A lot depends on what the scenario is. Its going to be a very different situation for a plague, economic collapse, natural disaster, or a war. The
situation is going to vary greatly based on the scale of the event, and how badly the government loses its ability to maintain order throughout the
I live in Florida, and I have always worked in industries that have kept me at work either through or right up until a disaster occurs. Having lived
around the country I would have to say that on the whole, people who live in areas prone to disasters, such as hurricanes, tend to be more prepared
and know what to do in an emergency. When one strikes, you see both the good and the bad come out in folks. On one hand you will often see
neighborhoods and communities pull together and work as a team, yet at the same time you’ll walk through a store or gas station, and see people
simply hoarding stuff well beyond what they require.
A recent example is the hoarding that went on in the US of Iodine tablets by people who lived so far away from the situation that any effects were
negligible, yet they were buying them up so the people in actual need couldn’t get them. Even worse you had folks who bought them with the intention
of reselling them at a grossly inflated profit.
Anyway, in my estimation, after having been through major hurricanes including the year we had four in rapid succession, having spent weeks without
power, seeing all the gas stations run out of gas and every store picked clean of anything edible, plus after seeing what happened in Katrina, I think
I can venture a guess as to what would happen in a significant breakdown.
Things would work pretty normally for about the first 48 hours, your police would still be on station, your fire departments would be running, as
would hospitals. Most of your middle class people in the suburbs will work together as groups to get by. People who fled the area will be jamming up
the roads, and eating up gas, to get back home to see what the damage is to their property.
After 48 hours with no outside resupply of goods or fuel, things would begin to break down. Starting with the lower income, urban areas. There you
would see looting and riots beginning to break out. This would tie up, and eventually break down your law enforcement and rescue workers. Scarcity of
fuel would also start to hit rescue teams as the gas stations, which are running on emergency reserves, would begin to run dry. Those who have lived
through a hurricane know that there is generally only enough gas in a city to run things for around 48 hours without resupply, with some variance
depending on the exact situation (ie. If a lot of people took the the roads to evacuate, etc...).
By the end of the week, with nothing being delivered to stores, and lower income people running out of both food and possibly water (depends on the
disaster, but I have almost always seen city water become questionable in nearly every disaster), urban areas would become war zones unless the
national guard is called in (just like in Katrina). Many of your aid workers would either be unable to get to work, or would stop going in to take
care of their own families. Your prison guards would most likely be unable to get to work, or be unable to control their populations, leading to a
mass of desperate prisoners ending up out on the streets. Hospitals would be overwhelmed, and many of your elderly would be dead due to exposure from
lack of electricity. Usually things never get to this point because normally there is some emergency aid and outside help coming in within a weeks
If there is still no outside aid by the second week, you’ll have gangs from the urban areas, which have now been thoroughly looted, heading into the
suburbs. Most of your people in the suburbs will be running low on goods by now as well, and you can pretty much guarantee that all of your social
services (Police, Rescue, Hospital) will be overwhelmed, low on staff, fuel, and resources to do much of anything. Hospitals would simply be huge
morgues by this point, having to mass bury or burn bodies to keep down the disease and smell (there would be no refrigeration after all). Some of your
suburban people will probably decide to head out of the area at this point, to go to relatives or bug out, but will most likely die on the roads from
others who are already stranded out there after either breaking down or running out of gas from following a similar bug out plan. The highway system
is going to be a big parking lot full of gangs of people on foot looking to intercept the next functioning vehicle they encounter.
Your gangs that have survived the fighting in the urban areas, have grown in size, now have some combat experience, a plan of attack, and will be well
armed with what they have looted from others. After they have raped, pillaged, and plundered their way through the suburbs, they will head into the
rural areas, most likely looting everything they can find along the way.
To extrapolate this out the ultimate outcome, eventually you end up with tribes of people, hardened from fighting and killing, who are at this point
mainly emotionless psychopaths, roaming the areas in large gangs or tribes. Eventually the most successful of these groups will again settle somewhere
and reestablish some form of society.
Anyone who thinks they can stand against such a situation alone, or even in a small group is deluding themselves. I don’t care if you are the most
badass marine that ever walked the planet, eventually you will need outside help, expertise, you’ll get sick, hurt, get an infection, break a bone,
run out of ammo/equipment, important equipment will break down, or outsiders will simply grind you down until they take what they want from you. Oh...
and the gangs that you will encounter will most likely be large, well armed, hungry, ruthless, and quite battle hardened by the time they get to your
"no trespassing" sign and lone shotgun.
edit on 4/23/2011 by defcon5 because: (no reason given)