While Texas is ahead of the other contiguous states in CRP, it still has a long way to go before plans are completed for all risk areas. Plans for all category I targets areas containing strategic offensive military counter forces, like SAC bases are completed up to phase IV with the exception of the Wichita Falls area which is completed only to phase III. The reason for this, Ayers explains, is that plans for a host area in Oklahoma are still being worked out. These are expected to be concluded by November. But in Texas’ other category III risk areas places like Dallas, Odessa, Galveston, and Tyler Ayers says there is now only a “hasty crisis relocation plan.” “It is hasty because it does not say how to accommodate them [evacuees] in these areas to which they go. We have not had the time to get out and develop host area plans for the accommodation of these people. A hasty plan, whereby we reduce the targets, we can implement today. But they are not going to be handled in the fashion that they could be handled if we have an opportunity to prepare a host area plan wherein the host areas know where and how to accommodate them.” Ayers estimates that the entire crisis relocation plan for Texas should be completed by 1983. Undoubtedly the most crucial factor contributing to the success of crisis relocation is the ready cooperation of cities and host areas. Of course, DES officials consider non-participation an unwise move for the city and county involved. During a crisis, they say, “spontaneous evacuation” will likely occur. Without rational organization, masses of frightened people might flee the city and storm into the countryside, a la Armageddon. There will be no orderly routes out of the city, no prepared fallout shelters in the host areas, and little food, supplies, and lodging available to share. Crisis relocation, say proponents, would ameliorate this kind of chaos. Local participation is strictly voluntary. “All we do is offer our services,” Ayers says. “It’s up to those individuals \(city and been practically unanimous. Aside from occasional yet predictable laxity, particularly on the part of some of the host and risk areas in keeping information updated and officials trained, most Texas civil defense officials support CRP. Most, but not all. Houston’s refusal to participate in the planning casts a long shadow over the program. Ayers is obviously frustrated with the attempts at enlisting Houston’s cooperation. In an oblique reference to the situation, Ayers says that for those who do not want to participate, “We plan anyway. It’s not an accepted plan, but we go ahead and plan the use of these facilities. Then, in time of emergency, we will have these plans on hand to issue to these people because we feel that they will be crying for help.” Houston and Dallas, because of their population size, pose a special problem to DES planning. In most host areas, the allocated ratio is two evacuees to one host area resident. Because of Houston’s size, adhering to the ratio would require relocations into counties far from the city, in some cases more than 100 miles away. Ayers concedes that such a massive evacuation would be a challenge, but he believes it is possible. Houston officials don’t. John Caswell, assistant director for civil defense in Houston and Harris County, says they simply don’t believe it can be done. Citing the daily, two-hour trans-city migration of nearly 15 percent of the work force, Caswell says, “We feel it would be virtually impossible to evacuate Houston 100 percent in time to save lives.” As for an alternate civil defense plan, Houston doesn’t have one. Caswell says a certain number of people will spontaneously evacuate and those who stay behind will have to “dig in” and sweat it out. Their options are admittedly few, Caswell says. “It’s just something we have to live with.” Ayers declines to comment directly about Houston except to say that officials there are allowing current politics to influence their decision. “This is not a program that you can turn on and turn off,” he says. “This is the one misconception that the city of Houston has. They feel that this is Jimmy Carter’s program, and they don’t like Carter.” In Fort Worth, N. T. Shirley, emergency planning and operations officer, offers still another reason for Houston’s obstinence. “The reason Houston doesn’t think it will work is because they haven’t tried to make it work.” Shirley, an outspoken advocate of CRP, says at first he didn’t believe it was a realistic program, but be became convinced by statistics. Fort Worth is one of five category II target areas. “When you get down to the nitty-gritty,” Shirley says, “your chances of surviving if you stand pat or in shelters is only about 45 percent. With the other plan, your chances are 80 percent.” * * * In Fort Worth, civil defense is more active and organized than in most other places. In Austin, for example, the disaster plan is uncoordinated and ineffectively divided among various city departments. But in Fort Worth, planning has proceeded so far as the analysis of traffic data from the National Academy of Sciences. This information in conjunction with studies made by Fort Worth traffice engineers has been used to predict and plan emergency traffic flow from the city. In the event of a nuclear surprise attack, which Shirley also stresses is improbable, the communication systems at his disposal sirens and radio could warn the people immediately. Why is Fort Worth taking this so seriously? Citizen support, says Shirley, and responsibility on the part of officials. “A lot of communities deserve more than they’re getting,” he says. And if they’re not getting it, it’s because “the locals have not assumed the responsibility they should have.” So, why haven’t many local officials assumed this “responsibility?” After all, having a disaster plan nowadays, with the foundering of SALT II, the Russian campaign in Afghanistan, and the Iranian hostages, seems like a good idea. It probably boils down to a lack of credibility in the CRP program. To the officials that support it, and to the people who need to believe that there will be something to do, some place to go when the times comes, procrastinating and do-nothing attitudes sound outrageous and reckless; Caswell’s comments particularly so. But to believe in a civil defense plan, especially one in which you’re going to devote time and money, you have to be convinced that it will work. There lies the crux of the matter. CRP is untested. But who would want to put it to the test? Escape hatches and lifeboats can be tried out, but a civil defense plan can only be calculated via adagio runs in a computer unless there’s a nuclear war. While Houston scoffs at the idea that nearly two million people can be successfully relocated in three days in a rapid, orderly fashion, the DES asserts that it must be done or most of those two million will perish. But Houston may be trying to tell us something. The reasons to support CRP are also reasons to condemn it. Let’s just say we had enough blast shelters, and knew somehow that every risk area in the United States could be safely and efficiently evacuated. Grant, in other words, the complete success of a CRP program. What are we talking about? Ways to successfully survive a holocaust from which survival is, in the biological long run, impossible. It is theater of the absurd. Our real attention should be given not to the means of handling a nuclear war, but the urgency of preventing it. THE TEXAS OBSERVER 5
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