I grew up in hurricane country. We are born and mostly live our entire lives suspended in a giant web of infrastructure and support systems. When you're born into it, it's natural take it for granted and treat that as the baseline. But every now and then you have an experience that makes you realize just how far down below the ground really is, how far it is to fall, and how few cables need to fray before people start dropping.
I'm not one of those doomsday preppers who seems to relish preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I think the much more rational approach is to strengthen the web itself so that we don't fall in the first place. But I'm definitely aware how quickly and how badly things can go.
Hurricane Katrina is the canonical example. Over a thousand people died in the middle of a well-developed urban area, in the richest country on Earth, from a disaster that everyone knew was coming some day. The hurricane didn't kill those people. The city and state's complete failure to engineer robust infrastructure did. If that same hurricane had hit an equally populated city elsewhere, the outcome could have been entirely different.
Went out and bought two “life straws.” We have enough food to last a month without infrastructure just by virtue of large pantries, but when the water goes out, it’s gone.
My wife laughed at me, but from my perspective, if infrastructure is down for more than a month, I’m probably toast anyway. ;)
The USGov has failed in the past at an individual response level, but they're really good at compiling resources to help you and your family be independent. In fact, in San Francisco, the Emergency Response mindset for The Big One has shifted (since loma prieta) from "the government will come help you when it happens" to "do everything you can to survive for weeks without government help, when it happens."
So in your case, do more than buy life straws - store many gallons of water somewhere in your house. This can be done really easily and cheaply - save your used water bottles if need be, or just go buy a big giant plastic drum and drop some purifying tablets in it.
Keep bleach and eyedroppers in your house for when that water runs out and you need to refill with questionable water.
https://www.ready.gov/ has shitloads of easily digestible resources to prepare.
Filtering with bacterial (or if necessary, viral) grade filters, and additional chemical treatment (chlorine or iodine) is vastly more efficient.
A backpack filter does double-duty (have a few spare filters and can treat a litre or so of water in a couple of minutes without too much effort. Larger filters can be used (foot-pumped) for larger quantities.
Keep in mind that if the water's out, power may well be too.
Not a prepper but living here several decades I have come to value preparedness. My family has 3 months of food supply and food safe storage for over 200 gal of water, water filters that can filter raw stagnant water to something safe and drinkable, a safe full of guns and ammo, and two years of vegetable seeds in the freezer.
I'm not expecting an EMP or "the big one" or whatever, I'm not really even worried about it. I've just seen how ugly it gets when folks aren't prepared.
Florida gets that kind of rainfall all the time from all the hurricanes! There are water retention ponds built everywhere that are empty all-year-round right up until a hurricane comes. They’re built mainly for hurricanes and heavy storms. This is especially true in the Florida counties with Universities due to the higher population of cough smart people cough. I know that’s inappropriate to say but some city planners design cities on a whim or because “it seemed right”, while others appoint some rather smart local engineers to design it.
As New Orleans was designated an asset strategic to the national military and energy interests, ACOE is in charge of engineering the infrastructure in and around the city. The issue was that at landfall 2005 the project was only 60-90% complete. (Depending on the section.)
Critical to identify the problem correctly when you're searching for mitigations.
Despite starting that project in 1965.
Don't leave out the Army Corps of Engineers (the Federal government). They bore more responsibility than the city for making that infrastructure safe.
The USACoE is a federal organization, but keep in mind that there is no "federal territory" full of "federal people" that floats separate from the states that make up the US. Ultimately, these were human failures and most of the humans who made these errors in judgement likely lived in southern Louisiana.
Also, keep in mind that the USACoE and state and local governments are not as isolated as you might imagine. Funding for projects comes from a mixture of them. Local government is on the hook to maintain engineering projects after they're built. The UASCoE can only build to to the degree that they have funding. Case in point: the levee main project approved in 1965 after Hurricane Betsy was supposed to take 13 years. Katrina struck 40 years later, and the project was still only 60–90% complete. Of course, there were design failures too, but you can imagine that this puts pressure on the engineers to accept a cheaper, inadequate design because some levee is better that no levee at all.
Note also that USACoE and local politicians and employees are real people who know each other and work together. I wouldn't underestimate the impact of social pressure (and outright corruption) for the USACoE to agree to certain things they might not otherwise because powerful people on the local side are pushing them too.
No, people not leaving the city when they had ample time to do so killed them. Individuals need to take responsibility for themselves.
A full city evacuation still takes days, and given the uncertainty and wide possible zone of destruction of a major storm means that both a wide area has to be evacuated, and it's not clear precisely where landfall will be until a day or so immediately prior.
Mass evacuation via buses or rail is far more efficient, but can only be organised effectively by, or at least strongly coordinated with, government.
Transportation, communication, education, and to some degree even culture are also infrastructure.
Not to mention locking everyone in a stadium and threatening to shoot anybody that tried to walk across the bridge. I tried to find a video I saw once of a newscaster live at the superdome begging for the government to let people evacuate, about how conditions at the superdome were fucked.
People generally help eachother during disasters - then the national guard comes in, treats everyone like they're animals, and make everything horrible. A great book that's documented this happening again and again throughout history is "A Paradise Built in Hell" by Rebecca Solnit.
Calling it like it is: this was mostly about white people protecting their personal interests at the expense of black people. Many of the people making those decisions cared more about their property than they did poor black folks. After all, only a couple of generations ago, many of those people owned black people as property.
> Fifty-three percent of deaths 51% were black; and 42% were white. In Orleans Parish, the mortality rate among blacks was 1.7 to 4 times higher than that among whites for all people 18 years old and older.
Specifically, the system of levée districts, wherein the rich area finances proper maintenance of its section of the levee, and the poor vote not to, on their section. As if water and gravity care (though poorer areas tend to be lower and thus floor more)
> in hurricane country
For non native English speakers, the lack of an article between 'in' and 'hurricane' here refers to a part of a country prone to hurricanes
We were use to this happening and most of the time it was for half a day or so. So we pulled out the kerosene heaters and the oil lamps for light. Bundled up and waiting.
We ended up being snowed in without power for two weeks. My mom and dad would take turns bundling up and walking a mile or so every few days to get to the roads to get more fuel.
One thing I remember clearly was cooking on out outside wood fire grill, which was essentially cinder blocks and a grate. No worry about running out of wood since there was always plenty around.
I remember the whole ordeal pretty fondly. As a kid it was a good change of pace and like camping.
I suppose our pre-electricity ancestors had deeper social lives with the people around them, and a stronger connection with the outdoors, but for those who lived in climates that required frequent shelter holy cow they must have been bored out of their skulls.
Foraging and collecting water, making fires (chopping the wood with hand tools), cleaning, preparing and cooking food, ... you've used most of the day; couple of hours of reading. Rinse and repeat.
Even camping when you have gas and water on tap, it's surprising how much of the day is meal-prep, and cleaning (pots, tools, self).
When you needed to hunt, make clothing, maintain tools just with basic tech then I Can't see there being so much time to be bored.
That's all fine provided you can keep the house warm to begin with. Our house was built in the 30s, and had always used natural gas heat. Big floor model in the central-most part of the house with a couple radiators at the peripheries. Gas only, needs no electric. Physical levers on the thing to turn the heat up or down. Pretty standard. That would've been great for this storm had we not put in central air/heat in the mid-late 80s, which needed electric. Oops.
We ended up evacuating to one of our relative's houses after a couple days, along with a few others in our family. Made for an interesting hike in that much snow. We stayed there until things thawed and life returned back to normal-ish (a week or two later). We had to replace most of the hot water pipes in our house, which had burst before we could bleed them out. Otherwise the only damage was to our ego.
(Incidentally, kerosene heaters were verboten in our family, many of whom were firefighters who had seen one too many families burned up by them.)
That experience shaped how I prepare for disasters. And it's helped me through a couple particularly nasty hurricanes. (Ike, where we were without electric for a couple months, and Harvey, which was a whole different kind of fun.)
When I grew up blackouts were quite common due to tropical storms in summer, at the worst times you could lose power multiple nights a week and like you I loved them because they became wood fired BBQ nights. But because they happened frequently enough everyone was prepared, candles and torches were kept handy and put out out the first flicker of the lights, BBQ meats were kept in the freezer, there was always a wood stockpile, etc. Now that the electricity supply is more reliable we're far less prepared.
interesting that survival in the woods without infrastructure is much easy than in the city when the infrastructure, like the power, is off. In the woods you still have water, fuel (woods) for heating and cooking and lighting, sewer (the woods as the worst case scenario). In the dense city all those basics become pretty much unavailable either immediately or very soon once the outage is started. If you ever had sewer blockage in your apartment/house imagine that across whole the city with plumber not coming nor today, nor tomorrow ... that's Katrina for example mentioned by the other poster.
In our case, we were on a well so a power outage meant having to haul buckets of water into the house to flush the toilet.
I mean, you can get light when it's dark, and possibly run a refrigerator from a solar installation, but otherwise what would you use the electricity for? Not for heating, not for transportation (not enough of it), your cell phones and other computer devices won't be of much use without the network anyway. Perhaps if you have portable radios you could charge them, but otherwise — what?
My conclusion was that we've become alarmingly dependent on infrastructure. I decided to get some maps, old-style paper books, and started considering getting radios and tiny solar panels to re-charge them.
I guess reasoning along those lines, you're looking for literal generators that can be adapted to whatever fuel you have available.
This would have to be a protocol designed for offline-tolerance I suppose, so something like auto-exchanging private keys while the network is good and/or in person if network is down for message security, then when in no signal mode, regularly transmit and receive small messages encrypted with the same key-pairs as the real ones, then if they can decrypt the short test message (short enough to be easy to try / won't eat too much battery life), establish a dedicated connection long enough to transmit full messages back and forth before disconnecting.
IDK. Probably serval mesh, briar, gnutella or similar already have this figured out. I'd like it to be end-user easy for us to prep for that though so if we are in a venue like a theme park or stadium our phones can transparently be P2P over Blue-Fi-Drop
>The blackout's primary cause was a software bug in the alarm system at the control room of FirstEnergy, an Akron, Ohio–based company, which rendered operators unaware of the need to redistribute load after overloaded transmission lines drooped into foliage. What should have been a manageable local blackout cascaded into collapse of the entire Northeast region.
An engineer set the "state estimator" to manual mode at 12:40 pm, then at 1:30 pm went to lunch forgetting to put it back on auto. Half an hour later, a grounded wire set off the first outage and due to the system reporting bad information, a cascade occurred.
They had launched the new power model just a couple of months prior, but I don't think it was a software glitch. For a few more details, see https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12476001 and for the full report (238-page PDF) see https://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/oeprod/DocumentsandM...
The meager profit margins on gas sales are not enough.
We had gasoline shortages a few years ago in New York. I can't find the article now, but a newspaper–The Economist, I believe–noted how supply disruptions for illicit drugs were virtually nonexistent because a small price bump compensated for maintaining inventory. Meanwhile, "price gouging" laws virtually ensured lines at the petrol stations.
Would be surprised if it was any.
Or maybe it was limited supply... Demand for gas seems fairly inelastic.
Because of flammability, petrol itself is generally not hauled long distances, but is instead refined locally and trucked to service stations. There are some petrol pipelines and marine transports, but those tend to be more problematic than unrefined crude.
His preparation was very well rewarded.
That was not claimed by the author.
For better or worse, gasoline tends to be break-even for stations - from the operators I've talked to, maybe they make 5 to 10 cents per gallon. They make most of their profit from the shop. A month's worth of gasoline sales might not cover the upkeep and depreciation of the generator.
I'm more curious to know if any other stations installed generators after this experience. I wouldn't be surprised if the answer was "no".
In Puerto Rico, gas stations have had backup power generators for years (way before Hurricane María 2017). The power grid is so crappy that the generator turned out to be essential for normal business. And the owners couldn't increase the price over pre-set parameters (Puerto Rico's DACO sets those).
Meager profit margins on gas sales have been irrelevant in this situation. Once Joe down the avenue installs a generator on his gas station, you have to keep up with the Joneses.
So antifragility made it happen: the impact of lost-sales wasn't enough to bring down the gas station... yet enough of a stressor to push the installation of backup power generators.
As an aside: From the people of Puerto Rico, thanks again to all the beautiful people from the States that came over to help. Thank you.
Anti-fragile describes systems that improve from disorder. Robust describes ones that resist disorder.
The ceramic plate is robust: it’s very strong, and unlikely to break when things go wrong (e.g. it gets dropped). But it’s not anti-fragile, it will never be made better by dropping, at best it won’t get worse.
The petrol market in Puerto Rico is anti-fragile because the disorder of small power failures made it better, they added backup power so that the system would be more robust next time the power went out.
The fact that margins on gas are slim does not mean gas stations struggle to get by. The gas is there to get people in the door to buy snacks, drinks, smokes, and lotto. Tobacco and lottery tickets alone make an absolute killing, and the station couldn't sell any of them while the power was out. The author of the article actually owns a gas station, and he figures the other owners were just short-sighted. I don't see any reason to doubt him.
= Nobody delivers gasoline into high-risk areas. Shortages persist.
= Lines of trucks can be observed from *orbit*, attempting to enter the area to supply the demand; prices drop almost immediately.
... But it sounds like you're not arguing for price controls, specifically, but for some kind of government intervention. I agree that requiring backup generators sounds like a much better policy than anti-price-gouging laws, since it's at least not obviously counterproductive.
It was a transformative experience to me and it felt everyone else who experienced it regarding the hidden importance of these infrastructure pieces.
What I loved about this piece is it reads much like so many people's experiences of the incident. Even though it happened over 15 years ago, I and most others remember distinctly and with clarity the sequence of events that occurred on that day. Seems like most people's stories went somewhere along the lines of:
- Interruption of an intended activity due to no electricity
- Attempt at understanding scope, and an effort to substitute the interrupted activity (in my experience, we were entering a restaurant for food and was told "given we don't have power, we can't microwave most of our items - but the oil in our friers are still a bit hot though so you can have fries... We wanted to try elsewhere).
- The realization that this was not a localized one block situation, but something larger and more serious. (We drove around and the traffic lights were out, put on the radio (most most stations were "silent"). The few that were didn't even know what was going on "it appears there is a blackout, getting reports from as far as <X>" with <X> being of an increasing scope as the hour went on.
- Then an abandonment of the days plans for a trip "back to shelter/home" where one nestled and tried to wait it out until services were re-restored.
The natural gas in our home didn't work either, so the only way we could heat food was on a fire. It's one thing to realize that all these these are connected, but its another to feel its connectedness through these services' absence.
My experience into the evening was totally different from yours though. People in my parents' neighbourhood sat out on each other's front porches, barbecuing, eating ice cream before it all melted, hanging out. It was a pretty unique moment of community, almost like an impromptu street party that went on for blocks and blocks. It was kind of liberating, I think, in a reverse paradox of choice kind of way, to suddenly not be able to do a whole bunch of things, and to be forced to just kill time away from the TV (and probably outside, as the reality of not having A/C descended).
Anyway, I don't think I'm unique in this recollection: https://www.google.com/search?q=2003+blackout+party
I wouldn’t count on BART service anytime soon after The Big One. (Not that I’d count on freeways either. A bike seems like your best bet).
You find dependencies on electricity in surprising places. Good luck getting water out of an automatic faucet or push button water fountain. Good luck getting your car out of a stacker system - even if it’s already at ground level, those doors don’t have manual releases. Good luck getting through any badge reader doors in your office or apartment complex. (This may rule out the bike, even if you brought one).
This is mostly depending on how much backup the said agencies have.
> I wouldn’t count on BART service anytime soon after The Big One
And yet it's the only thing that survived the 1989 earthquake !
Depends on the type of lock. Doors that use a big electromagnet to hold a plate fail-open, locks that actuate a latch fail-secure.
Yikes! I hadn't realized that. I always praised plumbing as a good example of a well-designed, robust system that works even when the power is out, and how only the naive, self-styled 10xers would break that to be trendy ... and yet, they did it already.
Hopefully the auto-flushing toilets don't have this problem?
Which is why my well-water friends have generators.
Water fountains won't be your problem then.
His note about cell phone towers losing power was scary. Never really thought about that. I usually assume the phones will keep working as long as we can charge them, but I suppose the towers need some juice too.
In our small city, one power line blew down last week and 1/4 of the city was without power for about 6 hours.
I'm baffled at the lack of redundancy.
I have more redundancy behind my customers' blogs about their dogs than it appears our city has for keeping electricity flowing to 10K people.
Life without power will be hard to survive. And I fear my neighbors much more than my food spoiling.
Find better neighbors? Large parts of Puerto Rico lost power for weeks and it didn't descend into The Purge. It wasn't great, but people survived because of their neighbors, not in spite of them.
> I'm baffled at the lack of redundancy.
10K is not a huge tax base, how much property tax are you willing to spend to increase uptime beyond 99.999%?
Not that many people affected, and there was massive help from the mainland.
Now imagine NYC without power for weeks.
It's a crapshoot which way society goes when the infrastructure disintegrates, but Lord of the Flies is definitely not a given. Historically people seem just as likely to come together as beat each other apart.
Plus New York City also had a blackout in 1977 that was very different.
>Looting and vandalism were widespread, hitting 31 neighborhoods. Possibly the hardest hit were Crown Heights, where 75 stores on a five-block stretch were looted, and Bushwick, where arson was rampant with some 25 fires still burning the next morning. At one point, two blocks of Broadway, which separates Bushwick from Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, were on fire. Thirty-five blocks of Broadway were destroyed: 134 stores looted, 45 of them set ablaze. Thieves stole 50 new Pontiacs from a Bronx car dealership. In Brooklyn, youths were seen backing up cars to targeted stores, tying ropes around the stores' grates, and using their cars to pull the grates away before looting the store. While 550 police officers were injured in the mayhem, 4,500 looters were arrested.... In all, 1,616 stores were damaged in looting and rioting. A total of 1,037 fires were responded to, including 14 multiple-alarm fires. In the largest mass arrest in city history, 3,776 people were arrested. Many had to be stuffed into overcrowded cells, precinct basements and other makeshift holding pens. A congressional study estimated that the cost of damages amounted to a little over $300 million (equivalent to $1.2 billion in 2017).
Everyone on the radio in the 2003 blackout was going crazy predicting the mass looting that New York City was in for (based on the 1977 blackout).
Just like not eating for one day (fasting) is not the same as not eating for weeks.
NYC is already reliant on others for food and water. Supplying it without electricity would be a severe logistics challenge but easier in some ways than in Puerto Rico.
Sandy knocked out neighborhoods for way more than two days too.
It was interesting to observe when the power went out in Redmond, WA for two weeks about ten years ago. Towers stayed online for a while, until some (I'm guessing) lost their batteries. Still had a little signal, though, because (again, guessing) some towers had generators. Then the diesel ran out (again, guessing), and we had no cell signal after a few days.
That's why I keep the amateur radio skills practiced.
Yes, amateur radio makes a lot of sense.
I was working for a cellular provider in Michigan when the northeast US lost power in August of 2003, and we got a taste of this.
Most sites have a few hours of battery (maybe more than a few), but only some sites have generators. Fuel storage permits are a hassle, after all. Most cell companies have some trailer-mounted generators they can tow to a few sites that're out due to sporadic storm damage, but this isn't enough when the whole region goes out at once.
After the '03 outage, I started seeing generators at a lot more sites! Then it just becomes a question of whether your fuel contractor can visit them all regularly enough to keep them topped up. A local tower tech will probably end up just riding along with the fuel tanker, to unlock each gate, etc.
In my personal experience, catastrophes tend to bring out the best in people.
I didn't realize that cable stayed up at all. That was one condition of switching to VoIP: my wife insisted that 911 from wired phones must continue to work through a power outage.
Put your dsl modem & router on a UPS. Telephone lines have independent power and generally stay up during power outages.
I'm on centurylink's ADSL2 service.
Apparently the company running the backbone, Telstra, would usually bring in backup exchanges with a satellite connection on the back of a truck, but didn't have any available at the time.
A few luckier people got power back in one to two weeks, a small minority. My family in the greater metro area of San Juan got power back after two months. Friends in smaller cities only got power after three to five months. There are communities in the mountains which still don't have power today, almost two years later.
If you haven't lived through anything like this, it is a useful mental exercise to think how you'd prepare for it.
What I do remember is how traffic functioned in Miami without traffic lights. There obviously weren't enough police to direct traffic at every intersection, so what happened was that a random driver who had a passenger would have the passenger jump out and direct traffic till his car got through and someone else volunteered to take over. This happened organically at many intersections, and it was really amazing to see.
After a bit of searching found this page which is a similar blog-style page except has snippets from many different people. In Spanish.
For English language coverage, search for videos by David Begnaud of CBS News who was on site and provided excellent reporting.
Ground heat pumps are very uncommon; "heat pump" is assumed to be air based.
On a related note, as I've researched solar panels for the house, it came as a surprise to me that by default grid-tied solar won't keep the lights on when the power goes out (nothing to sync to). So if one goes that route, don't forget the batteries and inverter.
On the other note, if you get grid tied solar you can use them if the power is down, but you need to buy an SMA inverter with secure power supply. The inverter will give you an outlet that will work if the grid is down, even without a battery system.
Indeed, but some inverters have emergency outlets where they can supply power on a dedicated circuit as long as the panel output is enough. The amount of power is limited and it can't sustain any surges so it can't run e.g. motors, but having 1500W is tons better than having 0...
I've verified that my big-ass UPS that I use for the computer can run the refrigerator and be charged from this outlet.
You can find peltier chip phone chargers that work by being placed in or near a campfire.
As decedents of an industry that was paranoid enough to generate power for their own equipment, its nice to see some of the cell phone companies take power seriously. It would be nicer if they could last a bit longer.
Fortunately most depots are aboveground and only need a tap to be opened to drop their fuel into a truck.
A person looking up their car would not even be allowed on the grounds. Besides that the volume dispensed is way too high to deal with in a normal vehicle, you're looking at 1000's of liters / minute.
A typical station has anywhere from 50K to 1M liters of underground capacity so that should be enough for a bit, if their own pumps aren't running then they will likely be happy to be able to sell some of it.
A few years back, prior to owning the RV, we had a windstorm come through about ten days before Thanksgiving. Power to most of the area was knocked out as the weaker trees fell and wiped out much of the powerline infrastructure (I recorded gusts around 75 mph before my weather station actually broke). As is normal that time of year, temperatures were in the 20ºF range, which meant finding alternate heating methods at the very least. We were very underprepared for it, losing much of the food in the fridge/freezer, and the house got very cold.
All local generators and gas cans sold out very, very quickly, but I found one on Amazon that could be shipped to my door overnight for $50 extra. It arrived on the second day (of seven) of the outage, and I wired the furnace, fridge, and one multipurpose outlet into it. We struggled with just the one 5 gallon gas can, though, needing a daily trip to the gas station to refill. Had they not had power, it would've been worse.
In the end, it was much like camping without adequate preparation. The first couple days were novel and amusing, but by the end, it was just a daily routine of ensuring we stayed warm enough and no damage was done (e.g., pipes freezing).
I remember the outage well, I worked at a major telecommunications company with reserve generators. I really didn't appreciate the depth of the issue until I drove home that night. People were telling other people, total strangers, that nukes were dropping all over the US. You can imagine the panic.
Word eventually spread and the northern mindset of looking after your neighbours took hold, as mentioned in the artice.
I went to use the BBQ to make some burgers. We ran out of propane naturally. My neighbour offered his BBQ which coincidentally, was out of propane. Then HIS neighbour offered his BBQ. He was out building a deck when the power went out. He fired up his generator and continued on. His skil-saw was the only sound to be heard. All the neighbours threw in food and drink and we got to know one another.
I will admit to being a little said after the power was restored, because, except for a nod or a wave, we went back to the business of minding our own.
Look at what the possibility of a snow storm does to the supermarket. Now imagine the effect on the public psyche when they're told "we'll have more food next week."
Making sure we have enough energy for everything we want whether the source is coal, oil, nuclear or hydro because energy is the single biggest contributor to a better life, richer and safer life and the more access we have the better of we are.
A 1 litre Nalgene bottle, filled with boiling water, and slipped in a wool sock, on the other hand, will keep you warm. Two is generally overly toasty.
But, thanks for sharing the wikipedia link, because now i see that there's a comic book series which wraps up the story. Cheers!
We need decentralized power generation and storage (solar panel based, etc.) to survive a Carrington Event or an EMP. Or just a simple blackout. We need electric cars which represent choice rather than fossil-fuel lockin.
But we also need mesh networks and software to run on them, to survive the Internet being cut off like in Kashmir or Hong Kong. We need decentralized town currencies and much more.
Please watch this talk I gave a few years ago:
I aspire to do the same, making slow progress. Too few know how close to disaster their lifestyle is.
What was interesting while some would come up, others claimed they could not live without a hot water bath, or electric lighting, and while my outhouse had seven (yes seven) coats of white paint and the hole was so deep I had problems getting out when I first dug it - the idea of not using a flush toilet was alien to them.
Some people are not ready for how basic things can get without power.
Having the ability to convert your electricity bill to a more expensive water/natural gas bill and still have power during an outage would be quite nice.
1. There is only energy in the water system because your city has pumps/water towers to give it pressure. So in a disaster, you running your hydro setup is just placing more strain on the water infra who are likely running on generators.
2. Hydro plants need huge amounts of water to provide power. To even power a single outlet, you are talking in the range of tens of thousands of gallons of water per hour. Your water bill would quickly eclipse the cost of just buying a generator.
Going back to natural gas, you are looking for an automatic transfer switch. When the power cuts, it disconnects you from the grid, turns on the generator automatically, and you then have power again. When the power is back, it switches you back to grid and turns generator off. Only downside is that there will be a several second power cut while generator turns on. You generally can only get this feature on midrange cost and up generators. For cost savings measures, you can also buy a manual transfer switch, with the obvious downside of you having to flip the switch and go start the genny.
Somehow that one sentence shivered me as I imagined a crowd of happy people surrounding a car with bottomed out suspension.
It's funny how a generator creates peace of mind, and yet we don't consider the magnitude of the disaster for which they give us peace.
Many gas stations/convenience stores and other small consumer facing businesses have generators because generators have proliferated and they have a financial incentive to have one. Sure, not all of them have generators but not all of them need it. If your two preferred gas stations are down and the third one is crowded you'll make do fine. This is what's different from '03.
Getting fuel in a blackout is a non-issue logistically. Paying for it is where the most problems will be because so many people don't carry cash anymore.
Assuming cell network stays up, it is just another redundancy element, have a mobile network backup to landline network.
For carbeurated engines (i.e. every small piece of power equipment) you just need to drill out the precisely sized hole fuel goes through to be a different precise size. Your bigger issue will be keeping it clean long term.