Panic at the Grocery Stores

What to expect when the power grid goes down

by EMP Editor

In the aftermath of a large-scale electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, the sudden loss of electricity and electronic payment systems would trigger a race against time to secure essential supplies.  As we saw during the Covid-19 pandemic consumers quickly stripped shelves bare of essential goods.   It then becomes a near certainty to that in the case of an EMP attack on North America that the human reaction will be predictable once again.

Drawing on historical examples of panic buying after disasters to shed light on the challenges that lie ahead in a post-EMP world and what you can expect in the case of a EMP attack or other situation that causes panic among consumers.

Day 1: The Frenzy Begins:

At first, an EMP attack will appear just as a widespread power outage and it will take several hours for most American’s to realize what has happened.   For many people, they don’t even know what an EMP attack is and with no communications, internet or even radios to listen to, the first day of the attack will not be as panic driven as the second day.   As news of the EMP attack spreads, panic and uncertainty sweep through the population which would begin to be increasing as the day went on with no restoration of electricity.

At first, grocery stores will close their doors as their accounting and sales systems are completely dependent on computers and electricity.

History has shown that in the face of impending crisis, humans instinctively rush to stock up on supplies. Just like after natural disasters or major disruptions, the first hours following an EMP attack would witness a surge of frantic shoppers flocking to grocery stores, stripping shelves of non-perishable foods, bottled water, and essential supplies – but with stores only being able to accept cash – something very people carry in quantity anymore and no functioning ATM’s – the situation will worsen quickly.   By the first night, looting by desperate individuals will begin as grocery stores will be broken into.

Key Survival Tip:  Small independent convenience stores will be far more willing to operate on a cash basis even if there computer or cash register is down.   Skip the big box stores – head to the small stores to stock up on essentials.

Days 2-3: A Battle for Basics:

In the aftermath of an EMP attack, grocery stores would find themselves at the center of a maelstrom. Historical examples such as hurricanes and power outages have demonstrated that within the second and third day, supplies of essential items start dwindling rapidly. Items like canned goods, batteries, and hygiene products would become scarce as panicked shoppers continue to hoard in anticipation of an extended period without access to basic necessities.

Days 4-7: The Rush Subsides,

the Shelves Empty: As the initial panic buying tapers off, the true extent of the situation becomes apparent. Without electricity to power refrigeration, fresh produce, dairy products, and meat would spoil quickly, leading to their scarcity within days. Grocery store shelves would bear witness to a haunting sight – row upon row of empty spaces where once a variety of food choices stood. The reliance on non-perishable goods and packaged items would intensify as consumers face a growing scarcity of nutritious options.

Weeks 2-4: Hunger Pangs Deepen:

As the weeks wear on, the consequences of a disrupted supply chain would fully manifest. History reminds us that prolonged crises, such as natural disasters or conflicts, have seen communities struggle with the scarcity of food. In a post-EMP scenario, the absence of restocking efforts due to infrastructure collapse would exacerbate the situation. Hunger would become an unwelcome companion as canned goods, grains, and other shelf-stable items become the primary source of sustenance.

Beyond the First Month: The Search for Solutions:

In the long term, communities would need to find innovative ways to adapt and sustain themselves. History provides examples of resilience and resourcefulness emerging in the face of adversity. Just as communities have turned to local food production and alternative means of sustenance in the wake of past crises, the aftermath of an EMP attack would likely witness the rise of community gardens, urban farming initiatives, and the exploration of bartering and local trade networks to address food shortages.

The countdown to empty shelves following a large-scale EMP attack would unfold in a familiar pattern, drawing parallels with historical instances of panic buying after disasters. As the days turn into weeks, communities would grapple with the scarcity of fresh produce, dairy, and meat, relying heavily on non-perishable goods to sustain themselves. Learning from history, it is crucial to prioritize preparedness efforts, foster community resilience, and explore alternative food sources to ensure food security in the face of an uncertain future.

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