In a new report that warns that the electric grid is the “prime target” of terrorists, Americans are being urged prepare for the up to six months without electricity, transportation, fuel, money, and healthcare.
“People no longer keep enough essentials within their homes, reducing their ability to sustain themselves during an extended, prolonged outage. We need to improve individual preparedness,” said a just-published report to President Trump.
“There needs to be more individual accountability for preparedness,” adds the report, “Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage,” from the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council and published by the Department of Homeland Security.
It looked at the potential of a power outage of up to six months and recommended Americans have enough supplies on hand for a minimum 14 days, a standard for some prepper organizations.
“Build a Culture of Preparedness includes objectives to incentivize investments that reduce risk, including pre-disaster mitigation; closing the insurance gap; helping people prepare for disasters; and better learn from past disasters, improve continuously, and innovate,” said a key recommendation.
The report, a draft to be voted on this week by the council, is the second in one month to warn of a “profound threat” to the electric grid from terrorism and naturally occurring events like a solar storm or flare. A prior governmental report also called for presidential action to protect the grid. That report warned of a threat to world order in an attack.
Together, they draw emergency attention to the threat and impact a national blackout would have.
“This profound risk requires a new national focus. Significant public and private action is needed to prepare for and recover from a catastrophic outage that could leave the large parts of the nation without power for weeks or months, and cause service failures in other sectors — including water and wastewater, communications, transportation, healthcare, and financial services — that are critical to public health and safety and our national and economic security,” said the advisory council.
The report is an urgent call to action to organize a uniform reaction to a grid attack, harden it from attack, warn of the threats, and push regular Americans into preparing for the worst.
It also calls for federal spending instead of a reliance on rate hikes by individual utilities to fix their systems and said that $1 spent to protect the grid will save $6 in the case of recovery.
“The power grid is a prime target for attack by nation states, and it is not fair for ratepayers to bear the full burden for this national security function,” said the report, which looked at the potential of a “catastrophic” half-year blackout that could impact 75 million.
The attack could also come with no notice and last half a year. “Long-duration, lasting several weeks to months (at least 2 months, but more likely 6 months or more) due to physical destruction to equipment, such as transformers or transmission lines; or the severity of the event resulting in limited work force to repair damage, or inability to create or transport replacement parts,” the report said. “This profound threat requires a new national focus. The NIAC found that our existing plans, response resources, and coordination strategies would be outmatched by an event of this severity. Significant action is needed to prepare for a catastrophic power outage that could last for weeks or months.”
According to DHS, the council “provides the president of the United States, through the Secretary of Homeland Security, with advice on the security and resilience of critical infrastructure sectors and their functional systems, physical assets, and cyber networks.”
While the prior study was prepared by federal agencies and the military, the new report was prepared by industry and governmental leaders. Both raised similar concerns.
Much of the report’s recommendations focus on the need for a central clearinghouse or authority to guide the nation in a blackout. But it also reveals how unprepared people and governments are despite the prepper movement in the nation. Some of those warnings from the report are below:
- Given the growing frequency and severity of disasters and other risks, there needs to be an increase in individual accountability, enterprise, and community investment in resilient infrastructure.
- There is a misconception that events occur infrequently.
- There needs to be more individual accountability for preparedness.
- Resilience at the state and local level will be critical to enable people to shelter in place and facilitate faster recovery. Any event that requires a mass evacuation will use up critical resources, clog transportation pathways, and reduce the workforce necessary for infrastructure recovery.
- Electricity, fuel, clean drinking water, wastewater services, food/refrigeration, emergency medical services, communications capabilities, and some access to financial services have been identified as critical lifeline services that would be needed to sustain local communities and prevent mass migration.