I was watching NBC fifteen minutes after the outage hit. They said that Dept. of Homeland Security didn't yet know the extent. We spent how much on a governmental agency that does not have agencies in all major US cities? After fifteen minutes one should be able to figure it out by checking around online. IRC, Usenet, etc. What groups of people just dropped their connection? What people are saying 'Hey, my power went out and my UPS only lasts a couple minutes. May have to turn off the computer soon'? Which servers just stopped responding?
Fire Secretary Ridge and hire me. I understand things like ping.