Fallout Shelters: Where Should You Go? - WEEK.com: Peoria-area News, Weather, Sports

Fallout Shelters: Where Should You Go?

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The passage of time has eroded much of the institutional memory on how to survive the unthinkable: a nuclear attack on the United States.

The Winter Olympics start Feb 8, in one of the most watched sections of the globe, South Korea.

Neighboring North Korea routinely flaunts international warnings, conducting video recorded ballistic missile tests.

The regime consistently claims advances in nuclear weapons technology.

President Donald Trump has traded threats with his North Korean counterpart that have left some worried about a potentially dangerous showdown.

The issue we found in our special report is that, in the event of a nuclear attack, no one in Central Illinois seems to know where you and your loved ones would be safest. 

At home? 

At the local school? 

Or a specially designed structure which might date all the way back to the Truman administration?

In conducting our research, we did find an existing bomb shelter on Civil Defense Road in Peoria County.

The Peoria Journal Star chronicled the development and progress of bomb shelters, most concentrated downtown.

According to articles from 1963, there were 20 of them.

The first in 1961 was inside the post office, which is now the Federal courthouse at 100 NE Monroe St.

It was built to hold up to 400 people.

We found the hallways now have offices on either side, but it could still offer a place to go under dire circumstances.

The Carson, Pirie, Scott building at 124 SW Adams St. was another, large shelter, capable of holding 6,450 people.

Several references were made to supplying the shelters with food, and water.

There were 25-50 public shelters in Peoria alone during the mid-60s.

But where are the shelters now?

"Um, currently, the city of Peoria doesn't have any designated fallout shelters of any kind," said Mike Vaughn, Peoria's senior emergency management planner. "I even contacted IEMA (Illinois Emergency Management Agency) and nobody really has a list, that I'm aware of. Now, with the shift in the culture, we're more worried about the cyber attacks, and those kinds of things. You know, active shooters, um, terrorism in general has taken the forefront and we don't really even consider the bombing aspect of it."  
But Vaughn did tell 25News he expects Peoria will host a nuclear weapons response drill sometime in the next 2-3 years.

The shelter on Civil Defense road in Brimfield is now used to monitor and respond to severe weather.

It is not a public shelter, as it requires passage through a locked gate to get onto the property, ringed with barbed wire

Anyone entering triggers a warning bell to whomever is downstairs.

We found a small kitchen, drinks and survival manuals on how to survive with radiation in the air if a nuclear missile ever hit here.

"It's low. It's low on my concerns. And it's one of those, if it ever came to that there really isn't a plan that we would have in place. There would be a lot of chaos and we'd have to deal with it," said Peoria Sheriff Brian Asbell. "And again, compounded on the world view with the Olympics coming up, it's quite a stage to kind of sit back and look. If somebody were going to plan something, this might be an opportune time.  But again, we, just like anywhere else in the world, we pray that it doesn't happen." 

Asbell says he recalls the ongoing tensions between the two Koreas from his time with the U.S. military, stationed along the DMZ.

And some people in that part of the world are worried about the possibilities.

Oahu, Hawaii was the scene of a false, incoming missile alarm Jan. 13 when a drill was mistaken as a real attack.

One Hawaii Emergency Management Agency staffer has been fired. 

Another employee is in the process of being suspended without pay and a third employee resigned before any disciplinary action was taken.

The fear and uncertainty on display in the Aloha state is why companies like Rising S Shelters in Murchison, Texas and Atlas Survival Shelters both claim that sales of personal, home shelters have never been stronger.

A search of their websites found prices ranging wildly, from $25,000 to $400,000 dollars.

It's not something Asbell recommends.

"We have basements. All this (shelter) is is a basement. It's not different than other other building or residence. As a public law enforcement official, I would urge people to save their money. And use it for better things for the family," Asbell said.
Current government recommendations for surviving nuclear fallout indicate you want something without windows, such as the basement in your own home.

Thick walls are best.

The dangerous radiation fallout is expected to descend to the ground within 24 hours, according to the recommendations.

You must assume there will be no federal response for 24-72 hours.

The three keys are:
Distance - underground, with thick walls 
Shielding - think heavy and dense, concrete and brick are best.
Then time -  radiation loses intensity within two weeks, according to ready-dot-gov.

 http:// https://www.ready.gov/nuclear-blast

EPA Planning Guidance for Response to a Nuclear Detonation, published in 2009 included this ominous observation: 
"A nuclear explosion releases 10 million times more energy than a chemical explosion like dynamite or TNT.."

To consider an Emergency Kit check  https://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit
1 gallon of water is recommended per person, per day in the event of a nuclear disaster.
KI, or Potassium Iodide protects people from radioactive iodine, which can be absorbed by thyroid gland, potentially leading to cancer.

KI comes in both tablet and liquid form with 1 dose protecting someone for 24 hours.
The feds recommend planning to stay indoors for up to two weeks.

The shelter companies suggest you prepare to remain isolated for up to a month.

Peoria buildings with shelters as of 1963:

Central fire station

Central Illinois Light Co.

City Hall

Couch & Heyle

Dawn Transfer

Illinois Bell Telephone on Knoxville

Peoria Labor Temple

Model Paint Store on South Adams St.

Proctor Endowment Home

US Post Office

Mohammed Temple

Jefferson Hotel (2 buildings)

Buehler Memorial Home

United Duroc Building

Illinois Furniture Co.

South Side Mission

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