The Four Waves of Food and Shelter Seekers After TEOTWAWKI Will Be Both Heart-Rending And Dangerous—Part 1


Shortly after some type of disaster (TEOTWAWKI )that disrupts the normal flow of food and energy into your nearby towns, people will be forced to leave their residences and fan out into the countryside, foraging for food (and subsequently shelter too).  That is obvious – if there is no food in the town/city, people can either stay where they are and die of thirst or starvation, or they can pro-actively start looking for food.

People will initially look for food on one of two different levels.  The first level is ‘looking for food nearby and returning back to one’s normal home to eat it and continue living’.  The second level is ‘abandoning one’s former residence and moving, as a refugee, towards wherever the possibility of ongoing survival may be greatest’.  A third and fourth type of food seeking will develop later into a crisis.

It is helpful to understand the differing types of contacts you’ll have, because each poses different challenges, problems, threats, and even opportunities, calling for different responses on your part.

And while we consider our four different waves to be more or less chronologically sequential, there will be some overlaps, with some people representing some waves either earlier than most others, or later than most others.

The First Wave

The first wave will start shortly after the social disruption occurs, initially as a trickle, and then successively greater and greater as more and more people run out of food and come to realize that the government won’t magically solve the problem that occurred.

Also read: How to Get Ten Times More Value From Your Stored Food

The Unknown Variables Posed By Those Who Fail To Prepare—By Failing To Prepare, You Are Preparing To Fail

It will only take a week or two before the first type of food-seeking necessarily ends, due to people running out of gas for their vehicles, and being reduced instead to only traveling and foraging as far as they can walk or bicycle (although, on flat terrain, fitter people could fairly easily cycle up to 50 miles out and then 50 miles back home again).

We predict that people in this ‘first wave’ won’t be very threatening, because they will be more in a hurry to cover as much ground as possible to find as much easy food as possible, rather than becoming fixated on specific potential targets.  Plus, the ‘kill or be killed’ reality of tough survival won’t yet have fully penetrated, and the region will have patches of remaining lawfulness alongside areas of growing anarchy.

Furthermore, these people are primarily seeking food only, not a shelter.  They’ve not yet accepted that their city residences have become unviable and need to be abandoned.

Your tactic to resist problems from the first wave of food/shelter seekers will be to maintain a low profile, so most of such people pass you by, and to positively respond to people who do come visiting, encouraging them to go find easier targets/food sources elsewhere.

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Of course, the further you are from the nearby towns and cities, the fewer the number of people who might stumble upon you.  But you’ll never be 100% guaranteed to be safely far from such itinerant scavengers.  Fortunately the danger they pose to your retreat at this early stage is low, so while your location choice will ideally not be right next to a freeway exit, a mere 10 miles from the city center, you don’t need to keep yourself hundreds of miles away from any and all population concentrations.

The Second Wave

As the first wave ends and is replaced by the second wave, people’s attitudes will be hardening, because their ability to travel far and wide is massively reduced.  They have probably used up most of their emergency food stores, and now, limited primarily by their ability to walk, any source of food becomes one they must take full advantage of.  They can no longer afford the luxury of leaving empty-handed, and their lack of mobility now reduces the number of places they can travel to in search of food.  They have to make the best of every possible opportunity.

The grim reality of the ‘eat or be eaten’ concept will also be one which the survivors can no longer ignore.

If these people come to your retreat, they are likely to be a stronger and more determined adversary than people in the first wave (and people in the second wave could well be the same people who visited more peaceably in the first wave, too).

Fortunately, most of these people in the second wave will still be nomadic and itinerant.  They’ll be traveling in the hope of finding a Shangri-La somewhere that is full of food, energy, and welcoming people keen to help them, and probably won’t yet be in the ‘looking for anywhere to settle’ mode that will come later.  They might hope for overnight shelter, but they’re not yet looking for a place to settle – or, if they are, they’re probably not yet realistic enough to appreciate the value of your retreat.

People will start abandoning their homes anytime after only a very few days of the crisis commencing and once they start to accept that no magic solutions are forthcoming.  This won’t only be due to the lack of food and lack of any future food supply, but may also be due to lack of water, lack of plumbing, and lack of energy in general.  A high-rise apartment with no water, no working elevators, and no lights or heating/cooling will quickly become uninhabitable, food or not.

The second wave will probably diminish after three or so weeks because, by that point, people will have either left the city, or died, or created some sort of semi-stable ongoing basis of existence in the city.

Your strategy during this exodus stage is to be located somewhere reasonably far from the main routes people are likely to travel along.  It is as important that you are off the likely refugee routes, whether you are 1 mile or 100 miles from the major population centers because people will potentially be traveling long distances in their search for somewhere better to live.

People may fan out slightly from the main routes as they search for food en route, but they will generally follow the major arterial routes.

Major routes will tend to be well-maintained highways, and generally, we expect people will move to the coasts and south, rather than inland and to the north.  People will, either by reason or instinct, seek out warm climates and water/ocean.  The warm climate reduces their dependency on shelter and energy, and the ocean has the appeal of ‘free fish’ and also some type of instinctive deep-seated lure.

Also read: After The Collapse: Why People Will Steal Your Food – And Everything Else – in a Level 2/3 Situation

The Third Wave

The third wave will be refugees, the same as the second wave, but this time it will be people looking for somewhere to settle.

These will be people who are becoming more realistic in their expectations, and now rather than mindlessly going anywhere in the hope of finding (nonexistent) salvation, they are now looking for somewhere they can settle and survive for the medium or longer term.

Your appeal to these people is not just the food you have stored, but also your retreat as a whole, the under-way food cultivation, the energy creating resources you have, and everything else you have done to prepare yourselves for this future.

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Some of these people will be seeking short-term easy solutions.  They’ll want to rob you of your food, your shelter, and everything else you have.  They have no concern for sustainability, they want to live for the moment, and when they’ve exhausted everything you have, they’ll move on to somewhere else.

Others of these people will be more realistic, but they’ll still want to displace you from your property and take it over.

There will also be a very few people who will be fair and honest and decent, and who will offer to work their way for and with you.  They’ll offer their labor and their skills, in return for your shelter and assistance – probably as a ‘package deal’ for themselves and their other family members.

It would be good if you had a way of responding positively to such people, because they may prove to be valuable additions to your small community.

The Fourth Wave

The fourth wave is very different from the other three.  It is longer lasting and more potentially impactful on your retreat and community.

Due to the importance of this fourth wave, we have devoted a separate article to it and will be posted tomorrow.

Throughout my life, I have been caught unprepared several times and while nothing seriously bad happened, it easily could have. I managed to get myself out of each situation, I thanked God and tried to learn from my mistakes. I have also tried to learn from the mistakes of others so as to not learn everything the hard way.I aspire to be more prepared the next time. My preparedness includes many different aspects. In my opinion, the most important thing I have done is to learn as much as possible about what to expect and how to deal with those situations. The most comprehensive and accurate reading in the preparedness field I could recommend is The Lost Ways. If I had read this book 10 years ago I could have avoided these situations or made them much less unsafe and worrisome. Reading this book, made me more aware and prepared than ever. Click the video below to get a better understanding of what The Lost Ways really is.


  1. A very good and thought-provoking article. I had never considered “waves” of hungry and tired refugees before.
    There is one aspect to a TEOTWAWKI situation that has been overlooked though. I believe that it is possible that for a time the government may divert whatever resources are available to the cities, causing hungry suburbanites to actually migrate into the city.
    There is precedent for this opinion: some years back, when the Mississippi river was flooding hundreds of thousands of homes, the government decided to break the levees, flooding smaller communities, in order to save the higher population cities from being flooded.
    In my opinion, I can see the same thing happening after, say, a nuclear attack. The government, being desperate to feed its starving citizens, may very well decide to abandon the less densely populated suburbs and rural areas in order to save greater numbers of people in the cities. Still, it’s not written in stone and I’m sure the reality will be far different and more chaotic than anyone has imagined yet.
    Again, nice article. Thank you.

    • This brings up something my friend in norleans told me about Katrina. He said some urban gentlemen walked through dry neighborhoods shooting out the power transformers with a rifle.
      In broad daylight. If they didn’t have no powa in da hood, dem whities get no powa either.

      i also recall reading how fema actually disconnected the county law enforcement repeater cables in norleans so their repeaters didn’t work. The dept fixed the connections and posted armed guards at their tower site to block fema’s other attempts. You’d have to ask fema why they did this.

  2. People who live primarily in the city who move out to the countryside after shtf,will die. They have no idea what real country living is or how to get along with people different from them in attitude,faith,and life outlook. When I lived in Los Angeles,people always told me,when asked, that they would “go to the desert” if there was great social unrest. They had no idea what they would do once there.

  3. This is an interesting take on the situation. However, people in large cities may end up being restricted to those cities by military forces in shtf. Some large cities are ringed by hiways that have very convenient “sound barriers” erected alongside that hiway. This makes for a nice barrier to people, and the hiway itself will allow for military mobility after public use has been banned. One train of thought is the people in the large cities will be confined inside those cities for the duration by Us mil or untill utter collapse when the US mil members go awol, and in that time you can be sure that the cities will look like Mogadishu or Aleppo, with all the self destruction and every vile happening – this to me is best case scenario for those rural who are at least somewhat prepared. The other train of thought is the fedz will deliberately not enact martial law in large cities so the zombies will travel to the rural areas in search of satisfaction, as the fedz know the main resistance to the nwo comes from rural, more self sustaining and individualistic Americans.

    I suspect the speed of shtf will be a major determiner of how things play out. If it happens suddenly overnite say, with emps or nukes and everything and the economy comes to a sudden halt, there will be far less zombies left alive to seek refuge outside the cities from the start. If it’s a gradual descent into insanity, people will have much miore time to figure out ways to get to where they can get someone else’s stuff in the rural areas as well as the physical ability to travel there, by foot or vehicle.

    Then one must also consider the tribal mentality that could arise with shtf; masses of people united by skin color, religion, sexual perversion, whatever, could all become organised gangs seeking resources, and these are likely the greatest danger freedom loving conservative Americans, rural or not, will face in shtf.

    • I like your idea that the Feds, knowing that their main resistance comes from “less-urbanized” Americans, may very well decide to unleash the masses on the armed patriots, thereby depleting their ammo and numbers and “softening them up”.
      I also like your “tribal mentality” idea. Certainly that will be a factor in any cataclysmic crisis.
      We already know that high-density urban centers are much more liberal and much less Godly than their rural counterparts. These would be “natural adversaries” to wield against each other – the leftist urbanites would deplete the patriotic resistance and the patriotic resistance would diminish the number of hungry urbanite mouths to feed.

      • I imagine the membership of street gangs in large cities will swell in shtf. Some cities already have gang memberships that are several times that of the local law enforcement rosters but are held back by the thin blue line. I have to presume cannibalism will become common in street gangs after shtf, especially with islam’s consent to it when in dire straights, islam will make huge inroads in street gangs after shtf as if it hasn’t already.

  4. There are certainly a lot of ways it could happen. But if it’s an EMP I should think it would be a worst case, overnight scenario with the following weeks at least partially represented as you have described. Possibly the same fate would await with any nuclear attack. I would also be very wary as that 3rd wave you talk about with people offering their labor in return for your resources and shelter have the most potential of all to do you harm. In desperate times they may be offering more than just their labor and may even offer to become a member of your family, if you know what I mean. It’s time for some serious interviews to find out who they really are and what their true plans are at that point. Either way it comes down, you are extremely vulnerable just by answering your door to find out who it is. And it will likely be a repeat event with people making up all kinds of sob stories to gain your sympathy whether they intend you harm or not.

  5. And don’t forget that the person who comes to your door asking for help may be an attractive and harmless looking individual who has someone else watching the knock at the door with a pair of binoculars to measure your response and they may have been planning their assault for some time. That person could just as easily be hiding in your bushes or around the corner ready to pounce once you open the door. All it would take for an attractive and hungry, innocent looking young girl to blind you would be some mace or a can of wasp spray through your screen door.

    • Yep, a guy who wrote about his experiences in the Argentine crises (note plural) said the perps would wait till you were unlocking your gate on your driveway, or unlocking your front door before they made their move since you have your hands full. They also did recon on you beforehand. He also made mention of people standing in the road to stop you in your car, it got to when people did that, the driver automatically sped up and drove right for them. If they stopped you, you were dead or worse. Some folks had bull bars put on their vehicles just for that purpose. What a lovely time to be alive!

  6. i am rural and the 1st thing to get done is to take down the road signs and make a full blown attempt at making the drive to look like it ain’t a drive or a small road damn fast…and of course no fire etc daylight time.

  7. Look into these ideas. Aquaponics will provide the food for the entire planet. Gaza has survived on it against many Israeli assaults and well & crop poisonings. It is fish farming and hydroponics combined. See youtube on all these topics, many how to videos. Next, for defense, is slam guns, two barrels that slide together with a shotgun (or other) shell that is activated by a bolt driven (screwed in) from the bottom capped end sticking up Like mortar. Next is one of the fastest growing form of food: bamboo. Many edible varieties. Grow lots of food via these methods for neighbors and strays to avoid hungry marauders. Build defense walls/moats around your abode. Thermal iphone camera attachments (from energy leakage detection home usage) to view your perimiter at night for creepers. A Youtube and net guide gentleman calling his operation ‘Eat the Weeds’ identifies many edible plants and berries and how to safely prepare them. See also youtube ‘Dutch pots’ hydroponics set up. Simple. The best woods survivor guide i’ve noticed on Youtube is the guy named ‘Far North Bushcraft’ but there are many other good ones also. The big crash is coming soon, check Greg Hunter/Webbot interview and his other ones as well as Steve Quayle, Rense, Alex, ect. Energy is simple. Car batteries are easily reconditioned with epsom salts (see Survival Warehouse Youtube). heat is easy too, find any fresnel lens you can get. A single projection TV fresnel produces 2000 degrees of heat in 5 seconds (See Youtube 2000 degree furnace) You just need a collector for the heat…rocks, water tanks, ect ect. and then generate electricity with steam, then store it in batteries, ect. And ways to control the heat intensity so it is more useful. Old car axes can be wind turbines connected to alternators, just weld fabricated fan plates to the rims and mount on stumps, ect. There are a million ways to survive. This can stop marauding.

    • Car cooling fans can be used to generate dc and they’re already set up for 12v dc current. Just mount one so it rotates in the wind on an vertical axis as per usual and give it a tail to keep it aligned to the wind and presto, 12v wind power.

  8. Something i forgot to mention. In Vic Marchetti’s nook on the cia;
    Marchetti states that cia has several warehouses around the US filled with arms and ammo. Being that cia is just about the greatest domestic enemy America faces, it would be no surprise to me to find cia arming street gangs, marxists, anarchists, you know the routine during shtf. That and/or arming the millions of illegals and other foreigners against us. Then add the billions of rounds dhs bought.