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Evacuation and Prefab Cities


Our cities do not have enough highway capacity to allow us to evacuate quickly.  Yet, an earthquake, a "dirty bomb," tsunami, biological attack, or other type of disaster hitting a large city will still require rapid evacuation to avoid a great deal more suffering.  

Major disasters to major cities are inevitable. It is a question of "when," not "if."

What if...

If cars are the primary method of moving people, then there is an insurmountable limit to how many people can move on a highway in a given period of time in an emergency. We now know that it will take days rather than hours for a major city to be evacuated. What if, instead of using cars to evacuate, we plan ahead?

What if we plan and require "evacuation drills" for cities just like we now plan and require "fire drills" for buildings?

What if we use buses, trucks, trains, and military carriers to evacuate cities instead of using cars? Then we could evacuate cities in hours instead of days.

For a rapid evacuation of a city, we would need to put the following components into place:

Each city will need to establish staging areas throughout the city so that buses and trucks can transport the population from those sites to pre-arranged evacuation destination sites outside of the city. Every building (and home or apartment) will need to post its nearest staging address next to exit doors. Staging sites will need to be identified with special signs throughout the city and will include bus stops. City planners will need to distribute notices on the locations of the staging areas to the media, every office, and every household.

Each city will need to establish several evacuation destinations.

The city will need to develop a public signal, such as the sirens used in the 1960's, to tell everyone to drop what they are doing and go to pre-arranged staging areas to board mass transit. Persons in charge of emptying buildings in case of fire would be the ones in charge of emptying the same buildings in case of an emergency evacuation or an evacuation drill. They would be trained to lead the occupants to their staging areas.

Persons or businesses with trucks, vans, or cars that can carry at least 7 persons safely will be allowed to use them as mass transit if they carry at least 7 persons and the drivers gain training to participate in an evacuation. Persons with vehicles authorized to operate during an evacuation drill or a mandated evacuation will be given a permit that will need to be posted on the windshield. Using the highway during an evacuation drill without at least 7 persons in the vehicle and a permit on the vehicle will result in stiff fines.

Refueling trucks will be positioned throughout the city, at the edges of the city, and every few miles along the highways. Each city will need to plan for these locations so refueling can occur without causing disruptions in the flow of traffic.

Once the sirens are sounded, cars would have fifteen minutes to clear the highways and go to the nearest staging areas. Persons would be located at each on/off ramp throughout a city to direct traffic to the staging areas. The staging areas for those already in their cars would be on the outer edges of a city. The city will need to determine points outside of the city to divert incoming traffic to other locations.

Prefab Cities

Noting wind patterns, underground water tables, height above sea level, and other core requirements, planners should site several "prefab" cities for each major American city. Prefab cities would become the "storm shelters" of the future.

As soon as the locations are finalized and funding established, each prefab city should be "pre-constructed" to allow painless evacuation. In priority order, the following will be needed:

  1. Roads
  2. Generators in safe enclosures
  3. Water wells and pumps in safe enclosures
  4. Underground utilities, sewer, and water lines and grids
  5. Storage facilities for food and water
  6. Simple shelters for people
  7. Cots, blankets, storage shelves/room dividers
  8. Cleaning equipment and supplies
  9. Structures and equipment for sanitation facilities
  10. Alternative power sources, such a wind turbines or river turbines

(Power from the alternative sources can be sold to nearby cities to help pay for the prefab cities until the prefab cities are put into service.)

If the prefab cities become occupied, the following will be needed:

  1. Security personnel
  2. Food and water
  3. Refrigeration equipment
  4. Medical equipment
  5. Activation of the sanitation plants

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