Written by: Daniel Jennings
Three days’ worth of food and supplies is insufficient for your family’s survival, the federal government has finally acknowledged in what one expert is calling a landmark shift in emergency preparation.
The White House’s new plan was released last year as part of its Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan and then explained again in April at a workshop hosted by NOAA. The event included White House speakers.
Grid expert Chuck Manto attended the workshop and detailed the new plan in a June 15 article at DomesticPreparedness.com, which is a website for emergency planners and first-responders, such as firemen and police.
The new plan warns about a “long-term loss of electric power.”
“For the first time since the demise of the civil defense program of the Cold War, the federal government has made one of the most significant modifications to its emergency preparedness message,” wrote Manto, CEO of Instant Access Networks LLC, a firm that produces solutions for EMP-protected microgrids. “A three-day emergency kit is no longer sufficient to prepare for emerging threats, whether coming from Earth or from space.”
Manto added, “Instead of implying that U.S. communities can always count on being rescued from any disaster in four days – requiring three days of food and water to stay comfortable – the implication now is that local communities might not always receive assistance for a much longer period of time.”
The new federal government strategy contains several changes that Manto said are significant:
- “Complete an all-hazards power outage response and recovery plan: for extreme space weather events and the long-term loss of electric power and cascading effects on other critical infrastructure sectors;
- “Other low-frequency, high-impact events are also capable of causing long-term power outages on a regional or national scale.
- “The plan must include the Whole Community and enable the prioritization of core capabilities.
- “Develop and conduct exercises to improve and test Federal, State, regional, local and industry-related space weather response and recovery plans: Exercising plans and capturing lessons learned enables ongoing improvement in event response and recovery capabilities.”
Manto explained that the new strategy acknowledges that “unlike the cases of Hurricanes Katrina or Sandy, where help could come within a week or so, help might not arrive in 40 days, or even 400 days.”
“Long-term national outages of power and other infrastructures that depend on them – including water, sewer, communications, and healthcare institutions – could mean that the entire country might undergo a catastrophe and might not be able to quickly mobilize resources to help many communities,” Manto wrote.
A long-term disaster is not simply theoretical, Manto asserted. Each decade brings anywhere from a 6-12 percent chance of an 1859 Carrington event, according to scientists. During that year, the sun experienced a solar storm of such magnitude that it would have shut down the power grid if it had existed.
“That is a significant likelihood for such a calamitous occurrence,” Manto wrote. “Including high-impact threats in overall disaster planning scenarios provides a sense of importance and immediacy that should compel the whole community to get involved, rather than simply hoping for someone to rescue them.”
Anyone who wants to survive an EMP-type event needs to take note of Manto’s warnings and act accordingly.