It seems that many of the posts and resources assume there will be electricity, for people to hunt up missing relatives to the web for example. As we have seen the past few days in Japan, that is an assumption we can no longer afford.
Brownouts are service reductions, temporary and partial, but which are nonetheless deliberately caused by the providers to prevent the system from completely failing (blacking out). Energyvortex.com defines blackouts thus: “[they] come without warning, last for indeterminate periods, and are typically caused by catastrophic equipment failure or severe weather.” Whether through fire, flood, or hurricane, electricity is a resource we take for granted but which is not always going to be available. In Japan, the earthquake and tsunami caused a nuclear power plant explosion: no electricity will be forthcoming there, probably for months to come.
A power outage in the midst of an electrical storm adds salt to the wounds of hundreds or thousands of citizens, and complicates rescue efforts.
The demand on the world power grid is so significant that there are countries where electrical power is available only a few hours a day; in the US too, there have been “rolling blackouts”, somewhat different but still deliberate service interruption, and in some areas citizens have been told to expect more of same.
A tsunami can’t happen in this area, but an earthquake could, as could a nighttime flood or tornado. It would behoove each of us to keep a crank or rechargeable flashlight, or one with new or charged-up batteries, within reach at all times.
As was written in Hot, Flat, and Crowded, the need for energy which is cheap, effective, easy and clean has never been greater. S/He who can develop this will be put on a pedestal above Marie Curie, above Thomas Edison, above even Albert Einstein.