It was a hot, humid night in New York City in July 1977 when a series of three lightning strikes at three different electrical substations triggered a citywide power outage. Power would be restored 25 hours later, but that was plenty of time for the city to devolve into utter chaos.
Looters and rioters damaged more than 1,600 stores. Firefighters responded to more than 1,000 fires set by arsonists. Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from one car dealership in the Bronx. They would affix chains to these cars and use them to pull grates off of storefronts before looting the stores.
In all, nearly 3,800 people were arrested. A congressional study later estimated the cost of damages to be just over $300 million.
And that was only one day without power in one city. For all the chaos and devastation that 1977 power outage caused, it would be nothing compared to an EMP strike.
An attack using an EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, weapon would knock out the power in thousands of cities across the country simultaneously. In fact, if it were exploded high above the center of the U.S., it could knock out power across the entire country, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. A power outage like this would last many months, or even years.
Jeffrey Yago, a licensed engineer and certified energy professional, says the danger of an EMP attack is very real.
“I think in the future of this country, we’re going to certainly see not only more power outages in more areas, but they’re going to last a lot longer,” Yago said during an interview on The Hagmann Report. “I’m not talking about a two-day outage [caused] by a storm or a weeklong outage by something like Hurricane Sandy or Katrina, but we’re talking potentially, these problems could impact major parts of the United States for months, not days.”
Yago believes if America continues on its current path of escalating tensions with North Korea, an EMP attack will be imminent. He suspects China, North Korea’s biggest ally, would rather see North Korea attack the U.S. with an EMP weapon than with a more conventional nuclear missile. A nuclear missile would destroy buildings and other infrastructure that China, the U.S.’s largest foreign creditor, may hope to own one day. An EMP attack would destroy America’s electrical grid while leaving other critical infrastructure intact.
Plenty of experts in the public and private sectors are aware of the EMP threat to America’s power grid. Multiple studies have been published, including “Securing the U.S. Electrical Grid” by the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress in 2014, “Electric Grid Vulnerability” by the staff of two Democratic congressmen in 2013, and “Large Power Transformers and the U.S. Electric Grid” by the U.S. Department of Energy in 2012.
Those are all good studies with useful recommendations, according to Yago, but he has not seen evidence lawmakers are taking those recommendations seriously. He suspects it’s because lawmakers think an EMP strike will never happen, but he warned that’s a dangerous attitude.
Don’t take a chance by being unprepared. When the power goes out and all the grocery stores are closed, you’ll be glad you have your Live Prepared emergency food vault.
“You have to remember, other countries don’t look at it that way,” Yago advised. “A lot of your other countries – Russia, China, Switzerland – these countries are heavily involved in helping to provide protection for their citizenry. They do think that these events can happen and they do want to try to do something to protect their population.
“It seems like most of the preparations this country has been doing is just for continuation of government. They certainly are doing preparations and making facilities available for the government, but not only are they not doing anything for the people, but I think they made a decision years ago that it’s just physically not possible for the government to be able to provide food and shelter and water for millions of people if we have a grid down event.”
In this respect, the government is right, Yago noted: There is no way the government can provide for all its citizens if the power goes down for months at a time. With 325 million people living in the United States, governments – whether federal, state or local – would need to provide 975 million meals just to feed every American breakfast, lunch and dinner for one day. Providing enough water for 325 million Americans during a grid down event would present an even greater challenge.
Yago warned Americans they don’t want to be anywhere near a major city during a power grid failure.
“People are going to sit there in their apartments just waiting for the government to come rolling up the street with food and bottled water, and they’re just not going to be there,” he cautioned. “It’s just physically not possible.”
Since the government won’t be there to save them, Yago says Americans must make their own preparations for a grid down event. In his do-it-yourself guide “Lights On: The Non-Technical Guide to Battery Power When the Grid Goes Down,” Yago identifies every appliance in a typical home that will stop working if the grid goes down and offers a solution for powering that device in an emergency.
He covers everything from lighting to medical devices to refrigeration to computers to water pumps – all of it can be powered by batteries if the grid goes down.
“I’m not saying convert your house to battery power; I’m saying, though, you can find some of the devices that will really be helpful if you are in an extended power outage,” Yago said.
In the appendix of “Lights On,” Yago lists over 200 devices, most of which fall in the $25 to $50 price range, that Americans can buy to help themselves prepare for the worst.
“It might take a little bit more searching, but I think people will be amazed at just a very few devices they pick up – some LED lights, an AM/FM radio, maybe a way to pump some water,” he said. “That’s what the book does. It goes through all these simple ways and describes all these amazing devices that you can get. Again, all of them are very inexpensive, so I’m taking a different track from my many years of seeing the complex and expensive systems, and I’m trying to bring some really low-cost solutions for the average guy that is wanting to do some preparation.”
The WND Superstore contains an extensive array of products to help people prepare for emergencies, including a wide variety of long-term emergency food vaults.
Will you be ready when the lights go out? Widespread, long-term power outages are almost certain to occur in the future. Find out how you can prepare in Jeffrey Yago’s “Lights On: The Non-Technical Guide to Battery Power When the Grid Goes Down,” available at the WND Superstore.