In less than 24 hours, two major infrastructure crises unfolded in the United States, as Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport was crippled by a major blackout and an Amtrak train derailed in Washington state, killing three and injuring dozens more.
The back-to-back incidents have raised many red flags on the issues of failing infrastructure, terrorism, and the vulnerability of modern civilization.
On Sunday afternoon, the world’s busiest airport descended into darkness and anarchy after a fire knocked out power to the entire facility, and also affected the backup systems, according to officials.
“It felt like I stepped into a more modern-day version of ‘Mad Max’ when people started raiding the stores just because of the need,” said one traveler who eventually escaped the airport and walked six miles in search of food and shelter after witnessing mobs overpowering clerks and forcing their way into shops in search supplies.
After nearly 11 hours and over 1,000 flight cancellations, Hartsfield-Jackson (ATL) hobbled back to life, but the international air travel snarl is far from ironed out.
While a fire is being blamed for the outage by Georgia Power, its cause is not yet known, but many are incredulous that a single disturbance could cause such an unprecedented breakdown – including recently departed U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, who was trapped on the tarmac in Atlanta for five hours.
“Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today. I am stuck on @delta flight, passengers and crew tolerating it. But there is no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE!” he tweeted.
Total and abject failure here at ATL Airport today. I am stuck on @delta flight, passengers and crew tolerating it. But there is no excuse for lack of workable redundant power source. NONE! #atlairport #delta
— anthonyfoxx (@anthonyfoxx) December 17, 2017
Joseph Schwieterman, a DePaul University professor who specializes in urban planning and transportation, is also perplexed.
“A fire shouldn’t paralyze the country’s busiest airport for half the day,” he told CNN. “It may take a couple hours to bring alternative power to the airport, but if the airport infrastructure itself was undamaged, it shouldn’t have been nearly as painful.”
Interestingly, some citizen journalists have claimed that not all flights were grounded at ATL, prompting a wave of theories questioning the official narrative being provided to the public.
OK… time for the actual pilots of twitter #QAnon to chime in here. We were told there were NO FLIGHTS out of #Atlanta / #AtlantaAirport until 12:56AM (12/18/17) after they were grounded on 12/17/17 due to #PowerOutage. RIGHT? Well.. then… —> pic.twitter.com/USd9CoK1vf
— Scott Anthony????JUSTICE?? (@ScottAnthonyUSA) December 18, 2017
Clive Irving, an aviation specialist, points out that the ATL event reveals the susceptibility of U.S. airports and travelers to terrorist attacks.
“If a terrorist wanted to find the most vulnerable point in America’s airport network they could not have hoped for a better guide than what just happened at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson,” he writes in an article at the Daily Beast. “There has never been a single-point failure of this magnitude in any major airport in the U.S. All the essential systems seem to have lacked backup.”
“The Atlanta chaos is yet another red flag indicating that our airports are far from ready to deal with a terrorist threat.”
ATL had hardly gotten back online before an Amtrak train traveling between Seattle and Portland derailed, with the locomotive and additional cars plunging onto the busy I-5 highway below.
Investigators indicate that the train was traveling at a rate of speed much higher than it should – potentially 80mph in a 30mph zone – before losing control and jumping the tracks.
Multiple news outlets, including Infowars, were quick to point out that both anarchist groups and al-Qaeda had recently championed the idea of sabotaging trains, with an Antifa-affiliate known as ‘It’s Going Down’ openly bragging about having poured concrete onto train tracks near Olympia, WA, in a now-deleted blog post.
— Official Antifa (@OfficialAntifa) June 28, 2017
The New York Post cited an “unconfirmed” Associated Press report stating that, while speed was likely a factor, an object on the tracks may have also contributed to the derailment.
Whether the catastrophes in Atlanta or Washington have any connections to terrorism or not, all possibilities should be considered. And even if they don’t, the U.S. is still left with major questions about its failing infrastructure – which has not received an overall grade above ‘D+’ by the American Society of Civil Engineers since before the year 2000.
The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 18, 2017