8/1/12

What Would Happen...

...If Half The Country Lost Power?

Did you see the story about the two massive power outages in India the other day?  India has about 1.2 billion people, and over half of them, 670 million, were without power.  Reports today indicate that the failure was the result of a "technical snag" and infrastructure being "a mess."

Irrespective of the cause, what would happen if 150 million Americans lost power, even if just for a few days?    That would be roughly the states along the East Coast and the Great Lakes... centers of finance, government, media and manufacturing.  Plenty of dense, heavily populated metropolitan areas, but also lots rural agricultural land.

I would imagine that the folks reading If It Hits The Fan would easily be able to make it through three or four days without power.  But what about the people in those cities, and the cascading effects on the economy from everything being shut down?  What about the groceries that would be lost in the stores?  The lack of information from the local radio and TV stations not being able to maintain generated power that long?  People unable to access ATMs or credit card machines... Restaurants being unable to cook food... Gas stations being unable to pump food... Public works, garbage trucks, police cars and fire trucks being unable to refuel or maintain communications without fuel for backup generators...  Airports shutting down...  Schools and businesses shutting down...  Alarm systems being down... Hospitals running out of backup generator fuel...

When I posed this question on Facebook, a couple of folks said they would just Bug In and ride it out.  I really don't know any other way.  I'd run our generators (very secured) and with satellite TV, we could get information from outside of the affected area.  I would be very concerned about crime, but much more so if we were closer in to the city.  Out here in the country, it would still be a threat, but we would be home and I don't see this situation spawning roving hordes getting this far... they'd be to busy in the city.

I don't think this scenario is very far fetched.  There have been widespread power outages in the US before, just not THAT wide... but as interconnected as the national grid is, it could happen.  For the prepared, it would not be that much different than a regular multi-day outage from a storm or something.  For the unprepared, it would cause panic and overreaction because of the loss of services and lack of information.

Just another thing to consider as we prepare.

7 comments:

  1. When I first started talking to my husband about preparing basic supplies for a long term power outage, he said, "We have a generator. What's the problem?" I agreed it was nice to have but what if the outage lasted longer than a few days? What if we couldn't get gas for it? What would happen to our refrigerated food and how would we get water for our horses? He said I was worried about nothing and suggested perhaps I'd been watching too much TV.
    Then we got hit by Hurricane Irene. I had already put together a better first aid kit than we'd had before, had stored drinking water for the horses and ourselves, and had even put away a modest supply of non perishable food. We were trapped by fallen trees however and it did take some time to get out. Gas was in short supply because not many stations had power... and those that did had run out of gas. Many people didn't have a generator and few had prepared for being off the grid longer than a day. Their idea of storm preparation even with several says warning was alcohol, a flashlight, and some batteries. Some had some peanut butter and jelly and bread. It was a real eye opener.
    After being without power for a week, my husband was much more interested in being more prepared. We talked about helping neighbors with health problems, noticed other ways of dealing with the outage in case the gennie broke down or we couldn't get fuel. We also realized we were woefully unprepared for living off the grid more than a few days.
    They say if you are even thinking about the subject you're already ahead of about 80% of the population. Of the remaining 20% only half are ready to handle a week comfortably, and it's generally thought only 3% of the population is really ready to deal with a prolonged outage and able to help others. That is a staggering figure when you consider the psychological strain of large numbers of people suddenly thrust into darkness, cold, heat, loss of technology, normal function, and lack of food and water. People change under stress and act in ways they wouldn't otherwise. I've seen it in grocery stores when they predicted a brush with a tropical storm never mind several days into the real deal.
    Few people want to even discuss TEOTWAWKI.... just an acronym for The End Of The World As We Know It... prolonged breakdown of infrastructure and power sources from either natural or other disaster. Some people have rifles or hunting gear but so few have the means to support themselves past a few days it's kind of scary.
    We considered that people in the city would probably want to leave in search of food after they figured out the government couldn't help them after all. We also wondered how we might deal with frightened, injured, hungry, possibly aggressive people on the edge of violent behavior because they were fighting for their lives. Could we secure our perimeter? Could we 'bug in'? Were there others nearby in any stage of preparation for such a thing?
    All that was a year ago. We have kept trying to maintain steady preparation yet we never feel completely ready.
    What just happened in India could easily happen here. I worry about the behaviors of totally stressed people here in the US. I don't wish disaster on anyone but storms do teach us lessons for the future. We should pay attention next time our power goes out.
    Do we have a plan? Does everyone know what it is, where supplies are? How to use them? Do we have a plan for getting home from work?
    Yes, we all had a little laugh over the joke that while all of India had no power, over half the US had no tech support but how many of us wondered seriously what we would do if that happened here?
    The time to plan for the day the SHTF is today. Even a half-hearted attempt is better than none at all. We don't have to spend thousands to do this either... we just have to take the first few steps and the rest will come eventually. The hardest steps to take are the first ones!

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  2. we pretty much had that situation with the derecho. took several days to get word that it was widespread and going to be a long outage....half the country outage would be a BEST CASE scenario. the other half, like during the derecho, can still help out the AO. i think thats why we had very little violence, well, that and everybody around here was armed:)...but think what if ALL the country was out. who's to help then? where's the news coming from then? the longer there was no news the more folks got antsy....folks need to get over refrigeration as a NEED. its a luxury, it can easily be done without. eat all your frig/freezer food asap then cut the cord, save the gas for emergencies like dry spells with no rainwater.crank it up, fill every container available and shut it down. if you must have power invest in small scale solar NOW.improvise,adapt, overcome.

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    1. Hi, Just wondering if you have a site or know of one that talks about foods /recipes for foods not needing refrigeration. I'm thinking dehydration is the way to go . Any help is appreciated.

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    2. Hi Anonymous,

      For learning how to dehydrate, one of my favorite sites is from Tammy at www.Dehydrate2Store.com.

      For canning and other long term storage information, Jackie Clay's blogs and writings at http://www.backwoodshome.com/blogs/JackieClay/ for Backwoods Home magazine is a great resource, as is the Ball Blue Book of Canning available in my Amazon store.

      Also, check out my advertisers, many of which sell long term storage foods and supplies.

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  3. Anyone remember the Great New England Power Outage in the mid 60s? I was in college and we thought it was a great thing - until we found it was all over not just in northern CT. Several girls in my dorm became hysterical because they believed the warnings of foreign (Russian) invasion of their parents, others became concerned when it lasted and we didn't have food, lights, or radios to find out what was wrong - telephones worked, remember they were landline phones back then.

    At the time I was glad I had a flashlight, some food in my room other than candy and crackers and a battery operated radio. Water would have been nice. Learned a lot that night and I'm always prepared for a night's outage or a month or even longer if need be.

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  4. I think we are very vulnerable in America as there are only 3 (I think?) big power grids that cover the whole nation. Even if only one goes out for a week or so we are all screwed. The banks and stores will be closed and soon the looting will start. It's best to prepare now if you haven't done so already. We stocked up on food a few months ago and got a lot of freeze dried food at www.srmarketplace.com. No need for refrigeration ever and a 25 year shelf life.

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