Go and read, and then come back here, and read and discuss.
I agree with Mr. Bracken that we are looking at a total, utter collapse of civilization. Some prepper-genre authors (e.g., Glen Tate, David Crawford) posit a partial collapse and a quick rebuild; it makes for a good story, but people who believe it will really happen that way are merely engaging in mental self-abuse. While well-meaning, people who believe such collapses are tentative and temporary do not understand how a systemic collapse works. Systems must have minimum levels of integrity and support, or else the entire system fails utterly. Once the energy infrastructure fails, and individuals with critical skills to maintain it either bug out or die, there is no possible hope to maintain a partial collapse. Almost all food production is dependent on cheap, abundant energy in the form of diesel, gasoline, and electricity. When that is lost due to a lack of skills to maintain or rebuild it, it will take GENERATIONS to recover to the level of the mid-1900's.
Also, about 5% of the population is made up of total, stark-raving-mad psychopaths that are fed by the government and kept sane by pills. Once that is gone-- and as Matt suggests, it will only take weeks after a trigger event -- they will gather other unsavory characters (a further 10% of the populace is made up of such scumbags), and the lot of them will rampage the cities and suburbs, raping and murdering. This will only accelerate the collapse, as people flee the threat, taking critical skills and roles with them. The government will over-react and try to clamp down, but as Matt suggests here, the do not have enough personnel to pacify even ONE mega-city, much less all of them. They will be stomped flat, and that will be that.
People who poo-poo the notion of solo or small-group survival in National Forests misunderstand the problem. The point of bugging out to the forest isn't to live on tree bark and wear deerskin; the point of retreating to the forests is to avoid PEOPLE, and specifically the psychopaths, who generally will not leave the 'safety' of a road or marked trail. Moving to a place with lower population density, NOW, before the collapse, preferably a location flanked by a deep National Forest, could save your life. I have such a plan in place.
I can't say I am cheered by this story, but there is a form of comfort that comes from confirmation of what one knows. Congratulations on a fine story, Matt, and may God be with us all.