Determining the specific ramifications after something like a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) attack, or even a Carrington Event-style coronal mass ejection (CME) is kind of a guessing game at this point.
However, one thing we do know is that some of the most horrifying effects of an EMP disaster will occur about a week after our grid gets fried. That’s why I’ve decided to take a visualized journey into what the US might look like, seven days after an EMP — and let’s just say that the state of the union will be a bleak one.
If you live in a city or suburban area, then it’s no secret that when you look into the sky on a cloudless evening, you’re basically seeing a fraction of the stars that someone from, say, an Arizona desert might be viewing. The reason is that the cumulative artificial lighting from your surrounding area – the light pollution — is blocking out the stars. In a city (and other somewhat densely populated zones), you can walk around at night without a flashlight, because the area is practically bathed in artificial light.
(Listen to Off The Grid Radio’s show about a Carrington-type sun event, here.)
After an EMP, however, everything will go as dark as a lifeless desert or wilderness mountainside. Since at this point, people will be running out of battery juice for their flashlights, cloud-covered evenings will be pitch black.
This might not necessarily be such a bad thing, if you’re planning on running your bugout operation under the cover of complete and total darkness.
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But the absence of light won’t be the only “darkness.”
There will be a cognitive, communicative darkness sweeping from sea to shining sea, especially since the methods that we’ve depended upon to exchange information will have been gutted
- Emergency services will not be able to coordinate or exchange information.
- The Internet infrastructure in the US will have been completely destroyed.
- Telephones and cell towers will have been fried.
- Radio and TV stations will have been destroyed.
- Even ham radio operators (that have not hardened their systems to EMP) will have nothing but electronically damaged gear.
Most people will have no clue what happened (because let’s face it, most people aren’t aware of these types of threats). It will be a complete and total information blackout and a true time of total darkness in the US after an EMP takes its hefty toll.
If anything, this type of information blackout will become cause for a nationwide sense of desperation. The US is primarily an info-based society, because we currently enjoy the ability to share information and to communicate globally with ease. In a way, that’s what makes this modern digital era such a time, which has been ripe with opportunities.
However, we’ve become extremely dependent on easily accessible information via electronic means, and almost totally independent on word-of-mouth sources (the likes of which were the norm during pre-modern times).
Confusion soon becomes desperation, because not only will people become very concerned that the state of things has not improved within a seven-day timeframe, but they also will have no ability to obtain information as to what exactly is going on. The effects of this will be extremely psychologically destructive. And at the same time, we will have a snowball-effect problem in the works …
- EMP strike renders the grid inoperable.
- Grid electricity is required to pump gasoline through pipelines and into tractor trailer trucks and locomotives (the primary movers of goods in the US).
- Supply chains will stop because tractor trailer trucks and locomotives are no longer going anywhere, due to fossil fuels becoming inaccessible at local pumps.
- A complete shortage of consumer goods will occur, since companies can no longer get their goods from distribution centers to retail/grocery stores.
Also within days of the EMP strike, it will become quickly apparent that law enforcement can no longer communicate effectively, thereby disabling their ability to maintain law and order. Looting will likely ensue shortly thereafter.
In addition, dangerous and disruptive aftershocks of this crisis will being to occur on a national scale. For instance, all across the US, flooding, fires and town-leveling explosions will begin to erupt without warning. Not only will many homes and businesses burn to the ground due to the initial electromagnetic wave that causes smaller scale electrical fires, but when entire utility substations begin to leak millions of gallons of flammable-toxic liquids, this will result in major cataclysms.
But regardless of proximity to massive ecological disasters and multi-kiloton gasoline blasts, there will be hundreds of millions of personal crises occurring. After seven days of people not having been able to use their credit/debit cards to make transactions, nationwide looting in even rural areas will become commonplace.
There will be a temporary run on the banks, but since cash isn’t nearly as common these days, most people will be forced to resort to theft and bartering in order to feed themselves and their loved ones.
Through the culmination of depleted consumer grocery/retail goods, the widespread coordination breakdown and manpower deficiencies of emergency services, and a total information blackout of communication, including the blanket of darkness at night, the state of the union at seven days after an EMP would, in essence, be one of nationwide disorder.
The US would begin its descent into an epidemic of anarchy.
At this point, not only would the federal, state and local government be rendered practically useless, but even if they were able to maintain a certain level of solvency, they wouldn’t have the ability to communicate with the population at large.
Virtually everyone, regardless of wealth status, creed, race or gender, will have no possible way of accessing their electronically held funds … and because of the relative newness of the crisis, most people will not yet have thought to adopt the barter system to slow the nation’s economic hemorrhaging.
One week after an EMP, each household and individual will have to provide for and protect themselves, carrying the tremendous weight of the same fundamental responsibilities and capacities that the national law enforcement, military, civil government, and US economic system had been carrying only a week ago. And since everyone now will have become hopelessly impoverished, having most likely burned through the contents of their pantries at this point, then the US population at large will have reached a maximum state of confusion and desperation … as it takes its final dive into utter chaos.
A Crisis of Confusion
In a way, it isn’t a forgone conclusion to suspect that FEMA will not have to round up a single person to check in at their nationwide franchises. No, most people will probably elect to check themselves in for a free meal and “secure” lodging. Martial law would be the next step.
Yet in such a crisis, there will be a good bit of hope for those of us who have adequately prepared ourselves in advance. Not only will we have the cover of darkness shielding our escape to the backwoods, but confusion tends to obfuscate the movements and actions of the tactically wise and strategically sound. And so, in the event of an EMP, I would like to say…
On that darkened day of calamity, you fellow vigilant Off The Gridders: I wish you and all of your loved ones a safe, speedy bugout and a flourishing homestead thereafter.
What would you add to this picture of an America, post-EMP? Share your thoughts in the section below:
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