Not Just A Flash In The Pan…
By and large an EMP could be one of the most devastating man-made disasters we could face. Our society, the very fabric of our lives are so deeply interwoven with delicate electronics. Most especially computers. Computers run our power generation, they run our traffic lights, they even regulate medicine being dosed to patients in a hospital. Even our cars, commercial aircraft, marine transport vessel, and rail control systems are heavily studded with computer technology. Even the most technologically advanced renewable power generation stations are regulated and controlled with computers. If not for computers, life as we know it today would not exist.
Very little of this is protected from, or even designed to be resistant to the effects of an EMP. It is questionable, at best, if any of our infrastructure could withstand or survive an EMP. We have enemies worldwide some of whom have sworn to destroy the United States at any cost. Some even have the capability of firing a nuclear device into the upper atmosphere and detonating it above the continental US. What technology our enemies may lack to accomplish this could still be obtained on the black market.
In The Beginning…
All things have a beginning, and an EMP is no different. We may or may not have any warning. Even if there was a “warning” the scenario I am postulation remains unaffected by the warning, for the EMP has occurred for whatever reason.
After the EMP occurs, a vast majority of people are not going to know what happened. A majority of people may think that a brown or black out has occurred. Motorists on the roadway may have a better clue as their vehicles stop working. Aircraft will literally rain from the skies with devastating effects. All commercial aircraft are “fly by wire” computer controlled systems. The pilots would have no way to control the aircraft. People on life support or respiratory support would lose their support as the machines failed and they would die. Emergency generators would not start, as the EMP would fry their control circuits (a series of increasingly larger EMP tests were performed above a military base in Kahzakstan in the 1960’s. They started with an 11 Kiloton device, and progressed to the largest devices. During the first of the largest tests, 300 Kiloton, the diesel powered generators stopped. All of them. The diesel generator problems occurred due to dielectric breakdown in the generator windings. The generators could not generate power). It is also postulated that even people could be directly killed by an EMP, most specifically those with pacemakers in their chests. It is theorized (not yet tested) that the 50KW per meter power surge would fry the delicate control electronics inside a pacemaker. Bear in mind, many people with pacemakers had problems with early microwave ovens. Almost all of if not all of the electronic equipment needed by doctors to diagnose and treat patients will stop working. Completely.
Gas stations would not be able to pump gasoline, ATM machines would stop working, water in many cities would stop flowing, and traffic lights would cease functioning (not that it would matter one whit, since all computer controlled and cars that were running during the event would not be working any longer). Some people may be lucky enough to have water pressure for a while after the event because their water utility uses water towers to ensure that pressure is maintained during peak demand periods. Many municipal systems rely on pumps and pumping stations to move water through the pipes. So water stops flowing, if not immediately, within a few hours perhaps even days in a smaller community. It will stop flowing sooner than later.
At first most people are not going to know what is happening, and may even assume that it is a localized event. There will be isolated incidents of rioting and looting the very first night, which would quickly spread especially in large cities. The second day, as reality starts to settle in, there will be a run on the stores ( that is if the stores have not already been looted, or they are not locked and closed because no one can make to the store to open it, and some enterprising store keeper figures out how to conduct business with people who reside and exist in a mostly cashless society). Panic and additional localized rioting will happen. The police (if they show up for work at all) will be hopelessly outnumbered and overwhelmed. Any fires set by rioters could become city-wide firestorms. You get the picture. Cities are going to be death traps.
By the end of the third day, the nation will be in a shambles.
Progressively the situation will worsen. Preppers, especially those who live in the suburbs, I predict will be headed for the hills on foot, on bikes, or by any means they can find.
Things will be better in the smaller towns, by how much one can only guess.
By the end of the first week, the world as we know it will truly have ended. The enemy who detonated the EMP will likely begin invasion within that first week. Help may, or may not, come from our allies overseas. The recovery of the United states will take decades.