*Blackout in NYC 2003 - Urban tips for survival*
It was a normal day for me in NYC. I was at work doing my thing when all of a sudden , no power. Not too unusual for me because where I work which is on a peninsula in the Bronx we always lose power. Then my wife called me from manhattan and said "the power is out in the city". I thought to myself oh @#$% here we go again TERRORISM! I told my wife to leave work immediately and to start heading home. She hung up and started on her way, walking from Midtown Manhattan to Queens is no easy feat, but she did it during the attacks on 911, so she would have to do it again. She told me it was not easy walking down 54 flights of stairs with minimal emergency lighting. (She now has a Surefire G2 nitrolon in her bag).
I turned on the battery operated am radio and heard that all power along the East Coast was out! I immediately tried to call my Mother in Law to pick up my kids at school. All circuits were busy. My stomach now is starting to churn. Im worried about my wife who is walking thru Manhattan during what I think is the next wave of 911 style attacks. And I cant get to my kids. OK deep breath relax, calm down... I call my neighbor who lives near the school and is our emergency #2 person to get the kids. Thank God, she has them! She went right to the school and picked them up. I spoke to my two boys and told them to behave and Mommy would be by soon to get them. Tip #1 have a plan for your kids to be cared for and have a fall back plan for the first plan.
I next tried to call my wife on the cellphone. No good circuits busy, I tried the NEXTEL point to point, spotty but I can hear her, shes walking over the 59st bridge. Shes almost home. Tip #2 Have alternate means of commo. Cell phones even in Urban areas can get clogged, even if the cell towers are intact (unlike 911)
My boss comes in and tells a co worker and I to gas up as many vans as we can. We suit up in body armor and get our rifles ( Mini 14s I wish I had my M4) and off we go thru the South Bronx in a marked NYPD van. The streets are relatively calm, no street lights or traffic lights are working but neighborhood people are directing traffic, and doing a great job. We go to a police precinct to fuel up there answer is "Sorry no power gas pumps aint workin try the -- pct they have a Generator. Tip #3 always have adequate fuel in your vehicle. So we go to the -- pct they tell us "No more gas try the --pct".
We notify our base that we are going to another sector via radio, the radios are frantic calls are coming in from all over but thankfully just minor accidents and aided calls. I was amazed the City was so quiet and everyone was behaving but the I think it was the fear of not knowing what was going on that kept all NYers in line.
My cell phone went off, my wife made it home and said she broke out all the chem lites and flourecent lanterns and that she and the boys were fine. She also had her S&W mod 64 on her hip and my 870 near the door just in case. (Shes a former Liberal, peacenik type so I was quite impressed, I guess Im rubbing off on her) Tip#4 If you have firearms in your house insist on your significant other to learn how to use them, they dont have to like it just do it. My wife isnt a big gun buff but when push came to shove she was ready to protect her kids and home with deadly physical force if neccesary.
OK the family is secure I feel much better time to get in the game. My partner and I still cant find fuel, the Sun is going down and the city is totally without power. The Police radio hasnt mentioned word one of Terrorism the local news is talking about Ohio and PA. No one knows whats up.
We decide to turn back and let our bosses know we were not lucky enough to get gas. Its now dark, Im getting hungry, all stores are pretty much closed metal gates pulled down and locked for fear of looters. Ah a bag of M&Ms! My partner and I share the bag and luckily we brought our Camelbaks so water wasnt an issue. Tip#5 So what you live in the big city always have your own source of food, keep it in your desk,locker backpack whatever because when you get hungry ..... trust me.
The streets are dark yet filled with adults and kids walking around with flashlights and chem lites. Everyone is calm and almost in a carnival type mood. Here I am in the South Bronx in a marked Police van and Im hearing "You be careful officer." and "What can we do to help officer?" For all the tragedy that happened on 911 a good thing came out of it NYers lerned to be neighbors again.
We get back to our base where we are told to standby. I call home all is well the kids are loving the chem lites and my wife says they love eating all the ice cream that has to be taken out of the fridge. We have a gas oven so she cooked all our meat so as not to let it go to waste but said with no Air conditioning things got hot in the house quick. 14 hours later I was released from work and sent home. There were no incidents at all during the first night.
I drove home (free ride over the bridge no power means no toll booth ) and got in the house. The wife was sleeping on the couch, revolver on the coffee table, 870 next to her on the floor. My boys were in there room asleep. Bolied some water and made some instant coffee, and checked supplies. Plenty of pastas, rice bottled water. AA batteries til the cows come home BUT the lanterns take D batteries. Tip#6 Just because you have 400 AAs you would give them up in a heart beat when you need Ds. Make sure you have the right batteries for the right equipment in priority order. Yes AAs are great for the kids handheld video games but the lanterns are needed at night.
I listened to the radio and heard all the talking heads give there scoop on the Blackout, I just drank my coffe and started to make preps for night time. I had to get back to work in 5 hours and I wanted to make sure the family was taken care of. Off to find an open store. I drove around my neighborhood impressed, people were out with their gas grills cooking all the meat they had and were sharing with their neighbors. Steak for breakfast works for me. Ureka! a 711 open. I pull in to the dark store and walk in. No milk, no bread, no D batteries. Plenty of beer, cigarettes and chips. No help to me right now. I drove around for 45 minutes, no luck with the Ds.
I got home and showered in the dark which was weird but felt good, also it was cold because the water heater was off. My active Navy days came flooding back to me.
As I went thru my gear I found a set of batterie converters I bought and forgot about! Take the d sized cylinder and put a AA in and voila D battery! Tip#7 get a set of battery converters, they dont last as long as the real thing but its better than nothing. Also get crank lanterns.
My brother in law came over with his wife and kids and decided on staying with my family because we have the guns LOl. Tip #8 Double up with people. Strength in #s.
I packed for work, took my usual BOB as well as a hunk of London Broil in a ziploc bag with some rice and my Coleman duel fuel stove and the all important coffee pot. (I was going to be worshipped at work today). I kissed the family goodbye and headed into work. Parts of NY had gotten power back and 5 hrs after I left home all of NYC was restored to normal.
The most important thing I learned was to BE CALM! You can always improve your preps and family plans. Practice with your family. If you have fire drills have Blackout drills as well. Make sure everyone know where all the gear is. BATTERIES! Make sure you have the right ones and plenty of them. Dont let your emotions run you, try to rationalize a problem dont emotionalize one.
All in all I must say I was taught a valuable lesson about human nature. After NY got knockdown once we all pulled together during the blackout, for that I am actually proud of my screwed up City. Be safe all!
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