[Editor’s Note: this book review was originally published in Oct. 2016. We repost this because it is the first week of hurricane season, and an important article you might have missed. It includes important advice for preparing for major disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes and more. Ms. Gonzales will be presenting this weekend at the Bullseye Preparedness & Outdoors Expo in Pigeon Forge, Tenn.]
The great thing about today’s publishing market is that small companies and self-publishers make it possible for readers to get important information and incredible stories without the approval of mainstream publishing houses.
But if you get hung up on things like formatting or page numbers, you’ve completely missed the point of the book you should be learning from and enjoying.
Such is the case with the initial “author” copies of the independently published “Major Disasters Lessons Learned” by Eve Gonzales.
Who really cares about a missing indention here or a spacing problem there, when the information inside will save families and individual preppers incredible amounts of time, money and hardship? It certainly did not bother me, and I have a degree in journalism.
At somewhere near 100 pages, this quick read makes an excellent, information-packed primer for beginner preppers, and a sanity check for experienced survivalists.
What makes the book unique is that as the founder of Caring Hearts, a non-profit focused on disaster relief, Gonzales takes her 12 years of experience working in the aftermath of actual floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and more to give readers the real world experience of what happens after a natural or manmade catastrophe.
While many famous, and certainly better paid, survival stars pontificate on how to prepare for what may be, Gonzales’s book serves as a witness to what actually has happened. (And having worked Hurricane Katrina before and after the storm, this reporter can corroborate Gonzales’ anecdotes relating to it, and the ineptitude of the immediate response. Remember, FEMA could not find New Orleans as it tried to send in relief teams.)
In other words, her stories accurately reflect the reality of the disasters she seeks to help people through.
That she has “been there,” experienced the madness of poorly managed government responses, and suffered through the heartbreak of families victimized by the calamitous results makes this a necessary purchase for any practical survival book library.
Of course, just because a book is a “necessary” piece to a collection doesn’t mean it’s a good read. What makes “Major Disasters Lessons Learned” different is that it’s not a textbook, but more of a conversation. It is, in fact, a good read.
And while the subjects she covers are comprehensive enough to encourage readers to have pen and paper nearby for note taking, this book is not a series of lists and instructions that make so many other survival books unreadable from cover to cover.
Starting with developing a personal game plan, the book takes a common sense approach to each and every anecdote and lesson.
Like a good teacher, she quickly begins by helping readers create their own path to preparation by overcoming normal fears and objections. One by one, she quickly dispels the rationalizations for not being prepared in a friendly but informative manner.
Simple ways to address money issues, a lack of spousal support, and even the problem of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of information and decisions that preparation requires are among the many “excuses” Gonzales takes head on.
Of course, most readers will be anxious to get to the meat of the book – the lessons she gleaned from responding to 18 major disasters. And they won’t be disappointed.
As a general philosophy, Gonzales wants individuals to make everything personal. For instance, she calls for localized plans. If you live in the high desert, forget planning for hurricanes. If you live in California, think about earthquakes, and so on.
Also, Gonzales challenges her readers to think things all the way through. Evacuating your home will never fit a set and simple plan. For instance, you may think heading north is the only way for you, but what if that way is cut off? She wants to ensure that readers cover all their bases.
Another critical concept discussed in the book is the importance of keeping good documentation such as the basics – medical records, insurance, social security cards – and some you may not think of in an emergency, such as proof of residency.
In addition, she deals with the behavioral side as well. She encourages practice in every aspect of your preparations. For example, if you don’t wash your hands thoroughly today, how will you remember to do so during a catastrophe when you’re stressed and it could mean the difference between life or death? If you’re planning to live off the land after a societal breakdown, but have zero experience with hunting or growing food, when do you expect to learn?
Finally, if preppers haven’t addressed the mental toll from injuries and even the death of a loved one during an emergency, she explains the reasons why it is important to take those steps in advance, and how to do it.
Self-reliance is both a personal reward and an act of civic and charitable responsibility.
Of course, while this book is geared toward keeping the individual reader safe and sound, there also is a social responsibility behind the book’s premise. What readers need to recognize the moment they open the book is that “Major Disasters Lessons Learned” is more than the teachings of an experienced disaster responder who works in the Survival Industry. It is a record of how and why being prepared is in part an individual act of community service.
As she puts it, seeking a way to “change the outcome of any type of disaster that could happen” will reduce the loss of life and minimize the number of victims. And that’s a reasonable and noble aspiration.
The more people that are prepared, the less people need the government or their neighbors to take care of them. Self-reliance is both a personal reward and an act of civic and charitable responsibility.
In the end, anyone making the small investment in reading this book will certainly enjoy it and the lessons it teaches. And while some may fault the book for not being detailed enough, beginners and those readers overwhelmed by overloaded prepper textbooks will appreciate her approach, and probably learn more too.
As she makes clear in the introduction, “the information in this book should open your eyes to what you should expect” in a disaster.
And that’s a worthy goal indeed.
“Major Disasters Lessons Learned” is published by the Great Living Sources Company. It is available in paperback for $15 at Gonzales’ online store Trading Post in The Woods or digitally on Amazon Kindle for $7.99.