May 23, 2015

Nuclear Catastrophe Planner




I was working as the Planning Director of Will County, Illinois (Joliet, Naperville, Park Forest, Tinley Park) in 1976 when a man came in to see me. He gave me a business card which indicated that he was an NCP.

"What is an NCP", I asked? "Nuclear Catastrophe Planner", he replied.

I have another live one, I thought.  He proceed to show me a large worn old colorfully printed document that showed the areas that would be destroyed by a nuclear attack.  All of the six County Chicago metro area would be destroyed except a small corner in the southwest corner of Will County.

"Interesting and depressing", I said. And glad that a small part of my County will survive.  "What do you want me to do about it?"

"Prepare an evacuation plan." he said.

"You want to evacuate the entire Chicago metro area before an attack?" I said. "Won't you have only 15 minutes or so to evacuate 8 million people?  Where would they go?" The roads would be impassable.

"They will go to rural areas outside of the metro area." He said. The evacuation can take several days.

And then what he said made some sense. He told me that the Soviet Union had plans and actually practiced evacuation of their large cities.  If we got into a toe to toe confrontation with the USSR or PRC, as we did over the Cuban missile crisis, things could once again get very tense.

"If we see they are evacuating their cities it would be best to start evacuating our cities. Otherwise we would be pressured to strike first." he said. Both the USSR and USA might take several days to evacuate their cities.

Our NCP was a free lance individual rather than a representative of a government agency. I asked if any of the other planning agencies were preparing such plans or if there was a Federal agency coordinating or funding this effort.  There was no funding or agency.

We never did prepare evacuation plans.
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Click to see a fun video on nuclear fallout from 1955.  Anytime you get depressed about how things are doing now politically, think back to fun times of the cold war.

And it is a wonderful thing that the USA, USSR, and the PRC avoided blowing the world up. Lets keep up the good work, guys.


The map above is not from the NCP Document. The one the NCP showed me had a much larger destruction zone - probably from multiple bombs. Which would facilitate significant urban renewal

You probably recall the old joke


What to do in the event of nuclear attack?


Bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.