10 Things I Learned at FEMA that Can Save Your Life During Any Catastrophe

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Join my patrons and myself as we study Psalm 91 and commit it to memory.

Remember:  the Gate of Repentance is always open!

The following list applies to any catastrophe.  Many of us do not want to believe or comprehend the gravity of the situation of judgment upon mankind.  Like turtles, we would prefer to tuck in our heads and legs and let the storm pass over us.  Unfortunately, this judgment-storm is going to disrupt our lives. Psalm 91 confirms that these catastrophes which shall befall the world of mankind, will not remain unknown to you.  You will live to behold them all, but you will witness them only as an observer.  It further instructs us in verses 8 and 9, that these calamities that occur in the history of the nations and that their evil prepares for its ruin.  

You, the believer in Jesus Christ, will peer and behold the destruction of the wicked who spurned God and refused to sit in the refuge of the Most High, but they will be helpless to harm you.


The key to managing any disaster or catastrophe is organization.  Whether it be your family, community, tools, household, relocation, or prioritization of the situation at hand, your organization is essential.  Each one of us is unique, and your organizational methods will be different than another person's.  Some of us are list makers; some are readers, some visually evaluate, some use their right brain, others their left brain, while some are linear others are asymmetrical. 

It would be helpful to get to know how you organize a tsunami of events and information.  Then prepare or exercise your organization preparations.

3% Rule

If you are dealing with even one other person, the 3% rule goes into effect.  It just is.  I have personally tested it across domains and disciplines, and it is constant.

Why is this important to you?  Because in a disaster, you must network and interact with people unless you are the last person alive on the planet.  Your life and the lives of your family and those you care about will be on the line.  If you do not understand this principle, you will have false expectations of which people will be available to help and which will not.  Again, failure to understand this will cost lives. 

3% of people will do something consistently

7% of people will do something once or twice.

90% of people will do nothing even if they and their loved ones will die. 

Use the Whole Buffalo

As I was harvesting my meager harvest this year, the Holy Spirit instructed me to bless His provision, and to understand from that day forward, there would be less and less.  Furthermore, I was to be grateful for every morsel I ate.

In this vein, many of us have lived in abundance for so long there is much waste.  Those days of abundance are over my friends.

From today forward, see how much you can use every single thing in your home.  That can be tools are in the kitchen.  An example:  David and I had one case of apples, with those apples we made several treats, apple cider vinegar, apple wine, apple leather, and scraps for the chickens.


Emergency Management's biggest thorn in the flesh during a disaster was and is communications.  Whether these are communications between your family, community, church, public representatives, virtual communications, or even discerning the truth in a world of fake disinformation and misinformation, know this that communications problems will visit your doorstep at the most inconvenient time.

I learned the value of my communications preparations when my broadcast computer died and fried on Halloween.  The Holy Spirit had instructed me long ago to have two computers as long as I was participating in the virtual world.

How to tackle this is to ponder the different ways you communicate and choose an alternative method, just in case.

Think Outside of the Box

Due to environmental, cosmic situation, and social engineering, our creativity, curiosity, adventure, and ability to think outside of the box has been compromised severely. This situation will only increase.  I suppose I first noticed this in the media when they were remaking some of the old shows rather than any creative new content.  About the only new content is horror related.  It is a place that I do not go. 

What you need to do now is to ask yourself what motives you?  What inspires you?  Understand where your normalcy bias gives you a blind spot and have others help cover you. 

Know your local hazards

You are the best expert in your area.  Get to know your hazards, whatever they be.  Water, geologic, floods, cosmic, and any other hazard.

For every hazard that you determine is in your area, you should address that hazard with a, what will I do if.

When you are in the heat of a disaster, you will not have the time to think about all the details needed to evaluate potential hazards much less come up with plans to address them.  Do not waste time with remote possibilities; focus on the real hazards of your area.  If you have difficulty with this, most areas, have a Hazard Identification and Vulnerability Analysis (HIVA).  Look it up and see what hazards are native to your area.

Situational Awareness

Use all your senses to evaluate your situation at all times.  Do not rely on the news or the computer.  You need to begin or perfect your technique of situational awareness for your area. 

What are my eyes seeing?  It may be different during the day then at night.

What is my nose smelling?  Your nose can alert you to many dangers lurking around you, such as wildfire smoke that might not yet be seen or a moldy room.

What are my ears hearing and picking up?  Do you hear unusual noises for your area?  Are the noises you are hearing peaceful or cause angst within your being?  If angst, then something is amiss that needs to be investigated.

What is my touch saying?  Am I feeling some burning or something with an unusual texture or pattern?  Once again, if it is unusual, it merits investigation and action.

What am I tasting?   Our sense of taste can keep us out of harm's way.  That said, we need to know what to put in our mouth and what not to put in our mouth.  That probably is the best place to begin your investigation while you have many resources to assist you. 

Evaluate your situational awareness over time, so you get to know what is normal and what is not.  Do not fall into complacency, for that is when danger will befall you.

Pace Yourself

This is going to be an endurance contest my friends, and scripture bears that out. We are going to be pushed to our limits during disaster physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and every other way possible. 

You need to get to know your limits.  We all have limits; it does not mean that we are failing, only human.  Take breaks for refreshments.  That might be a power nap, a walk, application of essential oils, reading the Word, or whatever refreshes your being.  When we have reached our limit, you need to stand firm that you have reached your limit.  First, give yourself the grace to be a person with limitations. Second, do not let yourself be bullied into going beyond your breaking point. 

FEMA's policy is to strictly enforce refreshment breaks, usually involving a lot of good food.  But during one activation, shortly before I left, I watched one on a veteran who was the rotational incident commander work himself night and day for an extended period.  This was not normal.  Something changed.  He did survive, but it was a miracle.

As Christians, we all want to hear, "well done, good and faithful servant," so pace yourself!

Be Teachable

None of us knows everything.  My grandmother said wise words to me as a young adult that I took to heart.  "I will be smarter tomorrow than today because I will have learned something I did not know today."  I hope and pray that this is your attitude towards each day as you go into the Word, prayer, daily tasks, and most importantly, you will learn new things with each disaster that comes into your life.

Take a page out of the FEMA handbook, and after the disaster quiets down to do a Hot Wash or Lessons Learned.  What did you learn during the disaster that will be applicable or help in the next one?

We active in your continuing education, for it, will keep your mind skills alert for the day disaster comes. 

Expect the Unexpected

This is a time unlike any in history.  You will experience things that nobody in history has ever experienced.  That can be somewhat scary because we do not have a history or concretely know how to handle many situations that we may face.  This is where your faith comes in.  Do what you can.  Educate yourself and be open to the unexpected.  If you experience it, do not discount it.  The Lord brought it to you for a reason.  Learn your lessons.  And when it comes down to it, trust Jesus for whatever He brings into your path, He will get you through, even if He has to carry you.  I have been there, and let Him carry me through.

Finally, Brethren

As Christians, you have made Jesus your foundation and your support of all your earthly existence.  And this Foundation upon which you have placed all your life on earth will afford you protection from all trouble and hurt.

God Bless you from the trenches.  Be safe, everyone.



Celeste has worked as a contractor for Homeland Security and FEMA. Her training and activation's include the infamous day of 911, flood and earthquake operations, mass casualty exercises, and numerous other operations. Celeste is FEMA certified and has completed the Professional Development Emergency Management Series.

  • Train-the-Trainer
  • Incident Command
  • Integrated EM: Preparedness, Response, Recovery, Mitigation
  • Emergency Plan Design including all Emergency Support Functions
  • Principles of Emergency Management
  • Developing Volunteer Resources
  • Emergency Planning and Development
  • Leadership and Influence, Decision Making in Crisis
  • Exercise Design and Evaluation
  • Public Assistance Applications
  • Emergency Operations Interface
  • Public Information Officer
  • Flood Fight Operations
  • Domestic Preparedness for Weapons of Mass Destruction
  • Incident Command (ICS-NIMS)
  • Multi-Hazards for Schools
  • Rapid Evaluation of Structures-Earthquakes
  • Weather Spotter for National Weather Service
  • Logistics, Operations, Communications
  • Community Emergency Response Team Leader
  • Behavior Recognition

Celeste grew up in a military & governmental home with her father working for the Naval Warfare Center, and later as Assistant Director for Public Lands and Natural Resources, in both Washington State and California.

Celeste also has training and expertise in small agricultural lobbying, Integrative/Functional Medicine, asymmetrical and symmetrical warfare, and Organic Farming..

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