Boots On The Ground In NJ–A Sandy Story From The Inside

As my drill instructors used to say when they had something important to impart, “Listen up, ya’ll.”


Allow me to direct your attention to the link on the top right that says, “SHTFBlog Store.”  If you click that link it will take you to the store site and you can buy one of the sleeping bags if you’re interested.  It’s very primitive at this time, so if you run into problems please contact me immediately and I’ll get it squared away ASAP.  (Many thanks to Paul for the link to Wazala.)


Below is a guest post from a law enforcement officer who lives in NJ and was there before, during, and after The Storm.  He paints a vivid picture of what it was like and gives a rather chilling summary in his last paragraph.

He asked that I not include his name for obvious reasons.

I’d like to thank him for taking the time to write his experiences down and for sharing them with us here at SHTFblog.  Thanks!


Hurricane Sandy

I’ll make this as fast and as simple as possible. I want to give everyone an inside look, from a Police Officer’s point of view of the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. I work in a Jersey town near the coast. We sustained major flooding, and major power outages and property damage. What I saw from the normal person in the wake of the storm just made me realize even more that the normal person would not be ready for a true SHTF scenario. If you take the creature comforts, and the easy accessibility to fuel and food away, panic sets in.

I’ve worked many hurricanes, and severe storms, but nothing like this. People were cut off from communications, their homes destroyed, or uninhabitable, all stores, and gas stations were gone, and panic set in fast. What I saw this time was pure hysteria. With people cut off from communications, they flooded our police department with calls for information. It came to the point that our dispatchers were immediately hanging up if it was not an emergency. Gas stations closed, supermarkets closed, the simple every day things that people took for granted were gone, and when they’re gone people WILL PANIC ! What do you mean I can’t go down that road? How Am I supposed to get there? See, people are set in their ways, and most refuse to change.

We had the National Guard in town to help, but it seemed like even they were stretched thin. All emergency personnel were working, but it seemed like we couldn’t get to everyone.

Now I’m not a hardcore prepper, but I do have food and water stored. I have a tri fuel portable generator. The tri fuel adds options. No natural gas, then you can still switch to two more fuels. I didn’t get a built in unit, because I wanted to be able to take it with me, if things got real bad. I took my house off the grid prior to the storm. I knew I had to go to work, and didn’t want my wife outside with the kids in a dangerous storm. She knows how to start it and hook it up, if I’m not there but I would rather not risk it. I’m good to go with security, I won’t elaborate on security, I’ll just say I have a military background and security is always a priority. Even if you are a hardcore prepper and your home was not destroyed during the storm. The only problem is that your home lies in what is considered a “Disaster Area”, and you are forced from your home. Just something to keep in mind.

The supermarkets, days prior to the storm were like a circus. There were no canned foods or water. The shelves were empty. It seemed like people knew what to get, but only got it just prior. The gas station lines set in soon after the storm. I’m talking 2, to 3 sometimes 4 mile long lines. I’ll say that 50% of the people just wanted fuel for their generators. The other 50% needed fuel for their vehicles. Seriously? My father will still call us and tell us to make sure to fuel up our cars before any storm (as a general rule, I never allow my vehicle below half tank). With preparations, I knew I wasn’t going to drive anywhere unless I had to. We had to direct traffic and stand by at the gas stations. The first day we did not, that was a mistake, because we ended up responding there for large fights over line cutting throughout the day. It seemed like after the storm, people were wondering around like they were lost. Take away any type of government, and they would have been.

With power gone, the crime set in very fast. We have 3 large car dealerships in town. The dealerships were hit hard with burglaries and fuel siphoning. Many homes that were destroyed in town were hit with looters. The homes that weren’t destroyed, had no electricity, and they were hit with burglaries. We just didn’t have the personnel to do any type of “proactive” patrolling to prevent these things from happening. We actually got requested to go to the barrier island areas to assist them with looters during their night shifts. It’s obviously hard, when we have our own problems…. Criminals will always prey on the weak, and in this case entire communities were weak. Road blocks were set up, and identification was needed to enter the community sections of our town. The media didn’t make things better. They broadcasted fuel shortages, when there really wasn’t, just not enough gas stations with power. They also broadcasted how homes didn’t have power, and emergency personnel were stretched thin. You might as well have rung a dinner bell for criminals.

The truth of it all is that society will break down in any emergency or SHTF situation. People do not know how to cope with their comforts being taken away. I always say that during The Great Depression people knew what they had to do. Society banded together, and helped one another. If something even remotely similar happened today, people would turn on each other. The people that do survive will be the most dangerous because they knew what they had to do. The days of our grandparents, surviving off of the land and helping their neighbors are long gone. The basic skills of life today are not even comparable to the basic skills of 50 + years ago. I know that some of this stuff is redundant, but it has to be reinforced. A lot of people forget about these things until all hell breaks loose. Please all be safe !


Do you have questions or comments for this LEO?

Sound off below!

-Jarhead Survivor

43 comments… add one
  • Spectre November 19, 2012, 8:09 am

    This shows a very real, very stark reality. It’s truly a society of sheeple.

    • Jarhead Survivor November 19, 2012, 2:29 pm

      That’s what I thought too, Spectre. Maybe no so much sheeple as just people who are so sure they’ll be taken care of they didn’t bother to try and fend for themselves. Wait! Is that the definition of sheeple?

  • irishdutchuncle November 19, 2012, 8:27 am

    The only way it could probably have been worse: during “tourist” season. I wouldn’t envy L.E. trying to evac Ocean City Abseacon and LBI in mid August.

  • Jay November 19, 2012, 9:01 am

    Would looting be as bad if New Jersey weren’t so hostile to responsible gun ownership?

    • No Name November 19, 2012, 10:57 pm

      Yes and no. With New Jersey being who they are ( crucify first, ask questions later ), raises the scenario of, would you really kill a looter in NJ just to be charged with the crime when the storm clears?

  • KYPrepper November 19, 2012, 9:11 am

    Great insights/comments from your experience in the aftermath of the storm. I think most of us that frequent this site won’t be too surprised at how fast/far society breaks down in this type of situation. Its a great opportunity to talk to friends, family, neighbors about the importance of being prepared far in advance of situations like this. Even in the prepper community I still hear too many people talk of their plans to get last minute supplies. You might not have that opportunity. More importantly, you might not want to put yourself in that crowd/mob trying to buy food, water, gas.

    • Jarhead Survivor November 19, 2012, 2:32 pm

      It seems to me that the media was blaring that this storm was going to be a real ripper for days before it actually arrived. If you can’t get yourself prepared ahead of time (if you’re not already) then bad luck is definitely going to get you. Good observation KYPrepper.

  • AilimD'SilverFir November 19, 2012, 9:21 am

    I know he says he is not a “prepper” but really, I say anyone who has the forethought to be as prepared as he was IS a prepper. Thanks for the inside look on our civilization today LEO.

    • No Name November 19, 2012, 11:02 pm

      It’s not about being a “prepper” as much as it is being smart enough to know that something’s going to go wrong, and what can I do to help my family. Being smart is more of an answer. This is why I love this website, and I emailed jarhead about posting here because This isn’t a propaganda and end of the world filled site. This is a survivalist site, geared towards being prepared and surviving everyday common scenarios. Love it or hate it, a hurricane that gave you weeks of warnings should have prepared you for the worst.

  • Waterboy November 19, 2012, 11:07 am

    Thank you for what you do. Even those of us in CA appreciate your service.

    • irishdutchuncle November 19, 2012, 5:46 pm

      The PNW, including northern Cali may get a very similar taste of the weather this week. Double digit rainfall amounts, high winds. Snow in the Cascades.

      • Michael November 20, 2012, 12:33 am

        Crazy amounts of rain at my place, but the power’s on and everyone’s staying dry.

        Thanks for the update about NJ, it was good reading.

  • Jason November 19, 2012, 11:08 am

    Dear What’s His Name, :-)

    Great observation & accounting of a real SHTF scenario.

    1. People panic – 100% correct because they are not mentally prepared & it is the fight/flight inherent reaction.

    2. People set in their ways – not exactly. I think people are in a trance state & go only by what they know. Options are not options to them because people fear, by in large, going to areas of unknown.

    3. People are not prepared – this is totally normal in this country. W. Clement Stone, the famous insurance salesperson & long time philanthropist had discovered through his life insurance research that 95% of all Americans are not prepared for the future. That same mindset would apply to other areas of life.

    4. People not helping others is relative to the intensity, suddenness & severity of the event. The Great Depression is an unfair comparison because people knew what was coming & could see it much in advance. I do agree we are not the same people we were 50 – 70 years ago – we have become mentally & physically lazy. Instant gratification has become a right, not a privilege & patience is far less common.

    You said:

    “The truth of it all is that society will break down in any emergency or SHTF situation. People do not know how to cope with their comforts being taken away.”

    I could not agree more. It’s a pretty sad condition but the harsh reality.

    Thank you again for a great insiders look into a true & real time SHTF situation. We can certainly learn much from this but wonder how much FEMA learned then applied since Katrina ….

    • Jarhead Survivor November 19, 2012, 2:35 pm


      >2. People set in their ways – not exactly. I think people are in a trance state & go only by what they know. Options are not options to them because people fear, by in large, going to areas of unknown.<

      I've found that anything scary, or uncomfortable, or difficult will be avoided by people – especially those who can't live without their creature comforts. Most people simply can't believe that I like to go winter camping because in their minds it's difficult and uncomfortable – thus scary – thus to be avoided.

  • Yoda November 19, 2012, 12:52 pm

    Thank youJarhead
    The public ignores that emergency service staffs ( police, fire, EMT’s, Doctors, Nurses, Utility workers) aare personally effected by the emergency and unable to respond.
    This is currently exaccerbated by public service lay offs.
    Be aware and prepare.
    Right onJarhead WRITE ON!
    Happy Thanksgiving
    “Pending Threat To America’s Middle Class”

    • Jason November 19, 2012, 1:10 pm


      When does speed reading become a crime? When comprehension sinks below 10%.

      You have committed a crime & now need to sit in the front corner of the classroom & wear your little Dunce hat …. again.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. November 19, 2012, 1:46 pm

    You know, by the sound of latest disasters, it sounds like bypassing the 72hr kit and going directly to 7 Day kit MINIMUM should be the new norm. Non cook food for a week, 7 days of water, etc.

    What really seems to be hurting is the grid seems to be wearing down consistently, even in times of no trouble at all. Grid is breaking down all the time. Breaks in water lines are far more common. And ‘boil water alerts’ , usually very rare are now more common as well.

    • Jarhead Survivor November 19, 2012, 2:36 pm

      j.r. – you just gave me a blog post idea. Thanks!

    • irishdutchuncle November 19, 2012, 6:09 pm

      yeh, what j.r. said.

      especially about the “Non cook food”.
      my camp stoves are useless if nearby gas mains are leaking. also a good idea to have “Mine Safety” or “Coast Guard” approved flashlights for the same reason.

      Phillys old water mains are breaking down all over the city.

      • No Name November 19, 2012, 10:53 pm

        What I forgot to add into this post was that a day prior to the storm, I was speaking with a water company worker. I asked what they did to prepare for the storm. They also took themselves off of the grid prior to the storm.vthey have “jet turbine engines” that act like back up generators to purify and pump the water out. He said that they will be getting 2 deliveries a day of “jet fuel” to their delivery center. Makes me wonder what would happen if they couldn’t get their fuel deliveries…..

        • irishdutchuncle November 20, 2012, 6:43 am

          now I’ll have to order a couple bathtub “water-bob”s, too.

          the gas turbine generators aren’t nearly as loud as diesels, for the amount of power they put out. (or at least there isn’t all the vibration) Your regional emergency preparedness folks should probably try to get a few surplus “re-fueler” trucks from Uncle Sam, if they don’t already have them.
          in a real pinch, road diesel or home heating oil could probably be used to run them. (the generators) diesel trucks run just fine on “jet fuel” too. (I would save most of the “real” jet fuel, for Medevac, and rescue choppers)

          • irishdutchuncle November 20, 2012, 7:55 am

            … except don’t run an “on-road” diesel vehicle on heating oil, or jet fuel, except in a dire emergency.

            on-road use fuels are dyed, to prove that the taxes on them were paid. (there may be sulphur content restrictions also)

          • irishdutchuncle November 21, 2012, 7:23 pm

            … and I’m told, you can dispose of excess kerosene/jet fuel, a little at a time, in your houshold “oil burner”. (the main thing is not to over-do it. jet fuel may dislodge sludge in the bottom of your oil tank, and clog your filter)

    • extremesgs November 26, 2012, 3:05 pm

      so true about the 7 day kits…

      here in New England, where we’re used to extreme weather, we’re losing power for 5 days at a whack. How good is your 3-day kit then?

      After some thought, i went with a “tier” system a while back…
      BOB is set up for about 3 days, stand alone (so not including what I forage, kill, or catch)
      Truck gear extends that a few days.
      House extends it… well, a lot.

      I don’t doubt that anyone on here can sit tight for a week or so… problem is, the general public seems to have missed the boat.

      Hate to say it, but the ever-happening shit (storms, power outages, flooding, etc), has been generating some great discussions on here.

  • 1982MSGT November 19, 2012, 2:01 pm

    Great post. We need to read more like it from different areas involved with Sandy. More experiences shared will support those of us who are trying to get family and friends into prepping.

    • Jarhead Survivor November 19, 2012, 2:39 pm

      Hey Top – I agree. If more people from the afflicted areas would write I’d be happy to post them here. I find first hand looks into these situations are by far the best way to learn.

      This LEO did an outstanding job of writing down his observations and conclusions. If there are more people out there feel free to write in!

      Emai to:

  • ferndale November 19, 2012, 2:51 pm

    questions, please:

    1) what disruptions were there to medical care? hospitals open? ambulance care?

    2) what response did neighborhoods give to looting? was there any mutual defense? how would you have dealt with a shooting of a looter of an occupied structure? shooting of looter of an unoccupied structure?

    3) i assume that demolition continues; what percentage “back in operation” is your community? has the federal government been helpful in distributing food and clothing? what shelter options did citizens have if their homes were destroyed through official channels?

    if you could address these, i’d be very appreciative.

    • smokechecktim November 19, 2012, 4:40 pm

      ferndale: I saw several pics online of impromtu neighborhood watches, with large plywood signs, blocking off streets saying things like residents only…looters shot.

      • No Name November 19, 2012, 10:22 pm

        Great questions, I can’t comment with 100% certainty on the hospitals being open during the storm or available during the storm. When I started shift they were. After the storm the 2 major ones were evacuated.

        Communities did band together days after the storm, but what you have to understand is that there was no community. Most people were evacuated, and the ones that stayed were rescued. People only recently were allowed to return. As far as looters being shot, I have yet to hear about People being shot other then the inner cities, and not from looting.

        The demolition / rebuilding continues, and will continue for the year(s). Where homes were, are now inlets of water or sink holes. It’s going to be a rough recovery.

        The Feds were ok I guess…. There are FEMA shelters set up, but I’ve found that most have moved on to stay with other families. I have to give more credit to police departments and emergency workers from other states, that banded together and helped out. A Louisiana state trooper told me “hey, just our way of saying thanks for the help during Katrina.” New Jersey sent down a lot of emergency workers after their disaster.

  • ORRN on LI November 19, 2012, 3:00 pm

    I for one have learned much from Sandy, owning my home in the center of Long Island, (I grew up on the south shore across the street from a huge canal) I have absolutely no desire to “live on the shore”.
    I don’t understand how if you loose all that is dear to you in a flood, you can put it all in the same vulnerable spot AGAIN? Wait and see how many people rebuild in the same vulnerable sites again, and our tax dollars pay for it. We who were effected by Sandy have a responsibility to learn, and care for ourselves during future similar
    situations. We can no longer responsibly say “I never thought this could happen…” We have felt the lack of electricity, fuel, heat, food, and security. Live on and learn, help each other, I hope enough people look back to the Depression Era and come together rather than come apart in times of crisis. This site is becoming more and more necessary and appreciated, keep up the great work and topics.

  • Max in CS November 19, 2012, 5:18 pm

    Everyone has had the same opportunity to get ready/prepare; most crisis situations are short lived. After the crisis goes away it’s back to normal for everyone. Who’s fault is it that the normal is new phones every 6 months, new car every 2 years, eating out for 80% of the meals, etc. ?
    If it takes a crisis or disaster to bring people together… well a little too late. Sorry they couldn’t put down the iphone in time to get some groceries but it’s not my (nor your) responsibility to provide for them. Even ‘loaning’ them some gas for a generator (that they don’t have anyhow).

  • RedTeamDoc November 19, 2012, 6:02 pm

    I just want to say thank you to all the LEO’s, Servicemen and women, as well as all the other First Responders who contributed and continue to do so.

    Its obvious that the more prepared our people are, the less demand they put on our already thinly spread assets. God forbid you need medical attention in such a situation…I am still treating a patient who received forth degree burns when attempting to steal copper wiring from X location. Just my humble opinion…the LEO’s, paramedics, and us docs who dealt with this fellow, could have had a little better use of our time, but we have all taken oaths so that’s that.

    Like our anonymous LEO author says, please be safe, and this starts with being smart. If you are going to steal copper wire, make sure the power is actually out in that neighborhood!…or you could prep before SHTF and not become another sad statistic.

    Wish us luck, we still working hard dealing with the aftermath.


  • Ned Ludd November 19, 2012, 10:08 pm

    Another great topic Jarhead.

    It’s nice to hear some first hand experience that is not edited by the “network news”. That last paragraph really strikes a chord, society in general is not able to take care of itself and over the last 40-50 years we have become a “look out for yourself” society instead of a community.
    As a former Coastie I try to take the motto Semper Paratus (always ready) to heart. I am from the south shore of Long Island originally and was looking at the news wondering how the masses were getting along.
    I keep hearing people talking about generators and fuel etc. and shake my head in disbelief. This is a good backup if the grid is down for a couple of days but you cannot store gasoline very long, diesel has its own issues and opsec precludes me from wanting to announce my status with a generator running 24/7. When my parents prepared for a hurricane or a NEster the primary concerns were drinking water and candles/lanterns, my parents were depression kids so we always had a pantry to get us through a month or so.
    I strongly suggest complete off the grid solutions to problems, fossil fuels are delivered on an as needed basis and the local fuel station quickly gets overrun or has no power to sell its product. Candles have no shelf life, kerosene and lanterns store almost indefinitely, cylume lite sticks work when wet or cold or hot.
    Think low or no tech, gravity never fails, the sun rises every morning and shit flows down hill…
    The government is no help, just look at Katrina there are still a lot of displaced Americans from that disaster, now we have Sandy.
    Keep on taking care of yourselves!

  • No Name November 19, 2012, 10:41 pm

    I must say that you hit the nail on the head about people not being lost. You ever see that movie about the zombies returning to the mall Witt the survivors trapped in it ? That’s what I think it was. Like muscle memory, people try to return to what they always do. If they
    Always go to the grocery store on Mondays, that’s what they tried to do. If they got gas on Sundays , well that’s what they tried to do. It’s kind of scary when you throw a curveball into normal persons everyday life. I answered most of the questions in a comment below.

    • No Name November 19, 2012, 10:41 pm

      Or above…

  • Preacher November 19, 2012, 11:56 pm

    Recently, I have heard more and more about “the thin veil of society” following Hurricane Sandy especially as it related to / compared to Hurricane Katrina. I was there for that one. It was bad. There’s really no way to describe situations like these. I like the comment above about a 7-day minimum. Maybe we could hear some more about that and hear from others’ real-life experiences. We call ’em testimonies. “Testify brethren” (and sistren…)

  • Adam November 20, 2012, 11:07 am

    I see this as well, just not in a disaster. When there is a bad accident and the road is closed for a few hours, you’d be amazed at how many people don’t know any other way to get home. Even if a neighborhood has three entrances, they always use the same one and have no idea how to use the other two. It gets very frustrating when you tell the 200th person in 2 hours to go around and explain the alternate way to their own neighborhood, even if they’ve lived there for 20 years.

    I have no doubts that society breaks down during a disaster. There will be pockets of communities banding together. But as a whole, people do not cope well with sudden changes to their daily routine. In a major incident, the unprepared and unaware (sheep) will be lost and will have no idea what to do. Eventually when the panic sets in, they become dangerous (looting, fighting, etc).

  • 1982MSGT November 20, 2012, 3:26 pm

    During a real “Disaster” one can expect what we call a “Mass Casualty” event. That is where you have walking wounded, moderately severe wounded (broken arms/legs) who can wait for medical attention, then the severely wounded (crushing injuries, etc) who must have immediate medical attention if they are to survive and the people who are so damaged that they are not expected to survive another 24 hours. These wounded, injured people are categorized in a manner that will ensure there is no waste of time nor medical supplies/doctors.

    They are “Triaged” as they arrive at the medical center/hospital
    by a skilled physician or nurse and separated according to medial needs.

    The walking wounded with minor injuries can be used as litter bearers and help out with other patients using first aid techniques.

    Everyone else is either screened for surgery immediately or placed on a waiting list (prioritized) according to their severe condition.

    Those who will not make it or would expend a lot of supplies or physician’s valuable time are given drugs (morphine) to ease their pain and set aside and basically left to die. Sad but true.

    That is Battle Field Medicine. There are a lot more details I could share, however I think if you are interested go onto the web and look up “Triage”.

    So keep prepping and add bandages into your medical supplies.

  • The Supervisor November 21, 2012, 11:35 am

    My son’s Water rescue team was called in from Nebraska by FEMA. They were staged 1.5 hrs out of Atlantic City. No one at the staging area knew who they were or why they were there. The team decided to head straight to Atlantic City. They were met by the National Guard and told to leave. The team tried to explain they were called in by FEMA and the guard told the to ‘Leave now.’ A 10 man rescue team sent packing…My son has no ploite words for FEMA. They decided to drive around and help anyone they could and then left after 2 days.

    A 10 man team, trained, ready, and sent away. There are groups in society who are not afraid to head into a disaster to help others but our well run goverment will be sure not to use them…

    My son said we (his parents) need to be ready to totally take care of ourselves at all times.

    Be prepared!!

  • John Brown November 21, 2012, 2:17 pm

    What I think superstorm Sandy high lighted the most is the need for a survival trailer in your garage, along with a survival vehicle that can withstand a EMP, that is ready to go at a moment’s notice loaded with a month’s worth of food and two weeks of water.

    Unless you use spring steel for bar grates, you can not readily prevent people with battery powered tools from cutting their way into your home. Even most brick homes can easily be breached directly through a wall with a 12 pound sledge hammer because they are only double brick construction, unlike some of the older 3 brick ones are much tougher.

    My question to the LEO would be since NY and NJ make concealed weapons and in the car transportation of loaded firearms almost impossible, do you think that helped contribute to looting? Didn’t people receive exactly what they deserved by supporting anti-gun laws because criminals are not afraid of dying at the hands of home owners, even the ones left behind, in contrast to Texas, you can legally kill someone ripping off your neighbour.

  • studmuffin November 22, 2012, 8:54 pm

    A little hard to feel sorry for people who built wood frame houses next to the ocean, and 4′ above sea level. If the local governmemt was actually looking out for the people, nothing would be allowed to be rebuilt at ground level or of less than concrete block construction. Maybe require REAL shutters (you know, the ones that are NOT a hunk of plastic screwed to the house). Hard to shed a tear for the person who owned a waterfront mansion that had several million dollars worth of boats washed against it.

    I also think it’s stupid to live in a tornado-prone area without a shelter to retreat to.

  • Kevin December 5, 2012, 9:36 pm

    I am just getting around to reading this feed in my inbox, but I see one problem with the way things were run. It might have already been touched on since I haven’t read all the comments.

    You said…. The only problem is that your home lies in what is considered a “Disaster Area”, and you are forced from your home. Just something to keep in mind.

    And then also said…. The homes that weren’t destroyed, had no electricity, and they were hit with burglaries. We just didn’t have the personnel to do any type of “proactive” patrolling to prevent these things from happening.

    My thoughts… maybe if you didn’t kick folks out of their homes.. .they could have helped you out by protecting their own property.

    I believe it should be our right to decided our own fate… and not have some govt policy dictate that for us. If I want to stay with my home… you’ll be hell pressed to remove me. I know… you’re gonna say that you have to do what the LEO says… well I’m a LEO too… and I’m not gonna budge and it would be a bad idea to try and force the issue. With my training I could not only protect my property but I could keep an eye on the ones next to me.


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