For survival to have safe shelter was of course a priority once SHTF.
But these shelters do not always look like you maybe imagine.
At the beginning of everything, when all the shelling and shooting started most of the folks wanted a secure basement. Those who had one, often moved there permanently, to avoid hell outside.
Other folks started with all kinds of ideas how to create their own little fortresses. First thing was to secure any kind of openings of houses. Think about those scenes when people flee from hurricane and nail their windows with wood planks, just in case of SHTF you have to protect all openings not only from wind but from bullets, shrapnel and people who want to get in.
In most of the cases people used sand bags, dirt bags or any kinds of junk piles combined with plywood over that. Then they added a small hole for something like an exhaust pipe or chimney and attached some kind of improvised or real wood stove etc.
I remember story that if you used two pieces of plywood, and put pillow between that you made perfect device for stopping smaller caliber bullets, and smaller pieces of explosive devices. The cushioning did the trick. People used that a lot.
After some time when people started to learn from bad experiences and stories they heard about things changed. Folks realized that being in the basement is not a good option, because they can be easily trapped inside.
I am talking about situation when you and your family are hidden inside basement, even if you have enough food, water, even if you are pretty good with weapons and have enough ammo, it can be tricky if you do not have few more exits from the basement, you could be easily get caught there and killed (or like in some cases burned or smoked out).
In some parts of the town, depending on situation and if they were under heavy shelling or not, people chose to stay sometimes on top floors of higher buildings of partially destroyed houses. They used these places as their base, and moved through destroyed apartments to other houses.
Over the time when you get to know enough that building with all holes and passages between apartments you could easily be something like a „king“ of the place.
I mean it would be nightmare for someone, or even a group of people to attack you there, especially because the whole building was changing almost every day when things broke down or new shells hit. I mean new holes and passages would open, old ones would closed etc.
If you saw the video in the course area in which I visit one house at frontline with Jay, these houses also have many small holes just big enough to push rifle through and shoot people. Now imagine not knowing this building and having to go through at night in complete darkness…
I had a relative who had an apartment in building of 10 floors. Due to heavy shelling building was partially burned, some floors completely destroyed, from the outside building looked like it is gonna fall apart at any moment, actually it looks like it started to collapse in the middle of the building and suddenly stop. Most of the folks run from the building, he stayed, for months, and survived.
He told me that even with all horrible things going on he had some kind of feelings that he was a rich man, he had all the building for himself, all of the normal entrances and exits were shut down, buried under rubble, mostly because of the destruction, but he also moved a lot of dirt and garbage to some in order to shut them down.
While others were in their small little rooms, whole families huddled together, he had a whole apartment complex for himself. He inspected his “kingdom” every day during daytime to look for changes and check his traps.
He made primitive traps and few explosive traps, most of the time he was left alone by anyone. He never had problems with gangs. Only few desperate people wanted to enter a ruin that looked like breaking down anytime.
When someone entered building in order to check if there is anything useful inside he just used holes between apartments and floors to move away from them. Nobody tried to come up to higher floors.
It was impossible to move trough the building and especially higher up for others without knowing it and probably because people constantly feared it would collapse nobody took time to find out my relatives secret ways.
After everything ended and we get in contact, he gets me to that building and took me on some kind of tour.
He had his own whole new system how he can get from first floor to 8th floor where he had some kind of base. Normal entrance was buried, we used one balcony, then covered hole to another apartment, then disguised hole and rope to second floor etc. like a big adventure playground, just that all dangers were very real.
To get up to his base it took us some two hours of crawling, uncovering holes, climbing, he said it was so long because he watched me so I would not run into the traps that he made, mostly peaces of big rocks that he put so if someone walks or crawls or puts hand on some place and they get buried under junk.
It was smart idea, because whenever someone ran in one of his traps it just looked like accident and if that person was with small group they left quickly in fear this can happen to more of them.
He said for him it took some 20 minutes for him from base floor to his base on 8 floor.
On the roof of the building he had something like playground, I guess, because he said that whenever he felt down he goes there at night and ride bike that he took from some apartment. Creepy and a bit crazy.
He would not go out so often, he said, I suspect that had something to do with fact that he had a lot of opportunity to trap people when they came to check the building and collect their supplies. He never spoke about how he got his supplies to survive but he was alone and that is only way I see.
Funny thing is that building did not collapse due to damage and shelling, but after everything ended authorities leveled it with explosive and built mall there.
I lost contact with my relative, I heard that he became weirder and weirder. I guess that has something with waiting for months every day that building gonna collapse on your head.
Point of everything in this story is that perfect shelter does not need to look like perfect shelter.
Sometimes perfect shelter does not need to look like shelter at all, and still it is just perfect shelter. It can be a place where nobody else can and wants to be except you.
Perfect shelter can be a place where in all of the chaos you make the rules.