Doomsday Preppers Week 6: Escape From New York
Margaret Ling fears that a catastrophic hurricane will devastate the city. Cameron Moore is preparing for the meltdown of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, a rather sketchy reactor on the east bank of the Hudson River north of the city. Stock trader Jay -- who remembers 9/11 vividly -- fears a dirty bomb. In this special Doomsday Preppers, these three team up with a team of experts and attempt to "escape from New York."
Yes, like you I figured "they're dead" before the opening credits completed but tempered my skepticism with the knowledge that this town has survived both terror attacks and Hurricane Sandy. Yes, they can be obnoxious, self-centered, and self-important, but they are survivors.
So... how did they do?
We've made note through the previous five weeks of the season which preppers were spending their time and energy preparing for rational disasters, and which folks were preparing for events that are nothing more than paranoid fantasy. Margaret Ling is a Florida transplant to New York who bears the unique distinction of being the first prepper in two seasons of the show who actually faced the disaster she was preparing for head-on before the show aired.
Ling was trapped in her home in Florida during Hurricane Katrina's less famous 2005 landfall on the Sunshine State prior to moving north and encountering Sandy. She's a storm magnet.
Her bug-out plan in the event of a disaster is to walk upstate, all the way to the Canadian border. Now, I'm all for exercise, but let's be realistic here for a moment. The commuter corridor in the northeast is nothing if not heavily developed, and hurricanes don't exactly sneak up on you in this day and age of weather satellites and 24-hour news channels screaming Deathmageddon 2012 is coming for your soul!
Commuter stations run north on both sides of the Hudson, and there are dozens of bedroom communities that would be far more logical stops than fleeing on foot all the way to the border. Here's a hint for Ms. Ling: Take MetroNorth to Beacon, then hitchike over the bridge to Newburgh. Maybe one of the guys from American Chopper will let you crash at his place.
A pretty young woman, Margaret is worried about being taken advantage of, so she's taking Krav Maga, a brutally effective Israeli martial art that doesn't play around with pretty forms and goes straight to the butt-whuppin'. Matan Gavish is her Krav instructor and guide in her "escape" 14 miles on foot up Manhattan, through the parks in the center of the island, and across the George Washington Bridge.
Cameron Moore has done a lot of traveling and missionary work in a little more than two decades on the planet, and he's worried that an earthquake will rupture the containment of the Indian Point nuclear power station, which 35 miles north of the city. Frankly, there are a lot of things to worry about with a nuclear power plant over 40 years old, and earthquakes even with a plant build on top of a fault... well, they aren't at the top of the list.
Maintenance issues and questionable security are the two main threats to nuclear plants like Indian Point. A small to moderate leak is something that you might expect, or even a hostage situation, but I can't claim that I'd really be worried about Indian Point if I lived in NYC. Being a pedestrian on a Saturday night is far more dangerous. Nonetheless, Moore has reached out to Aton Edwards, a prepping expert, to help him flee west into New Jersey if Indian Point melts down. I'd rather glow in the dark, but to each his own.
For reasons I find dubious and perhaps scripted, Moore refuses to consider using nearby bridges and tunnels that would more than likely be perfectly functional for a pedestrian even if car traffic comes to a grinding halt, and decides he's going to walk north for miles before attempting to paddle across the Hudson.
I have two words for Moore: tidal chart. There is no reason to walk so dang far when 50 percent of the time you'll be dealing with a rising tide that doesn't risk flushing you out to sea.
Like a lot of New Yorkers, the events of September 11, 2001, unfolded right on top of Jay, who was working in the financial district of lower Manhattan. Frankly, you'd almost have to be a little nuts not to be a prepper after watching the carnage of the day and living through the aftermath. The missing persons reports and nearly unending string of funerals that followed for months afterward were brutal. His concern is that terrorists (the Amish, I'm sure) will target New York again. He's prepping to bug out with his family through Queens, to the Hamptons.
Like the others, Jay does not trust the roads, rails and subways of the City That Never Sleeps, and plans to bug-out on foot. In his particular chosen disaster scenario, I actually think that wise. Mass transit was a target for the 7/7 London bombings, and could very well be so again as either a primary or secondary strike.
So, how did our intrepid preppers do in their escape from New York?
Margaret, sadly, even though she had every reason to expect an attack while left by her instructor in Central Park, had poor situational awareness and was taken by an attacker coming in from behind. As a second man came in, she uttered not a word and was taken to the ground with hardly anything resembling a struggle, and forgot every strike she learned from Matan. The implications of what would have likely happened to Margaret are obvious. She would have been used, and if fortunate, discarded without too much damage. New York Democrats have destroyed any chance she has of legally defending herself with a handgun, which is the most effective tool a woman has to fight off a group assault. As an aside, it is instructive to look at the healing wounds on the faces of her attackers, who appear to be Krav practitioners. They don't wear pads, and earnest real-speed 3/4 strength combat is used by some who train in this martial art.
Cameron's trainer Aton gets around New York's criminal-friendly disarmament laws by carrying bear spray, a large canister of pepper spray designed for defense again bruins. It offers longer range than regular pepper spray and is more concentrated and potent. Unlike those preppers who spend time and energy on weapons for engagement, Aton promotes disorienting and disabling threats with the non-lethal pepper spray, and quickly retreating. Considering the fact that only criminals have guns in New York, that's solid advice.
Like Margaret's trainer Matan, Aton decides to test Cameron with a pair of attackers. He hosed them with a high pressure burst of bear spray that dropped them to the ground so he could escape. I'd recommend Margaret drop the martial arts training she doesn't seem to have the heart to master, and buy herself some bear spray.
Jay's trainer, urban survivalist Shane Hobel, doesn't mess around with the scripted attacks that the other trainers introduced to their charges, and it works for the scenario. Jay is one of several million middle-aged, slightly overweight, heavily-sweating guys that would be focused on little more than moving away from the next Ground Zero. The only thing that did concern me was that Jay's wife and six-year old daughter were waiting outside in a fully loaded and obviously very-well equipped car to complete their bug-out to the Hamptons. They would be an inviting target for desperate people, and they didn't show her with any form of deterrence. I hope she has a shotty on the floorboard, but I somehow doubt it.
Cameron manages to utter the only memorable line of the entire episode, as he beaches his inflatable raft in the mud and debris that is the west bank of the Hudson River.
"New Jersey! The promised land."
Maybe for you, buddy. I would have taken my chances with radioactive mutants in the Bronx.
Tellingly, perhaps, the producers skip the normal post-segment section where the preppers are graded by the experts and are told how long they might survive during their disaster scenario of choice.
Escape from New York? I'm guessing that none of them actually would.
Previously at PJ Lifestyle: