Arkansas preppers face many of the same threats as anyone else in America: civil collapse, EMP, natural disasters, etc. However, Arkansans have unique challenges than preppers in other states. What makes sense for a prepper in Alaska may not make sense for a prepper in Texas. This applies to Arkansas as well.
This article will focus on Arkansas from a prepper’s perspective. What specific challenges does the state face from a historical perspective? What are the threats given the state’s geography? Where should Arkansans prioritize their preps?
NOTE: Do you live in Arkansas? You know your state, so let us know in the comments section how this article can be improved. What did we miss? What did we get right?
Situated in the south, Arkansas borders 6 states including Texas and Tennessee. Given its vast amount of public lands that make up rolling hills, dense forests, and muggy swamps, it is no wonder that Arkansas is known as the “natural state.” With Little Rock as both the state capital and also the most populous city, Arkansas is sparsely populated when compared with its neighbors.
When considering the numbers behind this, it becomes apparent that Arkansas offers much more wilderness than people. It is the 29th largest state in the US but only ranks as the 32nd most populous state. With the Mockingbird as their state bird and the “The Natural State” name, it is no wonder that the state includes several protected species of wildlife and endless outdoor opportunities. Arkansas is a great state for a prepper.
The Ozark cave region and wetlands are home to several endangered species. These species once roamed the entire American Southeast, but due to the increased human traffic, agriculture, and other development, Arkansas soon became a safe haven for them. Today, Arkansas is an under-celebrated outdoor getaway. If not for the towering mountains and wonders of the vast American West, Arkansas would no doubt attract an untold number of tourists.
While mostly untamed wilderness, Arkansas also offers a lot in terms of economic opportunity. It is also plentiful in natural resources. Oil, agricultural products, and timber are cash cows that the state regularly produces in order to bolster its economics. Additionally, Arkansas has the distinction of being the only state in America where diamonds are mined.
Arkansas Overview – Prepper’s Perspective
Many state’s nicknames result in groans and eye rolls, but Arkansas is so appropriate that it has become known by it. With the incredible amount of public land, the “Natural State” is perfect for anyone that needs to bug out or bug in when things go bad. Home to the Ozark Mountain region and home to 51 state parks, Arkansas presents nature lovers with an abundance of getaway and scenic opportunities.
While there are a wide number of state parks, national forest, and national parks in the state, there are a few that need to be singled out. Arkansas is home to Hot Springs National Park, which is one of the oldest national parks in the US. This national park, while known for its beauty, is also a historical site for the American mafia! The Buffalo National River which was the first national river designated in the US, is a popular tourist destination and a great place to relax in the summertime.
However, there is a price that comes with Arkansas’s natural beauty and untamed ruggedness. Natural disasters and Arkansas seems to go hand in hand. Arkansas declared 74 major disasters between 1953 and 2019. According to FEMA, severe storms and floods were the most common of these tragedies. Additionally, with so many people enjoying the outdoors in the state, it is no surprise that it ranks 10th in the US for fatal lightning strikes.
One of the best aspects of potentially living in Arkansas or bugging out there is the weather. The climate of Arkansas is mainly subtropical humid, with the Gulf of Mexico and Ozark mountains being the main climate drivers. Temperatures are mild all year round making Arkansas a state you can visit hassle-free all year round. Temperature ranges from 36F to 92F during the year, and it is rarely below 23F.
Yet this does not mean that Arkansas is a paradise. The weather, while generally mild, can also produce some of the state’s biggest challenges and discomforts. Arkansas is well known to become quite humid due to an average rainfall of 51 inches, which is 13 inches more than the US average of 51. With this level of rain, there are advantages to the prepper but it comes at the price of relative comfort as the humidity is incredibly high year-round.
Food and Water
Many states may face water challenges in the future, but at the time of writing this article, Arkansas is not one of them. The state has higher than average rainfall and a total area of water of 708,480 acres. The state even boasts 11,000 acres dedicated to catfish production. With this level of natural resources that are so easily accessed and commonly available, Arkansas is a prime location for anyone looking for the long-term viability of independent living.
The state uses this vitality well and is highly productive in the agricultural sector as a result. Arkansas is the largest producer of rice in America. It produces 50% of the nation’s rice and dedicates most of its available land to natural resource production. As a result, 56% of the total land base is dedicated to forestry, making Arkansas the 5th largest softwood producer in the US.
Agriculture is also the largest contributor to Arkansas GDP. Arkansas boasts large farms along the Mississippi Delta that runs its eastern border. The Southern part of the state is also full of large acreage farms that are responsible for much of the state’s crop production. This is as important to the food and water situation of the state as it is their culture.
In terms of the political situation, Arkansas is a red state through and through. The Governor, Lt Governor, the House, and Senate are all die-hard conservatives. Further, the dominance of conservative political affiliation is by a large margin. The political scene is often dominated by conversations about conservative ideals. The political success of a candidate is often based on just how conservative they are. Despite this monolithic approach to political thought, the state is often cited as having exceptionally competent and dedicated public officials.
However, this has not always been the case. Arkansas was at one point a powerhouse of the Democrats. Though, it is far from it today, in years past Arkansas produced many influential liberals that helped shape the nation’s future. Former president Bill Clinton is a native Arkansan and was the Governor of Arkansas from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992.
This shows the shift in the political leanings of the state over the past several decades. For someone considering relocating or even bugging out to the state for the long haul, this political metamorphosis should be taken into consideration if that’s important to you.
Despite its size, Arkansas only has a population of 3,033,946. This number is almost evenly spread across the state with Little Rock being the only true metropolitan area. Yet, calling Little Rock a metropolis is even a stretch. With a median age of 36 and 75% of the population over 18 years of age, Arkansas has a large population of able-bodied workers that are typically engaged in blue-collar work at small firms throughout the state. They are near evenly split between the genders with 49% males to 51% females.
In terms of religious affiliation, 80% of Arkansans are Christian and 3% are non-Christian with the balance unaffiliated. This speaks to the state’s conservative political leanings.
Another interesting aspect of Arkansas’s population is that it is fairly homogenous. Arkansas has a racial composition of 76% white, 15% black, and 0.68% Native American. With such a monolithic ethnic base, the people of Arkansas share a common culture that lends itself to political stability. For someone wishing to bug out to an entirely different state, Arkansas is one that change will likely be the last to visit and will be stable for years to come.
Similar to many southern states that are more impoverished than some other parts of the country, Arkansas has a homicide rate of 0.11 per 1000 residents and rape of 0.74 per 1000 residents. Both of these crime rates are higher than the national average.
You have a 1 in 148 chance of becoming a victim of violent crime in Arkansas, where violent crimes are made up of assault, robbery, rape, and murder. One in 38 people fall victim to property crimes, where these crimes are made up of burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft. Once again, these rates are higher than the national average.
Arkansas Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can strike any state in the nation. Arkansas has its own history of these disasters and examining them can help Arkansas preppers anticipate what they might face in the future, and thus how to prepare.
1) 1927 Great Mississippi Flood – This was a massive flood that put 48% of Arkansas’ counties under water. Damage was over a trillion dollars, making this the most expensive flood in Arkansas history. The Mississippi River has always been a strategic waterway in America.
Today it is no different as it is either the way ships access the interior of the continent or a barrier goods must pass over. If such a disruption were to happen today, it is likely that the entire nation would be affected. While the local area would undoubtedly be completely devoid of many of the things needed to maintain a semi-comfortable life, it would be further compounded by the disruption to intercontinental commerce.
2) 2000 Ice Storm – The worst storm in Arkansas since 1819. This storm cut power to 600,000 Arkansas residents after 3” of ice froze throughout the state. Damage was over $500 million dollars. Many of the state residents went without power for weeks that turned into months.
There was a temporary return to pre-industrial life for many of the residents of the state. However, given the conservative nature of the state, they were more than prepared for it. Yet, as people move into the state, it will be important for them to consider how they will effectively deal with a cataclysmic breakdown of the state’s infrastructure.
3) 2008 Super Tuesday Tornado Outbreak – A total of 87 tornadoes hit down on February 5th, 2008. Fifty-two people died and $120 million in damage occurred in Arkansas. While this was an exceptional day in the history of Arkansas storms, it is not uncommon. Every year many tornadoes touch down in Arkansas and ravage small paths through the lives of the residents.
If you find yourself located in Arkansas, it is important that you stock supplies and have a plan of how to handle the inevitable tornado that comes your way.
4) 2009 Ice Storm – This was an ice storm that caused $80 million in damages and caused 300,000 state residents to be without electrical power – in the dead of winter – for weeks. Much like the 2000 Ice Storm, the 2009 version rendered the state completely agrarian for a prolonged period of time.
Luckily, many of the homeowners that experienced the ice storm of 2009 were coming of age in 2000. This made the ice storm much shorter and more livable as people knew how to live through it. It is important for newcomers to learn the lessons these locals had to pay for in pain and suffering.
5) Albert Pike Flash Floods (2010) – From June 10-11, 2010, heavy rain caused the Little Missouri River to raise 20’ in two hours. Twenty campers ended up drowning, 24 people went missing, and roughly 200 people statewide were affected by the floods. While the Natural State offers a window into what the landscape looked like before man sought to tame it, there can also be deadly lessons taught as to what that means for residents.
The upper Little Missouri River has no dams or locks to control its level. This results in natural rises and falls in the water level along with unprecedented natural beauty. If you find yourself in the area or next to a place like this in Arkansas, it is important to pay attention to your surroundings and have a plan in place in case an event like this befalls you.
6) Super Tornado Outbreak (2011) – An outbreak of over 175 tornadoes that ripped through a great swath of the United States with Arkansas was hit by several tornadoes during this season. These tornados, despite the states attempts to modernize its warning technology and weather hardening its infrastructure cost around $3 million in damages. While this is expensive, it could have been much worse. This indicates that the residents and the government are trending in the right direction with their modernization efforts.
Floods, tornadoes, and severe winter weather seem to be the primary concerns of those who are wary of disaster in Arkansas. For someone spending time in Arkansas, it is not a matter of if you will be affected by one of these events, but when. Since they are unpredictable and unavoidable, preparation is key to living through these challenges in safety and in a certain level of acceptable comfort.
When the weather threatens your home, family, and life, it is important that you have a ready made plan that is well resourced so you can react appropriately and independently from any help as it is likely not coming anytime soon.
Arkansas Preppers – Strategies
Being ready for the next tornado is a way of life in Arkansas. Having a store-purchased tornado shelter, a root cellar, or a fallout shelter built either in or behind your house is a great way to live through the next outbreak of tornados. However, if you can’t afford to do that or you live in a mobile home, knowing where to go during a storm is crucial to survival when tornados come your way. Find load bearing doorways to get in, a bathtub with a mattress over it, or simply getting out of the house and into a ditch can save your life.
Despite the infiltration of the internet into all areas of our life, one of the best things to have for information and warning about natural disasters is a ham radio. Arkansas has a very active “SkyWarn” network of ham radio enthusiast that help authorities facilitate communication during outages of services. Important ham radio frequencies such as those can help the Arkansas prepper get a head start in evacuation.
- Frequency Range: 144-148MHz, 420-450MHz. Please kindly know that UV-5R would not transmit without this frequency range.
- 128 Channels 50 CTCSS and 104 CDCSS Dual-Band Display, Dual Freq. Display, Dual-Standby, A/B band independent operation, High/Low TX power selectable: Busy channel lock-out(BCLO)
Having a ham radio in your home, vehicle, or in your bug out bag can make the difference in knowing where to go and not to go during a natural disaster. Additionally, being able to contribute to the information flow can save other peoples lives as well.
Arkansas is full of waterways that are also full of a wide variety of fish. Learning how to efficiently and effectively harvest those resources are critical to long term, independent success in the state. Learning how to employ trot lines, limb lines, yo-yos, nets, and fish traps is a skill that will not only save you from starvation when the next ice storm hits, but will also likely make you friends as well.
There are schools you can attend that will show you these skills, but simply hanging out in marinas, bait shops, and boat ramps can lead to good conversations with local fishermen that are often happy to teach.
Having a planned bug out location is crucial. While bugging out always presents challenges, doing it in Arkansas presents some unique ones of its own. All preppers in any state should begin their bug out plans with a paper map of their state. Nothing is better for all-purpose use than the DeLorme Road Atlas and Gazetteer.
- Amazingly detailed and beautifully crafted, large-format paper maps for all 50 states
- Delorme (Author)
Given the state’s tendency to flood and the incredible amount of water that is all through it, having a pack raft in your bug out bag is incredibly intelligent. Being able to encounter a swollen river or lake and cross it with little effort enables the person bugging out a level of mobility others will not have.
- ✔ READY FOR ADVENTURE: Great for boating or fishing with friends, this roomy Sports Series boat can fit five adults and has plenty of space for anything you need for a fun boating trip on lakes and mild rivers; NMMA and U.S. Coast Guard certified.ADVENTURE ACCESSORIES: Includes two 54-inch aluminum oars, two inflatable seats with backrests, heavy-duty grab handles with grab lines, two oar holders with welded oar locks, two quick-fill Boston valves, a high-output pump, and one repair patch kit
- ✔ EASY USE: The Excursion 4 Boat lets you take the fun of boating wherever you go! Fishing and relaxing have never been easier with the two built-in fishing rod holders, gear pouch, and motor mount fittings included for the flexibility of adding a trolling motor
This strategic advantage could be the difference between life and death when the flood waters come and you have no other option than to enter the water.
Fitness is Key
Arkansas is often thought of an easier state to hike in, but while its hills are small, they are incredibly steep. If you find yourself in a bug out situation, you will likely be required to navigate incredibly tough, steep, and thick terrain that may even call you to swim.
One thing that can’t be tucked into your bug out bag or cached along the trail is your physical ability to move through this terrain with ease. Therefore, one of the most critical things a person bugging out in Arkansas can do is to simply be in good shape.
Flash floods and high waters are a common feature of any Arkansas storm. When bugging out, don’t fall into the temptation to find an easy valley or meadow to sleep in. Move up the highest hill you can find to set up your camp. In the delta and southern region, this may only be a small hill, but any elevation is better than no elevation. Sleeping on the eastern side of any hill will not only protect you for the rising flood waters, but will also yield far greater comfort in wind and rain.
This article just scratches the surface of what Arkansas preppers need to know. The following links could held educate you more on prepping in the state.
- Arkansas Prepper Network – (Website and Facebook Group dedicated to Arkansas Preppers)
- Arkansas Preparedness Team – (Active Facebook Group Centered on Arkansas Prepping)
- American Survival Co – (Survival School based in Northwest Arkansas)
- Salvo Training – (Survival School based in Northwest Arkansas)
- Arkansas Department of Health – (Arkansas Disaster Readiness Resource)
- Arkansas Department of Public Safety – (Information on Disaster Readiness)
WOW.! what a really great article.thanks for the really great job ,telling us all about This State.
I have lived in Northwest Arkansas for around 10 years and the population around here is maybe 50-50 white and Hispanic. And here in Northwest Arkansas the cost of living is pretty high compared to other places around here housing is going through the roof and it is hard to find decent paying jobs.
Nice job! I’ve lived all over the world, but Arkansas is my home. I’ve been back here several years now.
You make a terrific point about the steep hills. Arkansas can be a hiker’s paradise…except in summer. Our forests are not only deep, but very jungle-like. Trails get quickly overgrown with weeds and thorny vines. Getting off the trails will lead to ticks and chigger bites. Which brings us to … bugs.
Ticks, chiggers, mosquitoes, horse flies, house flies, gnats, wasps, bees, even scorpions. Summer is hell for an outdoorsman. Step into the shade to escape the sun, and you find yourself sharing space with blood-sucking insects. Then there is the dreaded brown recluse spider. Take those bites seriously.
I’ll add a quick word about fishing. In a grid-down situation, the fish will be there for a long time. There are creeks and rivers all over the place. You’ll find small lakes and ponds out in the forest that haven’t been fished in decades. The bayous of the southern half are teeming with multiple species. Every farm in the state has a couple of stock ponds where you can (with the owner’s permission) reliably catch catfish, perch, crappie, and bass.
But do not settle on any of our famous trout rivers if you are relying on fishing for survival. Those rivers support trout because of the cold water coming beneath the dams. Those dams may not be operating for long after things go bad. Also, the rivers are stocked from hatcheries. Yes, there is some natural spawning. But most of the trout were born in the hatcheries and released.
And I’d like to clear up one misconception about Arkansas. When you look at the statistics, Arkansas seems like a terrible place to live. Consistently ranked near the bottom in education, poverty, etc. The fact is that Arkansas is a ‘tale of two states’. The Delta region is rife with poverty. There, you find lots of corrupt little towns with horrible schools and scores of meth-heads living off welfare or theft. It is that area that really drags Arkansas into the bottom ranks. The rest of the state is, as the author accurately stated, blue collar working class. Industry and agriculture keep things running.
This whole blog originated years ago with Rangerman up in Maine. I’m also in love with the state of Maine. I believe Maineiacs and Razorbacks have a good deal in common.