9 out of 10 San Franciscans Were Scared and Unprepared: San Francisco Power Outage


The SF power outage started around 9am on Friday, April 21, 2017. At first, everyone thought it was kind of fun and exciting. Muni buses were frozen in the streets and smartphones would not work which meant no Uber or Lyft rides.

Consequently, some people could not get to work. By default, the powerless people were either meandering the powerless streets or foraging for a highly-coveted and hard-to-find cup of hot coffee.

For the most part, peeps were just chatting away (instead of staring lifelessly into their iPhone for a change) and intrigued by the whole thing. Others were immediately irritated and getting nasty over not being able to score their habitual morning latte.

Doesn’t take much.

1977 NY Blackout Riots – IMAGE: BETTMANN/CORBIS

As seen in the short, yet highly destructive NY blackout of 1977…

“No sooner had the lights gone out than the looting and arson began. Over a thousand fires were reported, and more than 1,600 stores damaged or ransacked.

Power was slowly restored over the next day, with the entire city online by 10:39 p.m. All told, in 24 hours 3,700 people had been arrested and more than $300 million of property had been damaged.” – Mashable

Check out this 1st interview (below). At the 30-second mark- “Do you think people would stay calm and composed after 2-days of this? Or would they start losing their shit?” The woman being interviewed laughs and says, “No. People are already losing it and it has been like 20-minutes.”

A few hours went by and then rumors started, ” Did you hear that NY, LA and DC are also down?” Suddenly, the blackout wasn’t cute anymore. Many people had left their homes cashless that morning. No Power= No Versatellers, No ATMs, No outlet-dependent credit card processors. Thereby, the food that was quickly disappearing from local shops, was only available to those with cash.

1 guy I talked to, did had no idea how to get back to his Outer Richmond home without public transportation or transpo apps (Uber or Lyft). He could not contact anyone, had no cash and started thinking about the sun going down.

What would a long, dark, powerless night be like in a major city like San Francisco?

Probably best to ask an SF Cop who was on-call during the big SF blackout following the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

Just today, I was just talking to an SF cop named Rick about blackouts. Originally, I had asked a question about having an unloaded firearm in an enclosed public space at our “Stopping Power” event (coming up). Then we started talking about how anti-gun SF is, why responsible citizens might reconsider their gun-free stance and all the shit that went down during the 2-day, 1989 blackout. He said…

“I gave my daughter a shotgun as a house warming gift. She did not understand why she needed it. I said, ‘Honey, after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, we could not get to people. The power was down for 2 days, our phone lines were jammed and we were completely overwhelmed and understaffed. If 10 people showed up to your door and tried to harm or rob you, this shotgun is all you would have to protect yourself. Cops will not be able to help you. I would try to get to you as fast as possible, but even then, it could be too late. In the 2-day blackout, a lot of crazy shit happened and you would have REALLY wanted this shotgun. Let’s just leave it at that. She quickly understood and accepted my housewarming gift.” (starts laughing)


The real turning points were:

  1. News of a multi-city blackout
  2. News of Russian Jets scrambling too close to Alaskan airspace
  3. PG&E’s failed promise for the power to return at 12noon and another failed promise for power at 1PM
  4. By 2PM people were out of cash, getting hungry, thirsty and scared

9 out of the 10 people I chatted with, had little if any supplies at home and no clue what they were going to do.

This Wednesday, you are invited to join us for a beer and to learn about Staying Power in San Francisco. We will have a follow-up event to discuss stopping power.

At NorCal Survive, we’ve had top notch Navy SEALs, Army Rangers & Survival Experts teach a variety of navigation, orienteering, backcountry hacks, self-defense and survival skills.

So at very least… we can rest assured that most of our members some have self-defense training, emergency preparedness training, survival kits and other resources needed to manage in a city-wide emergency.

If an emergency persists beyond a couple of days, you should distance yourself from all major cities. However, you may be stuck in the city and it could be advantageous to stay put while panicked mobs flood the bridges and freeways. If so, you should have enough supplies to bunker down in your foxhole until the craziness subsides (at the least).

There are 2 things that you need:


  1. Staying Power: Enough water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and supplies to stay put for at least 3-5  days(minimum) if a power-grid failure, natural disaster or violence in the streets makes it unsafe to leave your house and get supplies from the store.
  2. Stopping Power: Self-defense flashlight, basic self-defense training, pepper spray, a stun gun, a baseball bat and potentially a firearm (if you are willing to get firearms safety and shooting training). Same goes for a knife, but knives are often ineffective and dangerous for untrained individuals. A good alternative to a firearm is a pepper spray gun, but if you’re indoors that can also backfire.

How did you feel during the power outage last week? Did you think it was weird that multiple major US cities all had extended power outages at the same time? Were we hacked?

This Wednesday, you are invited to join us for a beer and to learn about Staying Power in San Francisco.

Here is the agenda:

  • Bring A Friend And Get A Free NorCal Survive Credit Card Knife
  • Staying Power Checklist and Stopping Power Handout
  • Order a beer or cocktail
  • Introductions and Tell Your Power-Outage Story (or pass if you are shy)
  • Align With Neighbors Who Live or Work Close To You
  • Learn What Gear is Necessary Vs What Is Excessive
  • Learn What To Do During A Riot, Blackout, Earthquake (Any Natural Disaster)
  • Intro to the different Options for Stopping Power (our next meetup)
  • $10 Donation is appreciated or you can purchase a tactical NightHawk Flashlight for $25
  • Have Fun!

Come down for a few beers, meet your neighbors and form alliances and increase your confidence while reducing your fear about future blackouts and natural disasters.

Click here to RSVP

Author: Bryce Anderson – Made In San Francisco (Since 1863)

In 1863, Bryce’s family left Ireland and arrived in San Francisco. He is a 5th generation San Franciscan, an Ad-Tech Nerd, an ex-Fire Fighter | EMT, an outdoorsman and the Founder of NorCal Survive. As such, Bryce understands the importance of ditching the laptop, venturing into the wild and testing your limits. “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” – V Brooks

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