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My hope is that, by the time these words get into print, the supply wagons will have re-stocked the area's stores with toilet paper, disinfectant, and beans. Luckily, I inherited my dad's genetic penchant for never running low on essentials. Every single time he went to the store, he would pick up a pack of toilet paper, tissues, and Little Debbie snack cakes, "just in case," he always said. He would bring it all home just to find that Mom had also bought toilet paper. I'm proud to say I've continued the practice because, you know, just in case.

People respond in a basic way to impending doom. The primitive part of our brain kicks in to help us survive. I saw it all the time when living on the Gulf Coast. Threats of hurricanes always caused a run on bread, milk, bottled water, and paper products. People fought over food, slamming carts into each other. Same in the northern states when blizzards were imminent. Sometimes the actions are justified. But the primitive brain forgets that we live in more prosperous times. We aren't isolated in caves covered with snow. Most of us live within three miles of a Walmart or Dollar General store, and they get deliveries on a daily basis. Why the panic buying?

It may be more psychological than anything else. I was in the store and saw all those bare shelves. I had the reflexive instinct to buy something before it too was all gone. So I bought 15 laptops, five high-def televisions and 30 pairs of socks. You know, just in case.

My brother-in-law has 50 pounds of beans and rice, plus 30 pounds of vacuum-packed oatmeal. Hope he stocked up on toilet paper, too. I have no fear of running out of food. In my garage stands two freezers loaded with chicken, beef, pork, blueberries, ice cream sandwiches and who knows what else. I could outlast a two-year siege, if necessary.

I love the thought of "social distancing." Being an introvert and homebody, that is right up my alley. We also live in the perfect area to survive a pandemic. Our communities in Northwest Arkansas are mostly rural, not packed into huge apartment buildings or cities of 3 million people. We have space. We also have Walmart distribution centers just up the road. Push comes to shove, we could always form mobs and storm the buildings! But, honestly, toilet paper has no expiration date. I am certain that tons of the stuff reside in the warehouses, it's just a matter of loading up trucks and getting to the stores.

But what about the next big epidemic or apocalypse? Maybe we should all consider having plans in place as to what actions to take when the really big catastrophe falls upon us. No toilet paper? Heck, we have the woods; just do what any bear does. Just make sure the leaves you pick to wipe yourself aren't from poison ivy. Better yet, recycle your newspaper and catalogs as TP. Our grandparents made good use of the Sears catalog in their day. No food? We've got Sager Creek, City Lake, SWEPCO Lake, and the Illinois River. Learn to fish! Squirrel and deer are in your backyard just waiting to be trapped or shot. We here in the Ozarks have no worries about basic survival.

So, honestly, quit panicking and hoarding! There is plenty of stuff for everyone. You will feel silly after this is all over and you are wondering what to do with a garage full of paper goods.

By the way, anyone want to buy a laptop or socks?

-- Devin Houston is the president/CEO of Houston Enzymes. Send comments or questions to [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

Editorial on 03/25/2020

Print Headline: Pandemic preparation

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