I very seldom watch any survival related programs. While they are occasional informative their scenarios and actions tend to range from the peculiar to the ridiculous. American Blackout a two-hour National Geographic Special promised to be the exception so I watched it. The scenario of a ten-day, nation-wide blackout caused by cyber attack was refreshingly logical. In fact we addressed this possibility and its consequences in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of American Survivor. The program traced the situations of a variety of people caught in the effects of the blackout at various locations. The situations and actions were not too farfetched. Occasional data and statistics were flashed on screen to highlight the developing problems. There were statistics on food shipments, fuel consumption; per person water consumption and (interestingly) that there are 6-million “Preppers in the United States. We saw the struggle of four strangers trapped in an elevator. After realizing that help was not coming they managed to climb up the cable to the roof only to be trapped there. We observed a semi-prepared suburban family doing okay until a candle mishap burned their house down. On the extreme ends we were shown a totally oblivious couple in a New York High-Rise who do everything wrong and die and a supper prepared family that evacuates to their woodland retreat and underground bunker and faces issues with unprepared neighbors. The background stories were food riots, marshal law, uncontrolled fires, economic collapse and international aid/intervention.
The light came back on just as things were really starting to breakdown. The ten-days in fair weather scenario was a bit mild. The damage from a cyber attack would probably last months or longer and if it occurred in cold weather the death toll would be much higher. Most suburban and rural homes have ten days or more excess food in the pantry without even going to the survival stocks. The high-density populations and urban poor of the cities seldom have more than a few days food on hand. There is no way that enough water; food, fuel and supplies could be transported into these populations under the chaos that would result from an extended national blackout. No traffic lights, no railroad signals, no water pumps, no sewage pumps. etc. Few folks actually have the resources to maintain a home and a fully stocked remote retreat and without advanced warning you are unlikely to be able to travel 10-miles, much less a few hundred. Outside the inner cities one could survive with a good deal of preparedness and some luck. Even after a few weeks of blackout the economic damage would be devastating. The public would never recover any sense of security. Emergency measures by the state would probably be permanent , creating a police state. This might engender multiple “resistance” movements and an end to the “United” States, as we know it.