Frankenstorm has reminded us that we should all have a disaster preparedness kit at the ready.  Do you have yours? Didn’t think so. The disaster preparedness kits of today are what lesbian safe sex kits were in the 90’s: highly encouraged, rarely seen, never used.

After ten years of people ignoring  FEMA’s instructions to “Build a Kit”, Atlanta-based, buttoned-down CDC recently stepped in to help. Enter Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse. The CDC’s director Dr. Ali Khan: “If you are generally well equipped to deal with a zombie apocalypse you will be prepared for a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack.”

Atlanta is as likely to encounter zombies as it is to get hit by a hurricane, pandemic, earthquake, or terrorist attack. We had a freak tornado in 2008, and in 1916 there was an earthquake about 30 miles southeast of the city. There’s a big ice storm every twenty years that shuts the city down, which is fun for two days and then it’s not.  That’s about it when it comes to natural disasters.

Most other places, though, are in fact vulnerable to natural disasters. Yet, finding someone with a disaster preparedness kit is as unlikely as finding someone who paid to see Green Lantern. What FEMA doesn’t want to admit is that people are ignoring their instructions to build preparedness kits because the kits are so obviously, pitifully insufficient in the event of an actual disaster.

Come a zombie apocalypse, it will take a good bit more than the recommended water, flashlight, dust mask, and “moist towelettes” to survive. FEMA reminds you to include a “can opener if kit contains canned food.”  The agency apparently believes the zombies have already won, and eaten your brain. 

There are plenty of non-FEMA approved plans for surviving the apocalypse, zombie or otherwise. On the dark side, there is Jeb Bush, former governor of Florida, and his newly formed for-profit, private disaster response corporation.  On the bright side, there’s Marcin Jakubowski’s 30-acre Post-Apocalypse Survival Machine Nerd Farm, with fruit trees, tools, and everything you need to live off the grid. Neat, though it involves composting your shit in a 5-gallon bucket.

The good news is that almost all people react to disasters by becoming their best selves. Rebecca Solnit in A Paradise Built in Hell took a look at some real disaster doozies and found a brief, weird joy people felt in the laser-sharp sense of purpose that appears in a crisis. Come hell and high water, people overwhelming act selflessly and help however they’re able. (Not everyone, certainly. During Frankenstorm, Glenda Moore was turned away by Staten Island neighbors when she went looking for help after her two boys, age 2 and 4, were swept away by the storm surge. After the storm passed, Mittens used Sandy as a prop, fake-stocking a fake “storm relief event” to keep on campaigning in Ohio.)

The point is – and I do have one – is that experience has proven two things to be most useful in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. They are: (1) a density and variety of interpersonal relationships and (2) institutions that can efficiently coordinate people’s natural instinct to help.

What’s this got to do with queerfit? We’ll see when the zombie apocalypse comes. In the meantime, we’ll be up tomorrow at 10:00, doing a version of stacking sandbags against the rising waters.  Come join us – see ya’ll tomorrow!