After the Collapse: Finding the Lost

In the very likely event that society does actually collapse the chances are it’s not gonna be neat.  As in… it might not happen with all your assets in order.  Figures, it never does.  In this instance “assets “might mean loved ones.  Your loved ones might be abroad, in town, or stuck in the pandemonium of a big city mired in an ongoing crisis.

You’ve spec’d out your compound and your food, water, and shelter are in order along with a good preparedness and defensive plan.  But what about those beyond the perimeter.  Here’re a couple of tips to find the missing, kids, loved ones, elderly relatives who need help, and get them back to your safe zone.

First Off:

Don’t do anything.  At first.  They know where you’re at.  Give them an opportunity to extricate themselves from the situation they’re in.  It’s important to maintain the safe zone you’ve set up.  Leaving it in the critical first few days of a disaster opens you up to losing it, or getting into a situation yourself. So, for the moment sit tight and try to use every available means i.e. social media, cell service, those who might be able to get a message to your loved one, and email to get in touch with that person and find out what their situation is and remind them about the plan you’ve discussed in advance. (Right?  You have a plan?  Your tribe knows the details?)


Time passes and they don’t arrive.

It’s time to go get’em or ascertain what happened to them.  This is a big choice. It’s probably not safe, and its not the best decision.  More people from the cities are going to be moving out into the hinterlands with the idea that food is just lying on the ground out there and its safer.  When they figure out that’s not the case they’ll begin to act up with an eye towards those who took the time to prepare.

But, you decide to head into town, or the big city, and find your loved one.

11. Have a plan.  This plan will be an analysis of that persons lifestyle, contacts and what you estimate they might do in an emergency.  It will also take into account the current situation regarding routes leading into the search area and the search area itself.  Don’t leave your safe zone without leaving instructions about your next move, where you’ve gone, and when you’ll return.
2. Search like a Native.  The first tip is to blend in.  If you’re heading into a FEMA camp situation on the outskirts of a city that got hit by a dirty nuke, don’t look well fed, well armed and gear’d out. Look like a desperate survivor who will do just about anything to stay alive.  Law enforcement is probably martial or non-existent, so you don’t want to present an easy target to the gangs that will invariably develop in this type of situation.  Plus you don’t want them to do a little detective work and follow you back to your safe zone.  So search quietly.
3. Search Smart and keep it Personal. Search the last known position of your target.  Gather info at the location.  Identify messages, items missing, medications needed.  Check answering machines and calendars.  Know what they were doing on the day everything went sideways.  Don’t start anywhere else.  Start from the known and work toward the unknown.  Most people have a home, a job and some friends.  Eliminate all these scenarios for contact before entering the public sphere.
tumblr_mo52pgG1bm1rcgna6o2_r1_12804. Finally, if your search, or a lack of leads, draws you to the FEMA camps and the database (Either paperwork or a fence with “Have you seen me” pictures) that may occur, spend a day or two observing from abroad.  Find out what the situation is.  Are they allowing people to come and go? Is it safe?  Can you visually spot your target? Any questions that will help you to make the judgement call on whether to take your search in this direction.  If you decide to enter these type of camps then see Rule Number One and do accordingly.  Have a story that’s just like everyone else.  Get into the camp and find out what the system is for locating your loved one.  Work and try to improve people’s lot in life.  You’ll catch more flies with honey than Tabasco. And finally, don’t enter the camp without having a way of leaving, whether they want you to or not.  If all else fails…
5. Search the Back Trail.  If you don’t find your target in any of the above situations you’re left with one conclusion. They (the target) went to find you and the Safe Zone.  Knowing what you know now from your time on the ground, follow the most direct route a survivor would take to reach your location.  Look for nightly camps, listen to local rumors and keep moving.  Consider carrying a spray paint can and leaving messages on the sides of buildings alerting your target to your presnece and intentions.  But, do it in code and be vague.  As in, “Sue, We’re at cabin”.  No details.

I got to thinking about this type of scenario while working on a book I just published about America in the last days of a Pandemic.  Survivors might be separated by a continent, but the heart wants what it wants.  You might just have to make a long journey to find that lost loved one.  Chances are you’d want them to do the same for you, if you were in some kind of tight scrape.  These are just a few thoughts for you should that scenario ever occur.

Nick Cole is a former soldier and working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can be found writing books.  His latest book is The End of the World as We Knew It.


About Nick Cole

Nick Cole is a working actor living in Southern California. When he is not auditioning for commercials, going out for sitcoms or being shot, kicked, stabbed or beaten by the students of various film schools for their projects, he can often be found as a guard for King Phillip the Second of Spain in the Opera Don Carlo at Los Angeles Opera or some similar role. Nick Cole has been writing for most of his life and acting in Hollywood after serving in the U.S. Army. You can also find him on Twitter.

5 Responses to After the Collapse: Finding the Lost

  1. This is a fantastic post. This is exactly the methodological approach that will need to be used to locate some lost or missing people after SHTF! “Start from the known and work toward the unknown” – words of someone who has done actual hunting for facts or people!

    Shared on my Facebook wall and twitter also!

  2. In regard to “back trailing” someone’s route – like your college kid making their way home …. don’t mark just any random buildings – you should have an arranged system that utilizes US Post Office buildings ….. almost every town or section of the city has a post office – highly unlikely it will be looted – could be burned out depending on SHTF and location ….

    Spray paint is good for marking anonymous type messages on a wall – but the cans can be temperamental & finicky – pack paint stick markers or livestock crayons – bright colors, durable and works under all conditions ….

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *