September 10, 2005


Planning the Impossible: New York's Evacuation (SAM ROBERTS, 9/11/05, NY Times)

ON New Year's Eve 1999, Fred Siegel writes in "The Prince of the City," his new book about Rudolph W. Giuliani's New York, authorities feared that terrorists would seize on Y2K computer glitches to strike in Times Square. In response, the National Guard was secretly mobilized in Brooklyn "as part of an emergency plan for evacuating Manhattan." As midnight came and went, the computers hummed on, the celebration proceeded flawlessly and officials concluded, Mr. Siegel notes with a tinge of sarcasm, "Gotham was ready for a future emergency."

In fact, no plan existed that night for evacuating all of Manhattan. The guard unit at the Brooklyn Navy Yard consisted of about 100 troops and 50 trucks, and their mission, in the event of an attack, was limited to ferrying the injured out of Times Square.

Today, four years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there is still no single plan to evacuate all of New York, which virtually no one believes is possible.

It's not impossible, of course, it's just undesirable to us to be as prepared as it would require.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 10, 2005 11:07 PM

High speed trains in bomb proof tunnels with access on every corner in the Metropolitan area? Still probably wouldn't work.

Better to wait for Scottie's transporter to be invented and in every home, then we can pick our destination.

Posted by: erp [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 4:58 PM

They evacuate New York every night. What's the big deal?

Posted by: Robert Schwartz [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 11, 2005 8:13 PM

Put 1 million personal life rafts on either side of Manhattan, and tell people to buy their own paddles. North of about 80th St., there isn't any reason to leave, I would guess (it's far enough away from any potential targets).

Evacuating Brooklyn or Queens would be a much worse proposition, no?

Posted by: ratbert at September 11, 2005 11:18 PM

You can't evacuate Manhattan after an attack. You have to evacuate it before the attack. Give them all brand new Suburbans, and tell them to find a spot on the prairie.

Posted by: joe shropshire at September 12, 2005 9:58 AM

Cities have outlived their usefulness.

Posted by: oj at September 12, 2005 10:01 AM