Crisis Relocation

Crisis Relocation was the term used to describe a government program in the late seventies to evacuate major population areas if a nuclear attack seemed imminent.   It was thought be some to be a logical next step to the government's civilian fallout shelter program which was no longer adequate to protect the population as the accuracy and yield of Soviet nuclear weapons increased in the sixties.

FEMA's Crisis Relocation Planning (CRP) called for the evacuation of 400 US cities and "high risk" regions to small towns and rural areas if a nuclear attack seemed imminent. In one elaborately planned scenario, the people of New York City were to be evacuated in 3.3 days, with nearly 60% of them traveling by car to upstate New York.

The population from each town in major population/target areas would be "hosted" by another town a hundred or more miles away, with the host towns chosen by their distance from expected target areas (military bases, critical infrastructure and population centers). 

US civil defense planning for nuclear attack since 1974 has emphasized the doctrine of ldquocrisis relocation.rdquo Under this doctrine, some 150 million people would evacuate from urban areas and other probable targets to rural ldquohost communities.rdquo The population of the latter would ldquostay putrdquo to assist relocated population. Local communities would be responsible for the welfare of up to fifty times or more their normal population for an indefinite period of time. 

Crisis Relocation has a number of critics who cited the following problems:

a.  The "host" communities were ill-suited for the job. For instance, all 80,000+ people in the city of Hartford were supposed to go to Hereford, VT, population 2000.  The only public "shelter" space was the high school gym auditorium, capacity 250!  For the program to actually work the Feds would have had to have spend millions of dollars equipping the host communities.

b.  There were no provisions for people who were north to get south to pick up their families.  This was a big problem since all interstate and state roads would be designated north-only to help with the evacuation.

c.  Municipal buses would be used to transport the 20% of the population who didn't have cars yet there were no provisions for the buses to get back for the multiple trips that would be required.

d.  Residents of rest homes, hospital patients and those living at home with limited mobility would have to be moved but there were not enough ambulances to handle the job.

e.  "Critical infrastructure" people would have to stay behind.  Utility workers, police, fire, broadcasters, medical personnel, bus drivers, etc.  There were rumors that National Guard would be utilized to make sure these workers didn't abandon their posts.

f. The program might be counter-productive:  What would the Russians think when their spy satellites showed people evacuating American cities by the millions?  Might they think that it was being done as a prelude to a US attack and therefore considering launching first?

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