This is one of the two headline stories from the May 20, 2019 issue of The Informer.
Defensive measures planned since the May 4 attack on the Gilead have been steadily implemented over the last few weeks, according to Gilead Defense Committee members, with the most critical ones already in place. “We have made extraordinary progress, and I’m a lot more optimistic today than I have been throughout this entire process,” said Rich Bennington, GDC member and the de facto head of the security effort, by virtue of his background in security consulting. “I wouldn’t say I’m sleeping soundly yet, but we’re in pretty good shape.”
The Informer delineates below the measures that have been planned by the GDC, along with a brief description and status report on each one.
Route 12 blockade
This is regarded as the Gilead’s primary vulnerability, as Raiders have been traveling this highway looking for places to loot. Gilead’s intersection with Route 12 has been blocked entirely, and barricades (consisting of large-diameter tree-trunks) have been placed along Route 12 wherever there are no natural barriers to vehicles leaving the highway, especially north of the intersection (see diagram from last week’s edition for details).
On Route 12 south of Gilead, there is no need for additional barriers, as the side of the road drops off steeply and is blocked by a guard-rail. The only other way for a Route 12 incursion further south would be before the bridge over Gilead Brook, and that area is being monitored 24 hours a day by an armed sentry stationed behind the Jones’s empty home. This sentry is part of the five-person team stationed at Route 12 at all times. Two man the barricade that blocks the road, while another two are stationed in the tree-line behind the Shareburg house, keeping an eye on the hay fields that border Route 12.
“We’ve seen a few individual vehicles and a couple of convoys go by here over the last several days,” said Karl Larsen, who has Route 12 sentry duty three days per week. “But none of them have been repeats, and all but one kept moving when they saw that we were stoutly defended.”
The one exception, Larsen said, was a man and woman with a small child who stopped at the barricade and asked for food and directions to Snowsville. “Dave [Childers] covered them with his weapon, in case it was a trick, while I gave them directions and handed over my lunch and his,” said Larsen. “They looked like they were in pretty bad shape, and we felt bad for them.”
Part of the sentry duty is to record all passing vehicle colors and types, license plates, and numbers of people, so that possible reconnaissance missions can be identified. So far, nothing of the sort has been seen. An extra store of food is now being kept at the barricades to offer to those who ask for a handout and appear to be in need.
Tatro Hill and Spooner Hill Roads
Because it is a direct connection between the heart of Gilead to Route 12, Tatro Hill Road is considered by the GDC as a vulnerability to be addressed, despite the fact that its intersection with Route 12 is not part of Gilead. The effort was initially complicated by the fact that Tatro survivors (about 10 of them) have already come together to make decisions that affect their area, and a road block was not part of their plans. However, after the GDC met with the Tatro survivors on May 17 and described the attacks on Gilead, Tatro and Gilead jointly decided to block access to Tatro Hill Rd. at Route 12, and agreed that Tatro citizens would patrol the immediate surrounding area to ensure incursions don’t take place.
Spooner Road also runs from Route 12 into Gilead, but because it peters out into a rough track before getting to McIntosh Hill Rd. (see diagram), it is not as high a priority as Tatro Hill Rd. The three survivors from that road have agreed to work with the Tatro folks to jointly patrol their areas.
“Although it’s a relatively small agreement, finalized on handshakes all around, I would still call this our first diplomatic victory,” said Bennington of the Tatro Hill/Spooner Road agreement. “And even more important, it means we don’t have to worry about our northern border.”
In order to further protect against incursions from Route 12, the GDC decided that a 50-foot wide swath along the highway will be kept clear of trees and tall undergrowth, so that trespassers will have to traverse the open area in order to get into the Gilead’s woods. The path of the “dead zone,” as it is being called, is marked in orange on the diagram. “It’s a tactically advantageous feature of the area,” said Bennington. “That long, continuous path has been kept clear of trees for decades because of the power lines that run along there, so all we have to do is make sure it stays that way.”
The GDC examined several topographical maps of the Gilead area, as well as tapping into years of experience hunting and hiking throughout the area, and concluded that patrols would be allocated as per the below areas.
Route 12 Patrol: Consisting of four people, this patrol would cover the Dead Zone between the Gilead/Route 12 Blockade and the top of Spooner Road.
Southern Patrol: Manned by only three people, this very long border is thought to be relatively safe. The only area to the south is the Camp Brook Road region, and although we have not yet sent a mission to establish contact, there is every reason to believe we will have friendly relations with any survivors there. Additionally, it’s unlikely any significant incursions of Raiders could be expected from Camp Brook Road, given the wide area of rough terrain between there and Gilead.
Western ridge: Given the roughness of the terrain and steep mountains separating Gilead from its neighbors in Rochester, it is unlikely the western flank will pose a problem. Occasional patrols will be sent up that way to look for signs of reconaissance being conducted, but is is presumed largely safe. Additionally, the GDC has included Rochester as one of its major destinations for a diplomatic mission, which should further ensure Gilead’s safety to the west.
Chambers Dairy: Because of the Dairy’s critical role in Gilead’s survival as an independent community, the Chambers family will be exempted from all patrol and guard duties, and their perimeter will be guarded by a patrol of three. In any event, the Dairy will be guarded 24/7.
Bennington, who designed most of the patrol areas and schedules, said the logistics of the patrols will be grueling until people get used to it. Bennington noted that Gilead consists of 17 households of survivors, adding up to 51 people, 31 of whom are available for patrol or sentry duty. “Right now, we’re looking at 12 people needed for our regular patrols, which means we don’t have enough for three full shifts,” he said. “It’s going to be a tough schedule, but hopefully we’ll be able to cut down the numbers once we’ve established contact with the Camp Brook Road folks.”
“One thing for sure,” said Bret Villiers, a welder who lives on McIntosh Hill, “is that every single person who can work is going to be busy from sunup to sundown every day, whether on patrol or working to get hay, wood, and food in for the winter.”