Columbus, OH: As cleanup begins following a line of storms that tore through the Midwest on Friday, millions of people have been left without the most critical component of modern existence: Internet access.
As temperatures climbed to near-triple-digit highs, some people chose to complain about losing the luxuries of life such as air conditioning, refrigerated foods, and lights. However, those who have been hardest hit by the storms–namely, those who cannot get online–are crying out for help in their hour of greatest need.
“I thought I was done for when I realized I had no cable. I mean, I know it’s re-run season, but I still need episodes of The Deadliest Catch and Olympic trials,” stated one Indiana victim. “And I can’t survive without Lizard Lick Towing. For a moment, I thought I’d be alright because I could just Netflix my way through the disaster… and then I realized I have no internet access!”
Countless people have crowded into local libraries, community centers, churches, and homeless shelters, looking for a place to charge their smartphones. Many locations have stocked up on bottled water, most of which goes untouched. As local resident Wanda Smythe stated, “I can’t use that to water my Farmville crops, so what’s the point?”
Even amongst those fortunate enough to have Internet access at home or through mobile devices, relief turned to horror as people realized that the storm had taken down Netflix, Pinterest, and Instagram as well; it was reported that artsy photographs of coffee drinks were down 350 percent over the weekend. Other websites bore the brunt of this additional activity as users were forced to share photos on such pedestrian, outdated sites as Facebook and Twitter, while those seeking streaming entertainment were relegated to the once-popular but now-largely-ignored YouTube.
Several states were declared to be disaster zones by their respective governors, making them eligible for relief aid from FEMA. Disaster crews, well-trained through their experience with Hurricane Katrina, were headed towards affected areas with trailers full of needed supplies. “We have full-size relief trailers for people to live in, stocked with flat-screen TVs, DirecTV service, and Wi-Fi. The refrigerators are stocked with Mountain Dew Code Red, and the pantries are stuffed full of Doritos and Twinkies. From the hardcore gamer to the bored housewife to the chronic social networker, we have everything they need,” said John Halpern, head of FEMA.
It is expected that restoration of service could take as much as ten days. Outraged customers are threatening to contact their legislators to demand swifter action; however, without access to email or Twitter, most acknowledge that they have no idea how to do so. In the meantime, officials continue to urge residents to hold out as best they can and hope that casualties do not mount as disconnected members of society either die of boredom or begin to work together in roving packs to conduct raids against those with broadband access.