[from Doug Pitkin]
I went to a neighborhood emergency management 'tabletop exercise' at Nativity Baptist recently. It was a presentation on how residents of Brightwood Park, Petworth, and Crestwood should plan for 'unexpected emergencies' that would affect public services. DC officials and staff outnumbered the neighborhood residents about 2:1.
They used a combined deep freeze/blackout as an example of something that people should be ready for. Possibility of terrorism was mentioned very briefly, but nothing really specific. They emphasized that an emergency event affecting the entire region would strain emergency responders, so residents should be able to fend for themselves for 24-36 hours. Metro rep reminded us that metro trains would not work during a power outage... so know your bus lines. DC has a nascent system of voluntary Community Emergency Response Teams, which involve free training, but it's really up to existing community organizations (ANCs, churches, etc.) to devise any sort of plan for their neighborhood.
I've gotten a lot of same info at work, so the marginal utility of 3+ hours came primarily from chatting with emergency management staff afterwards and plus a free emergency pack (first aid kit, blanket, water paks, flashlight, etc).