– We’re seeing it in real time. Venezuela is in day #4 of electrical grid down as of this writing. Their situation is bad, to say the least.
From a prepper / preparedness-mindset point of view, I am highly interested in the reports coming out of Venezuela due to their massive power outage.
More specifically to discover the worst impacts to their services and lives, and how they’re dealing with it.
We talk about it from time to time here on the blog and elsewhere: grid down. And the probable consequences as it drags on and relates to the timeline thereof.
I’ve always figured that the impact or ‘pain score’ of a grid-down situation is not linear. The impact curve will steepen with time, then sharply rise at some approximate duration point. There has always been speculation as to what point on the timeline do people start dying in mass. Not a comfortable thought…
Here are some of the pertinent ‘grid-down’ takeaways I’ve read so far from news reports coming from Venezuela:
(sources listed at the end)
Power Outage Venezuela – What Caused it?
First, apparently the power has been ‘mostly’ down. There are reports of sporadic ups and downs. But for the most part, for most people there, the power is out.
80% of their electrical power comes from one place. The “San Geronimo B substation” connects eight out of Venezuela’s 10 largest cities to the “Guri hydropower plant” via one of the longest high-voltage lines in the world.
There has been speculation as to what caused the Venezuela grid to go down. The following are from various mainstream news reports which indicate a number of claims:
1. A brush fire under a power trunk line destabilized the grid and caused Guri’s turbines to shut down.
2. A major failure inside Guri’s turbines.
4. EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack.
The government has tried to restart Guri four times since the start of the blackout on Thursday.
The latest attempt led to the explosion of a secondary substation near Guri on Saturday.
“Every time they attempt to restart, they fail and the disruption breaks something else in the system, destabilizing the grid yet further,”
The government has struggled to restart the turbines.
It takes particular skill to restart and synchronize turbines. Reports say that the experienced operators are long gone. They left due to poor wages and the apparent atmosphere of paranoia due to the government’s secret police.
What Has Happened as a Result of Venezuela Power Outage
As of Sunday, businesses remained shut, hospitals struggled to operate, and public transport barely functioned.
Looters take to Streets
Venezuelans started looting supermarkets in Caracas on Sunday, as power outages reached their fourth day.
Scavenging For Food & Water
Though Venezuela has been in a food crisis for some time, their population has become especially desperate for food now that the power is out.
Food is rotting in shops with no refrigeration.
Water pumps are not functioning. People are gathering jugs and getting water wherever they can. Sanitation will surely become an issue quite shortly.
Cell Phone’s going dead – Towers not Operating
Lines of people charging their phones from those who have a solar panel charger. Apparently there is sketchy coverage only in some parts of the country. Most cell coverage is down.
“Late Saturday, entire families parked their cars along the main highway in Caracas in the hopes of capturing faint cell phone service to check on loved ones and get the latest news.” People want news and information during a crisis.
There are varying reports that 80 – 96% of the country is offline. And that impacts business transactions, ATM’s, banking, and just about everything in modern life.
In addition, a report says, “On March 4, NetBlocks reported that the Venezuelan government had blocked YouTube and SoundCloud and partially blocked Twitter.” I believe this mostly has to do with their ongoing political opposition turmoil (everything is government run and controlled).
Hospitals Without Power
People are dying.
Evidently 95 to 100 percent of dialysis units are paralyzed, due to the power outage.
A U.S. Senator just said, “Already facing severe fuel shortages,generator use has further depleted supplies. In the next few hours more generators will stop at hospitals because fuel is running out.”
“Patients on life support,in neonatal ICU have died & more will die in coming hours. Dialysis patients face certain death if they don’t get services soon.”
95% of gas stations were not operating. Only around 100 of the country’s 1,800 service stations were operating due to the blackout, according to gas station industry sources.
Power Outage Venezuela – Mad Max?
“Venezuela is on the verge of a total collapse,” tweeted Bolivia’s former president, Jorge Quiroga. “In a few hours the surreal dystopia of Mad Max will be unleashed.”
Venezuela is amidst social political turmoil.
Problems have been exacerbated by hyperinflation that the International Monetary Fund says will reach 10 million percent this year.
A quick history:
The Venezuelan government under Hugo Chávez established populist social welfare policies that initially boosted the Venezuelan economy and increased social spending…However, such populist policies later became inadequate, causing the nation’s collapse as their excesses are widely blamed for destabilizing the nation’s economy. The destabilized economy led to a crisis in hyperinflation, an economic depression, shortages of basic goods and drastic increases in unemployment, poverty, disease, child mortality, malnutrition and crime.
Nicolás Maduro was elected in 2013 after the death of Chavez. Chavez picked Maduro as his successor and appointed him vice president in 2013. Among election scandal, Maduro won the 2018 election with 67.8% of the vote. In January 2019 the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a resolution “to not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as of the 10th of January of 2019.”
Presently Maduro’s political challenger – the opposition leader Juan Guaidó – is contesting the leadership of Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela is in a political social civil war.
Situation Confirms What Preppers Have Been Saying
So far the occurrences and incidences as they relate to power outage there are in line with what we’ve been saying here under hypothetical conditions.
It does not take long for a population to dissolve into desperation without electricity which makes our modern system ‘work’. They are currently in day 4 / 5. It started Thursday afternoon at 5PM. To see pictures of large cities without power, is surreal.
We are witnessing the results of a systemic decay. If power isn’t restored soon, it’s going to get real ugly…
Continue reading: If the Lights Went Out in America