February 14th, 2013

Apocalypse; collapse of society; here there may be zombies; utilities available when humans flee

I believe this has already been answered, but I can't find the tag it's under.

Setting: present-day, a mid-sized (200k-500k) American urban city.

Hyper-contagious crazy person infection that turns ordinary people into spitting/biting/clawing zombies (yay zombies!) is unleashed in a major city (e.g. New York, Los Angeles). Genre blindness leads to unexpected spreads here and there; eventually American (and Canadian) society collapses and people flee to the countryside, abandoning anything and everything. Not surprisingly, a few intrepid survivors stay back and try to survive.

My story is going to take place over two months in their apartment before they decide to up and run.

My survivors don't live at Ground Zero, but the effects of said attack take a week to reach their place. At the one-month point mainland Asia is going through what North America had at the start (panic in the streets, mass exodus). At the two-month point some island countries are still okay and survive in isolation, but despite survivor reports they consider NA a dead zone.

1. Assuming that facilities aren't tampered with and there's only a minor attacking threat, how high of a priority is it for the government/military to maintain power plants, water pumps and other utilities? What affects this decision? I can change the scale of this disaster to suit my needs (so instead of most of the modern world being consumed, it's self-handled by NA).

2. How long will it take for the Internet to go down? Certain satellite-based services (e.g. weather forecast)? It's why I added the bit about Asia/the rest of the world up there - if they can maintain things while NA tries to not choke to death, everything should be okay, right?

3. How easy is it to get a gun in America? I am not American, but the media leads me to believe that if your local police station or army surplus store is out, you can also hit up Walmart, Kmart or Sears. Let's assume that people already robbed Walmart: what are some alternative secondary sites? (I'm thinking the evidence room of a police station.)

Pre-research: survival/apocalypse guides, searching for "utilities during an apocalypse". This was helpful, but didn't explain the Internet.

* EDIT: I have seen the Discovery Channel's "After Humans"/"When Humans Disappear", but they're less concerned about what services may still be available without human intervention.