When Superstorm Sandy took down the power in the Northeast, the scene looked all too familiar to Keith Stammer. As director of Joplin/Jasper County (Mo.) Emergency Management, he had seen the lights go out in the wake of a tornado that tore a swath through the town a mile wide and six miles long in May 2011. Hospitals lost power, as did the city’s water supplier.
“In the short term, people generally had enough food, clothing, batteries, medicine and such for anywhere from 72 to 96 hours. That’s generally the time it takes for the cavalry to show up,” he said. “Once you get beyond that point, it seems this will turn into a long-term situation, which makes it much more difficult.”
Joplin struggled for weeks to recover, just as parts of New York and New Jersey lived in the dark for weeks following Hurricane Sandy. But what if those weeks had stretched to a month or more, reaching beyond one town or state to encompass a whole region?
Such a catastrophic power outage lies not in the realm of science fiction. It’s a real possibility, and one that poses significant challenges to the emergency management community.
See Catastrophic Power Outages Pose Significant Recovery Challenges, by Adam Stone for Emergency Management: Strategy & Leadership in Critical Times.