Editor's Note: I have one major fear that overwhelms me... an EMP. Everything else I think most preppers can get through... however, and EMP would be absolutely devastating to even the most prepared person. Just take a look at Baltimore... now multiply it times 100, 200, 1,000? The following article was graciously provided exclusively to The Survival Summit by one of my favorite authors, Jonathan Hollerman. Best selling author of EMP - Equipping Modern Patriots! It's an absolutely riveting novel! If you enjoy his article, you will also thoroughly enjoy his newest piece of masterfully written "true-fiction" that was just released on Tax Day; EMP - The Aftermath.
As you read the following article, take mental notes, then take action. Enjoy!
By: Jonathan Hollerman
There are dozens of SHTF scenarios that people are preparing for. Some of them can seem quite silly and very unlikely, but most of them have at least some legitimacy. So what should you be preparing for? When getting started, I always recommend my clients apply the age-old philosophy, “Prepare for the worst and hope for the best!” At the same time, balance the worst-case scenario with what is most likely to happen.
If you were to ask most threat assessment experts, the worst case scenario would be a full-scale nuclear war with Russia or China. On the flipside of this threat is the fact that it is unlikely to happen in the near future. While I know that many people who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis may vehemently disagree with me, most experts say the possibility of that happening in today’s political climate is very slim. Besides, there isn’t much you can do to prepare for a surprise nuclear bomb being dropped on your head and there wouldn’t be very many places you could go to live and still avoid the worldwide radioactive fallout that would ensue.
The next worst case scenario would be the electric grid going down for an extended period of time as a result of a massive solar flare, EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack, or physical/cyber attack. Most Americans have never even heard of the EMP threat and almost every American assumes that electricity will magically flow into their houses without interruption forever. You can’t really blame them, that’s all they have ever known. Without the homesteading skills of the last century, and no way to transport food around the country, most Americans would die within a year of losing electricity
I know that some of you are planning for a massive financial collapse, major pandemic, and other SHTF scenarios. While I agree that those are very legitimate scenarios in our country’s future, the effect on everyday survival is not nearly as catastrophic as losing the electric grid. In those circumstances, you still have the ability to go shopping, use the phone, and drive your car, etc. (at least for the first couple weeks/months). I challenge you to research how likely it is we’ll lose the electric grid in the near future. In fact it’s amazing it hasn’t happened already. Admiral Rogers is the Commander of the US Cyber Command. You need to watch his testimony he gave to Congress a few months ago on our infrastructure’s vulnerability. I will sum up Admiral Rogers’s testimony in a few short sentences for you in the meantime… America’s critical infrastructure (including the electric grid) is completely vulnerable to attack by multiple enemy nations and groups who ALREADY have the knowledge and the ability to literally “flip the switch” on our electric grid at any time. It is his biggest fear as the Commander of US Cyber Command and he fears a traumatic attack in the very near future which will result in massive loss of life and property….. If you have never looked into the vulnerability of America’s electric grid, I challenge you to do your own research, starting with my abundantly linked and foot-noted website GridDownConsulting.com to get you started.
So what’s the big deal with losing the electric grid?
When Americans do lose electricity for an evening, it is an irritating adventure in most households with Mom and Dad scrambling to find a flashlight so they can find the candles packed away in some dingy box in the basement. The baby is crying because she is scared of the dark. Little Suzy is trying to comfort the baby but is irritated because she was in the middle of sending an email to her BFF. Little Johnny is angry because he didn’t get a chance to save the video game he was playing. Dad curses as he stubs his toe on the bed looking for the flashlight. Eventually, things calm down and the family votes on a board game to play until the lights come back on. Three hours later, the lights mysteriously come back on and the family scatters from the kitchen table. Mom heads back to the kitchen to finish the dishes while dad plops back down in front of the college football game. Suzy and Johnny run back to their rooms and zone out on their electronic devices, while the baby plays alone in her play pen. Sadly, the board game sits unfinished on the dining room table along with the first meaningful conversation the family has had in months. Unless you live in rural Alaska, this is probably your idea of “the grid going down.”
When I tell people that we could easily lose the electric grid for more than a year, their eyes typically glaze over and they nod their head thinking back to the last time the power went out at their house. They have no clue that their ENTIRE life completely revolves around electricity. Most Americans (especially kids) have never even pondered what life would be like without electricity because it’s always just been there. It’s almost unfathomable. They don’t realize the absolute death, destruction, mayhem, starvation, murder, looting, raping, and pillaging that would ensue within weeks after the grid going down.
The fact is, most American’s just can’t connect the dots from Point A to Point C because they don’t understand why this would be any different than 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, The Great Depression, etc…. “This is America! We’ll work together like we’ve always done!” That is typically true in a localized disaster when everyone’s belly is full and FEMA is mobilizing and coming to the rescue. But if the national electric grid goes down, there is no one coming to help because the rescuers, government, and military are in the same boat as you with no electricity to function. Once true starvation sets in to the general population and with no help in sight, it will quickly become every man for himself.
Before I try and paint a picture for you of what life would be like after the grid goes dark, you need to understand why we could lose it so easily. The electric grid in this country is very vulnerable and its Achilles heel is the HV (High Voltage) Transformer. HV transformers are essential for the grid to operate because they are what step up and step down the power into usable loads. What this means is that you can’t take your toaster oven and connect it directly to the large High Voltage (HV) power line exiting the Nuclear Power Plant because your toaster would blow up. The high voltages exiting power plants typically travel large distances to another HV transformer which steps down the power into usable loads. It is then stepped down again at a distribution substation before being sent on your local power lines where it will be stepped down once more (by the smaller transformers you see on the power poles) and sent into your home at usable load. There are currently over 2,200 HV transformers across the United States.
The HV transformers are massive, typically weighing between 200 and 400 tons each. They are unique to each substation and must be custom-built to spec. America’s HV transformers are made overseas and take between 6 to 18 months to build and deliver, assuming there are no back orders on the raw materials they need. The transportation logistics are also extreme with special rail cars, cranes, and trailers needed to haul the heavy load. Power lines need to be moved and each bridge they cross has to be inspected before crossing. These transportation logistics can sometimes add months onto the lead time of replacing one of these HV transformers. Imagine the logistics of moving a transformer with no police escort, no one to inspect the bridges, and massive traffic jams of “out of gas” cars blocking the roads.
Why is this information important? This information is important because most of the threats to the electric grid could easily take out 300+ transformers at once. A Super EMP attack would likely take out all of them. If the electric grid were taken down in the US, then the few manufacturers in the US that technically “could” produce the HV transformers wouldn’t have electricity for their factories and all the transformers would still have to come from overseas. Even if ramping up production, electricity wouldn’t be restored before 6 months at the earliest and most of the country would still be without power for more than a year.
Most government and media reports acknowledge that looting and rioting would be rampant but choose to focus on the “trillions” of dollars it would cost in commerce and the cost to repair the grid. The problem with this scenario is that social order would break down within a week of losing the grid and a total societal collapse would be inevitable within a month once people really started to starve. Most experts believe between 6 and 9 out of every ten Americans would die the first year due to starvation and sickness. America as we know it wouldn’t survive six months without electricity, so who’s going to be around to fix the grid and who are they fixing it for? I predict the government would focus on getting the power restored to important cities and military bases first and most of rural America could go years before seeing power.
The severity of what life would look like after a grid down situation depends on which scenario was the culprit. A cyber attack or physical attack on our infrastructure could leave the electric grid down for months and in some rural locations, years. A massive solar storm or small EMP would leave the grid down for six months to a year in most locations, but a Super EMP could cripple the grid for years in most locations and fry most of the electronics we depend on. When dealing with a Super EMP attack, scientists have varying views on what percentage of small electronics would be affected. Either way, any blackout lasting more than a week will result in major metropolitan areas descending into utter chaos and total anarchy. Anything longer than a few weeks and, in my opinion, the country will never fully recover. It will be survival of the fittest from that point forward.
Before we get into how losing the grid would affect you personally, let’s discuss how it would affect the country as a whole. Today, America is the richest country in the world, and every other industrialized nation leans on the US for our buying power. Since 1944, the US Dollar has been the world’s reserve currency and is what the central banks use to set exchange rates and the price of oil and other commodities. In recent years (due to irresponsible financial policies by our government) countries like China, Russia, and others have been working to replace the Dollar on the world stage which would have disastrous consequences for the US. The only reason they haven’t been very successful to date is because they can’t offer up a more viable alternative.
I believe the US Dollar would be replaced as the world’s currency very soon after a grid down scenario. Think about it: no American has the ability to buy anything from stores or the internet without their credit cards or access to their money. Stores can’t be restocked due to the shut-down of our interstate transportation system (no gas stations are functioning). Essentially, this shuts down all our imports from overseas. Our Stock Market would unofficially crash (unofficially because it would be closed for business without electricity). This would crash every other market around the globe and Asian countries would especially nose dive without Americans being able to buy their exports for the foreseeable future. A lot of overseas factories would be forced to shut down, putting their employees out on the street without jobs, further exacerbating their countries' woes. Weeks after the grid goes down, your dollar bills are most likely going to be worth pennies.
I believe the ensuing global financial collapse would seriously hamper the ability of our UN partners from coming to our aid in the aftermath. I’m sure some European countries and maybe even Russia and China would pitch in for a short while, sending us ships with food, but for how long? They are going to be experiencing their own societal collapses and record unemployment. They are going to need to focus their resources on helping and feeding their own populace. Even if they did send large amounts of food for an extended period of time, how would that food get distributed? We would have 300+ MILLION starving Americans scattered across a huge land mass with no infrastructure or way to transport food throughout the country! You’ve seen the movies and videos when we deliver food to starving refugees in developing nations. It’s total mayhem with the stronger men beating up women and children to get a small bag of rice. Could you imagine a container ship of food arriving in New York City’s harbor with TEN MILLION angry and starving people stampeding the docks? Again, it would be total mayhem, and my suggestion is that you stay far away from these types of scenarios because they will be absolutely deadly environments.
In a nutshell, I believe our country would cease to exist in any realistic fashion shortly after losing the grid. The EMP Commission Report and Lloyd’s of London talk about how it would cause trillions of dollars in damage to our economy. With half the US population dead from starvation, sickness and murder after six months and 80 to 90 percent dead after the first year, why would you even fix the grid and who’s going to accept our worthless dollars to help us? EMP Commissioner Lowell Wood calls an EMP attack a “giant continental time machine that would move us back more than a century in technology to the late 1800s.” The problem is that our infrastructure is completely different than the 1800’s. We aren’t set up to live like the people did 150 years ago. It’s not like you can pull out your Sears and Roebuck catalog and order a horse drawn plow or kerosene lantern? Do you see what I mean? We don’t even make the tools and supplies anymore that one would need to live before the age of electricity.
Most people expect to see the US government step in during a national crisis like this, but don’t hedge your bets on that because it CAN’T happen. The Department of Homeland Security or DHS is responsible for taking control in the case of national disasters. They have plans in place for all types of scenarios; however, as of today, they have not put together a plan for an EMP attack, solar flare, or long term loss of the electric grid. FEMA is only designed for localized tragedies and disasters like hurricanes, not for a national scenario like a grid down event. Right now the US government only has 6 million MRE’s (emergency meals) stock piled for just such emergencies. How long do you think 6 million MRE’s are going to feed a country of over 300 million? Not even a day. What about the military, you ask? Most people are unaware that 99% of the US military is completely reliant on the civilian electric grid. Most bases have diesel generators for backup that would last a few hours and a day at most. Read the report I linked to where the US military is trying to get mini nuclear reactors for each base to make themselves more self-reliant. Hint: it’s not going to happen in the next decade at best. In fact, the DOD report states specifically:
“DOD is unable to provide its bases with electricity when the civilian electrical grid is offline for an extended period of time. Currently, domestic military installations receive 99 percent of their electricity from the civilian power grid… Most military bases currently have backup power that allows them to function for a period of hours or, at most, a few days on their own. If power were not restored after this amount of time, the results would be disastrous. First, military assets taken offline by the crisis would not be available to help with disaster relief. Second, during an extended blackout, global military operations could be seriously compromised… During the Cold War, this type of event was far less likely because the United States and Soviet Union shared the common understanding that blinding an opponent with a grid blackout could escalate to nuclear war. America’s current opponents, however, may not share this fear or be deterred by this possibility… Even with massive investment in efficiency and renewables, most bases would not be able to function for more than a few days after the civilian grid went offline.”
So you think the US government is going to step in and save you? They are not going to help you in a grid down scenario because they are in the same boat as you. The government CAN NOT feed 300 million Americans without our critical infrastructure or being taken offline. You are on your own. My bet is the politicians will be shipped to some underground mountain to ride out the storm while you and I figure out how to survive on our own. When the grid goes dark and you start picking up government reports on your battery-powered radio telling you that all is well and help is on the way, do not believe them! I have just given you the evidence that proves otherwise. These messages will be designed to try and keep people calm and they will lie as long as they can to achieve that end and prevent panic.
Lastly, if you have any survival skills whatsoever, the WORST thing you can do is go to the (FEMA style) camps where they promise food and safety. These “Green Zones” will be overcrowded, and rife with disease and violence. If you have no other options, then go ahead and roll the dice, but when the people there start to starve and realize the government lied to them and can’t feed them, it’s going to get really ugly at those locations. Look at the Super Dome after Hurricane Katrina with the violence, theft, rapes, murders, and overflowing unsanitary conditions. It’s an ugly scenario and that was a localized disaster that only lasted a few days. Could you imagine weeks and months of living like that? Most people who go there will eventually die or flee the horrible living conditions and disease.
So how would a grid down scenario affect you personally?
How long do you suppose the food in your pantry will last? Most Americans go to the grocery store every three days. Let’s assume you eventually eat the boxes of food that needed cooked raw (you will once you’re hungry enough). Most households might have enough food for one to two weeks. A tiny minority may have canned food to last them longer or looted their local grocery store before the masses arrived (48-72 hours) to clean it out. Only ma and pa stores may open their doors and then they will only take cash (for a few days until they discover the power isn’t coming back on). Supermarkets will not be open for business. The managers have no vested interest in the stores, which are owned by some rich corporation in another state. Employees won’t show up for work. Once the food is looted, there is no resupply coming.
Most people don’t realize how the food supply in this country has radically changed over the last 100 years(especially the last 10 years). A hundred years ago, most people (even city people) grew and preserved a good portion of their daily food. Today, very few people garden and the ones who do consume it as it grows. Very few Americans know how to can or preserve fruits and vegetables to last through a winter. With the introduction of electricity and food on demand (at your supermarket), the skills needed to live without electricity have been completely lost to 99.9% of Americans. Even most of today’s older generations grew up with electricity. Today, with the help of computers, we have a “just on time” delivery system. In other words, food is grown, canned, and resupplied to the grocery shelves as fast as it is taken off. There are no great towers of grain like in the Egyptian days. If you stop the growth, canning, and resupply, it won’t be long till ALL the food in this country is completely gone.
Most supermarkets don’t operate storerooms anymore or stock very much in the back room like they did 20 years ago. Have you ever asked your local supermarket employee to check the backroom for something they are out of? They look at you like you’re stupid and then pretend to go in the back only to return a minute later and tell you “we’re out”. Most supermarkets get one to two truck deliveries a day to keep their shelves stocked. In the modern world (with electricity and computers), when you buy a can of beans at your local store, the checkout computer tells the warehouse to put another can of beans on the next truck. The warehouse’s computer then tells the distribution center that they need another can of beans on the next truck. The distribution center’s computer tells the canning factory they need another can of beans to be sent on the next truck delivery. The canning facility computer then tells the farm in Mexico that it needs more raw beans on the next available truck. What are the two common denominators in all those steps? The computers can’t communicate with each other and the trucks can’t drive across the country because the gas stations don’t have power. This is true with almost every item you buy at nearly every store you visit. Interstate commerce completely shuts down and you will not be able to buy ANYTHING you need to survive once the store’s current supply runs out.
You would have no money outside of what is in your wallet or safe. Our entire finance industry is run by electricity. Most people have no clue that the average bank branch has less than $10,000 on hand at a given time. Seriously, I wanted to pay cash for a used car ($9,000) a while back and my bank told me I would have to schedule that size withdrawal in advance and it would take the bank three days to get it. My bet is that the banks aren’t even going to open their doors once the grid goes down. They know people are panicking and they don’t have the cash on hand to give to people (most of whom will want to drain their accounts). Besides, every bank I know uses computers and electricity to perform bank transactions. There is no electricity, remember? You were a millionaire before the crash? Not anymore. Don’t bet on a single bank opening its doors for business. Also, don’t rely on storing up large amounts of gold and silver for a grid down scenario. No one is going to trade you precious food for your gold or silver coins. It will be years before there is any semblance of normal commerce where you can use precious metals to barter for tools or food.
I would recommend spending whatever cash on hand you have in the first few days getting as much food as possible. Within a week, once store owners (the very few with heavy security that haven’t been looted already) figure out that the power isn’t coming back on, your money is worthless. A hungry person isn’t going to trade you a can of beans for a thousand dollars.
There would be no communication with those who live farther away from you than earshot. In other words: no phones, no emails, no mail delivery, no Facebook, and no Twitter. Are you getting the picture? Think about all the family and loved ones that have moved away. Do you have a sibling in California? Do you have a son or daughter at college in Texas? You’ll probably never see them or speak to them again. If someone breaks into your house looking for food, how are you going to call for help (not that the police would be able respond anyway)?
There will be no emergency services. Police, firefighters, and the National Guard will all be in the same scenario as you are. There will be no way to contact them, their vehicles will quickly run out of fuel and the traffic jams will pen them in just like you. They are just people like you and me. Once the looting begins, most will rush home to be with their families to protect them from the rioters and home invasions. Very few will show up to work on day three. Some of the more honorable, single men may stay at their post for a while and try to help out, but within days of the grid going down, don't expect to see any emergency services. You will likely see the same result with National Guardsmen who are typically activated via a phone roster. Most will not be reached and most will not report for duty once things go south. Again, in a crisis situation, they will put the safety of their family before orders from their superiors. Even active duty military will experience a huge amount of AWOL soldiers. However, a good portion of their families live on base and they will be available for duty. Even so, as I explained earlier, the military bases WILL NOT be able to perform disaster relief because the military is dependent on the civilian electric grid.
There are no hospitals or medicine. Most hospitals are required to have a one or two day supply of backup electricity. Once they run out, loved ones on life support will die. Hospitals will be flooded with emergencies and injuries related to people doing stupid things out of their normal routine. How many nurses and doctors will stay more than a few days without going home to check on their family and protect them from the rioters and looters? Without the ability to get resupplied, the hospitals will soon run out of bandages and the like. How long before the doctors and nurses throw up their hands in despair with their inability to help people and head home?
You need a prescription to survive? Guess what, almost twenty percent of the population do as well. This includes everyone who suffers from asthma to diabetes. The drug stores will be closed because they have no way to verify prescriptions or check you out. How long before the tweekers and heroin addicts raid your local pharmacy because there are no security cameras and no way for the police to respond? How long will the vials of medicine you need survive without refrigeration once the electric grid goes down? If your child requires medication and you haven’t stockpiled or are unwilling to risk looting your local pharmacy, then you will know exactly when that child or loved one will die…. shortly after their current supply of medicine runs out.
Your house will not protect you like it has in the past. There will be no A/C or heat in your home. If you live in an area of the country that has cold winters or hot summers, life will become very uncomfortable and deadly in a lot of areas. A lot of malnutritioned people, not thinking clearly, will resort to doing incredibly stupid things to get warm, like start a fire in their house, or burn a charcoal grill indoors, etc… In urban areas with row houses and large apartment buildings, you will likely see large out-of-control fires burning whole city blocks because one person does something dumb and there are no fire trucks (out of gas) to come and put the fires out. You could actually see whole sections of large cities burn to the ground with no way to stop the flames. Do you know how to stay warm in your home once the thermostat drops below freezing? In a lot of cases, extra blankets won’t be enough. Many people will go to bed and not wake up the next morning. Also, a lot of people watch action movies and think they can hide behind a door or wall to be protected from someone who is shooting at them. This is not accurate. Most bullets will travel through multiple walls until they hit a stud. Your home is NOT bulletproof! Ducking down below your window in a firefight with your starving neighbors will not protect you from their bullets.
If you rely on city sewage, your house will likely back up over time. Raw sewage could start bubbling out of your sinks and tubs as people continue to use toilets and sinks even though the sewage facility isn’t operating. This will create dangerously high levels of methane in your home that could make you very sick. Because of poor sanitary conditions around the country and most people not cleaning their hands properly before cooking due to lack of water, Dysentery and Cholera will become major pandemics in this country with a lot of people getting sick and dying. Regular baths will become a thing of the past, and many people will start bathing in their local creek or water source, causing dangerous bacteria to float downstream where other families rely on the same water source for their water needs.
Don’t depend on your vehicle getting you out of dodge. In the event of a Super EMP, a lot of cars will come to a stop in the middle of the street. Even if they don’t, a lot of people will try to flee the cities on empty gas tanks causing massive traffic jams. It only takes a handful of cars to run out of gas on the roadways to completely block traffic. If you do not flee town within 24 hours of the grid going down, you are likely to find yourself penned in. If you do have a vehicle that is running, it will only run if you can get fuel for it. Most gas stations don’t have back-up generators. The ones that do will be quickly overrun and emptied. There is no way to re-supply them because the trucks rely on the gas stations to get the fuel to other gas stations. Even if they could be rigged to resupply from their own tanks, don’t forget that there are massive traffic jams all over the country. Even if they could get through, how would the trucks get re-filled? Even if they could iron out the details, very few truckers are going to leave their families behind unprotected while they travel across the country with rioters and looters everywhere. Oil refineries take massive amounts of electricity to operate and will not be operational any time soon. What about the nation’s precious fuel reserves? If you don’t think the government is going to confiscate that for military and government use, I have ocean front property in Arizona I’d like to sell you. There will be no refueling shortly after the grid goes down. If you were a forward thinker and have a large supply of fuel for your vehicle, I would only recommend using it the first few days. After a week, most cars will be out of gas and people will be desperate for a running vehicle to get them where they need to go. If you are driving one of the few cars on the roadways, YOU ARE A TARGET. I wouldn't start using the vehicle again for a full year (until most of the starving masses are dead).
You will not have lights once it grows dark outside. I understand that you may have a flashlight and some candles at your house, but honestly, how long will your batteries and candles last? I would use them very sparingly for a couple reasons. Without electricity, the world is going to become a very dark place. With no streetlights or ambient light in the cities, nighttime will become a very dangerous place to find yourself outdoors and light attracts attention. If you do have a large supply of batteries or candles, I would use them very carefully. Two weeks in, once people start getting hungry and desperate, lights coming from a house will be a huge beacon for looters and home invaders. Most people have never been to the mountains on a backpacking trip. On a cloudy dark night, you can see someone smoking a cigarette on the next mountain over. In a perfectly dark city, light escaping from around the edge of your blinds or curtains will be seen from a long way off. In a grid down situation, you want to rise with the sun and go to bed once it gets dark, utilizing natural light and conserving flashlights and candles for emergencies. These are just a FEW of the ways your life would be impacted by the electric grid going dark.
Next, let me paint a picture for you on how difficult it would be to just procure water.
For the last seventy-five years, you turn a faucet and a seemingly endless supply of crystal clear water comes pouring out to drink, cook, and bath with. It’s always been that way and that’s all contemporary Americans have ever known. Most Americans don’t even realize that half of the world’s population will never enjoy that luxury…but I digress. That endless water supply stops within hours and I guarantee you’ve probably never pondered the logistics behind gathering and purifying your own water. First off, please don’t get lazy when it comes to purifying your water. If you do, you will eventually get sick or die from water borne viruses, bacteria, or parasites. It’s only a matter of time.
Depending on your home’s location in relevance to your local water tower, your house could lose water pressure within minutes or hours. Due to the extreme amounts of electricity used to process and pump water into the water tower for the average town, most cities do not have backup generators for this. The ones that do will only last for a few hours to a day at most. If you live in the country and have a well, did you know that typically your well pump operates off 220 amp electricity? Your water stops instantly unless you are one of the lucky few who have a backup diesel generator, etc. Now, how much fuel do you have stored? FEMA estimates that the average person with a backup generator has less than 5 gallons of fuel on hand at a given time. Even if you have more, you’re going to run out at some point. What if you live in the Southwest? To put it politely, you’re probably going to be dead soon. Deserts were never meant to be inhabited for obvious reasons and only electricity and our modern infrastructure allowed us to live there. The Nomads throughout the centuries who traveled the world’s deserts had life skills available to them that we both know you don’t possess.
For those of you who live in areas where you have nearby streams or other water sources, do you know how to purify your water? Let’s assume you do. You are going to soon run out of bleach drops and Iodine tablets or your purification cartridge will eventually get clogged. You are now a week or more into a grid down situation and you are going to have to boil your water just like everyone else did for the last 3,000 years. How far away do you think starving and desperate people can see and smell your fire? Farther than you think… On the plus side, your shoulder muscles are going to be huge from carrying five gallon buckets of water from the nearest stream back to your home. Sounds like fun right? You are eventually going to need to take a bath. How many five gallon buckets does it take to fill up a bath for each member of your family? Think about it.
Next, do you know how to start a fire in the rain to boil the water? You do… great! How much firewood do you need to have on hand to build a fire and boil water twice each day? If you have any firewood at all, it will probably be gone faster than you think. Do you have a large saw, or ax to cut down a dead tree and how many dead trees do you think you have close by your home? How far will you eventually have to travel to find firewood? Can you physically cut the tree down and then bolt it up into six foot sections and then carry the logs long distances back to your house only to cut the long logs into sixteen inch lengths? You are still not done, have you ever split wood before? Are you proficient enough to do it without sticking the ax in your shin when you miss the log you are aiming at because you are physically exhausted and weak from hunger? Oh yeah, hospitals will be overrun and most won’t be operating without electricity or supplies after day 5 or 6. I hope that deep cut doesn’t get infected or you’ll lose the leg and you’ll probably die from infection. But again, I digress....
So far, we have only been discussing water. Let’s add in the fact that you were a bargain shopper and have a stockpile of canned goods from Costco in your basement. Maybe you were really prepared and had some long-term food storage for your family. What happens when you spend a lot of time being noisy and walking around your neighborhood procuring wood to boil your water, and cook your food? What happens when your sick neighbors see you and show up for some heat by your fire and begging for water because they don’t have the tools, energy, ability, etc to purify it on their own? Okay, it’s only water, so you help them out and give them some because you are a nice human. Good for you, you have now guaranteed that they will be back the next day probably with a couple other loved ones or neighbors from down the street who saw the smoke plume from your fire. I’m also willing to bet those same people weren’t forward thinkers like yourself and they have long ago run out of food. They are literally eating pine cones from their driveway at this point (no joke). With no chances of getting re-supplied, are you going to give them some of your child’s food? That was nice of you. I guarantee they are coming back for more water, food, etc., every single day until you run out of supplies or the energy to help them. If you refuse them from the get go, they will probably beg and cry for help. They will even use their sick baby or elderly mother to play on your heart strings. How heartless are you? If you still refuse, that hungry and thirsty neighbor (who you’ve had a beer with on multiple occasions and borrowed a mower from a time or two) with a hungry and thirsty family down the street will get mad and demand you help them. He may even try to fight you. So you scare or beat him off with the log in your hand.
How long do you think it will be until your neighbor is sick and desperate enough to return with his Pappy’s shotgun to take your water and food by force because his kids are literally starving and dying before his eyes? In his weak mental state, he will resent you for not suffering like he is and would rather kill you than watch his family starve to death. Oh… so you have an assault rifle and you defend yourself, killing your neighbor and leaving his sick and starving wife and kids (your son’s best friend) without someone to protect them. It was justified. He pointed the gun at you first…I understand. Good luck getting to sleep for months after that.
Now the rest of your neighbors are ticked at your “selfishness” and gang up on you with multiple guns and rifles. Okay, so you are John Rambo incarnate with an arsenal that would make a militia proud and you fight them all off without getting shot a single time. Good for you. More sleepless nights full of nightmares (ask any soldier). How many people do you think heard that gunfight? Take out a map and make a two mile circle of your location and try to estimate how many people just heard you shooting your battle rifle. What percentage of those starving people might think that someone with a gun has something that is valuable and worth protecting? How many of those desperate people will eventually come for your stuff hoping to take you off guard at some point? Can you stay awake every waking hour to protect your family? You have to sleep sometime or you won’t have energy to chop more wood tomorrow.
What happens when the bad guys show up while you are out cutting wood? Is your wife just as John Rambo as you are with an AR-15? Did you ever buy her the Tacticool plate carrier with ballistic plates that you wear when you are out of the house? Could she fight off a dozen rednecks with deer rifles without getting shot in the melee? Let’s be honest, probably not. Instead of killing your wife, maybe they just watch you each morning till you leave the house and head out for more wood or water. Maybe they post up in your dead neighbors house waiting for you to step outside and weed your garden in the back yard. You are hungry, sore, and exhausted at this point. Are you alert enough to see that man with the deer rifle a hundred yards away hidden under some garbage bags? Probably not. What becomes of your beautiful wife and daughter then? What will their life resort to after their food is gone? What will they have to do to survive? Do you think I’m being vulgar or gross? If so, I’d say you are being naive. Outside of the GI Jane types, most women without protection in this type of society will have to use what they have to survive. It’s a matter of fact. Look at history and some of the horrific events done by the Russians and Germans during World War II. Those are events that people don’t usually discuss or make movies about, but they still happened.
What I’m trying to show you here is how impossible it will be to survive in a suburban area after the grid goes down. Even if you are in a smaller suburb of thirty thousand upscale people, how many rounds of ammunition do you have? Ninety five percent of the country will soon be starving, sick, and desperate. They will resent anybody who is not suffering with them. It’s just human nature. PLEASE do not listen to the survival experts that will try and help your “fortify” your home or apartment and show you how to successfully ride it out in town. If you follow their advice, I can nearly guarantee you will be dead within a month. I would also be very leery of the same type of survival experts who recommend you band together with your neighbors and fortify your cul-de-sac. Here is why. Most likely, even with all their big talk, your neighbors haven’t taken the threat nearly as serious as you have. Most of them won’t have nearly the supplies and long term food that they brag about.
What about all the other neighbors who weren’t part of your planning group but live on your street? You’re going to need their help to protect the cul-de-sac and work together for food gathering missions, growing crops, security, wood gathering, etc. Guess what? You are feeding them now as well. If you have $100k in long-term food reserves, then this scenario may work out for you. But in all likelihood, your neighbors will help you eat your family’s two year supply in a couple months and then you will starve to death through the first winter just like they do. Do you seriously think you are going to keep your food from them because it’s “yours” and you paid for it before the collapse? You may for a short while. Eventually, they will be starving and your family won’t be. THEY WILL NOTICE AND THEY WILL COME FOR YOUR FOOD EVENTUALLY. I don’t care how close you are to them or what kind of “agreements” your little band of survivors has in place. All that goes out the window when blue-collar Jerry watches one of his little girls die of starvation. Blue-collar, church elder, and your fun-loving neighbor, Jerry has just become a starving, desperate, irrational, natural born killer and you are going to take the brunt of his anger before he watches his other child die a slow and painful death. DO NOT under-estimate a starving and desperate person regardless of their personality before the collapse. Hungry people make absolutely crazy and un-characteristic choices. Trust me; I’ve seen it first hand with highly-trained soldiers in the field who have only gone days without food. We are talking about civilians with no training and no food for weeks or months. Most will literally become half-crazed walking zombies with one mission...food.
A lot of the “experts” will say I am fear mongering or exaggerating how bad it will be. They say Americans will work together and will get through it. They do not understand human suffering and have no experience dealing with starving people. Staving Americans will act no different than starving people in the Congo or Mogadishu. In fact, they will likely act much worse. Americans (even the poor) have never seen true hunger or been actively starving. They didn’t grow up starving and without food like the people in Africa. Americans and their entitlement mentalities will be viciously ANGRY when they get hungry. They will have no experience or idea how to deal with the mental hallucinations brought on by hunger pains and most will resort to anger and violence. Looting, raping, and pillaging will become the norm. It will be straight Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome and eventually like the movie The Postman. I don’t care if they fix the electric grid a year later. Most Americans will be dead and the only ones left will be the survivalists, the extremely lucky, the larger well-organized gangs of looters, and the strongest and most brutal of men who left their souls at the gate and did horrible things to survive. Who are they going to fix the grid for? Are we all going to forget what has transpired and go back to driving our Prius’s to work at Starbucks? Are you going to get the warlords to give up their positions of power among their men and their harems of sexual slave girls? The day the electric grid goes down, America ceases to exist.
You need to understand that life after the grid going dark will probably be ten times worse than I am describing. There will be 300 Million Americans facing the same horrific questions as you. Where do I go? What do I do? It is vital that you understand and accept that the following is true. A few weeks after a grid down scenario, there will be hundreds of millions of starving people wandering around the country desperately fighting over every last scrap of food. A month or two after the grid going down, most Americans will be violently sick from food deprivation and other illnesses. THE AVERAGE DESPERATE AND STARVING AMERICAN WILL KILL YOU IF YOU HAVE FOOD AND THEY FIND YOU. I don’t care how protected you think your home is. You will eventually be over run!
There are very specific things you can do to survive this scenario. If you are on a budget, you need to read my upcoming book on prepping on a budget. If you have the financial resources, you MUST hire an expert to help you plan your retreat. Don’t buy two years of food supply and put it in your basement in town thinking you’re covered. You will only be feeding the looters who will eventually scramble over your dead lifeless body to take YOUR food and haul off your beautiful wife and daughter to God knows where!
Jonathan Hollerman is a former USAF SERE Instructor and an expert on prepping and survival. Working as an Emergency Preparedness Consultant through his website GridDownConsulting.com, Jonathan helps his clients prepare for the hard times ahead. Jonathan is the Author of the Amazon Top Ten Bestselling prepping book EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots, A Story of Survival, and recently released the sequel to it called EMP: The Aftermath. Jonathan will also be releasing a full-length prepping on a budget manual this Christmas.