I don't mean to be too over the top here but I really feel that these last few days have shown me how precarious our civilization is and how it can go to hell rather quickly. A category 1 hurricane combined with a cold weather front has completely decimated and paralyzed a metropolitan area that accounts for 7% of the entire United States population. And there are millions beyond it who are also suffering the impact.
Luckily, I still have power (though no cable/internet) at my house and therefore food in my refrigerator. But others aren't so lucky. For 2 days, two key work colleagues were completely off the grid and nobody knew where they were or how they were doing. I also had no way to get to work in one of the largest cities on Earth and even if I could get into the city, the problem would quickly become "how do I get out?"
Usually in big storms, the day of the storm you're shuttered in your house, then the next day is cleanup and the following day things are back to normal. Not now. There is practically no gas to be found in my area. 80% of the gas stations are either out of gas or without the power needed to pump the gas they had. The few places that are open, have lines miles and hours long. When I called the main line of a Costco in Rockland County New York, they answered the phone with "our gas station is open and the wait is two hours." So much for "hello, how may I help you?" I asked them how late they were open, they said "9:30pm or until the gas runs out". I asked when the next tanker is coming and of course they didn't know. Hopefully my less than half a tank of gas can last us long enough until things get back to normal, which could take awhile. I overheard one person at my local shop-rite say that he didn't have enough gas to wait in line for gas. There are stories of people traveling 50 miles for gas and not finding any. A few more days of this and people just won't be able to show up to work and even Taxis might become scarce on the streets.
And the food situation while not as critical is far from ideal. Nobody is delivering, not even my local Domino's so I would have to expend precious gas to get food I used to be able to get at a press of a button. My local Shop-Rite, while well stocked with most non-perishables had mostly expired or very close to expired milk on their shelves. Most of the bread was gone.
It's hard not to imagine what would happen if any of this continued for an extended period of time. It's only been about 4 days. Imagine if we had a real disaster and food/gas/power shortages lasted for weeks or even months (as would happen in the case of an electromagnetic pulse [EMP] attack, which would cripple all electronics, including our cars). There would be no way to communicate with anyone, no way to travel except on foot and we would be completely out of luck for food. There are currently fistfights at gas stations, imagine how people would react if we had a shortage of food. The amount of supplies that have to be shipped into the New York area every day to keep it going is mind boggling and Sandy has given a glimpse of what would happen if there is even the slightest hiccup in the supply chain. A few more days of this and you'd have to start adopting the Soviet method of getting into any line you find hoping that there is something you want on the other end.
It kind of makes me want to buy a year's worth of canned goods and lots of guns to defend that canned food.