Home > The Great Outdoors > Survival/Preparedness Forum > Dec. 2018 NIAC report: 'Surviving A Catastrophic Power Outage.'

Dec. 2018 NIAC report: 'Surviving A Catastrophic Power Outage.'

  1. Posting the link to this report below for folks here who haven't seen it.

    Written by the President's Nat'l Infastructure Advisory Council, the report's purpose is to summarize the risks and provided a series of recommendations for action in order to prepare for and recover from a 'catastrophic power outage' - whether caused by a natural disaster, cyber/physical attack, EM event, or combination of any of those.

    Although the PDF file linked below shows 94-pgs, the report itself is only 23-pgs, the remainder being an appendices of materials. There is one page containing the executive summary and an overview of the NIAC's recommendations, of which there are 7.

    Let's just say there are several interesting findings and recommendations that are clearly based on the recent experiences of emergency-management agencies generally, and FEMA in particular, with such events as post-hurricane devastation in Puerto Rico and elsewhere (Texas, Fla., Katrina/NOLA), not to mention the effect that a no-notice cyber/physical attack shutting down the nation's power grid (or large sections of it) would have on a little-prepared/unprepared U.S. civilian population.

    Here's a hint: read carefully and between the lines. Be alert to the use of bureaucratic 'buzz-words,' like 'shelter in place,' creating 'local resilience shelters,' and 'cascading effects' on the distribution of electrical power that create areas of 'haves' and 'have-nots' which could 'impact national security,' not to mention safety issues at the local level.

    Think about what the reality 'on the ground' will be like in Chicago, L.A., NYC, et al, after any sort of extended 'black sky' event. :whistling:

    Note also the report suggests the 'new emerging preparedness standard' for individuals and families is no longer 72-hrs, but 14-days, during which you're expected to be on your own resource-wise. That appears to mean water, food, heat, and shelter.

    Personally, I think 14-days is understating it, if Puerto Rico is any sort of lesson. Considering a 'catastrophic' power grid loss where the anticipated re-boot/restoration time is only estimated and theoretical, the minimum prep goal should be 4-weeks and, ideally, longer.

    Anyway, here's the link to the PDF file, FYI:

    https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/NIAC Catastrophic Power Outage Study_508 FINAL.pdf
  2. Interesting and thanks. I'm not (yet) into total survivalist mode. I have some freeze-dried food and some bottled water I use and rotate fresh into the small stockpile. I even built a small 'luggable' solar setup (2 batteries and 2 100watt panels). So I'd probably be ok for a week or so.

    But I've not convinced myself to go much beyond that, though I'm glad there are those that do, if for no other reason than I sponge off their ideas for short-term emergency relief. When you think about long-term messes like Puerto Rico, I'm not sure I want to be the one with the resources to be plundered. Even my very good, generous neighbors could get nasty if it came to feeding themselves and their families (including their dogs). For that matter, I'm not sure how I would react if things got really desparate: would I share anything? would I be willing to defend the things I had with deadly force? I would like to think I'd share if I figured it was short-term (like tornadoes around here, or power outages). I would also like to think I would defend my immediate neighbors especially short term, but I'm not sure.
  3. Thanks.

    Yeah, among other take-aways from this report, Recommendation 3 deserves close scrutiny for preppers. It calls for 'guidance and resources' to states, cities, and "localities" (suburbs? unincorporated townships?) to 'design community enclaves' which are areas that 'co-locate critical services and resources to sustain populaces ... and allow residents to shelter in place.'

    The report specifically states that community enclaves are NOT 'mass shelters or camps,' but are 'existing facilities and supporting infrastructure' whose purpose is 'to prevent mass migration or support survival when migration in not possible or residents must return as the outage persists.'

    Think that through for a bit ...

    'Bugging-in' is encouraged as national disaster policy, or at least for this type of disaster. They don't want groups of folks bugging-out to wherever and clogging the roads since, under the catastrophic-failure premise here, any grid-powered traffic lights, signals, lighted warning signage, and other highways lights generally, WON'T be working.

    That last part about 'residents returning' home during a long-term outage appears to refer to those who were caught up while traveling, or away on business, or otherwise not at home when the lights went out.

    Subsection D under R-3 urges 'outreach and training for businesses and individuals to build a culture of preparedness at the individual and household level.' It then states: 'Community enclaves are predicated on the idea that the majority of U.S. citizens are prepared and able to safely shelter in place for extended time periods.'

    Okay, even if the 'prepared and able' assumption is true (which I seriously doubt), what constitutes 'an extended time period'?

    Well, back up under subsection A of R-3, the report lists 'critical lifeline functions that communities need even in a limited capacity or degraded state' during an outage, such as 'communications, electricity [presumably generator-produced?], fuel, limited financial services, food, water, wastewater treatment, and medical facilities,' citing 'e.g., 30-45 days.'

    That appears to be a reference to the minimum time-frame such 'critical lifeline functions' would need to last a local community until they're exhausted .... or until federal resources come riding in, like the cavalry in old Hollywood westerns. :upeyes:

    Another take-away from the Report is the premise of 'top-down' federal (or 'federalized') management and authority. The Report talks a good game about 'coordination' and 'cooperation' with private sector entities and 'industry partners,' as well as with state and local governments.

    But starting with the National Security Council as the initial recipient of the Report, it identifies a 'Lead Agency' after each Recommendation to direct implementation and follow-up, along with one or more 'Supporting' entities, those being (mostly) other federal agencies, commissions, and boards that operate lower down on the federal food-chain.

    For 'Lead' agency status, the Report repeatedly cites DHS, DOD, DOE, and FEMA (no surprise).
  4. Los Angeles is a desert. There is less than a two day supply of food in town. Having been a volunteer, I am aware that there are no stockpiled food stuffs/blankets/medical supplies sitting in the governmental warehouses for the next emergency.

    The largest danger is fire. Without water pressure, the town is cooked.

    Based upon incidents like the Spanish flu of 1918 which killed my grandfather and 2000 people a day in Philadelphia, you will be on your own for a period of time.

    The grand plans of Los Angeles County is for top political officials to go to the above ground bomb shelter and to order that electricity go to the bakeries first. That is all.

    Pick your poison - three days without water; 7 days without dialysis, no hospital/surgical services, a couple of weeks of no food or uncontrolled fires. All that you can do is plan to go under the radar for 30 days - and that might not happen. After 30 days, the main die off would have happened.
  5. We did 2 weeks without power. Interesting experience. Fortunately, we were prepared.

    What we did not have was local news sources. We got our news information at night from radio stations 1,000 miles away. (We had a good supply of radio batteries.)
  6. I've been researching a bit more on what it takes to get into a HAM radio set up, which could be powered by either batteries or a generator if the grid went down. Seems you can get a lot of real-time info on what's going on thru this medium of communication.
  7. When and what area were you in, and what time of the year was this?
  8. Good thread/ good OP.

    Anything can happen as we’ve seen in the last 20yrs that can cause a society to fail. I use that term instead of the prepper buzz terms in regular conversation. And that’s what these “Grid down” scenarios end up creating. People refuse to believe the “grid” will go down. But when you walk them through some of the news headlines over the last 30yrs they can see how society can fail.

    Puerto Rico, Katrina, etc. all created scenarios where society broke down. Now the catch is the govt was able to get resources and aid in to these places before it totally melted down...but if that aid is delayed beyond what it had been the possibility for massive unrest is very real.
  9. We recently went 10 days without electricity after Florence. Many roads were underwater, small creeks turned into huge rivers and many areas (including us) were cut off for a few days. My family and I were pretty well prepared, but we still learned from the experience and will do better next time.
    I’m looking forward to reading the report later.
  10. Close to 3 weeks without power HUGO..back in 1989....had to improvise (it wasn't easy)...but no problems...was prepared.

  11. During Katrina, we had no power for over four weeks. We were able to save our refrigerated food by running the freezers four hours a day using our diesel generator and fuel that was on hand for the tractors. That same generator was wired up to our well pump also to provide fresh water. Fresh fish from the pond and eggs from the chickens were available. We brought relatives from down in New Orleans over and we were able to carry on pretty well on our little farm.
  12. Still going over it again, but to me this Report is clearly meant to be a 'wake-up' conversation to the multiple levels of EMAs, federal, state, & local, for realizing the catastrophic impact on systems-dependent, heavily-populated urban areas of an extended 'grid-down' event whose duration, at least before partial restoration or recovery can occur, lasts into the months - say, 3-to-6 months.

    No doubt those in less populated rural/farming areas - for whom at least some amount of preparation and self-reliance is a traditional way of life - will fare better.
  13. Yup...and in the rural areas we have good fields of fire and observation points
  14. Northeast, early winter.

    Hams might want to brush up on CW transmissions using Morse code. In a real emergency that might be the only thing that gets through, aside from bicycle messengers. Some military journals have been talking about this lately.
  15. I hope the best for you and yours, but do remember, that in a scenario like that, the masses coming, might return fire. I do not have a good answer to that except, realize that and prepare. And yes, I do have keen sense of the obvious.:dancing:
  16. Well that’s where I like NH’s state motto...

    Weapons and tactics matter to a point...but heart always wins...
  17. As a Ham I fully support this idea. Start out with a Technicians license and join your regular local club nets. Most areas have a couple a week around 7-8pm. You can progress to the long range stuff (HF) later. You wouldn't think regularly calling in to a "local net" would be worthwhile, but there is a lot to it. You will learn a ton just doing this. It's fun too! I eventually joined our club here and befriended some of the best folks you could imagine in our area. (friendship can be a huge ally in the worst of times.....)

    To get started I purchased a cheap "baofeng" radio on amazon, learned to program it on youtube, and took the practice exams until I knew all the answers.


    The thing about ham radio is, you can keep it simple, or you can go hog wild and literally spend a lifetime learning. It's an amazing hobby.
  18. The government has been hardening military and critical government equipment against EMP since the eighties. It is possible to do so, but a difficult proposition for mere citizens. A well-grounded metal roof will help...as will a whole-house surge protector. However, it's our infrastructure that really needs protecting...which will be tough even for a nation as wealthy as ours. I think that the government is counting on the threat of retribution by our military to discourage such attacks. Their logic tells them that any nation that could mount an attack will have plenty to lose. Still, some common sense preparations like planning with friends and family to share resources, keep fuel, food, and medical supplies in reserve, and have a strong point for shelter, safety, and security is a good idea.
  19. That's interesting, thanks.

    Are Mil-folks thinking/anticipating that a cyber/EM attack on our national power grid is a likely near-future event?
  20. Certainly a cyber attack. Questions have been raised on how we would communicate with our naval and bomber fleets if the satellites go down. Apparently most of our military communications and navigation aids go thru satellites which could be 'taken out' in 1 day.

    The Russians are using very effective jamming devices in their ground fights with the Ukrainians. Our military advisors (who aren't there in case anybody asks) have serious concerns. Future battlefield communications could be limited to messengers, blinker lights (one if by land, two if by sea), skivvie wavers, etc.

    I gather the Navy has asked the Coast Guard for some instructors in celestial navigation. Morse code is also being practiced. We're going 'Old School'.
  21. Response to brushing up on ham radio and morse code.
    Ok, assume you have done it. Let us also assume that you have a generator and a lot of fuel - or if you would like, a tall antenna, an expensive handheld and plenty of batteries.

    Based upon my life experience, my work as a volunteer radio operator for the county, and having an understanding of the county resources, I say the following and this relates to my county:
    1. you will not be allowed to use any county repeater for any personal usage or to provide reports unless specifically instructed to do so;
    2. there are no warehouses of blankets or food.
    3. the police will not respond to calls for assistance - the utilization will be directed (how about holding down the sheriff substation in the last riot with an old lady radio operator and a boy scout and being told to lock the door to the substation and not respond to calls for assistance).
    4. it is highly unlikely that the fire department will respond to individual radio calls for assistance (having done that in reporting fire locations during an extensive riot).

    I am not negative, just suggesting that you consider other preps. It is January 2019. Today, I am baking more hardtack. It takes hours to bake at a low temperature. The fuel used will also heat the house. The time and money spent will be a better use (for me at least) than reviewing morse code. I will also be throwing out old tax returns, consolidating supplies so I remove fire hazards and gain a current understanding of what I have put aside - another use of time.
  22. Something people overlook is the backup a sewage and waste into homes on city sewer. If towns or city’s don’t have the power for filtration and pumps the sewer will back up and it won’t take a long time especially if rain is involved.

    “Shelter in place” could be challenging for some.
  23. Just be sure to know that gasoline now days is crap with a short storage life. If you store it for a generator you better rotate it through your vehicles. And you better run your generator regularly. I haven't yet, and don't learn quickly either. :) I bet it won't start right now.

    I should add that the last time I needed it, before the last carb overhaul, it had been sitting with non-ethanol gas that was treated with Stabil. And it still wouldn't start, and needed the carb overhaul.

    In the 70's we would park the boat in the fall with 2-cycle mix, take it out in the spring, and away we went. Not anymore.
  24. 4 months of food
    2 months of water + a couple good water filters
    Lot-o propane for the grill and cook stoves and the camper
    Lots-o ammo
    A couple potty "Potty Pails" with blue sanitary chemicals
    Lots-o TP
    2 small Generators and some gas
    Couple months of BP meds for me
    Couple good quality Thermos's for Thermos cooking of rice & beans
  25. I'm guessing that once things shake out one would be able to use private repeaters and talk with other hams to get information. I don't think anyone believes they would have a direct link to emergency services unless they were part of the emergency system (which BTW is a good reason to become part of system). Being able to listen to emergency services and/or communicate with other hams is the benefit of having radios.
  26. Good points made here regarding the first-responders.

    Not just the L.A. riots though, but Katrina also taught us (or should have) that if the event is devastating enough, not only will police and firefighters not respond to emergency calls, they won't be showing up for work, at least not the majority of them. They'll be home with their families, or trying to get them out of Dodge to somewhere that's perceivably safer.

    The NIAC Report uses the term 'catastrophic' in the title and repeatedly in the text. But it's clear the writer(s) don't just mean a 'severe' or 'wide-spread' power outage, but one of long-duration, i.e., 3-4 months on the short end, and up to 6 months or more before even partial restoration.

    Hence, the emphasis in Recommendation #3 that local communities and their EMAs have "community enclaves" set up in advance and powered by 'microgrids' that 'combine distributed energy resources, energy storage, ***" to achieve "energy resilience."

    Presumably if such microgrids are operational after "the event," this will encourage folks to shelter in place rather than mass-migrate in search of water, food, warm shelter, medicine, fuel sources, etc.

    The problem I have is with subsection D of R-3, which I quoted in an earlier post.

    The Report's whole theory of the effectiveness of these local 'community enclaves' (CEs) is partially based on the false assumption (IMO) "that the majority of U.S. citizens are prepared and able to safely shelter in place for extended time periods."

    When folks are not 'prepared and able' to stay where they're at, they tend to leave for places they believe have what they need to stay alive (water, food, or just physical safety). Hence, the implicit fear of the Report is that absent operational CEs, the unprepared will, quite quickly, have the impulse to bug-out.

    But it's also based on the assumption that local communities are able and willing to fund the setting up of CEs that will not only contain the 10-12 'critical lifeline functions' identified in the report, but will also be manned and operational after the lights go out.

    A lot would first depend on the affluence of the particular city, town, township, or suburb, and then a political willingness to fund one or more CEs to the qualitative level envisioned in R-3.

    Perhaps the more affluent communities might be able to do it to the level the Report's authors seem to think is viable post-event; ... poor rural communities and the tax-poor urban centers, not so much.
  27. Excellent points...however having been involved in community emergency management in the past I suspect (like in the past) that federal grant money will become available to bring communities up to speed.

    That will remain to be seen.
  28. Sitting near my roaring fireplace, looking thru this NIAC report again, a reliable source has advised me it's -10 degree air-temp outside without factoring for the wind-chill.

    Later tonight, the air-temp here will fall to a record of like, -16, with -45 degree wind-chills.

    Full-on arctic blast ... So if the Grid goes down nationwide tonight, the Report exhibits a clear preference for folks to 'shelter in place,' which begs the question: how long does the Gommit expect folks to 'bug-in' inside unheated homes and apartments after the power's out (assuming no generators, Big Buddy/propane-based back-ups, etc).

    Maybe if it's a house, they have a wood-burning fireplace. How long before the wood runs out?

    Just thinking out loud, between the wind howling at the front door and the desire to toss another log on the fire.
  29. Which is just one more reason I want to get out of Ohio and move to a more temperate climate.
  30. The device is called a backflow cut off.e.costhelper.com/backflow-preventers.html

    Your homeowner's policy will contain an exclusion for a backflow of sewerage into your home. So, depending upon where you are, you have it installed. I have known of two people who lacked the device and suffered thousands of dollars in damages. I am on a hill and have been told by plumbers that it will not back up to where I am.
  31. Absolutely, correct. Nearly all homeowner policies exclude coverage for sewer backup. Before you spend your hard-earned dollars on the latest whiz bang shown in a gun magazine, spend the money (Backflow parts cost between $35 and $900. Labor costs between $35 and $250) and install a backflow on your sewer line. If you have an EMP attack, the liklihood is that your city will not be sending around pumping trucks to clear sewer line blockages.
  32. It's interesting how the topic of the catastrophic consequences of a power-grid loss pops up here and there. The recent report which prompted this thread shows the government is quite concerned about it.

    So recently I came across this subject again while watching a YouTube video by YT figure 'John Mark'. In 'Civil War 2' (CW2) he breaks down an analysis which a former Red Team Planner (RTP) for the government wrote on the topic of who would win a second American Civil War - something which also very much concerns the government.

    In fact, per the RTP's analysis, his federal government contacts apparent view a CW2 scenario as inevitably resulting from a political environment in which a regime of left-liberal types and 'social justice warrior Commies' (together termed 'the Establishment'), who've gained the presidency and majority control in Congress, have sufficiently extinguished traditional constitutional freedoms to the point where a coalition of alienated patriot/conservative/Alt-Right groups, and other 'grass roots right-wing' players, arm-up and begin taking to the streets.

    Whether you agree with it or not, that's the premise for the RTP's analysis which the YouTube vid then takes you through issue by issue.

    The RTP's analysis of 'Who Wins?' is based on a list of the 'Top 14' issues or factors, with each being discussed and then weighed as to which side would have the advantage, big or small - or on some issues maybe neither side has a clear advantage, in which case it's a 'tie.'

    Relevant to this thread's topic, the RTP lists as Numero Uno: 'Ease of Taking Down the Power-Grid,' with an interesting discussion of how that would happen, what the resulting fall-out would be, and which side is advantaged by it.

    No need to watch the whole video. The Red Team discussion starts about the 3:40 mark. The relevant power-grid discussion runs from the 4:38 mark thru about 7:48, although the analysis comes back to the system's vulnerability and the shortness of time following its loss before urban society unravels as a recurring theme in several other issues the RTP analyses.

    Just offered FYI:

    View: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=aJh7Ye1Qvc8&ebc=ANyPxKrCIvdAshwKaR7EK6I5GiLwxd5Hs4lUJt2Qi8kn1bUBDS_RatyQ2azyyMs8kJmrpmI8ZL9Y07sMIULnlhPK6uxF8cUJpQ

    :waving: :cool:
  33. Do any of these "Take Down The Grid" planners consider the impact of damage control?

    while the grid could be taken down, and be out based on that for a while - it almost sounds to me like they do this under the assumption that every engineer and all necessary materials are also completely lost in the process and forever unavailable.
  34. I guess it depends on which theory of Grid Take-Down plays out.

    If the cause is external (EMP; Russian/Chi-Com hackers, whatever), with only isolated regions affected (i.e, not nationwide), the NIAC Report seems to envision the same type of FEMA-response as happens with hurricanes - where massive federal resources are allocated to assist affected locales. Some small amount of crime (looting) occurs, but usually it's not widespread nor particularly violent.

    If it's nationwide, the Report is premised on well-prepped & stocked locales (the shelter-in-place/community-enclaves thing) doing the heavy lifting to get their populations through the long-term until the Feds can get each region of the grid back up and running. The report doesn't speculate on what level of chaos and crime would ensue, but the clear expectation is that normalcy would be restored by the Feds, in conjunction with private-sector Grid players (power companies), in a controlled manner and with state & local law enforcement providing security.

    If the Grid goes down - due to its inherent vulnerabilities - as the opening act of a CW2 scenario (the RTP's theory, discussed by John Mark on the vid), then all bets are off.

    The immediate domino effect in population-dense urban areas will be much like that after a blackout: general looting, pillaging, arsons, murders, rapes, robberies, etc. - in other words, exactly like Baltimore in the days following the Freddie-Gray incident.

    Local police won't be able to control the chaos (if they even try), which then forces the Feds to allocate resources and armed manpower to these additional 'fronts' of CW2, the characterization used by the RTP. It would be difficult to restore destroyed or crippled Grid infrastructure with bullets flying. Every Grid engineering unit would need huge security while making repairs, not to mention the security needed to guard the infrastructure site after repair.

    And as long as the Grid stays down - in whole or in part - the chaos would continue, eventually spreading to rural areas, or at least to those within a gas-tank's distance of a major population center.
  35. And....I think they underestimate the planning and logistics of the private sector. Major corporations have experience working in underdeveloped countries with fluctuating political and infrastructure situations. In addition they have the ability to move massive amounts of people and material around the country and around the globe. Believe me the private sector thinks about stuff like this.

    Think Walmart during Katrina moving hundreds of truck loads of stuff.

    Think the mobilization the private sector went through at the beginning of WWII and then multiply it by 100.

    I'm not saying that a grid shutdown won't be catastrophic but I have faith that it won't send us back to the middle ages.
  36. No, not the Middle Ages.

    The better, or at least closer, historical analogy to the integrity of the power grid in a CW2 situation is the U.S. military's attempts to repair and then guard power and oil infrastructure sites in Iraq during the early insurgency when the bad guys were bombing them and then attacking repair convoys. Those convoys were usually guarded by Mil-contractors, not soldiers. I suppose the energy companies here could do something similar, hiring security teams if the Feds couldn't spare Mil units (Nat'l Guard) to baby-sit the engineer/repair teams.
  37. If I remember correctly there were Blackwater or Blackwater type security deployed during Katrina.

    All I know, based on first hand experience, is that big corporations have logistics teams and resources to handle stuff. I worked on a regional FEMA planning committee in SE Michigan home to the big three auto companies (who are some of the largest corporations in the world). The stuff they brought to the table was staggering. I represented the colleges and universities in the area but those guys blew anything we had (which was considerable in itself) away.

    There is a cliche' that says "what's good for business is good for America". Keeping America going is good for business. Business has too much invested in the US, they aren't going to pack up and walk away in time of crisis.