While We Slept, Disaster Didn't

so we have a gift for you... and here's why (red text is a link)

February 8, 2008
Holly Deyo


While were busy with life last year, upheaval raged. An astounding 950 natural disasters struck around the world according to Munich Re, the global reinsurance company. Though no mega-catastrophes developed as large as Hurricane Katrina, the number of devastating events shot through the roof. 'Unlucky' 2007 demolished 2006's numbers - the next highest disaster-rated year. It racked up another 100 events jumping 10%.


January '07 brought a crippling widespread freeze to California dropping temps overnight into the 20s. In just two weeks, frigid weather killed off $1.5 billion of citrus, berries, and vegetables.

Then a freak Spring freeze extending from the Midwest through the South, took another $2 billion of our fruit and wheat crops. Because these Arctic temps were accompanied by high winds, it rendered all the normal crop-protection methods useless.


For the entire year of 2007, record drought severely impacted water supplies and reduced major food supplies around the world. Drought continuously hammered Australia killing crops and livestock. The most shattering effect was seen when Aussie farmers, unable to cope, committed suicide.


It might seem strange to talk about heat waves during 2008's unprecedented snows and bitterly cold temps, but rocketing temps struck worldwide just months ago. Not only did Greece, Italy, Albania, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey experience record-breaking temperatures, most of Asia sweltered in blistering weather too. Ditto for the Americas.

June and July brought a wide swath of freakish heat from Mexico to Alberta, and from Saskatchewan into Ontario. It swooped southward and engulfed the entire western US. By August, temperatures soared throughout the Midwest and into much of the south causing at least $5 billion in damages.

More U.S. crops succumbed to nature's onslaught when some areas experienced the worst drought in 100 years. Precious wheat, corn and other grain crops withered under the merciless sun. Records shattered worldwide with temps jumping as much as 23ºF above the norm.

Photo: Drought-damaged corn, central Nebraska (University of Nebraska Board of Regents)


Wildfire season got off to a lazy start last year fooling people into thinking we'd get off easy. In March, fires fried parts of the Tennessee Valley and the Southeast. By April and May, they had spread to northern Minnesota and down through southern Florida. July arrived and all thoughts of it being a quiet fire year went down in a heap of ash.

July exploded with the force of TNT as wildfires ignited across the West, pushing further north and south. By late Fall, the worst hit southern California. Brutal Santa Ana winds whipped without pause. Before 2007 closed, over 3,000 homes burned down and well over 9 million acres were charred.

Since 1960, only 2006 saw more fires. Just two days ago, in Winter's harshest grasp, 63 wildfires burned in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Kentucky and Canada with a red flag warning for Texas.

Image: More than 85,000 separate fires ravaged the U.S. during 2007 - nipping at the 2006 record.

But that is behind us now so we forget until the next disaster fires our memory.


Normally we see about 1000 tornadoes a year. During 2007, 1,300 twisters ripped through the U.S. This barrage of unrelenting windstorms plagued the Midwest and rampaged eastward. Then something new happened: an unheard of twister barreled across Brooklyn, NY.

This year, in a single February night, 68 tornadoes roared through Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee. At least 58 people died: 32 in Tennessee, 13 in Arkansas, 7 in Kentucky and 6 in Alabama. This tornado outbreak was the nation's worst in more than two decades when 76 people were killed in Pennsylvania and Ohio on May 31, 1985. May, not February. The death toll ranks among the top 15 from tornado outbreaks since 1950. Again, this is tornado off-season.

Photo: Michael Keisling, 5, and his dog, Mattie, sit among the rubble that was their house and watch others begin the cleanup in Hartsville, Tenn., Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2008, after tornadoes went through the area the night before. Michael, his mother, Lea, and Mattie were all in the home when the storm hit and all survived. (Mark Humphrey / AP)

This very out-of-character wild weather has prompted scientists to ask if January is the new March.

January 2008 - when it's supposed to be snowing - an unbelievable 136 tornadoes wrecked terrible damage. January usually sees about 34 twisters.

The 103 tornadoes that struck Tuesday-Wednesday is 412% more than the ENTIRE month of February should see. February is typically the quietest month for tornado activity. You've got to admit something very different and very dangerous is going on here. At this vastly accelerated rate, well, who knows how rough this year will be... Nearly 300 tornadoes in the first 6 weeks show 2008 is not off to a good start.


If there is a pattern here, it is one of unbelievable extremes. If it snows; it dumps. If it's cold; it's bitter. If it rains, it's a deluge. If it blows, it's tornadic. When things dry out, it turns into mega-drought.

Disasters ricochet from flood to drought and from freeze to fry. Hail, tornadoes, floods and severe thunderstorms are all hitting our harvests and there is no reason to think they will quiet.

Last month brought really weird events.

And that's just in the first month of 2008.


Over the past several months, we've posted dozens of articles on crop devastation from natural disasters, global food shortages, record low grain reserves (now at 50 days) and the rising price of food. We are very concerned that this trend is not going to reverse and want to encourage everyone to store food and water NOW.

As the world population edges toward 7 billion and greater demands are placed on food supplies, prices are only going to climb higher. We export many of our grains and meats - especially with the declining dollar and this puts upward pressure on U.S. consumer prices. One way government is trying to counteract this growing problem is by shoving cloned food at us. These cloned animals tend to age prematurely and die early. And they tell us it's OK to eat them? Patoui! It's about as clever as feeding dead cows to cows and watch BSE (mad cow) develop. I'm not saying eating cloned food leads to mad cow, but we don't know the ramifications yet and who wants to be a guinea pig?

Compounding the problem is the diversion of grain crops to fuels. Also, more developing countries now able to afford foods beside rice, want their share of diminishing supplies. Hit by drought and short water supplies, farmers are driven out of business. Add to this, the next round of inevitable natural disasters destroying crops. All these things push the cost of groceries up monthly and in some cases, weekly. You can lessen the impact of unwelcome news at the grocery store by stocking up now.


We can learn two things from this food graph. 1) The overall price of food is rising - some more dramatically than others. 2) Canned items haven't been hit as hard as their fresh counterpart.

This is likely due to the manufacturer having a decent supply of stock on hand to sell grocers before prices started to rise. Take a company like Hormel for instance. Their canned meats have an extremely long shelf life. However, when they have to replace their current inventory, they'll have to incorporate the steadily rising prices that have already hit their fresh ingredients. Because it may have been a few years since they've had to purchase fresh ingredients, their new inventory may show sticker shock when they arrive in your grocery store.

Soup is a very good investment since most have at least a 2-year (minimum) shelf life. How many thing have actually gone down in price?

Think spices too. They haven't gone up radically and they can alter many basic bean or rice dishes giving them a whole new 'face'. Since some people completely forget about storing seasonings, they'll be a valuable bartering item PLUS, they don't require much storing room.

While beans have increased a shocking 20% in one year, rice hasn't moved at all.

Grains are the real problem with daily news of wheat futures hitting an all-time high. Buy them now before they go any higher.

OK, so how do you get started? This is our gift to you.


To help you with your food pantry, we've designed a Deyo Food Storage Planner. This software is free for your home use.

The DFSP gives you a solid place to start your food storage program, keeps you organized and on track. If you already have a food pantry, it will point out what areas are deficient toward your chosen goal and what areas are already ship-shape. It has a reminder column for when you need to rotate food so nothing ever goes to waste. The DFSP can keep track of non-food items, too, like medicines and hygiene, plus cleaners and household items. You can even plan for your pets.

Simply fill in the number of family members for each age group and how many weeks you want to plan for and the spreadsheet calculates the rest.
Easy-to-following instructions for how to use the DSFP are embedded into the spreadsheet so they can't 'go missing'. <grin>

For those using U.S. measurements, click here. For those wanting metric, use this link.

Buy in quantity to save $$ and pack for maximum shelf life. Don't delay any longer; get started today! It's a great project for the whole family. —Holly and Stan