Millions of U.S. residents along the Eastern seaboard are expected to experience a “grid down” survival scenario beginning as early as Monday night. The “Frankenstorm” Hurricane Sandy is a convergence of multiple weather events rarely seen in human history. Most people living in the region have never seen a storm like this in their lifetime.
According to Weather.com, the storm brings together five weather events:
• A Northbound hurricane
• A winter storm front
• A blast of Arctic air from the North
• High tides that worsen flooding
• Combination of high winds and heavy snow
It is that last item which really brings home the reality of the situation. High winds and heavy snow mean downed power lines everywhere. And unlike previous storms you’ve seen where the power outages were localized and short-lived, in this scenario the damage is so geographically widespread that power line crews won’t be available to help neighboring regions. Everyone will be completely occupied trying to restore power in their own cities and towns.
This means the duration of the power outages will be much longer than usual. It is almost certain that millions of people will be without power due to the storm, but what many people don’t fully realize is that these power outages could last for weeks.
That’s why a weather.com article also warns “Expect near freezing temperatures with no power” and “be prepared for extended period without power.”
Make sure you read my Hurricane Sandy preparedness checklist if you’re wanting to know what to acquire before the storm hits.
Living without power
Most Americans have simply never lived without power for any extended period of time. No power means:
• No internet (OMG!)
• No TV (gasp!)
• No recharging cell phones.
• No hot showers.
• No laundry machines.
• No dishwashers.
• No heating of your home.
• No lights.
• No toasters or ovens.
• No computers.
• No radios unless you have a wind-up radio or spare batteries.
The widespread loss of power and extreme weather conditions will also mean, for some period of time:
• No police response services
• No fire response
• No ambulances
This means many people will simply be on their own during the worst part of this crisis. In a scenario like this, dialing 911 is a useless and almost delusional act.
In addition to all this, New York City has announced it will close the subway system. Delivery companies have announced they will halt operations. Schools will be closed and much of modern society will grind to a halt during the storm. Much of the U.S. eastern seaboard is going to be thrust back into something resembling the 1800’s, but without the common sense and practical skills of the 1800’s.
FEMA will be called in to “help”
Have no doubt that FEMA will be called in from the very beginning, billed as a “government rescue” of all the people who failed to prepare. Remarkably, even though this storm has been identified many days ahead of time, there will still be people who fail to prepare for it, and some of them will simply die. (Yes, there will almost certainly be fatalities.)
Others will be caught in desperate situations and need to be bailed out by the government, via FEMA actions. Expect to see rapid distribution of food and blankets to residents in need — residents who were just too short-sighted to take precautions ahead of time like everybody else.
You’re also going to see medical emergencies galore. The stress of the situation alone will probably cause numerous heart attacks and strokes. Expect to see some car wrecks in the early hours as people try to rush home once the winds start howling. We’re also bound to see smoke inhalation victims thanks to a few people burning down their own homes trying to use propane burners (or masses of candles) as an indoor source of heat.
Rest assured that you do not want to put yourself in a situation where you depend on FEMA to rescue you. Such a predicament could be a death sentence. Remember FEMA’s disastrous response to Hurricane Katrina?
On looting and cold temperatures
Here’s one good thing about all this: Freezing temperatures discouraging looting.
There are two types of looters: Materialistic (just looking for stuff to steal and sell on eBay) and desperate (need food to survive).
Materialistic looters are, essentially, lazy-minded people. They want to acquire stuff without working for it. But they’re also not hard-core determined people who are willing to brave freezing temperatures and bad weather. Most looting, historically speaking, happens during HOT weather.
Desperate “survival” looters are not likely to be encountered in this storm, at least not in large numbers. The rise of desperate survival looters would likely require weeks without food and electricity, and I don’t anticipate that scenario unfolding here unless something goes terrible wrong with the recovery response.
So I think we’re going to be relatively well off on the looting question, generally speaking. In my assessment, the most likely threats to physical safety during the storm are going to be the freezing temperatures and lack of food or water.
Hurricane Sandy is a survival drill for the unprepared masses
One thing I LIKE about this bizarre weather event is that it’s serving as a relatively gentle survival drill for the masses. This hurricane and its wrath are nothing compared to what we could be facing in other, far worse scenarios such as:
• Detonation of a high-altitude nuclear weapon that unleashes an EMP wave which destroys the power grid.
• Power grid failures leading to nuclear meltdowns among North American power plants.
• A nuclear attack by a rogue nation such as North Korea.
• A massive solar flare that wipes out the U.S. power grid.
• A civil war or some sort of massive social unrest across the USA.
• A large rock from space crashing into the planet, unleashing a global mega tidal wave over a thousand feet high.
• The unleashing of the massive Yellowstone caldera (volcano) which would block sunlight for 1-2 years and crash the global food supply.
• A global agricultural catastrophe set off by GMO pollution causing an unforeseen food crop failure.
• The unleashing of a viral bioweapon designed to kill 90 percent of the global population.
These scenarios are far worse than anything this Frankenstorm hurricane could bring our way, and yet most people aren’t even prepared for a hurricane. It makes you wonder just how many people would make it through a serious, long-term power grid failure. I think that number is only about 10 percent of the current population.
That’s an alarming thought, considering that a super-charged solar flare strikes our planet every century or so. That event, which could happen without warning, would bring modern civilization to its knees and very likely unleash a wave of global nuclear meltdowns as well (because all the nuclear reactor cooling pumps and backup generators would be fried).
It kind of puts Hurricane Sandy into perspective, doesn’t it?
Trust me, this hurricane superstorm is nothing compared to what we’re going to be facing in the future. Let this storm be a reminder, however, that we must always stay prepared for the unexpected.