Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 1:47 am | Fair 38º


Tom Purcell: Rural Folks Living Is What ‘Preppers’ Seek

Get this: More people are fleeing big cities for rural areas and some are doing so because they fear a major financial collapse is imminent.

According to Census Bureau estimates, big cities are losing population at a rapid clip. Chicago’s Cook County saw 66,000 people move out in 2016.

Many of these people are moving to rural areas in the Northwest and elsewhere. The Chicago Tribune explains that a growing number of them are survivalists who seek homes that they can defend in the event that a collapse occurs.

Lucky for me, I already have a rural homestead outside of Pittsburgh. I bought the modest fixer-upper 20 years ago. It sits high on a big piece of ground near a small town I shall refer to as Hickberry.

My father and I did some basic renovations to make it livable. I lived in it for a few years, then rented it out to live the high life in Washington, D.C. I moved back to the house five years ago and am almost done with a total rehab.

But here’s one thing I learned along the way: The people in metro Washington are way different from the good-natured people of Hickberry.

You see, D.C. is populated with thousands of people with master’s degrees, who rely on other people to feed them and keep them sheltered when it is raining. If something calamitous goes down, they won’t have any idea how to survive.

Unlike the sophisticated folks in Washington, however, my Hickberry neighbors are resourceful and clever. They rely on no man.

My neighbors know how to grow, trap or shoot their own food. More important, they know how to make their own alcohol. No matter what might happen, they will stay relatively comfortable and safe.

If all heck breaks loose, my neighbors and I will be just fine.

All of my neighbors have shotguns and pistols, and they know how to use them. Nobody with any sense would ever try to break into their homes to rob them — unless he wants a load of buckshot deposited in his derriere.

There is no need for contingency plans in places like Hickberry.

If the electricity shuts down, all my town will lose is one stoplight and a couple of street lights. If the water stops pumping, few will mind; a lot of folks have wells that produce tasty water.

If there is a food shortage at the supermarket, country folks are prepared. All of my neighbors have deer meat stashed somewhere within their houses.

Even if an electrical glitch stops everyone’s car from running — late-model automobile motors are computerized — my neighbors will be fine. Their 1976 AMC Pacers — and other pre-computerized cars that so many country folks keep on blocks — will be put to good use.

A few years ago, a professor in England made the news by criticizing today’s young people for their inability to fix anything. They didn’t grow up building shacks and go-karts, as I and millions of other kids did in the 1970s. No, they grew up with electronic devices that hardly ever break and get replaced with new electronic devices if they do break.

These little snowflakes will be in for a world of hurt if the doomsday scenario that the “preppers” and survivalists keep preparing for ever does come to fruition.

I’ll be just fine in Hickberry, though.

I’ll still be able to amble down to the VFW to sing Willie Nelson tunes on karaoke night. I’ll snack on some deer jerky as I enjoy a snort of a neighbor’s homemade hooch.

So I can see why more people are fleeing big cities for rural places like Hickberry.

Tom Purcell, author of Misadventures of a 1970s Childhood and Wicked Is the Whiskey: A Sean McClanahan Mystery, is a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review humor columnist, syndicated by Cagle Cartoons. Contact him at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter: @PurcellTom. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click here to get started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >