By Tom Dare
In this uncertain age of Donald Trump, the number of people preparing for some form of societal collapse continues to grow. But it’s not the people you might expect that are storing up food in their basement. Best-selling author, preparedness expert and former military Survival Instructor, Jonathan Hollerman, is here to teach you how to outlive disaster.
Images show Jonathan, who has been running his hugely successful preparedness consultancy agency for the past five years, posing in the wilderness for a photoshoot for his latest book, while another sees him standing in one of the five-foot tall tunnels he helps install in some of his clients’ retreats.
Further images show Jon standing in the snow carrying a huge pack during his training to become a SERE instructor (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) for the U.S. military, with another shot showing him giving a speech to a group of people at a convention.
Jonathan enlisted in the military for six years until 2002, where he trained as a SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape) instructor, one of only 17 graduates out of an incredible 8000 applicants. One of the toughest and most gruelling positions to achieve in the military, Jonathan was pushed to his absolute limit in some of the most testing environments known to man. After finally passing the test, he was used to train pilots and navigators about what to do if they were shot down behind enemy lines – from finding food and water to evading capture.
Jonathan set up his company, Grid Down Consulting, in response to the growing concern within western society that a disaster could seriously cripple the infrastructure of even the most advanced of countries. Established in 2013, Jonathan offers preparedness consultancy in a wide-range of formats; from advising a client over the phone about the best way to prepare their own home for disaster, to designing and building entire off-grid survival retreats from scratch.
So what is it that Jonathan is preparing for? Not a nuclear war, not an alien invasion and not a zombie apocalypse, as you might have seen in several Hollywood blockbusters. No, what Jonathan’s recommends you prepare for is a far more realistic threat and, what’s more, is one that you’ve probably never even heard of.
A grid-down scenario, explains Jonathan, is a complete shutdown of the electric grid in a country, whether that be via an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack, a solar flare, a cyber-attack such as the one undertaken by Russia against the Ukraine in 2014, or a physical attack by terrorists.
The vast majority of western democracies rely on a network of high-voltage transformers to turn the power created by power plants into energy that is usable by the average consumer. The transformers, which take between 12 and 18 months to build and typically weigh over 400 tonnes, are the most critical part of a country’s power network – without them, any country would be brought to a standstill, explains Jonathan.
“See, if these things go down, it’s not going to be as simple as just sending someone out there to flick a switch and turn the power back on,” he says.
“If we lose these high voltage transformers, power’s going to be down for a long period of time. And every aspect of human life in developed countries today revolves around electricity.
“Everything’s automated at this point. Everything you touch, taste, eat, everything you buy at a store, everything you buy on amazon…everything you buy today comes on a truck to get to where it’s going, and it comes from a digitized distribution centre. All these places run out of supplies because the computer networks shut down. Therefore the whole food infrastructure shuts down, and that’s the biggest problem…no way to feed the populace.
“For the first couple of days things would probably be pretty calm, like ‘OK the electric’s down, when’s it coming back on’. But, because they don’t have radio, tv, internet, there’s no way for the government to get mass information out to people and keep them calm.
“It’s not going to take long for people to start freaking out and start going to the grocery store and cleaning it out. Once those grocery stores are empty and the food distribution centres have been looted, there’s no more food coming. You’re essentially on your own.
“Very few Americans and Europeans have the life skills needed to live without electricity. How to garden, how to can food, how root cellaring works. Most kids don’t even know how to build a fire right? Every aspect of human life revolves around electricity.”
In 2015, hackers thought to be from Russia took down Ukraine’s electric grid for an 18-hour period, something which Jonathan believes “was just a warning shot across the bow,” and not intended to actually destroy their grid. But how likely is this to happen in a country such as the United States or Britain, for example. Very likely, according to director of the National Security Agency, Admiral Michael S. Rogers. Speaking to Congress in 2014, Rogers said:
“What I have told my organization is I fully expect that during my time as the commander we are going to be tasked to help defend critical infrastructure within the United States because it is under attack by some foreign nation or some individual or group.
“I say that because we see multiple nation states and then in some cases individuals and groups that have the capability to engage in this behaviour. We have seen individuals, groups inside critical U.S. infrastructure, you know, that has a presence, that suggests to us that this is — this vulnerability is an area that others want to exploit.
“All of that leads me to believe it is only a matter of the “when,” not the “if” that we are going to see something dramatic.”
So, with the risk of a complete electrical shut-down seemingly far greater than we thought, why aren’t more people talking about this?
“I think the reason preparedness isn’t in the minds of most people is they really have this idea that ‘hey we’re civilised, if something bad like this happens we’re gonna hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and we’ll all work together to fix this,’” says Jonathan.
“And they’ll use instances like Hurricane Katrina, where everyone rallied around to help in the aftermath after the devastation that was caused. But those are only localised disasters and there were plenty of people not affected by the disaster that came to the rescue. In a nationwide grid-down scenario, no one is coming to help because everyone is in the same boat as you, even the military.
“People will work together in desperate times if they have eaten in the past couple of days. But if you take away their food, their information, law and order they’re not going to work together. I use the example of an average blue-collar worker who never committed a crime in his entire life, who goes to church every Sunday. And he’s got a four-year-old daughter who’s lying on a couch he hasn’t been able to provide food to her for two or three weeks straight. She’s starving to death in front of his very eyes.
“There’s almost nothing that that man, or woman, will not do to get their child some food. They may beg and plead from their neighbours at first, but eventually if they think you’ve got a can of peaches, they’re going to come and take it by force, by whatever means necessary.”
And this is where Jonathan steps in. He advises people from all walks of life, from doctors and lawyers with multi-million budgets who want an entire off-grid survival retreat to people living on shoe-string budgets who just need a little advice. But the most important piece of advice he has?
“Preparedness is a mindset,” he says.
“I recommend educating yourself on the various threats, and having a game plan in your head saying ‘ok, if this happens I’m going to do X.’ Cause for most of the population this isn’t even on their radar. They have no clue that the electric grid could be down for over a year.
“A big thing that people ask me is how do you live with all this concern? I don’t live in worry. Some clients and some people in this industry are very scared, they’re operating their preparedness mindset in a state of fear, and I don’t recommend that because who knows what’s going to happen from one day to the next.
“There’s a lot of other things, like a pandemic or financial collapse, that could lead to very bad circumstances in the future and I believe it’s going to be sooner rather than later, but I don’t live my life in fear. Preparedness is a journey, you have to start somewhere, and I recommend you start sooner rather than later.”
Jonathan says that, despite a negative portrayal in the media, people in the prepping community are just like you and I – normal, everyday people who just want to protect their families in the event of some form of societal collapse.
“Anybody that’s a prepper, the media always paint them as an extremist, conspiracy theorist wearing a tin foil hat in a bunker with a beard living off rice and beans,” he says
“I can tell you right now I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of clients that I’ve worked with over the last four or five years, and I’ve never met a crazy person yet. Every single person I’ve met has been blue collar, white collar, a normal sane individual that you could go to a restaurant, sit down and have a normal conversation with. I’ve never met a single crazy person yet. It’s just fundamentally not true what the media and Hollywood are portraying about preppers.”
“Everyone in society teaches you that it’s important to have insurance, right? Health insurance, dental insurance, medical insurance, home insurance, fire insurance on your house, flood insurance. People even get insurances for their electronical devices. And why? It’s not that you really think that you’re going to have a fire at your house, or you really believe that you’re going to get cancer next year and die. No.
“You’re buying it for worst case scenarios, and that’s all I’m saying is that there exists this percentage of risk for a societal collapse scenario. It just makes sense that you would have a way to provide food and water to your family members. There’s nothing crazy in that. Why is it considered crazy to stock up on a little bit of food and water for a rainy day, but it’s not crazy to have life insurance or car insurance or any of these other kinds of insurances?”
To find out more about Jonathan Hollerman and preparedness, visit: https://www.griddownconsulting.com/
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