Later this month, electric energy providers and transmitters will be engaging in a nationwide exercise to simulate their response to a catastrophic, coast to coast power blackout. Through cyberterrorism or EMP attack, our power grid could collapse, leaving America without electricity for months. Shipments of fuel for automobiles and deliveries of food and everything else to grocery and department stores would grind to a halt. There would be riots, looting, starvation, and social collapse. Law and order would be limited to local governments. The thin veneer of civilization would be stripped away. The United States would be ripe for secession, balkanization, and civil war, with the Federal government rendered unable to stop it. Are you as excited as I am?

Vasilinda: Black Sky event inevitable. We must prepare.

by Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda

From the Tallahassee Democrat

Saber rattling from North Korea and the specter of cyber attacks from our enemies keep us anxious.

We also worry we are vulnerable to cyber attack in our homes and businesses, banks, hospitals and schools. Worry should turn us to action to protect and prepare to repair, restore and rebuild. Resiliency is not the latest buzzword; it’s an absolute necessity.

A few days ago I returned from D.C., where I attended an annual summit hosted by Congresswoman Yvette Clark, D-NY, Congressman Trent Franks, R-Arizona, the Rt, Honorable Lord James Arbuthnot, Conservative and the Rt. Honorable Lord Toby Harris, Labour Party of the UK Parliament.

Participants from 24 nations included defense and security ministers and experts, scientists, engineers, non-government organizations like the Salvation Army, Red Cross, and National Governors Association. Also there were members of the U.S. military, National Guard Adjutant Generals, officials from Homeland Security, Department of Energy, FEMA, NOAA, and experts from the utility, distribution and supply sectors.

Our work is to learn about, discuss and plan for the inevitability of large scale catastrophe, referred to as the “Black Sky events”: extreme weather, mega earthquakes, cyber terrorism, high altitude electromagnetic pulse, Intentional Electromagnetic Interference, and coordinated physical assault that “severely disrupts the normal functioning of our critical infrastructures in multiple regions for long periods of time.”

It’s not “if” but “when” a Black Sky event will occur. The time is now for each of us to do all we can to be resilient, to prevent — but also to prepare to restore and rebuild.

The strength of our way of life, a result of our Constitution and system of government, is our diverse civil society. I have been petitioned, visited by and asked to speak to many organizations and associations of people who have found common purpose in a cause, profession, occupation or industry.

I have seen firsthand the strength and beauty of these human associations working to meet challenges and solve problems. Our robust civil society can be our greatest strength when catastrophic Black Skies gather.

What can you, your family and your organizations do to be prepared and avoid feeling helpless? You can be part of an all hazards, all hands on deck defense to Black Skies.

On August 23, there will be an Emergency All-Sector Response Transnational Hazard Exercise called EarthEX2017, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, FEMA and the EIS Council. The mission of EarthEx2017 is to “improve community resilience to large scale, long duration power outages through multi-sector exercises.”

The exercise will include widespread power outages with no solution, critical decisions, assessments, actions and cross-sector coordination, with the final phase being a “Lessons Imagined” assessment and feedback.

Participants will include private and government sectors, mass care NGOs, individuals, and families — and hopefully you. For more information or to register visit www.eiscouncil.org.

Michelle Rehwinkel Vasilinda was a member of the Florida House of Representatives. She was co-chair of the Florida House Working Group on Cyber Security and EMP in April 2015. Reach her @RepMichelle or on Facebook.