‘Prepping’ and religion ‘fit hand in hand’

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Editor’s note: This story pairs with another titled “Change gives rise to ‘preppers’ and their product lines.”

waveland, MS
Hurricane Katrina left southern U.S. buildings in ruins and many people without food and shelter in 2005, including this Civic and Cultural Center in Waveland, Mississippi. Kelli Herlevi saw the importance of being prepared for emergencies through her experience living in Brandon, Mississippi during Hurricane Katrina. (Kelli Herlevi)

LDS Church leaders have long counseled their members to prepare to sustain themselves and their families in the event of an emergency. A growing population of “preppers” throughout the nation also feel it important to be prepared and self-reliant for the future.

Religion and prepping “fit hand in hand” in this way, especially with the LDS faith, according to Shane Coles, co-host of Prepper Talk Radio and a prepping blogger.

“I believe that many people are feeling inspiration from on high to get their affairs in order, to free themselves from the bondage of debt and to store up for a day of need,” Coles said.

Coles said this is partially due to prophetic and scriptural warnings, but he feels it is even more so from the urgency many people feel is coming to them individually from divine inspiration.

Prepper Kelli Herlevi said she was grateful for the importance the LDS Church has placed on emergency preparedness when her family experienced the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 in Brandon, Mississippi.

During the storm, an LDS Church building in Waveland, Mississippi, was flooded and heavily damaged. Herlevi said in less than 24 hours, the church sent semi trucks full of the supplies necessary to rebuild the chapel.

“It wasn’t by chance that those supplies were ready and available,” Herlevi said. “There had to be a lot of advance planning and preparation for those supplies to be organized, available and on the road almost before the storm had even subsided.”

Herlevi also noticed through her experience that although the church in general is well prepared for emergencies, church members often do not heed the prophetic warnings to prepare themselves and their families for future emergencies.

“I think members of the church might be more prepared than the general public, but not as prepared as they should be,” Herlevi said. “I think some people live with their heads under a rock. They will be the ones that will expect help from others when the emergency does strike.”

Herlevi said during Hurricane Katrina, her family was prepared with enough food storage to sustain themselves for three to six months, as long as they had access to water. However, many people in their neighborhood were not so prepared.

“People were eating whatever they had left in the cupboards, and for most people, that was not much,” Herlevi said. “I could not understand literally being out of food completely after only three days. But I discovered after talking to people, that most of them live a pattern of eating out, picking up dinner on the way home from work, or buying just enough groceries for a few days.”

Many of the Herlevi family’s neighbors would go to their house and eat with them. A lot of people were amazed at their level of calmness, according to Herlevi.

“This experience was an eye opener and we have since added a lot of things to our list of experiences just in case we might need them some day,” Herlevi said.

For the Herlevi family, these experiences have included cultivating a big garden, harvesting seeds, preserving buffalo, raising ducks and eating duck eggs, cooking with a Dutch oven and solar cookers, learning how to sew, canning and preserving food, maintaining 72-hour kits and keeping a collection of games to keep them entertained in case of an emergency.

“As far as prepping, we really get caught up in it and we think it’s a lot of fun,” Herlevi said. “Although, some folks might consider it too extreme.”

Coles said prepping has become a way of life for him.

“Being called a prepper isn’t anything special or extreme,” Coles said. “What the word really represents is someone who is turning back to their roots. Someone who looks back at how their ancestors lived and tries to live more closely to their ways.”

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