The power failure yesterday in San Francisco demonstrated, yet again, that cash is still essential.
Johnny Sadoon, owner of Sutter Fine Foods on Nob Hill, sat against a register eating vanilla ice cream from a Häagen-Dazs carton. He figured he had but a few hours before he should start to worry about the food going bad and the ice cream melting in the freezers.
He had kept the store open despite the blackout and a few customers perused the darkened aisles, but because the credit card machine doesn’t work without power, sales were few and far between.
“No one pays cash anymore,” he said, spoon in hand as a siren wailed outside. “I’m angry. I’m annoyed.”
There's more at the link.
I can already hear some readers scoffing that a short-term power failure like that is nothing to worry about, and no reason to increase their cash reserves at home . . . but what if it isn't short-term? The Pentagon appears to be thinking about that already.
Amid warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber attack or atmospheric nuclear blast, the Pentagon is taking steps to both protect the nation's communications and power lifeline.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has charged BAE Systems to map a system that can detect a cyber attack and gin up an alternative communications network for military and civilian use if the grid is fried, according to Defense Systems, the online newsletter.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey has been warning for years that the grid is extremely vulnerable, and recently the Pentagon and some states have taken the warning seriously. Woolsey and former EMP Commission chief of staff Peter Vincent Pry have pointed a finger at North Korea, which is now threatening the U.S.
DARPA's focus is on thwarting a cyber attack, but Pry and Woolsey have also warned that North Korea or Iran could attack the grid with an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the East Coast that will disable the grid and that could end up leading to the death of 90 percent of those in the East.
Again, more at the link. Bold, underlined text is my emphasis.
Given North Korea's record of unsuccessful missile launches, I daresay the nuclear threat at this time is relatively low . . . but it may not stay that way. That's probably why President Trump appears determined to do something about it before it gets more serious. As for a cyber-attack, even if it's thwarted, it may result in local or regional disruptions of the power supply for days, or even weeks, while normal operations are restored.
I can only repeat my frequently-expressed recommendation, in my articles on economic conditions and emergency preparations, to keep extra cash at home, in a secure location. If possible, I strongly suggest you have enough for at least one month's normal expenditure on everything - rent, utilities, regular payments, groceries, fuel, the whole enchilada. Even if a month's cash is impossible, at least try for a week's worth. That way, if things do grind to a halt, electrically speaking, you'll have enough to buy emergency supplies . . . while others, who haven't taken that precaution, are left waving useless credit and debit cards at silent, powerless (literally) card machines.
(I might add that a decent supply of cash, under such circumstances, can result in a windfall in supplies. On more than one occasion I've seen a desperate store owner, knowing that he was about to lose the entire contents of his refrigerators and freezers to a power failure, sell them at half or more off their regular price. If you have a freezer at home, and a small generator to keep it going until power is restored, you might pick up several weeks' worth of meat at far less than the usual cost - to say nothing of multiple gallons of ice cream!)