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Monday, November 07, 2005

Disaster Scenarios

This article in NY Magazine is beyond scary. It discusses 9 disaster scenarios that can affect NY City. They include:
  • Smallpox Attack
  • Chlorine Release
  • Blackout
  • Dirty Bomb
  • Earthquake
  • Indian Point Explosion
  • Avian-Flu Pandemic
  • Hurricane
  • Nuclear Bomb
Lovely. Though the article is titled Remain Calm, the message I think most readers will take away from reading it is: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.

I know that's what I got out of the piece. Fear. And a few additions to my regular shopping list that include:
  • Tamiflu,
  • biohazard masks,
  • lots of soap,
  • flashlights and batteries,
  • duct tape,
  • potassium iodide tablets,
  • a 30-day supply of prescriptions, food and water
  • a full gas tank
  • a $200,000 "safe room"
Do you think I can pick them all up at the local kosher supermarket?


Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

No firearms?

10:47 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Nah. I go to Wal-Mart for those.

10:54 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

Ha! You joke, but the last time I visited Five Towns I went to the SportsAuthority near Hofstra to buy .223 ammunition. It felt pretty strange.

11:02 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

I joke, but I know that Wal-mart carries guns and ammunition because last time I was there I saw their selection. Huge.

11:06 PM  
Blogger respondingtojblogs said...

On a serious note, I think that the recent events in Louisiana (and France) demonstrate the very real possibility of anarchy in the aftermath of a disaster. One of the core principles of Western society is that the state is given a monopoly over violence and police power. But what happens when the state blink out of existence, or is simply unwilling to exercise its mandate?

Excuse my right-wingism, but it's really frustrating to watch the paragon of statism fiddle while their city burns ( Not my reference).

11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This article is not reassuring, but the fact that the other articles in the issue are all about food is. How dire can it be if theyre talking about food?

1:20 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

When you want ideas for planning a safe room, let me know. I'm sitting in ours now, blogging away. It doubles as my wife's office/book room/computer room.

Then again...its also the "armory"...M16, Glock...ammunition...radio equipment, but you don't need advice on that ;-)

1:43 AM  
Blogger JS_VP said...



South of the Kensico dam, there is no flat open plain waiting
to absorb and disperse any flood resulting from a dam failure.
Instead the dam sits at the head of the narrow, focused canyon
of the Bronx River, stretching South from the dam,
and running through the most highly populated section
of the most highly populated region in America.
As residents know, out of this canyon there is truly no escape.
All East to West roads in this area are small, twisting
stoplight-ridden vestiges of old colonial paths.
The only good roads run North to South - exactly the path of the water.

The water surface in the Kensico reservoir stands 355 feet above sea level.
The dam stretches between two 400 ft hills,168 feet above the
ground surface in the Kensico dam plaza. Therefore any wall of water
leaving the dam will be 100+ feet high. Immediately South of the plaza,
two more 400 foot hills contain this water, hemming it in at a 250' elevation,
forcing it South to the North White Plains Train Yard,
where it will pick up Metro North Railcars-up to 200 of them,
and send them sailing like 80 ton surfboards.
These objects, and the 100'+ high wall of water will smash into the abutments
of the elevated Cross-Westchester Expressway, turning it over, killing hundreds,
and in addition closing a major arterial route from New England to the West.
Leaping over the fallen Expressway the mighty torrent will bear its
load of railcars, 18 wheel truck bodies, propane tank trucks & passenger cars
on again towards White Plains Proper. At The White Plains Train Station
the ground elevation is about 200' above sea level, so the water is dropping
fast, and accellerating.
At this point the Bronx River Canyon turns abruptly to the Southwest,
and the crest, with its load of giant floating debris will resist the turn,
and overtop the channel,destroying both the Westchester County Center Building,
and the White Plains Train Station.
South of the station, below the brow of Battle Hill is the famous hairpin turn
on the Bronx River Parkway. Below this elevated span,
the valley narrows and steepens. This will have the effect of
accellerating the stream into a monstrous White Water rapid
which will follow the old Bronx River Aqueduct South,
uprooting the Hartsdale Train Station, and Barrelling into Garth Woods,
turning its 150 year old trees into deadly missiles.
It will roar into Scarsdale Station,the Garth Woods Apartment Houses
and Our Lady of Fatima Church at about 300 miles per hour,easily sweeping them away.
At Crestwood, the historic Asbury church sits directly over
the abandoned Bronx River Aqueduct, and so after surviving 200+ years,
would finally disappear in the flood.
The land surface at this point is 120 feet above sea level,
so once again the water is barrelling downhill, and picking up speed.
At Tuckahoe, the channel narrows radically in the old
Burroughs Wellcome Factory Sluiceway, and at this point, unfortunately,
a condominium sits hard by the stream ,
as does the Headquarters of the Hudson Valley bank.
These buildings will be overtopped by the constrained fury of the
narrowly channeled deluge, and will disintegrate, and head South.
The Tuckahoe train station and town hall will be screened by the
old factory buildings, but will be inundated up to the 200 foot elevation,
drowning everyone in the town to a radius of 10 blocks.
Now comes a uniquely tragic episode.
The mighty deluge, roaring southward at 300 miles an hour will enter Bronxville,
and totally annihilate the Lawrence Hospital Complex, which sits in fact,
directly on the Bronx River. None will survive. Patients, doctors,
the elderly, the embattled nursing staff, xray machines , operating rooms,
and 100 years of medical records will be turned into sludge,
joining the rapidly solidifying debris field.
(a watery debris field does not disperse as it goes, like a smoke plume.
a watery debris field solidifies, and bears its contents downstream
like a battering ram.)
Racing through Fleetwood and MountVernon in the tightly channeled
Bronx River Parkway cut, between tall constraining concrete walls,
the flood will topple the 60 year old Cross County Parkway overpass,
which is some 80 feet high.It will fall spectacularly to the South,
its rotten,spalling concrete legs long in need of repair, but never getting it,
terrified motorists able to watch the sickening arc of its fall
in their last pitiful moments of life.
At Wakefield in the Bronx, the tsunami will careen mightily into
Misericordia Hospital on the East , and Woodlawn Cemetary on the West,
ironically joining the newly dying with the long dead, for their last
bit of camaraderie,on a 400 mile per hour slalom to the North River.
Misericordia's xray machines will join Lawrence's xray machines,
the Metro North railcars, the propane tankers, 18 wheelers & soccer moms
as pathetic bits of dredge, shredding against the uprooted trees
from Garth Woods,
turning into a roaring, bloody, muddy stinking sludge of death.
The death-sludge, now careening forward at an incredible 400 miles per hour,
roaring like a thousand freight trains will slam into Fordham University,
and the Bronx Zoo, in a fraction of a second wiping out a hundred years
of science and scholarship, and propelling scholars, wild beasts,
and the death-sludge hard against the Cross Bronx Expressway.
This is solidly built, and will not overturn.
Instead the water and all its contents will rise in a mighty wall of water,
overtopping the road,and spreading out in all directions
into the narrow streets of the South Bronx,killing tens of thousands in a few minutes.
Finally, in the Swampy Flats between Clason Point and Hunt's Point,
the torrent will lay out its creation for all to see- a railcar here,
an elderly victim there, an 18-wheeler almost hidden in 7 feet of undiggable,
irremedial life-sludge become death-sludge.
Gone will be two major hospitals, 3 major east-west arterials,
most water into New York City, all rail traffic on the harlem line,
which probably will be declared unrepairable and abandoned,
all use of the Bronx River Parkway,
whose pavement will have been torn out in half mile chunks
and buried under yards of Mount St Helens type mud,
all further use of the IRT subway,
whose tranformer yards and switch houses will now lie in the North River,
and up to 3 million dead.
But they won't matter.
Why won't they matter?
They won't matter because they dont live in Bedford
and they don't have Robert F Kennedy Jr pleading to save them,
and because Andrew Spano thinks they should "Just Float Away".
In point of fact,
Spano is hiding just why he refuses to consider such an event.
You see, the City of New York owns the dam, not Westchester County,
so Spano has no budget for this disaster.
So therefore it cannot happen.
When Spano answered Monique Rahaman at his "Regional Security Teach-in",
telling her that dam failure was, in his words, "Not too likely", he was
unaware that over 200 major dam failures had occurred in the twentieth
century, making the likelihood of a dam failure a 100% certainty,
once every six months on average, for a over a hundred years.
A major hurricane happens once every 30 years.
A world war happens twice in a century.
A space shuttle is lost once every 15 years,
but a dam fails once every six months, on average.
And that is without considering malicious intent.

Harry, Dog on the River

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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1:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Harry, Dog on the River,

You forgot to mention the fact that the flood waters of the Kensico dam would also force their way along Central Avenue, which begins at the intersection of the Bronx River Parkway and the Westchester County Center. the flooding of Central Ave., a major shopping corridor would also result in catastrophic destruction and fatalities.

11:52 PM  
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7:19 AM  
Blogger rp said...

Kensico Dam Breach

I must say that you are out of your mind. How could 3 million people die when the entire bronx has 1.5 million and westchester doesn't even have 1 million. The vast majority of both counties would never even get wet so how could more people than actually live in both counties die. The dam is currently being renovated...work began on July 7th

There is no canyon, its a river valley and a dam break cannot cause a Tsunami...your langueage is so dramatic...I wonder, are you trying to sell the movie rights to your screenplay about Bronx flood? Is that why you use language like

"roaring, bloody, muddy stinking sludge of death"


"motorists able to watch the sickening arc of its fall
in their last pitiful moments of life"

What other explanation could there be.

There is no doubt that any major dam could break and kill people a cause billions in damage, but your story is far fetched at best. There is no need to make stupid people panic

1:51 PM  
Blogger Orien2 said...

They need flashlights on the subways and the elevators. People need mini lights like the ones from REI. Two gallons of water per person for a week. A week's worth of food. A week's worth of fuel for their camp stove. One of these lights can hang on your key chain. Keep food in your car and blankets in your cubby as well as a pillow in case you have to sleep at your job.

2:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Harry, Dog on the River"'s claim about the Kensico Dam is an overexaggeration. Flood waves from dams dissipate in height. This can be modeled by software. Civil Engineers (like myself) use dam break software that can model the flood wave as it would travel downstream. No dam flood wave travels at "400 mile per hour." Sounds like an interesting student project at an engineering college. I would speculate that destroying a dam would take a pretty big explosion because surface blasts are deflected to the open air. It is unlikely that so much firepower would go unnoticed, and more likely for such a large charge to be used on a higher profile, more volunerable target, like a tunnel or bridge.

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