The post title is one of my current unit's cultural sayings. In context, it's generally used as a sham excuse by a select number of higher-ups who are sloughing tasks off to others below them. However, there are times and places where this literally becomes the truth, as much as people wish to believe otherwise.
Some quotes from news reports out of Japan:
"Millions of people spent a third night without water, food or heating in near-freezing temperatures along the devastated northeastern coast."
"People are surviving on little food and water. Things are simply not coming," said Hajime Sato, a government official in Iwate prefecture"
"We have repeatedly asked the government to help us, but the government is overwhelmed by the scale of damage and enormous demand for food and water"
"we simply don't have enough. We just did not expect such a thing to happen."
"I never imagined we would be in such a situation," Watanabe said. "I had a good life before. Now we have nothing"
All cringeworthy quotes. Which is why I have these personal rules:
1) Stockpile sealed food and water. Being foremost in the thoughts and prayers of other nations won't put food in your stomach for at least several days in the best of circumstances. Where I normally live, tsunamis aren't an issue, but flooding, tornadoes, and extreme winter conditions are. I will not survive the initial disaster only to starve in the aftermath. Furthermore, don't store it all in one place. Family, storage rental, or even a secret squirrel stash buried in the woods within a one day foot-travel distance can make the difference between between hoping someone feeds you before you starve versus being able to maintain your health and strength in an extreme situation. For these acute events, I'm a big fan of the lowly MRE, due to being able to consume it cold without added water if necessary (based on experience, hunger truly does make the best sauce). Having at least a week's worth of food and water for a household and extended local family is a must from my perspective.
"An emergency worker in white helmet came over and told him if the (gas) station opens at all, the gas may be allocated for emergency teams and essential government workers."
"large areas of the countryside remained surrounded by water and unreachable. Fuel stations were closed, though, at some, cars waited in lines hundreds of vehicles long"
2) I don't like to let my gas tanks fall below 50% full, and I keep enough fuel in my garage to top up that 50% if needed. Which is great, if you can actually leave the area to get to a relative's place that is agreed upon in advance. But otherwise, gasoline shouldn't be a priority. Why? Because if you run a generator in this situation, you're going to be a refugee and/or looter magnet. Which is why The Wife and I are focused on being able to live in an 1895 technology mode for an extended period of time. Modern fuels, such as Coleman fuel and propane, should absolutely be stocked for easier cooking and emergency short-term heating, because they are silent. But having plenty of aged wood on hand is good if things are going to be extended. Implied is having the means to use these fuels, and cookware (think iron) that is durable over open flame.
3) Even in advanced countries with benevolent governments, you can't count on them to get to you in a timely manner. Ever.
4) Japan is culturally homogeneous with a deep tradition of cooperation and group efforts. The US isn't. After an initial event, culturally diverse areas will experience what is essentially tribalism, with those outside of the local tribe being more at risk for violence of all types. Use resources discreetly, be helpful to your local area as much as safely possible, but be prepared physically (again, discretely, or depending on where you are, extremely discretely) and emotionally to use force in defense of your own and your local community's safety and resources.
5) The will to survive doesn't trump all, but it will take you further in an extreme situation than a passive mindset that waits for someone to take care of matters.
I strongly recommend checking out the Survival Blog website, especially his link "Getting Started" on the left side of the homepage.
Because in the end, we're responsible for ourselves.