Surviving a Disaster When FEMA Isn’t There–Part 1

You’ve no doubt heard public service ads telling us to have a three day kit on hand with food and survival supplies in case of a disaster. But what if something major comes along that makes Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy look puny?

What do we do about surviving a disaster when FEMA isn’t there for days or weeks? Or not at all? And how do we face a prolonged economic collapse?

Many of us realize that 72 hours worth of prepping supplies is the bare minimum. How about setting aside enough for three weeks or even three months? But how do we get started with that?

That’s where Richard Bryant’s book When There is No FEMA comes in. Rich was my guest on DestinySurvival Radio for part one of a two part conversation.


When There is No FEMA


Why another book on prepping?

There are a lot of books out there these days to help you get prepared, and more are coming out all the time it seems. You may have several on your survival library shelves already. Some may even have the words “complete” or “ultimate” in the title. No book can truly be the only book you’ll ever need, but When There is No FEMA isn’t like any other book I know of.

It’s a large reference guide of over 500 pages for preppers and survivalists. It’s described as the definitive reference for the serious prepper. This is a comprehensive manual, and thankfully it’s arranged in such a way to make it easy to find what you’re looking for.

Through his involvement in preparedness groups, Rich gained an understanding of what information people want and need. He wanted to give people a sense of empowerment and hope and realized the best way to share that information with a larger audience was to write a book. Thus began the three year process of putting together When There is No FEMA.

He doesn’t intend for this to be the only book you read on preparedness. Readers are invited to hunt and peck for the information they’re looking for. This is sort of a tutorial and reference book rolled into one. Appendices, an extensive bibliography and an index complete the tome. Rich researched his subject matter as if writing a textbook.

It has a bright red cover, too, so you can find it readily when you need it. This probably isn’t a book you’ll grab to put in your backpack when you go hiking or camping because it’s so large. However, Rich says you may want to take it with you in your car or truck.

Who’s the Guy Who wrote this massive book?

If you’re like me, you want to know about the author of any book on prepping. What qualifies him to tell you and me what we should do? Such a book is supposed to be authoritative, isn’t it? So here’s info on Richard Bryant, author of When There is No FEMA.

“As founder and organizer of the Tampa Readiness group and, Rich Bryant has been deeply involved in the disaster preparedness movement since 2008. Prior to being drawn into the world of disaster preparedness, Rich worked as a technology consultant specializing in information and physical security for many major organizations throughout the US.

“In earlier years Rich worked on the family farm, growing up hunting, trapping and fishing in the swamps and woodlands of West Tennessee. This diverse background of practical knowledge is the background with which Rich has approached prepping, and the authorship of When There is No Fema and”

Rich’s training as an engineer helped him organize his thoughts for writing this book. It shows, too. You’ll find the information to be specific and thorough. A lengthy table of contents will help you find your way around. Chapters are divided with easy to find numbered subheadings. Numerous cross references will prove helpful, too.

What’s behind the title?

I was curious about the title, When There is No FEMA. What did it mean? Rich says the title isn’t meant to be a political statement or critical of FEMA. He simply looked at the history of disasters and observed FEMA wasn’t able to solve the majority of problems brought about by disasters.

Survival isn’t going to be like an extended camping trip. So you and I need to know how to fill the gaps, rather than be dependent on government entities.

The full title of the book is When There is No FEMA: Survival for Normal People in (Very) Abnormal Times. Rich intends for his book to be for everyone. You don’t have to have a specialized level of training or an abundance of resources to benefit from what he has put together.

What’s inside?

As you might expect, a book of a little over 500 pages covers a lot, including…

  • Disaster Planning
  • Bugging in and bugging out
  • Emergency food and water
  • Emergency fuel and power
  • Raising small livestock (chickens, rabbits, etc.)
  • Survival gardening and farming
  • Hunting, trapping and fishing
  • Guns and other weaponry
  • Home and community defense, defensive tactics and intelligence gathering
  • First aid
  • Sanitation
  • Post disaster physical fitness
  • Disaster Communications
  • The role of precious metals for disaster preparedness
  • Survival strategies for those with limited means

When you get When There is No FEMA, take time to get acquainted with how the book is laid out. I recommend reading the Preface, the first three chapters and chapter 15 at the end. You’ll know best how to make best use of the book from there for your specific needs and interests.

Chapter 14 is different than what you’ll see in most books on prepping. It’s about building a community and deals with matters like governance, law enforcement and a currency system. It’s intended for use in the event such local systems break down after a collapse and are in need of rebuilding.

Everyone has a place in a community. For example, Rich notes in the introductory matter that someone in a wheelchair could help provide security by being watchful.

What about planning and bugging out?

Planning means filling the gaps of where you are now and where you want to be. Rich says to prepare for three months, not just three days. Keep building your store of supplies and knowledge beyond that.

Define levels of emergency and what actions each level will require. If you’re going to bug out, have a place to go and a plan to execute.

How can you find out more?

Hear the first part of my conversation with Richard Bryant when you listen to DestinySurvival Radio for March 20, 2014. (Right click to download.) Get When There is No FEMA from

Find out about the conclusion of our conversation here.

Author: John Wesley Smith

John Wesley Smith writes and podcasts from his home in Central Missouri. His goal is to help preppers as he continues along his own preparedness journey.