News roundup for Tue, Dec 06, 2022

In short:
  • Major supply chain disruptions avoided as diesel shortages are easing.
  • Lake Powell could reach ‘minimum power pool’ status as early as July.
  • Repeat Covid infections might be the cause of current high respiratory infections.
Infant formula shortage could last until spring; Diesel still in short supply but prices dropped and refineries have been reactivated; Britain’s economy on course to shrink next year

Reckitt Benckiser, the maker of the infant formula Enfamil believes that the formula shortage could last until spring.

Diesel fuel is still in short supply across the US, but a slight price drop and the reactivation of a few refineries in America have prevented disruptions to important rail, truck, and ship traffic.

For the latest national average gas and diesel prices click here.

Britain’s economy is on course to shrink 0.4% next year, the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) forecasts. CBI does not expect the gross domestic product to return to its pre-Covid level until mid-2024.

French grid chief believes that the current high gas storage level could get Europe through the winter without major disruptions (paywall). But falling temperatures and delays in repairing outages at France’s fleet of nuclear power plants could still combine to trigger shortages and consequent power cuts, including in France. If anything, he expects that France could experience ‘some days’ of power cuts.

According to new data, global insured disaster losses will surpass $100B for the second consecutive year. Hurricane Ian caused the biggest loss, $50 to 65 billion. In addition to the devastating winter storms in Europe, flooding in Australia and South Africa contributed to the staggering toll. Losses have trended up each year at a rate of 5 to 7% over the past decade.

Here are some senior driving safety and insurance tips:

The cost of insulin prescriptions for Medicare recipients will drop to $35 starting Jan 1; Repeat Covid infections might be the cause for current high cases of flu, RSV, and other respiratory illnesses; More children are dying from Strep A bacterial infections

Starting Jan 1, individuals on Medicare will pay no more than $35 a month for a prescription of insulin:

Six children so far died of a Strep A bacterial infection in the UK. Infections caused by Group A Strep bacteria are usually mild with symptoms like a sore throat or skin infections. However, in a very small number of cases, Group A Strep infection can get deeper into the body causing an illness known as invasive Group A Streptococcus (iGAS), which is much harder to treat. Here’s a thread about what might be going on:

The worst flu outbreak in the past decade could be due to (repeat) Covid infections messing with people’s immune systems:

A sharp increase in new Covid cases might force LA County to reinstate mask mandates. Cases and hospitalizations have been rising across the US:

Seniors might be taking the brunt…

…but vaccinations and boosters work in reducing hospitalizations:

Covid is associated with a >60% increased risk of newly diagnosed diabetes.

Some forum threads that could be relevant for people who stock refrigerated medicines:

WHO warns that a drop in Covid alertness could create deadly new variants. The below infographic shows how letting the virus circulate without mitigation might prevent eradication:

Via Nature (click to link)
Small chance of a system becoming a subtropical cyclone moving northeast; Lake Powell could reach ‘minimum power pool’ status by July; Florida will be a major hotbed for wildfires in 2023

Nov 30 might be the official end of the Atlantic Hurricane season but NOAA is monitoring a system that has a chance (albeit small) of becoming a subtropical cyclone during the next few days:


The latest National Interagency Fire Center report predicts that Florida will be a major hotbed for wildfires in 2023, alongside Georgia, New Mexico, and Texas. Here’s How to prepare for and survive a wildfire.

Officials worry that Lake Powel’s levels could reach the status of ‘minimum power pool’ within the next two years, and as early as July. In that case, the massive turbines that power 4.5 million people would have to shut down – after nearly 60 years of use. There would only be a set of smaller, deeper, and rarely used bypass tubes that could pass water downstream to the Grand Canyon, Arizona, Nevada, and California cities and farms. (Paywall)

FEMA will provide $10 million to New Jersey for flood resilience projects in communities impacted by Hurricane Ida.

The rest

Two power substations in Moore County, NC have been damaged by what appears to be intentional gunfire causing >40,000 customers to be left without power. The outage could last until Thursday. People have lost cell connection, pharmacies had to move refrigerated medicines into people’s fridges, and rural wells have stopped working, among other things:

Click here or the image below for power outage updates:


Here are instructions by community member Olly Wright on How to make a “well bucket” in case the electricity goes down and you’re on well water.

A man was rescued in Alaska after activating its iPhone 14 satellite emergency SOS feature. The safety service allows users to message emergency services outside of cellular and Wi-Fi coverage. The feature also enables iPhone 14 owners to share their location via satellite with friends and family using the Find My app. Troopers who saved the man said they “were thoroughly impressed with the accuracy and completeness of information included in the initial alert.”

Another example of what people facing war are experiencing: Mushroom foraging in forests full of mines. (Paywall) (Free)

Here’s how to escape and survive an active minefield:

And here is how life continues under blackouts:

Refugees in the Tongogara Refugee Camp (TRC) in Zimbabwe are using solar power and hydroponics to grow fruit and veggies. Solar panels charge batteries that pump water from underground to tanks. The water is then pumped to the hydroponics system in the greenhouse. They are using the Dutch bucket system which uses two or more growing containers connected to the same irrigation and drainage lines that provide oxygenation and nutrients.

Below are instructions on how to build a Dutch bucket hydroponic system:

Here are other things you can do with buckets.


    • Greg P

      I’m currently in NC on a travel work assignment.  Fortunately, I’m not in Moore county.  The power outage has pretty well brought that county to a standstill.   All schools are closed, working from home is impossible (unless you are one of the few with a generator) and even then your Internet provider is down as well.  Multiple accidents as all traffic signals are inoperable.  One of my co-workers has a husband that works for a local electric company & his best guess is that a disgruntled current or former employee did the damage.   The equipment damaged required some fairly detailed knowledge of it to get the most “bang for the buck” with rifle fire.  Some of the delay in getting the power back on is that some of the pieces have to be replaced & tested before they can go back online.  

      The NCBI & the FBI are looking hard for the person(s) responsible.  

      I am chagrined to say that we didn’t bring along much in the way of supplies to cover us for this sort of issue.  We got lucky this time.  One local woman that was interviewed related that with a winter storm you have advance warning & can go out and get some supplies before the storm arrives.  

      The fragility of the grid is brought into sharp relief once again.  Redouble your efforts friends.

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      • M. E.Contributor Greg P

        Yes, I have to say that this situation brought into focus how grateful I am for The Prepared. I have plenty of water. I have multiple heat sources. I have plenty of battery-powered lights and enough Jackeries to keep my various devices going for many days, plus solar backups.  I’ve been coming through the Moore County interviews for insights to things I might not have thought of should the grid go down in my state, but so far I’m pretty confident that I’d be quite comfortable at home for a while (though I would lose the food in my freezer, a risk I’m taking consciously)

        I am constantly surprised when I hear about situations like this when they interview the people who say, “I had no water in the house!”  Having a MINIMUM of three days’ of drinking water in a house should be just as normal as having a toothbrush.  Though the Moore County situation makes me angry (so many lives disrupted – for what?), I hope it will stimulate preparedness thinking in many others.  This situation also highlighted for me why I never let my gas tank go below half full. What if you had no water in the house AND no way to drive to a neighboring county to get what you need?

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      • Eric Greg P

        “The equipment damaged required some fairly detailed knowledge of it to get the most “bang for the buck” with rifle fire.”

        I’m surprised by this. The substations have non-obvious weak points that were targeted? Did this require confidential company information or are the relevant “death star schematics” publicly available?

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    • Hardened

      That new iPhone 14 satellite feature is so cool!

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      • M. E.Contributor Hardened

        It is, but it is important to be aware of the shortcomings. I hope The Prepared will do an evaluation or writeup of it at some point? I was about to order one but after thoroughly evaluating it decided that it is not quite ready for “prime time” emergency service. Here is what I remember uncovering – not revalidated as I write this comment: I travel a lot internationally and it will not provide satellite emergency services outside North America (largely due to legal, not technical, constraints). This would be a major issue for me as it would be tempting to get dependent on it and then WHOOPS. You’re in the middle of Morocco or something and need help and didn’t think to bring a Garmin inReach. The satellite service is initially free but they won’t tell you how much it will cost later.  And the communications capabilities were very minimal compared to other options.  Is it better than nothing? Sure – as evidenced by that Alaska story. But for my part I’m waiting for the next release before spending my $$$ to upgrade my phone. 

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      • Hardened M. E.

        Good job with your investigation; that’s good to know.  Also given that it’s new I wouldn’t stop carrying my PLB until the Apple systems has matured through several generations and addressed all of your concerns.

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