Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Homeland security in the 1980s
It seems particularly important to reflect on homeland security and how our views change over time.
In response to a different threat and a different world back in the early 1980s, American civil defense planners became concerned about an evolving large-scale Soviet civil defense plan in addition to a Soviet nuclear threat and started drawing up their own blueprint for right here in the States.
The "crisis relocation plan" as it was known nationwide at the time, called for each state to develop individual versions that could be integrated into an overall picture. Because the North American Air Defense Command system was headquartered in Colorado Springs, it was considered a likely target.
Likely targets or "high risk" areas were to be evacuated and residents would be moved to nearby safe areas in times of escalating tension between the two super powers.
According to articles by staff writer Alan Gottlieb in early 1980s Ute Pass Courier, the El Paso County crisis relocation plan called for up to 8,000 people from the Springs to be temporarily housed in Teller County. Additional population was to be housed in eight other outlying Colorado counties: Fremont, Chaffee, Gunnison, Sahwatch, Rio Grande, Mineral, LaPlata and Archuleta.
In the event of an attack , the visitors would remain in the safe areas until harmful radiation effects had dwindled, according to Frank Mollner, acting regional director for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as reported by the Courier articles.
These visitors were to be temporarily housed in public buildings like schools, courthouses, city halls and other similar locations. In addition, the articles by Gottlieb noted that some local residents had made preparations for such a dire occurrence as well.
Woodland Park resident Richard Carvill began building a fallout shelter during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and still maintained it at the time of Gottliebs articles in the early 'eighties.
An electrical engineer at NORAD for 25 years prior to retiring, Carvill was quoted at the time on his beliefs that the Soviets would launch a first strike.
"That is why I live up here instead of the Springs. I think there will be an attack, and it will be with nuclear weapons."
In tune with other survivalist philosophy at the time, Carvill told the reporter that his shelter was for his family only and he was prepared to protect it from trespassers with "a whole arsenal of guns."
"I built it for my family and there is just no room for anyone else," he said. Other local survivalist expressed similar sentiments.
Another Teller County man who also had built a shelter and stored food was also quoted anonymously.
"Somebody who comes for my food is in trouble, big trouble," he said. "He has two choices, go back or go down."