With each passing day and each new ICBM launch from a seemingly unhinged North Korean dictator, the fears of an attack on the U.S. mainland, though faint, increasingly weigh on the hearts and minds of Americans, particularly those in California. As The Guardian points out today, those fears have even prompted a group of California public health officials and emergency responders to gather for a strategy session with Hal Kempfer, a retired marine lieutenant colonel, to discuss which areas are the most likely targets and how citizens should respond to an attack.
Hal Kempfer, a noted international security expert, is getting a roomful of California public health officials and emergency responders to think about the unthinkable – a nuclear bomb exploding at the port of Long Beach, about four miles away.
“A lot of people will be killed,” he said, “but a large percentage of the population will survive. They will be at risk and they will need help.”
“If you want to mess up southern California, if you want to mess up the west coast, if you want to mess up our country – where do you attack?” Kempfer asks. “If I’m sitting in North Korea and looking at possible targets, I’m going to be looking at Long Beach very closely.”
He talks about the port and downtown Long Beach being “toast” – no exaggeration, since the blast wave is likely to vaporize everything in its immediate path. But the city health department, the Long Beach airport and fire department might not be; they are all somewhat protected by a hilly area that is likely to halt the initial blast wave. And so the city can, tentatively, think about setting up a center of emergency operations.
Of course, the radioactive fallout created as the explosion gathers up tremendous quantities of dust and ocean water and spits them into the atmosphere would represent a secondary grave risk, especially in the first hours after an attack.
Not to mention the electromagnetic pulse that is likely to knock out electronic systems including phones and computers, the pile-ups expected on the freeways as drivers are blinded by the flash of the explosion, the rush for food, water and gasoline as millions of Angelenos attempt to drive out of the region, and the terror triggered by even the idea of a second, follow-up attack.
Meanwhile, lest you think this was all just a creative way for some public employees to skip work for a day, Ventura County, located just northwest of Los Angeles, has even taken the unusual step of prepping a 250-page plan on how to respond to the humanitarian crisis that would result from a nuclear attack in Los Angeles.
In fact, their efforts even include this truly bizarre public service announcement that instructs folks to shelter in place and cover windows with plastic.
Of course, as we pointed out back in August, while a global nuclear confrontation is generally viewed as a bad thing, for Ron Hubbard, President of Atlas Survival Shelters in Los Angeles, it has resulted in an economic windfall as a staggering number of Californians have suddenly turned into doomsday preppers.
“It’s crazy, I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ron Hubbard, president of Atlas Survival Shelters, told Fox11. “It’s all over the country. I sold shelters today in North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, California.”
The company, based in Montebello in eastern Los Angeles, sells shelters priced from $10,000 to $100,000. Hubbard told the station that the shelters are designed to be buried 20 feet below ground and can sustain survivors for up to one year, depending on the size and model.
He told the station he had sold more than 30 units in recent days, including to customers in Japan.
All that said, Kempfer points out that there is a silver lining here because any attack from North Korea likely wouldn't result in "your traditional nuclear apocalypse scenario" because Kim Jong-Un probably only has weapons capable of destroying about 1 square mile at a time.
Rather, it’s likely to be a Hiroshima-sized bomb – large enough to obliterate everything within a square-mile radius and kill tens of thousands of people, either immediately or through the lingering effects of radiation. But still leaving millions of survivors across the region who would need help.
“We’re talking about smaller North Korean things,” Kempfer emphasized, though the word “smaller” sounds very far from reassuring. “This is not your traditional nuclear apocalypse scenario.”
So, Californians at least have that going for them, which is nice.