frozen ass when I run out of food. If you’re legit looking for help, i’d take you in… and you’ll pull your share or leave.

    Got to agree w some sentiments made… most people- esp city slickers- will die before they ever make it to my locations. Sad truth.

  • SunnyD February 6, 2013, 12:31 am

    These scenarios seem to assume a full breakdown in society. It is far more likely we will simply be looking at hard times for one reason or another and not a full breakdown. There could be large numbers of people “on the road” looking for work or trying to reach relatives. But it is likely that most people will stay put and if they are hungry or in general have nothing they will steal or commit violence to get what they need. In many cities today this situation already exists. I don’t think there will be a mass exodus of cities and entire areas of the country.

  • Rusty February 6, 2013, 2:48 am

    Hello everyone…Great discussion. I’m from Las Vegas, Nevada. Over 1.4 million ppl living in about a 20 square mile area in the middle of a desert. We are five hours from Las Angeles and the same from our capital, Reno. We have three ways out of the City. Hwy. I-15 to Las Angeles and So. California, Hwy 95 to Reno and a few medium cities in between and Hwy. 93 to Ely and the Eastern part of the state bordering Arizona, Utah, Idaho.If you left here on I-15 you would have a chance of finding gas about 2 hours away in Banning and after that and another 2 hour drive in the desert you start hitting California cities of medium size. Thats after climbing 2 mountains that are over 4,000 ft. The other two freeways you better pack your gas with you..small towns are far and few between. Hours between gas fillups.
    Here in the Las Vegas area we have the largest man made lake in the world named Lake Mead. It’s filled from the Colorado river but over the last few years has gone down in debt a 100ft or so..but there is still plenty of water as the lake is 1800ft deep. Temperature ranges here are pretty extreme as are most desert areas. Last week the temperatures got down to 23 degrees and stayed that way for a week and this week they are up in the mid. 60’s lower temps. being in the low 40’s. This is kinda unusual weather for us especially the upper temps.
    Most ppl. from Las Vegas are not native, they come to work in the gaming industry. So they may try to bug out to where ever they came from. Lots of ppl from California have 2nd homes here so they commute quite often. I don’t really see water as being a problem unless the pipelines are shut down. If that happens and we can’t get water from Mead 20 miles away…then we have a problem. Water is very seasonal in the moutains about 30 miles away at Mt. Charleston and Mt. Griffith there is run off when it has snow. But not near enough to feed thirsty Las Vegas.
    Living off the land is unthinkable. You have lots of rabbits and snakes, etc.There is larger wildlife here ..big horn sheep and white tailed deer, some antelope but they are pretty hard to get to and quite a climb into the mountains to hunt them. Without permanent shelter in the desert I think the winds, cold and heat would drive you to the city (depending on the season).
    All our food stuff is trucked or railed in. Not much in the way of agriculture close by.
    All this being said, we also have Nellis Air Force base here. One of the largest in the Country.Would they open their gates to civilians? I don’t know. Would they help local police keep crime at bay, again don’t know. Cheetz Air Force base and Humbolt Army base, both in desolate areas, are within a 4 hour drive so they may come over to Nellis and help. All speculation. I will research this and find out some of these questions.
    After some thought, I think ppl who are not from Las Vegas will try to leave for friendlier lands. PPL from California I don’t think will come here. They will Bug in and not leave their precious state. Those of us that have lived here a while and without water problems may try to stay. It kind of depends on Nellis, Cheetz and Humbolt military bases and whether or not they will help the local population.I’m 64 yr. old and a long time prepper, so I’m ready for any changes that come my way. I have good contacts in the city that I trust if we should have to leave, I will go with them.Hopefully, north towards Ely and the bordering state mountains. You do what you have to do. Like all the rest of us here I pray we never have to find out.
    I’m glad I took the time to write this out…I can see I still have some decisions to make, research to do and some more planning to finish. It never ends….Rusty

    • Jason February 6, 2013, 11:16 pm

      Maybe you should consider Area 51 as a place to bug out to ….

      Ha, ha – I am so funny. I think Art Bell is the guy that singlehandedly made that place much more famous.

    • GoneWithTheWind February 12, 2013, 11:56 am

      If anything security at military installation will increase if TSHTF so don’t expect help from that soruce. If the military is used to help the people then they will come into the community in trucks with food and not the other way around. You are lucky because Nevada has millions of acres of land without much on it where you can bug out to. However a lot of that land used used or owned by ranchers or miners so be careful where you go. Don’t go to a spot within 100 mile radius of Las Vegas and preferably even further away. Look at the center of your state for some mountanous areas which means water, trees and game. Look for BLM land and a place where you must leave your car or 4WD behind. Remember it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter out there and prepare for both.

  • Mark February 6, 2013, 4:58 pm

    The rapidity of a SHTF scenario determines how it plays out. We are already in the late stages of a slow-moving SHTF scenario. We can see what’s happening: (1) Formerly full-time-employed people collect unemployment until that runs out, then (2) they either try to get themselves declared “disabled” so they can collect SSI, or else (3) they mooch off of still-employed relatives and friends while they make futile efforts to obtain full-time work again. That failing (4) they stand along freeway onramps with cardboard signs and beg. That failing (5) they begin a life of crime, breaking into the homes of the still-employed, and selling what they steal on craigslist. Let’s move on. Let’s assume that the value of the US Dollar quickly drops to one-fourth of its already-depreciated value. Instead of costing $50-$100 to fill up a car it costs $200-$400. The stores stop putting prices on shelves and install price scanners on the aisle end caps so that customers can check prices, which go up every hour all day long. Store clerks are nonexistent. Armed security guards watch the do-it-yourself checkouts at Walmart and the grandpa at the door has been replaced by a squad of 200-lb. guards armed with Uzis. EBT cards buy only a couple of days’ worth of groceries now. Prostitutes start working grocery store parking lots to earn food for a day. Nobody obeys the traffic signals anymore because carjackings have become so rampant. Nobody leaves their house unoccupied anymore either. An armed person (or two) has to watch it 24/7. Otherwise it will be ransacked. Delivery trucks carry armed guards. Food warehouses are surrounded by armed guards. (Does anybody see the career of the future here?) The government declares martial law in most cities, and a curfew is enforced every night. At what point do you stop and say that TSHTF, and it’s time to “bug out?” Maybe there’s no point to bugging out. The national forests are already overrun with people who will shoot on sight anybody they think is one of the “golden horde” or a “zombie.” Every yahoo with a rifle or shotgun has already poached every game animal in the woods by week number two. Ditto with the fish. Garden patches are watched night and day by armed citizens. So much as knocking on the wrong door gets you shot. The fact of the matter is, bugging out will become unthinkable after week number one. I would not even be surprised to see the day when snipers along highways pick off drivers so they can rob whatever’s in the car or truck when it crashes. Bugging in and bunkering down is the only way to go for 99% of people. But, they have to have a lot of stuff stored away first.

  • Ned Ludd February 14, 2013, 9:52 am

    I don’t remember the exact reference but I recently read a piece by a long time survival retreat architect about the projected migration of a post SHTF population. The end result was that most Americans will sit where they are until their health has deteriorated significantly from starvation. Once they do decide to make a move it will be too late and most will die of exhaustion before they walk 20 miles over 3-5 days.
    Picture the average American family: overweight, 1-3 days of food in their home, no stored water and no backup sanitation plan. If the utilities stop working and the trucks stop running to the grocery store they are in a world of hurt on day 1 or 2. If there is any type of a communications system the government will say they have the situation under control and for people to stay put, maybe even road block major highways.
    The author suggested if one was to be 25 miles from a major US highway your chances of being left alone are pretty good. This is not as easy as it sounds in a lot of the US, major highways are everywhere across the east coast and CA.

  • Elise May 22, 2016, 6:01 pm

    I thing that Weather will help! If winter go south!

  • Skip June 23, 2016, 9:48 pm

    Too many Americans believe in their own (ignorant) innocence decrying both the Palestinians and the Israelis with “a plague on both your ho#s8s,&ue221; as if the oppressor and the victim were equals.

  • Unchained Melody October 27, 2018, 8:54 am

    I’ve been reading these old comments with interest. I’m a Florida Native living in Alaska for the last 5 years. I have lived all over the country. I used to think folks would either stay home or head south. It does depend on the scenario, of course. That being said, MANY of the folks from around the country I have talked to said they could never live in the south…or that they tried and were miserable. Most was a fear of hurricanes. For others it was the humidity. In an end of the world scenario, perspectives could change, but I can’t help but wonder if folks will avoid the south thanks to all of the strong hurricanes as of late in the news. In reality it doesn’t matter that much. The southern US is covered in large and medium cities. Those folks will likely head out into the country in their areas looking for water and food as time goes on. I can’t fathom many areas being safe at all. Where I live is Golden Horde safe. 400 mile plane ride to the nearest city. That being said, we have our own hazards and negatives for living so far out. It all depends on which risks you are willing to deal with-because there is NO perfect place. Personally, I’d rather deal with animal/nature variety risks than hordes of human ones. What are you willing to deal with?


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