Expert: “What People Have Got to Know is That They’re On Their Own, Literally…”
Over coming weeks millions of Americans will be tuning in to NatGeo’s new American Blackout film about surviving in a post-power grid collapse environment that lacks electricity, fresh water and the normal flow of commerce.
For most it will be nothing more than standard evening entertainment, but what if such an event turns out to be a future American reality?
Such a scenario may seem improbable, but just in the last several years we’ve seen it play out time and again all over the world, albeit in situations limited in time and scope. Hurricane Katrina and over 50,000 people stranded at the New Orleans Super Dome with no water, Hurricane Sandy and starving individuals rumaging through garbage cans to find a morsel of food, and various other natural and man-made disasters are an eye-opening testament to what happens when the improbable becomes reality.
Just a few weeks ago we saw what the panicked hive mentality can lead to when thousands of people stormed Walmart grocery stores following a breakdown in the Electronic Benefit Transfer system for food assistance.
We’ve become so dependent on others – namely our governments – to assist us when crisis strikes, that this “learned helplessness” in our society has left people in major cities totally unprepared to cope with disasters.
Via ABC News Australia:
“What people have got to know is that they’re on their own, literally on their own,” he said.
“We can’t have a truck or a car at your door when you ring triple-0 in a disaster situation.”
Experts say people should be prepared to look after themselves for at least three days after any major disaster.
But Mr Winter says most people have no plans in place.
“If we turn off power and water, how long will you be able to survive?” he said.
“When we put to people, ‘Can you survive for 72 hours without external help?’, the reaction is their jaw drops.”
Such a disaster could mean a loss of refrigeration, no tap water or air-conditioning, as well as transport failures and traffic chaos.
Mr Winter says cities are particularly vulnerable to these failures.
“We are more vulnerable in our big cities because we’ve got transport, we live in high rises, evacuations – talk to people about Katrina, in New Orleans, getting people out of the city,” he said.