Australia had plans to prevent fire blackouts. They just weren’t ready in time.

From MIT Technology Review, 17 January 2020:

The first bushfire alert that Eleanor Limprecht got was a text message she received on the morning of New Year’s Eve. She was staying with her family for Christmas, holed up in Narrawallee on the south coast of New South Wales—a popular holiday destination. When the warning came through, she switched on the television for more information, but within minutes the power failed. She tried to check the fire service bushfire app on her phone, but suddenly there was no signal. Meanwhile, the sky turned blood red from the approaching fires.

“It definitely did freak me out, but I was also trying to stay calm,” she says. Her husband and mother-in-law had left in the car not long before the alert came through, to check on their family property nearby. “There was an hour or two where I had no power, no phone—I didn’t know where they were,” she says.

Eventually, to her great relief, they returned safely. Limprecht’s mother-in-law dug out an old battery-powered radio so the family could pick up emergency broadcasts from the local Australian Broadcasting Corporation service. All around them, neighbors were sitting in their cars on the street, in driveways, using their car radios to do the same. Read more.

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