Over four hundred Houstonians flocked to the LDS Church building on Richards Road in Spring, Texas. They came to attend free classes ranging from sprouting to sour dough fermenting to beekeeping all presented at an annual preparedness fair co-sponsored by the Houston North Stake and Spring Texas Stakes of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The fourth such event, classes and displays emphasized the importance of self-reliance in all aspects of living both in times of natural and man-made disasters, and in day-to-day activities.
Emphasizing financial preparedness and self-sufficiency, representatives from LDS Employment Resource Services discussed the importance of networking, resumé writing, interviewing skills, and career development, all of which was provided free of charge at their facilities on Hafer Road in north Houston. Nationally renowned coupon coach Tiffany Ivanowsky conducted a free two-hour money-saving seminar.
Volunteers from the Harris County Citizens Corps http://harriscountycitizencorps.com were on hand to provide information about joining that organization. The eight-week training course for the Citizens Emergency Response Team (CERT) is also free of charge. In the event of a natural or man-made disaster, CERT volunteers are often the first on the scene, and fill much needed trained support roles for governmental emergency efforts. Other HCCC volunteer groups include The Medical Reserve Corps, The Neighborhood Watch, Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS), and the Fire Corps.
Continuing with the disaster theme, demonstrations for chainsaw sharpening, alternative cooking (including sun ovens, Dutch ovens, and low-energy “Wonder ovens”), 72-hour “bug out” kits, and tri-fuel generator adaptors all provided ideas for living without power for extended periods of time. Dave Schwertz from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration lectured on the 2013 hurricane season.
The Houston North/Woodlands Ham Radio Organization was on hand demonstrating equipment and uses within the reach of citizen hobbyists. During Hurricane Ike (2008), HAM radio groups in the greater Houston area provided critical communication services for relief personnel when electricity failed and cell towers grew too overloaded to function. HROs also volunteer at community events such as marathons and the annual Houston-to-Austin bike ride, the MS150.
The Spring Texas Preppers http://facebook.com/springtxpreppers, a non-sectarian group of enthusiasts, were on hand to share their skills with those interested in emergency preparedness. Initially started by a few friends in Spring, Texas, their influence has spread to encompass the greater Houston area. While they have created no over-arching association, they are eager to lend others the benefit of their experience in forming localized support organizations.
Home storage expert Bonita Magby manned a display demonstrating how to gradually accumulate three months’ worth of food staples in case of emergencies, including loss of income through sickness or loss of employment. As she passed out samples of her tasty off-the-shelf recipes, she stated, “You store all this food, and then you say, ‘What do I do with it?’ But getting food storage doesn’t have to be something that you steal from your savings account for. You can get it bit by bit.”
In addition to the central areas occupied by displays, classes throughout the building provided instruction in long-term water storage, water purification, home canning, freezing, drying, and successful gardening in Houston. Stated event organizer Lucy Stern, “We don’t sell anything here. People don’t just want to buy. They want to know how to do things for themselves. We provide classes so they can do that.”
Troop 449 of the Iron Horse District of the Boy Scouts of America set up tables and classrooms, moved equipment, placed signage, and provided other logistical support. They also opened the event with a flag ceremony.
In addition to the many handouts and other information at the fair, demonstrators also made their material available for free download at http://houstonprepfair.info/.