Collapse of the Internet: San Juan Islands Style

As you may remember, one of the scenarios that I outlined in my book Broken Web The Coming Collapse of the Internet was the notion of rotating outages.  While we don’t know if there will be follow-on action, we are quite concerned with conditions up in Washington State’s San Juan Islands where a key underwater cable has “failed” and as a result, most of the whole island group is cut off from the umbilical cord of modern communications.

I just got off the phone with Gaye Levy, who publishes the popular www.backdoorsurvival.com web site, and she and SurvivalHubby have been out doing a little “war-driving” looking for bars and she found enough to get a call through down here.

Apparently it’s a real mess for people in the Islands.  Local media has been covering it, like this article in the Island’s Sounder website, but it looks like it will be anywhere from 3 to 7 days before service is back up.

As a result, only cash or checks are working in grocery stores, the ATM’s in the islands are all down and worse – if you don’t happen to have a half tank of gas in your car – you could be among those who are learning the hard way that it takes the Internet in some places to get a car’s gas tank filled.

The good news, such as it is,. is that this gives both Gaye and SH a real impetus to get their ham radio licenses so they will have their “own way” to get comms off-island.  They get that at a very serious core level now.

Since Gaye’s quite the expert on food prepping and saving, and since the power’s still on (along with the natgas) we aren’t at all worried about their physical well-being.

At this time of year, the islands are home to about 16 to18-thousand people (more on the weekends, since the Washington State Ferry System brings in scads of tourists who come up to stay in bed and breakfasts from Seattle every weekend, and the marine scene (Roche and Friday harbors) is usually teeming with activity.

The pace of island life in the meantime has definitely changed, and Gaye will be writing it up in dribs and drabs and she’ll make the ferry ride over to the mainland to get connectivity.

In the meantime, while everything looks pretty good now (talk about over-prepped) this is one of those “real deal” unplanned dry-run sort of experiences.

The one background concern I’ve got (and I may not mention it until the ‘net is back up) is to wonder if that undersea cable break has anything to do with undersea land movement? 

With all the major quake activity around the Pacific Rim, we’ve been waiting for things to move up in the Pacific Northwest, where – if you look at a map sometime – you’ll see Vancouver Island, just across Haro Strait from SurvivalWoman’s house on San Juan – was once attached way down to the southeast.  It’s now the San Juan plate.

I guess if I lived in Seattle, I’d be checking my EQ preps.  Not to be paranoid, but prepping is cheap and survival is always something to be ready for…

(More as we get connectivity/roaming through Canadian cell sites)

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