Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Rural location make be safer from WMD's for companies


Alec MacGuiness has a disturbing story “New Rural Sales Pitch: Work Outside D.C.’s Fallout Zone,” in The Washington Post, on Dec. 26, 2006, maintaining that the smaller cities and rural areas of the Virginia Shenandoah Valley are beyond the reach of radioactive fallout in case of a major WMD attack with nuclear or dirty materials in the immediate Washington DC area. Link is here. (It may require a Post online subscription.)

In June 2004, the area had a televised dress rehearsal of evacuation plans, and much has been made of the “rainbow colored” threat levels of Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, and Blue. The national level has been viewed as Yellow or above since 9/11, with specific areas (including DC and NYC) and some sectors (aviation, cargo) at Orange.

Small town real estate used to be touted (back in the 70s and 80s) as a shelter against economic collapse, and those dire predictions (often based on religious ideas) have never come true.

Movement away from major cities into distant suburbs accelerated from the 60s through the 80s, sometimes (as in southern cities like Dallas) partially motivated by racial concerns. In the 90s, urban living has boomed, with empty nesters and a socially more open society. A security driven move to the countryside (almost following Mao’s ideology in China) could return society to much more emphasis on the nuclear family, but the availability of the Internet and telecommuting makes rural location much more potentially appealing to companies than in the past. Some software companies, like WordPerfect and FoxBase, used to located in smaller communities.

In August 1997, just before I moved to Minneapolis, I visited the Greenbrier resort and congressional shelter at White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. There are smaller facilities in other areas, ranging from Mt. Weather on the near Blue Ridge (between Routes 7 and 50) in Va, to other areas in Maryland and Pennsylvania. In the early 1950s, as the Cold War heated, there were actually some debates as to whether the nation’s capital should be in the Midwest.

Today, however, in a world with assymetric threats, there is no real use for "duck and cover."

Picture: Mt. Rogers, southern VA, about 5700 feet (meadow at 4400 feet)

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