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FEMA and EMP Disaster
by Michael Webster
Thursday Nov 1st, 2018 1:48 PM
FEMA is unprepared and lacks strategic planning The President relies on Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for all disasters in the United States, which includes every state and territory. Hurricane Maria was an extraordinary act of nature that spawned one of the worst human tragedies in American history. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters that we as a nation have ever seen
FEMA and EMP Disaster

By Syndicated Investigative reporter Michael Webster

On the day after September 2017, when Hurricane Maria struck puerto Rico I was there. I witnessed some of the most hair rising evens of my 30 year career in Emergency Management. It took 345 days to fully restore power to Puerto Rico.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, has claimed that they have approved billions in individual assistance grants for residents of Puerto Rico. More than 10 million has been designated for repairs to bridges, government buildings and other structures, which many survivors’ question.

FEMA is unprepared and lacks strategic planning The President relies on Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for all disasters in the United States, which includes every state and territory. Hurricane Maria was an extraordinary act of nature that spawned one of the worst human tragedies in American history. It was one of the most destructive natural disasters that we as a nation have ever seen. Laying waste to Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands in the Caribbean. Puerto Rico is the largest of American territories. It is an Island 100 miles long and 35 miles wide, and an area the size of the United Kingdom, with an American population of 3.5 million people. In the American Virgin Islands, the storm surge obliterated coastal communities and left thousands destitute. Puerto Rico and the islands were overwhelmed by 175 miles per hour winds and waist high flooding in many areas. The storm knocked out all power and communications on the islands.

As a result all told, it was reported that 60 people lost their (I believe a gross under estimate by the Government) over 3 million people suffered without basic essentials like fresh potable water, food, fuel, electricity and shelter. FEMA has become so muscle bond and powerful it can’t seem to get out of its own way in times of large or mega disasters.

Can you imagine with no water, toilets don’t flush and they back up quickly and American citizens had to go out doors in the elements to relieve themselves for weeks and in most cases without any toilet paper?

Now that’s scary, and here’s why it matters to you and your family.

While this event may seem distant to us, could you function without electricity for almost a year? The fact is, our own electric grid is shockingly vulnerable. Recently, there have been a number of news articles about how vulnerable our electric and water systems are to hackers, and how Russia and North Korea have already successfully hacked into our systems.
Two of the most significant impacts of such a power outage would be our loss of electric and water. Our water infrastructure is COMPLETELY dependent upon our electrical grid. Take the electric grid down for any length of time, and our water very quickly becomes dangerously contaminated and no power to move it to us in our homes and businesses across America.
This threat to our electrical and water supply is one of the most important reason that each of us need to be prepared for an emergency!
The gravest danger to America is the loss of its electrical grid. If that grid should go down for months or years, America will cease to exist as a nation of any consequence. If the grid failed across America, and we could not get it up again within several months, hundreds of millions of people could die of thirst, starvation, disease, and civil conflict.

FEMA Chief Brock Long Says “Puerto Rico Relief 'Most Logistically Challenging Event' U.S. Has Ever Seen”.

FEMA had known for more than a week that Maria was likely to hit Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands where there were nearly 4 million people and property at dangerous and live threatening risk.

Much of the suffering is continuing and is expected to in the days, weeks, months and yes even years after Maria has passed. This did not happen in a vacuum; instead, the blame lays squarely with FEMA – the failure of FEMA to plan, prepare for and respond aggressively to the storm. These failures were not just conspicuous; they were pervasive. Among the many factors that contributed to these failures, long-term warnings went unheeded and FEMA officials neglected their duties to prepare for a forewarned catastrophe; FEMA officials took insufficient actions or made poor decisions in the days immediately before and after landfall; The systems on which Puerto Rico and the American Virgin Islands relied on to support their emergency response efforts failed, and FEMA Administer Brock Long failed to provide effective leadership. These individual failures, moreover, occurred against a backdrop of failure, over time, to develop the capacity for a coordinated, national response to a truly catastrophic event, whether caused by nature or man-made. The results were tragic loss of life and human suffering on a massive scale, and an undermining of confidence in our governments’ ability to plan, prepare for and respond to national catastrophes.

FEMA is the agency we Americans will need to rely on when we will need it most during an EMP.

Dr. William Fortschen an expert on the subject of EMP here is what he said recently.
EMP is a first-strike weapon. And it’s a technological game changer. Throughout the history of warfare, we have always seen that the losing side in a war often trumps the victor in the next conflict by rethinking the paradigm. A very simple example is Crecyand Agincourt, battles fought during the 100 Years War of the 14th & 15th century where the M-1 tanks of their time, the French armored nobility, suddenly encountered English longbow men.

Thus we see all the way to the present a technology that’s been dismissed (or recently realized) that trumps what’s considered to be the existing, dominant force on the battlefield. What is the primary issue that Sun Tzu talks about – and almost every military writer after him – regarding the opening moves of warfare? The destruction of command and control. If you can shut down the command and control of your opponent, you have pretty well won the day before battle is even joined. What is the best way, currently, to take out command and control? It would be cyber attack or EMP.

I was thinking last night about something of the issue of morale. I recently read that what really broke the morale of the average German soldier – starting around 1943 – was not necessarily their being pushed back in North Africa or the debacle on the Eastern front. It was men going home on furlough or wounded or getting letters and seeing that city after city after city was getting leveled. While they fought on the front lines, their wives, their children, their families, their homeland was being flattened. That was a crucial factor in breaking the morale of the German troops. I remember talking with a German soldier, a veteran of the Russian front, who said the most terrifying experience of his life was that he happened to be in Hamburg when it was hit. He said it shook him for the rest of the war.

He realized they were going to lose, as he put it. We see regarding command and control, a first strike via EMP or cyber attack as a decapitation of information. But it also strikes morale. And then you have societal breakdown. We need not go through an exercise here of what happens if the electricity turns off in the next minute and what happens to this city within the hour.

But, as an old hero of mine, Rod Serling, once said: “Presented for your consideration.” I present for your consideration what if on 9/11, we all saw the first minute of the impact on the second World Trade Center tower and the Pentagon. And then the entire news grid went down. Think of the panic that would have struck across the country within the hour. We have been used to ever since the age of technology – excuse me, actually since the advent of telegraphy – to having instant access to information. Particularly within the last 15 years. I’m a college teacher. If my kids walk out of the classroom (or even in the classroom) and they can’t immediately text their boyfriend or their parents, they’re throwing a panic attack. Think of the shutdown of command and control but also the communication grid of a civilian society. What happens next? It’s a grim proposition.

One of the things that I found difficult in communicating the threat of EMP and cyber attack is that the mere discussion of it often brings on a certain level of shock and resulting non-responses. A good analogy to that is what the film On the Beach created. How many of you have actually seen the film On the Beach? I read an article a while back pointing out thatOn the Beach was a contributing factor in the shutting down of the American Civil Defense system that had been developed in the ’40s and the ’50s. The reason being that when On the Beach came out, it presented such an overwhelming, catastrophic view of thermonuclear war as a planet-destroying event, that the attitude then became: “Why in hell are we even bothering to try and prepare our infrastructure, build command and control centers, dig bunkers in back yards? It’s all meaningless.”

The infamous line: “The living will envy the dead.” That is the problem that we here face today. How do we convince the general populus, voters, the people up on the Hill, that the cyber threats that you’re talking about – which sound sci-fi to some, how do we convince them that these are real and that in preparing for such an event we might actually prevent an enemy from attempting it? It seems so overwhelming that most people react with: “Oh, hell, somebody else will figure it out.” Or: “I’ll go back to my Xbox.”

I do see glimmers of hope. There are constituencies that are starting to react. How many of you are familiar with the fact that the state of Maine has actually passed a bill to start infrastructure hardening. The state representative who wrote the bill read my book and decided to respond protectively rather than give into passive inaction. The same is about to happen in my home state of North Carolina. I’d like to introduce my friend Sid Morris, from Charlotte, North Carolina, who is with us today. Sid’s NOAH Foundation is working aggressively with the State of North Carolina, and also with Duke Energy. I think we’re going to be on the edge of agreements both with Duke and with the governor of North Carolina and in turn our state legislators. North Carolina will thus start to prepare as well. So even if we’re not seeing success at the federal level, we are starting to see success at the state level.

[Moderator Rachel Ehrenfeld asks what NOAH is doing. Fortschen responds.]

They are working on developing survivable infrastructure. Developing command and control nodes that are survivable, addressing issues of cyber security, and hardening infrastructure against EMP. That’s the goal that the NOAH Foundation – they’re just down the road from me and they operate politically and within the community.

We’re having a remarkable experience here, today. But we’re all preaching to the choir. How do we build a broader constituency to react to make sure devastation via EMP doesn’t happen? Or better yet, to create such a sound infrastructure that an opponent dare not risk such an attack as a first strike, knowing the impact will be minimal and the response overwhelming. Thank you for the honor of being here.”

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