Not far into the first year of work a man and his family made their way down from a large city to the north.   He brought with him two horse drawn flatbed wagons loaded with all manner of supplies that he had scavenged before leaving the city - and these included an enormous number of solar panels.   With his knowledge of their uses and the skills of a handful of electricians and scavenged necessities from local stores, by year's end we had power.   Rationed in it's use, and directed to the most important areas, we have the ability to store cold foods and indoor plumbing thanks to the hot springs this area was known for decades ago.   We also have gas powered generators to add to the system grid, the fuel supplied from the many area gas stations that had remaining stores of fuel in their tanks.   Electrical use is limited to the group caverns, the dining and kitchen, general meeting hall, the bathing rooms and the combined library learning chamber.   It is indeed much like home, if not quite so private in the common areas of the caverns. 

And some surprises, at least for me.   Perhaps those pre-catastrophe folk who made it their business to think of things like this might have known that some of this would have been possible.   But I wasn't one of them.   A man from a county to the north raised pigeons, and while they're not of the old carrier breed, long extinct, they are learning a credible job of it.   Another family brought with them a variety of herd guardian dogs that now help keep the local coyotes and foxes at bay, along with the burros we already had some few of.   Many in the area had hunting hounds, and we have fishermen who ply the river.   Food is not a problem and we have a surprisingly varied menu most days.

The greatest surprise involves the computers.   We still have them, although we began with a few laptops and a contraption for powering them through batteries, that works along the same lines as the old foot pedal operated sewing machines.   Once the solar panels were in place we set up a few full desktop systems in the library chamber and turned it into a record keeping and learning center.   The curriculum of course bears little resemblance to the schooling most of us had been used to.   But there is the need to learn, as always, and a way to make it possible for several to learn at once.   It wasn't until a bored teen got curious one afternoon that we discovered there was still an 'internet', after a fashion.   There had been some few satellites that were 'hardened' against the EMPs and continued to operate after the fallout.   Government satellites that were linked into databases maintained in systems at a few private installations that were still operative.   Although there were no longer anything like governments above community council levels, or a military, there were some surviving personnel that had gone on with their systems, hoping to eventually locate other survivors and create a communications network with those who had set up power sources.

Now, ten years later, we have a small group of technicians dedicated to restoring records, working in a variety of locations on systems, inputting book data.   Some of them are making up records of everything they can get their hands on, both electronic and hard copies, all of which is being stored in a central library cavern at Mammoth, since it is the largest inhabited cave system.   The secondary main library system is in Carlsbad, across the inland sea, the second largest community.   We have record currently of ten other communities of any size, most of them underground like ours.   All of them with those who are working on record keeping, storing data and creating reams of knowledge useful to survival in today's world.   And at least one historian per community, such as myself, recording our survival.

It's a quite different world.   Understand, it is not that the pre-catastrophe technology is not there, or that there are not sources of power which could be restored to operate such things.   It's the people.   The numbers that aren't there.   And the lost skills.   And a new attitude.   The fervent desire to avoid such a happening again.   Even the potential of it.   The future may yet hold for the re-establishment of the pre-catastrophe levels of technology, but today we make use of only the technology that we really need for the community.   We are a more active and healthy people for it.

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