An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) generated either by a solar coronal mass ejection (CME, aka “solar flare”) or a high altitude nuclear detonation via an enemy attack over a portion of the United States will create havoc. The three primary variables that affect the impact on any specific area are:
- Size of the nuclear device or intensity of the CME
- Geographic location of the nuclear detonation or target of the CME
- Altitude of the nuclear detonation.
Most combinations of the above variables will destroy much of the electrical infrastructure and electronic components within hundreds of miles of the central point of the origination of the pulse. Everything from electrical generating stations, to high voltage transmission lines to local transformer substations, to water plant electronics, to communications systems including the internet, phone service, both land lines and cell, banking, and commerce of all sorts would be crippled or destroyed for weeks or months.
Two scenarios of how an EMP could impact the region of north central Florida between Ocala and Leesburg along the I-70 and US441 corridors are provided below:
Scenario one: A high altitude nuclear blast over the northeast United States that destroys most of the electrical infrastructure north of the Carolinas and westward to Ohio.
Scenario two: A high altitude nuclear blast over central Georgia that destroys most of the electrical infrastructure throughout north and central Florida.
HERE is a website where you can model the area impacted by various types of EMP generating nuclear detonations over the United States.
Either scenario is possible given existing technology of both missiles and nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran or North Korea. For example, available missiles possessed by either nation launched from a freighter in the middle of the night from 100 miles off the east coast of the United States would need to travel less than 600 miles to significantly penetrate our border and achieve needed altitude to produce widespread effect. For example, several Iranian Shahab missiles have a range exceeding 1,000 miles. The location of many nuclear weapons in the world are not accounted for, even if North Korea or Iran do not yet possess their own creations.
Here are the conditions to expect in the aforementioned region of Central Florida:
Scenario one: The electrical infrastructure and electronic devices are not impacted. However, massive infrastructure failures throughout the northeast covering 8 to 15 states might have a cascading effect on our local systems.
Day 1: Power outages lasting at least several days, but will likely be restored in nearby grids. Water systems shut down for several days. Communications for retail credit card and banking transactions down. Most phone service disrupted. Runs on food and water sources begin. People resort to using cash.
What you should do first if minimally prepared: Get cash. Banks will close early. Credit will be non-existent. Stock up on essentials: canned goods, water.
Week 1: Power gradually restored but disconnected from the NE grid. Communications outside of region cut off. Refugees from points north begin to drift south. Food supplies begin to run short in grocery stores. Gasoline shortages begin. Signs of civil unrest increase. Shortage of essential medications begin to be felt. Less prepared people especially from adjacent areas would descend on The Villages to scavenge scarce resources. Residents form alliances to share resources and create defenses. Bartering begins displacing the use of cash.
Month 1: Mass immigration from impacted areas in the NE begin to overwhelm the local population and crippled infrastructure. Food shortages severe and widespread. Civil unrest is epidemic and widespread. Widespread death from lack of essential medications and civil unrest. Bartering is primary means of commerce.
Beyond: Depends on speed of recovery of the areas in the northeast impacted by the EMP.
Scenario two: The electrical infrastructure and electronic devices in the immediate region ARE destroyed.
Day 1: No power, no communications, no banking, trade significantly crippled due to no use of credit machines. Only cash is used. Most motor vehicles not operational. Public water supplies switch to emergency power if emergency power systems are not destroyed. Initial uncertainty; later panic by many.
What you should do first if minimally prepared: Procure rain barrels from Home Depot, Lowes, Tractor Supply; stock up on water, canned goods, medicines. It may be too late to get cash. Stock up on highly barterable items: Food, ammo, water (some recommend cigarettes and booze to take advantage of people’s addictions and bad habits – but as for me, no.)
Week 1: Most emergency power systems for public water, hospitals, and other infrastructure fail if not already destroyed. Runs on banks and grocery stores which run out of food within 2 to 3 days. Many households are low on food. Medicines are in short supply. Civil unrest significantly increases. Less prepared people especially from adjacent areas would descend on The Villages to scavenge scarce resources. Residents form alliances to share resources and create defenses. Cash loses value. Bartering increases.
Month 1: Most households are out of food and become scavengers. People die from civil unrest, starvation, and medicine shortages. Bartering is primary means of trade.
Beyond: Depends on extent of infrastructure destruction in other parts of the nation and speed of recovery.
In either scenario, local law enforcement, fire/rescue, civil defense and FEMA-related assistance will be depleted or unavailable at some point within the first week due to the impact on those families. Military/National Guard assistance may or not be available due to either inoperable vehicles, lack of fuel or shortage of manpower.
The greatest likelihood is that each family will be on their own to survive for the duration that their own preparedness supplies of food, water, medicines, and self-defense will last. In these scenarios, outside assistance is not likely for weeks or months.