Mike’s Blog

The Civil Defense Book – Second Edition Available!!

The second edition of  The Civil Defense Book is out and available on Amazon!  Updated and expanded with new material, this is the only plan available for communities to survive when they are on their own.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security in 2017, millions of Americans—perhaps the majority of the population—would die if the electrical grid went down for a significant period of time. Not only is this disturbing fact is well-known to Congress, it is also well-known to America’s enemies. Little has been done to mitigate the threat. Iran, North Korea, terrorist groups, and others move forward in their capabilities to attack the power grid, and the United States today remains extremely vulnerable to a wide variety of man-made and natural threats.

Moreover, the emergency management system in the United States depends on our ability to bring outside resources into a disaster area. But what if the majority of the country was the disaster area? What if cities and towns across the country were on their own for a long period of time? Survival will be a local issue. The cavalry will not be coming.

The majority of Americans are unaware of the magnitude of the threats and are completely unprepared. Some individuals, known as preppers, have taken steps to prepare their families for such a disaster, but the real key to survival lies in small communities having a civil defense plan. A prepared community has a better chance of survival than a prepared individual. This book is about taking prepping to the next level, so that your town can be ready for any disaster, large or small.

It is possible for a town to survive if the grid goes down long term. But only if a few of its citizens act now.

The Civil Defense Book: Emergency Preparedness for a Rural or Suburban Community

The Civil Defense Book
Get it now!

This book is different from other books on prepping and emergency preparedness.  Rather than focusing on individual survival, this book takes you through the steps to prepare your town for a worst-case national disaster. And in being prepared for a worst-case scenario, you and your town can be prepared for anything from a minor power outage to a hurricane to an electromagnetic pulse, solar flare or cyber-attack taking out the entire power grid. This is the Civil Defense Book!


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Blackout: What we learn from electric grid failures



BlackoutWhat we learn from history is that we do not learn from history


I’ve always loved this quote from Benjamin Disraeli. But it occurs to me that perhaps what is more dangerous than not learning from history, is learning from history.

What most Americans have learned from their experiences with blackouts is quite dangerous: Our collective experience with blackouts is that they are temporary. The power will be back in a few hours (or days, at most) so all we need to do is wait it out. The power company will rescue us.

Maybe some of us are even “prepared” for a blackout and have a generator and some gas. Maybe we have 72 hours worth of canned food stored away like FEMA  tells us. Even in the Emergency Management world, every exercise comes to an end. Every hurricane comes to an end. Every blackout comes to an end. Moreover, we have the “edge effect” where there are always resources available from outside the blackout area to assist us until the power comes back.

We are complacent. “Blackouts are temporary” we think.Blackout

But what if the power went off and did not come back for a year? While Congress has studied – and failed to act – on this scenario for years, more and more people in Emergency Management are thinking about a long-term blackout scenario.

There have been several recent articles of note, including an article in Fire Engineering by Ken Chrosniak: Electric Power Blackout: The Power of One. Another good article to read is by Garrison Wells published by Emergency Management Magazine: Threat of Massive Grid Shutdown Increasing in Face of Disasters. If you are an emergency manager, you really need to read these articles: You and your jurisdiction are not prepared for a long-term blackout. And more recently, Eric Holdeman has blogged about electromagnetic pulse in Emergency Management Magazine online.

There can be no serious debate that our electric grid is vulnerable to a number of things, from terrorist attack, electromagnetic pulse weapon, solar flare to a good old fashion ice storm or errant tree branch. While a long-term failure is considered by some to be a remote possibility, the possibility is frightening. And now there is evidence that both Iran and North Korea are actively pursuing electromagnetic pulse weapons with the specific purpose of taking down the U.S. electric grid.

Does anybody out there really think that they wouldn’t do it? U.S. “retaliation” means little to either country. Taking out “the great Satan” (in Iran’s case) would be worth whatever we sent back – so our usual deterrent strategy is not helpful here.  There is an excellent article about this in the Washington Times by R. James Woolsey and Peter Vincent Pry: “When Iran goes nuclear: Failure to protect the nation would amount to dereliction of duty“.

In fact William R. Graham, Chairman of the congressionally chartered Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack noted in 2008 that:

BlackoutElectrical power is necessary to support other critical infrastructures, including supply and distribution of water, food, fuel, communications, transport, financial transactions, emergency services, government services, and all other infrastructures supporting the national economy and welfare. Should significant parts of the electrical power infrastructure be lost for any substantial period of time, the Commission believes that the consequences are likely to be catastrophic, and many people may ultimately die for lack of the basic elements necessary to sustain life in dense urban and suburban communities. In fact, the Commission is deeply concerned that such impacts are likely in the event of an EMP attack unless practical steps are taken to provide protection for critical elements of the electric system and for rapid restoration of electric power, particularly to essential services.

Okay. Even if there was a massive grid outage, somebody would rescue us, right? Wrong. The United States is completely unprepared. The sad thing is, we don’t have to be. Even if Congress fails to act, individual communities can do much to prepare for and mitigate such a scenario.

So, one of the most dangerous things we have learned from history is that blackouts are temporary events lasting hours or at most a few days. We are completely unprepared for a long-term national scale blackout. Until we start thinking about it, the lives of millions of Americans remain in peril. 9/11would just a minor incident on the scale compared to what a long-term national power outage would be.

But, it can start in your community. FEMA won’t be there to rescue us in a long-term national blackout. We will have to rescue ourselves.



A compilation of news reports on the 2003 Northeast Blackout


New York Times, November 11, 2013: The Blackout That Exposed the Flaws in the Grid

New York Times, August 15, 2003: The Blackout of 2003: The Overview; Power Surge Blacks Out Northeast, Hitting Cities In 8 States and Canada; Midday Shutdowns Disrupt Millions

New York Times, August 15, 2003: The Blackouts of ’65 and ’77 Became Defining Moments in the City’s History

CBC: The ‘Great Northeastern Blackout’ of 1965

CBC: 2003: The great North America blackout

Department of Energy Emergency Situation Reports: http://www.oe.netl.doe.gov/Emergency_sit_rpt.aspx

List of major power outages: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_major_power_outages



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Arizona EMP Law Is An Important First Step

Arizona EMP Law

A new law signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on April 25, 2014 will require the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) to prepare the citizens of Arizona for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP):

Arizona EMP Law The division shall develop preparedness recommendations for the public regarding the type and quantity of supplies, including food, water and medical supplies, that each person in this state should possess in preparation for an electromagnetic pulse that might occur over the United States.  The division shall post the preparedness recommendations on its website and shall update the preparedness recommendations at least every five years.

The law will add section 26-305.03 to the Arizona Revised Statutes with the above mandate. I would also note that the same exact preparedness principles apply to any of the myriad threats to the electric grid: whether caused by EMP, cyber-attack, solar flare or any other cause. So, in adding this simple mandate for ADEM, Arizona has taken an important step in preparing its citizens.

Our aging power grid is America’s Achilles’ heel. Most communities and emergency managers continue to believe that outside help would always be available. (Click here to read more about that.) Hopefully, Arizona’s new law will raise awareness that in a national catastrophe, communities could be on their own for a long period of time. In other words, survival will be a local issue.

See the fact sheet on Arizona’s new law by clicking here.

Arizona EMP Law Is An Important First Step

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