Can You Rely on Your Neighbors?

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I am currently in the middle of reading Lights Out about how some families and their neighborhood cope with the aftermath of an EMP attack.  I’ll save the main discussion of the book for after I finish it, but the book has got me thinking about the neighbors around me, and what would they be like in the event of a large scale disaster.

I had previously posted about my “Un-Neighborly Neighbors” in a previous article.  I will give you an idea how the rest of them appear to me.   The neighbors next door seem nice, and I’ve exchanged pleasantries with them a few times.  However, they are the “Temp” family, as they are only in Houston for a few months, then are getting moved to another state by the husband’s employer.  Two doors down appears to be occupied by three roommates:  one of them is this mid-40s woman who likes to wear 5 inch heels and wide brimmed hats.  She can’t be bothered to say “Hi” to anyone; we call her Ms Aging Model.  I doubt Ms. Aging Model would be very helpful during an emergency; she cannot even be bothered to park her car inside her driveway – she double parks too.   Across from her is the one I call Mr. Rudeman, he has been known to back his car out of his driveway at 11:30 at night, park in the middle of the throughway and sit in his car with the engine idling, while texting for an hour.   He is so rude he does not even move out of the middle of the driveway.  We watched him below our window-when another neighbor tried to get out, he had to maneuver around Mr. Rudeman.  There’s Mr, Barbecue, the guy at the other end of the building who barbeques on this huge grill in his small patio, when building rules clearly state “No barbeques allowed” on the patio due to fire safety rules.  Naturally, he does it after building management has already left so they never see him.   And lastly, there are the Loud Teenagers from the other building,  who yell loud insults at each other, at 2 a.m. weekend nights.

Can we see ourselves banding together with this cast of characters in the event of a societal collapse?  The only promising one is the “Temp” family, but they will be moving soon.  I actually don’t trust the Loud Teenagers, as I feel they would cause trouble even in normal times.  Definitely the Un-neighborlies, Mr. Rudeman, Ms. Aging Model and Mr. Barbecue would be the last people I could hope to count on.

We like the area we live in, as it is close to services like banks, groceries, medical facilities, restaurants – all the conveniences that a city has to offer.  The apartment continues to we well maintained.  But lately the quality of tenants that have moved in leave something to be desired.

In a short term emergency such as a hurricane, it would be fine to stick around and hunker down in the apartment (unless it’s a Category 3 and up).  But in a total societal breakdown, the apartment complex will become unsafe to be in long term.  Even in “normal” times I doubt most of the neighbors I described would be very trustworthy, let alone in a long emergency.  But it’s better to know this in advance so we can plan accordingly.  What do you think – are your neighbors reliable?




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  1. With the exception on one neighbor two over who recently retired from the Navy who I have known about 11 years, the others I could say not really. Most of the neighbors keep to themselves. I have joked with my Filipino neighbors next to me that if I trap the dogs, they would cook it (neighbors dad was apart of the resistance during the World War II) and he would lol, so they stock up food based on his experience during that era. Most people don’t look beyond their nose at the future.

    1. Hi Jarhead 03, I wouldn’t mind neighbors that have been through difficulty like the Great Depression or WWII, as they can see the value of preparing, but that is rare these days.

  2. I’m with you and Shy Guy, I can’t expect any help from my neighbors. Nor do they seem trustworthy, prepared or like they can keep it together in an emergency. Very sad.

    1. Hi Kiki, It’s looking like a great majority of us preparedness folks just cannot rely on anyone around them!

    1. Hey tracy, that sounds bad, the hen shooter/body thrower guy not only sounds unreliable, he sounds like a psycho!

  3. One of my next door neighbors is trying to be more self sufficient. They are retired and spend a lot of time working in the yard. They’ve planted more fruit trees and grape vines. Both the husband and wife know how to work on their tractor. They grew a huge garden and offered to share whatever fruits and vegetables they grew that we didn’t. On the other side of us the neighbor told the grandkids if the dog came into his yard he’d kill it. The house next to that neighbor called the sheriff on us once because the teenager boys were working on their pickup in the backyard on a Saturday afternoon and had the music too loud. I could barely hear it in the house so the house 500 feet away really couldn’t be that disturbed by the noise. I wouldn’t spend one second helping either of those neighbors out.

    1. Whatifitstoday, Your 2 neighbors are not reliable, and not worthy of any help either; at least you have 1 self sufficient one. More than most it seems!

  4. I am blessed with wonderful neighbours: in a suburb in a city.
    Who is the author of the Lights Out Book your are reading? I went on the internet to find such a book in my country’s internet stores but there is more than one author who wrote such a book.
    Thank you for your blog

    1. Hi Anna-Marie, Lights Out is by David Crawford. I will add it to my Amazon store, so you can see what the book looks like in case your book store carries it. Thanks!

  5. The closest ones to me,
    a) A, I would trust, they not only prep, they have a number of small cabins set up in their woods/swamp area that you can pack in or ride into. They are part native and very much into their culture, often trading me a moose roast for keeping an eye on the place when they are out on the land.
    b) B Down the road, they are even better set up then us at this time, they are off-grid with solar, and wind power for the well, Wood Stove, plus either own wood lot, as well as all the fixin’s for small critters, and pasture/hay fields etc
    c) Older couple, huge garden, fruit tree’s, and they have a full saw mill, plus lots of woods, and a couple hay fields, also he has a number of ultra light’s that he builds as a hobby.
    d) Younger couple, dad and siblings live down the lane but still within walking distance, they are very well set up, farmers, crops and a good number of smaller barns etc.
    e) Older handy man, wife is head zookeeper at the local zoo, they have a full orchard, bee’s, huge garden, hay pastures, wood lot including acres of maples, and a full sugar shack set up, Most of us all have our own maples to tap.

    We do have one odd family tucked into the middle of us, they are learning and trying to figure out working on the land, but they are a little flightly, they start projects but are not so good at finishing them, they would be my iff ones.. the rest, I think would be just fine.

    1. Farmgal, you are fortunate to have such prepared and self sufficient neighbors! Judging from the comments, that is a rare thing. Good for you!! I need to move to a neighborhood like yours 🙂

    1. ATH LOL, not sure if they would realize even it right away when a collapse happens, so wrapped up in themselves.

  6. Neighbors shouldn’t be trusted, even the nice ones… this is especially true post-SHTF and none of them bothered to do anything to prepare for it. You’re going to be target #1 if/when any of them find out you have anything they want or need.

    1. Hi milleniumfly, I’m with you, about not being the trusting sort. Even the nice ones might turn on you if SHTF

  7. Enjoy “Lights Out”, the book actually gave me reason to think about me my plans if we lost power for an extended period.

    We live in an old military neighborhood, that has slowly changed into more of a regular one as the super secret military base under the mountain peak next to us shuts down regular operations (Site “R”, which was likely the undisclosed location Chaney went during 9/11). These means that the very reliable folks that surrounded us have been replaced with an odd mix that run the full range from hippies to professional “White Collar” types. I have made a point of getting to know the medical professionals and construction types, and now think we could count on them if needed. The rude folks with too many loud dogs in the apartment located at the bottom of our property, not so much.

    1. Hey Carl, Sounds like you live in an interesting neighborhood. Good idea, getting to know the knowledgeable neighbors.

      1. We wonder what would happen if we showed up to the gates of the Site “R”, but the surrounding signage makes it clear that visitors are not welcome.

        1. Carl, Site R may reconsider opening the gates if there were a long term disaster, or in keeping with the signs they may reinforce the gates!

  8. I live in the middle of a town of about 6,000. One neighbor is an older couple that garden and do a lot of fishing/hunting. I gave them eggs a couple times when my rooster had been loud and they gave me potatos. The other side is a triplex with a military person, and a couple of professionals. One of the professional families has an invite if there is an emergency. I have a woodstove and the couple have two children. They also have lived in the woods and built a cabin in the past. They had no electrcity or water the first couple of years they were parents. I’m sure they would contribute to the knowledge/skill base at my house, given a long term closed in situation. They also have the a positive attitude during stressful situations and I think this would be a desirable trait. In a small town, everyone is neighbors and it would be hard to turn people away. I’ve got a couple of single friends that are ex-military, but would I want to be in a confined space with them and my children? Would they happily help with chores, etc.

    1. Hey countrygirl, you live in a nice town with mostly reliable neighbors – you are fortunate. Hard to tell about friends who are not into preparedness on how they would react to a long emergency, they may yet prove themselves too.

  9. Great post. Loved the profiles of your different neighbors.

    Reminded me of some crappy neighbors I had growing up. Sprayed their hose through our open windows over the fence, stole my little sister’s bike, all the best stuff…haha

    I had to chuckle as I read through some of the comments though, because I’m pretty sure that a lot of us would be “the bad neighbor” to each other.

    I think it’s easy to write someone off after they do something that pisses you off, but it’s probably in your interest to at least try to be on “hi how’s it going” terms with some of the neighbors.

    I don’t know that I’ll be relying on my neighbors or looking to them for any kind of leadership during disaster, but I feel pretty confident that we would at least be on the same team.

    I like the “community partner” approach to getting through stuff. Obviously it’s “SELF sufficiency”, because that’s what we can control, but once you’ve taken care of yourself and family, it’s time to start saving lives around you.

    1. Hey Dan, Seems everyone has an interest in this post, we all have neighbors, good or bad. would prfer a more community approach, but not sure how well that would work in the apartment. Many of the neighbors either give you the stink eye or won’t even look at you long enough for you to wave or say hi. These comments have been most enlightening thats for sure!

  10. I am in the middle of reading “Lights Out” as well… It reads, in my opinion, in a very realistic fashion… I am gaining a lot of insight into what to expect, how it might be handled (by citizens), and what a lot of red flags might be… I am about half way through with it.

    I can tell you in NJ where I live, it would be interesting, dangerous, and I am not sure how many people would band together as the mentality of being prepared for anything VERY long term doesn’t exist the way that it should. Civil breakdown would happen pretty quickly. I am almost positive of it, based on my observation(s) of Hurricane Irene, and the flooding. People were in the streets, kids were playing in the flooded sewer water streets, and I observed a couple of verbal altercations between neighbors all within 24 hours of the power being out, and flooding… Imagine three weeks. I would have high tailed it out of there after 72 hours if things did not get better…

    None of the neighbors around me are preppers that I know of. No one in my building, either. I am half a day to a day’s walk to any other prepper I know, and this is a suburban / urban environment.

    Interesting book. Definitely makes one think.

    1. Hey Jack, me too, I’m about halfway through Lights Out. Sounds like you have an inkling of how your your neighbors will react during an emergency from what you recently experienced. I cannot imagine staying put for 3 weeks or longer in a long term disaster. As much as I would prefer staying put, in our urban environment, bugging out may be the only option.

  11. As an aside, I ordered two books from Amazon this week, on separate occasions, and both times your book came up where they list “people who ordered this book also ordered:” Your book must be very popular. I thought it would be.

    1. Hey ATH, I did not know the book shows up this way! Glad people are still looking at it. Thanks for telling me!

  12. I have tried to size up our neighbors. Our neighborhood is new and is still being developed. So far there are around 30 occupied homes. To be honest, I have been thinking more along the lines of who might have what skills to offer if we suddenly needed to become a self-sufficient neighborhood; skills such as gardening, raising animals, hunting and fishing, security detail, medical, etc. I know we have at least two military men and a firefighter. We’ve gone shooting with another neighbor. He has a few guns and is a damn good shot. There are two or three retirees, whose backgrounds I’d like to know more about. At least one of them used to be a farmer or rancher–not sure which, I just know she used to own 160 acres. I can think of at least two homes with occupants that probably wouldn’t have much to offer.

    1. Hey Kris, your neighbors sound promising! Good idea getting to know them. You are fortunate they seem reliable.

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