Skip to comments.When The Music Stops – How America’s Cities May Explode In Violence
Posted on 09/04/2012 5:37:03 AM PDT by Travis McGee
click here to read article
Yep, and unless my memory is wrong, one of your characters is a young soldier from Fort Leonard Wood who came close to becoming a meal for some of the local “wilders.” There might be reasons I cited New Madrid in responding to you ;-)
I have deleted a paragraph about how our emergency management director wants to use me in the event of a major disaster. It’s nothing important — presumably I would be replaced as soon as FEMA sent a professional to handle media relations — but his attitude is that since he knows I’ll be in his command center anyway unless I’m dead or incapacitated, he might as well use me to do something useful. The result is I’ve read a lot. I am no expert and I do not know anything about New Madrid plans that would not be public to anyone who asks. Nothing I know is OPSEC or even close to it; everything I’ve seen is public knowledge. Not only am I not “revealing secrets,” I wish more people outside California were listening and taking earthquakes seriously. If this post scares somebody into taking earthquakes seriously and planning for what could happen, it would be a good thing.
Let me be as clear as I can. What the advance planners foresee in a worst-case New Madrid Fault scenario is horrifying. Most plans anticipate a less serious quake than New Madrid two hundred years ago because the worst-case scenarios are beyond any reasonable possibility for advance plans to make much difference, and planning for a less serious quake will allow at least some preparation for something more serious. The scariest problem is we don’t even know where many of the southeast Missouri faults are, and we could get hit with a huge quake in the central Mississippi River valley someplace where nobody expects it.
A New Madrid quake such as what happened two hundred years ago, 600 years ago and 1100 years ago would be horrific beyond any other disaster, whether natural or manmade, that we are ever likely to face in the central United States. Only a simultaneous nuclear attack on St. Louis and Memphis would be worse, and even if that happened, unlike an earthquake, it would still leave most of the Mississippi River and Missouri River bridges standing outside the urban blast zone, and many of the underground gas and oil pipelines outside the immediate blast area might survive. Unlike bombs, earthquakes do massive damage both above ground and below ground, and depending on terrain, they may do it for incredible distances away from the epicenter of the quake. With our modern buried utility pipelines and cables, we won’t even know where much of the damage has happened for a long time after the quake, and fixing the damage may require digging up and inspecting thousands of miles of underground infrastructure.
Due to our local terrain and topography, our county is probably going to be the closest area with any level of usable infrastructure left west of the Mississippi River, and with a major Army engineer post that’s also the home of the chemical school and military police school, it’s pretty obvious why we’ll be the staging area to move things coming from points west of here into the disaster zone. Things will be bad enough for us due to lack of power and lower levels of damage depending on how far away from us the quake is centered, but most though not all of our roads and bridges will still be there. From our area eastward to the Mississippi River is likely to be an obstacle course of buckled roads, collapsed bridges, and twisted railroad lines — not what anyone wants to deal with when trying to get emergency relief supplies into a disaster zone.
God forbid that any of that actually happens. We’ve gone two hundred years with no quake and they seem to happen only about once every six hundred years.
But if one happens, the scenarios outlined in Bracken’s books may not be bad enough to describe what could happen in our major urban areas.
The response to New Orleans presumed that emergency supplies were available to send to the city after the hurricane left. In the event of a New Madrid earthquake, however, the short-term damage to the national economy would be catastrophic due not only to the local loss of life and property but also due to cutting off road, rail, and barge transportation in much of the central United States, as well as utility pipeline problems that go beyond supply issues to include massive fires. The San Francisco fire following their turn-of-the-century earthquake was caused by gas pipeline issues far less serious than what we would face today in southeast Missouri, and when that quake destroyed what was then California’s major city, we didn’t have a national “just in time” supply network that relied upon reliable transportation to keep the national economy humming along.
What we see with modern earthquakes in California is not comparable to what we would face with another New Madrid quake; it would be much worse. I’m not a huge fan of government regulation, obviously, or I wouldn’t be on Free Republic. However, buildings in California are designed better because of stricter codes to survive an earthquake. By contrast, most buildings in the central United States would collapse or be rendered unusable if they were in the zone affected by a major earthquake.
However, problems in urban areas aren’t just infrastructure problems; they are people problems.
Those who think a major natural disaster in an urban area would not produce New Orleans levels of urban chaos simply are not aware of what happens to urban populations left without food, water, and medical care for extended periods, especially if they face a breakdown in infrastructure and law enforcement. Rural people can and often will help each other. Urban residents simply do not have the capability to deal with a disaster of that magnitude.
Forget the food and water, sewage, and long-term needs, and think of what to do in a blasted-out city of several million people with most public buildings and private homes destroyed, little or no functioning communications, little or no medical attention, no way to put out raging fires devouring block after block of buildings left standing, and streets blocked with debris that makes it very difficult to get vehicles moving even if your tires haven’t been pierced by broken glass and you have enough fuel. You’ve got thousands of people dead, many more trapped inside buildings that will soon become blazing furnaces, and even more people with injuries ranging from critical to “walking wounded.”
Law enforcement in a situation like that basically doesn’t exist unless there’s a guy with a uniform within earshot. As a citizen, you almost certainly can’t call for help from the police because the cell towers and land lines will be down. At most, his handheld radio may be able to communicate with other individual officers since the central dispatch probably won’t be working. Handheld radios have a limited range, and while they’re better than nothing, there are coverage problems and dead areas even under the best of circumstances.
Imagine a large city with the main law enforcement radio towers knocked out, not just due to lack of electric power which can be fixed by a generator, but due to being toppled to the ground. Yes, relay systems via handheld units to communicate messages to and between officers can work, and sending out communications vans with antennas and a generator can help with coverage gaps, but relay systems will fill the airwaves with emergency traffic that today is done via in-car laptop computers and cell phones. Especially if the radio towers have been toppled, until an emergency communications center gets set up with an emergency tower, law enforcement won’t be able use their radios effectively to call for directions or for backup.
The same is true for medical attention. Most people who need immediate medical attention won’t get it and won’t have any way to get someplace where they can get it. Hospitals will be destroyed or overwhelmed with patients. EMTs and paramedics may or may not have functioning ambulances, and if they do, they won’t have effective communications. Unless the ambulances have four-wheel drive and a good supply of spare tires, they’re not going to be very useful in an earthquake-ravaged city with debris all over the streets.
Experience also shows that significant numbers of medical personnel, law enforcement, and firefighters won’t report for duty, either because they have no transportation to get to the hospital, police station, ambulance base, or fire station, or because they are dead, injured or incapacitated themselves, or because they are taking care of their own families. Our modern cities presume that people routinely drive significant distances to work. Imagine what happens when the vast majority of people can’t get to work without a four-wheel-drive vehicle, and maybe not even then.
Now take all that situation, which is bad enough, and extend it not for three or four days (the standard “shelter in place” recommendation) but extend it for several weeks. Add to it wintry weather conditions in an environment where aftershocks could be severe and cause already-damaged buildings to collapse completely. You now have an entire urban area full of a people with no means of shelter from the elements and no secure place to defend against attacks. Remember that you’re going to have raging fires consuming even the less-damaged parts of the city, with no way for firefighters to put them out except (maybe) tanker shuttles from the river.
Ask yourself, in a scenario like that, with hundreds of thousand if not a million or more refugees, how people will behave.
It won’t be pretty.
Again, I haven’t said one word about race in this post. What I’m describing would be chaos under the best of circumstances in an upper-class racially homogenous wealthy resort community. It would be chaos in a culture like Asia where people have been socially trained for centuries to respect authority. Given what we’ve learned about New Orleans, let alone the riots of the 1960s or those following the Rodney King incident, we have no reason to believe things would go anywhere near as well as the San Francisco earthquake a century ago. People back then at least knew their neighbors and had horses and carts to transport people and property out of disaster zones. We simply do not have the level of neighborly community in a modern American city to make what happened in the San Francisco earthquake likely if it were to happen today in a major American city — and New Madrid today would be far worse than San Francisco.
Yep. Earthquakes make hurricanes and fires look like teenage acne. Earthquakes and fires do a lot of damage above ground, but they leave the below ground infrastructure largely intact, and they don’t take out all of the bridges, overpasses and cell towers etc for 100s of miles. The police with their walkie-talkies (how long will their batteries last?) will not even be a factor after the first few days. And a “New Madrid” type earthquake could happen anywhere between Chicago, New Orleans and Charleston. It would change America forever. That’s why it made such a great backdrop for Foreign Enemies And Traitors: all bets would be off, the status quo would be smashed, and literally anything could happen.
“Imagine a continued, slow descent into poverty for most of us—”
That is pretty much how I expect it to go. Not with a bang but a whimper.
I just was pinged to a BTTT, and I reread your excellent post. That was quite comprehensive. It could be posted anywhere as a “what could happen” scenario. So much depends on Mother Nature’s rolling the dice. 600 years between 1812-level quakes might mean no worries for 400 years, or it could strike in the next hour. And unlike those very polite hurricanes, the big quakes give no warning. And they destroy below ground infrastructure even better than above.
I live in SF Valley (Los Angeles)so I’m doomed too, except for THIS —
Bump for later.
Mark for later read.
Bumping to the top, since it’s about to be referenced again.
So what to do? Will Obama "stop the music" and send thousands (even millions) of low info voters and EBT types imto the streets? Is Obama that arrogant and mentally corrupt enough to do that?
(Insert obvious answer here)
But it won't come to that. Not now. The debt ceiling has been raised 3 times already since Obama has been president and over 70 times in the last 50 years. And - with business as usual inside the Beltway - it will be raised again. They will compromise and stopping the music will have to wait for another day.
But - and let me clear - there will soon be a day when the music stops. It just ain't gonna be next week.
Had 2 threads open. And as I posted comment # 598 above - I meant to post it to Travis's latest thread.
Posted on Wednesday, October 09, 2013 9:47:06 AM by Travis McGee
Doesn’t it seem odd Obama has never condemned flash mobs?
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