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Bug Out of Toronto

September 30, 2010, by Ken Jorgustin

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bug-out-of-toronto

The title reads, “Bug Out of Toronto”.

No, not now! …

Recently, a reader from Toronto asked for ideas regarding a bug out scenario whereby things were so bad that there is no choice but to bug out of the city. The person currently lives in a condo in the center of Toronto. They do not own a plot of land outside of the city. They have relatives about 100 miles away, but they are concerned that the relatives live on a major freeway and are not out of harms way if hordes of refuge’s are roaming. They know that they could survive in their condo for a period of time because they have stocked up on food, water, and supplies. However the concern is that a complete meltdown, such as a complete catastrophic electric power grid failure (major electromagnetic solar storm or EMP for example), will result in hundreds of thousands of desperate people within a week. Knowing that it could take many months or even a year or more to replace critical Very High Voltage custom-built transformers on the grid, trying to survive in a major city will be majorly difficult at best.

Here is a very short story fiction about the hypothetical scenario…


Playing out this specific scenario in Toronto, lets assume that he has a portable shortwave radio that was not damaged during the electromagnetic event (a major solar event will probably not damage radios or electronic infrastructure as badly as an EMP weapon might). Shortly after the power went out, he turned on his radio, first checking the AM bands for information. He quickly discovered that there were literally no stations on the air at all, not even anything from Buffalo or Rochester over in the US. This instantly alerted him to the fact that this situation is very bad and probably going to get worse, very quickly. He switched his radio over to shortwave bands and started scanning around. There were voices, and after a while he discovered through a report from somewhere in Australia that much of the Northern Hemisphere had been badly affected by a major X-class solar flare, and many very large regions had lost their power. Satellites were fried, the GPS system was down, and lots of communications capabilities were entirely knocked out.

He now knew that it might be a very long time before power is restored and he knew how this would bring the city to chaos very quickly. He knew that water would stop flowing very soon, and it wouldn’t be long before people started banging on doors looking for food, water, or supplies. Knowing that this was going to be far more than a week or two without power, he decided that his best option was to bug out, and do it quickly before others started leaving in mass.

Most people will not know the facts about what had happened and will assume that power will be restored soon enough, and that if it got worse, somehow someone would help them. This will allow for the informed survivalist to probably have a one-day head start, maybe two, before real panic sets in.

He always kept the gas in the car topped up, and had one 20-liter gas can (5.3 gallons) that would add about 150 km of range to the existing 600 km range of the car, giving him 750 km (about 450 miles).  He knew that the odds were that “most” people that did decide to leave the city would not get further than about 250 km (about 150 miles) due to factors such as average mileage and average gas in one’s gas tank at any given time. Although many people in the city will remain there because they know no other way, his best chance was to get at least 250 km (150 miles) from Toronto and other major cities. That meant he could not travel west at all, and he could not venture northeast since Ottawa and Montreal will interfere. South was out of the question with a Great Lake in the way, and then the US border. That left only one option, and that was to head north.

Actually, he had previously planned this bug out scenario and had already carefully reviewed his Canada Roads Atlas and his detailed Ontario Road Atlas, and had traveled to the area to spend a bit of time exploring and making a few acquaintances. The location was just over 250 km (150 miles) north of Toronto and more than 350 km west from Ottawa. The population of the village was only about 1,000, located on a small lake with about half a dozen small places of lodging. His plan was to drive up to Sunbridge in central Ontario before others fully realized the magnitude of the unfolding disaster. Initially he would drive to each of the motels hoping that they would be receptive to his stay. He will have plenty of cash with him that he had in reserve, and will hope that they accept fair payment. He will also offer to help them deal with the grid-down disaster by pointing out the skills that he has that could help them. If he got in, then the longer term plan was to quickly gain respect by working hard for the owner so that he might have a chance to stay on, even after the money runs out, etc… If the owner was a crackpot, at least he would have bought a little time while filtering through the local area looking for an opportunity to fit in quickly.

The main goal is to establish the new location quickly, before things get real bad, while people are still somewhat normal and are accepting cash for services. Once the reality sets in, it will become very difficult to “get in” somewhere or with someone.

The car and trunk (and roof) was filled with as much food and supplies that he could take and he knew he could survive on rations for a long period, so long as no one stole it. The worst-case plan, if he could not secure lodging in Sundridge, was to live in the car somewhere in that area while attempting to gain acceptance with someone or some group before it was too late. He at least stood a better chance at this in a location far away from the mass population centers where desperation would be quickly turning to chaos and great suffering.


Having said all that, I really do not know anything about that particular area other than what I see on the Internet and Google Earth. I’ve been to Toronto though, and know that it would not be a place I would want to be during a full scale long term disaster (or any large city!). It is up to each and every one of you to determine for yourself a plan of action and then to actually practice it to some degree. In other words, go to these places and imagine the scenario and have several pre-planned destinations and places that you might stay that appear reasonably safe. Do not assume that you could simply drive off into a national park forest somewhere and make it on your own. This takes very unique skills, and unless you have them, you will be quickly discovered as a city-dweller by those who have chosen to bug out there, those who have the skills and supplies to do so. Your best chance is a very small town or village where you can fit in with the community and do your part to help the body of people survive. We need each others skills to make it all work. Don’t forget that.



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