Wednesday, October 24, 2007

A short history of evacuations

Nearly one million Californians have been ordered to evacuate their homes to escape wildfires; 12,000 of them are at Qualcomm Stadium. Historically speaking, is one million a lot?

Evacuation is defined as a mass movement of people from high-risk to low-risk areas.

In 1940, 338,000 soldiers were evacuated from Dunkirk. While the operation was a success, Winston Churchill said at the time, “Wars are not won by evacuations.”

In 2002, half a million people in the Congo were evacuated from the eruption of the Nyiragongo volcano.

In 2005, more than a million people tried to leave New Orleans during Hurricane Ivan.

What’s the best way to ensure survival during evacuations? An FAA study showed that the single most important factor is the physical attributes of the traveler, specifically waist-line.

Ah, yet another scientific reason to avoid eating on airplanes. I do hope the food tastes better at Qualcomm.

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