Under an open-ended shutdown, the population would essentially be on its own until such time as all systems can be brought back up. That could be quite some time. That means those unprepared to sustain themselves for an indefinite period would be faced with urgent decisions of basic survival. Under such circumstances, the prospects for widespread and extended looting and rioting would become near-certainties. For their part, the authorities still on the job -- and Hurricane Katrina demonstrated the potential for mass desertions when personal incentives outweigh those of public duty -- will be triaged where directed. Outlying areas, or areas ceded to chaos because they’re not deemed absolutely essential to retake and secure, will be on their own.