In the event of nuclear war, hundreds of thousands of Marylanders will be told to remain calm, follow the plotted escape routes to remote corners of the state and bring their own peanut butter.
"you know," said Allegany County civil defense director Charles G. Smith, "the Communists are just 90 miles from our shores."
Preparing for doomsday is one of the tasks of civil defense officials such as Smith. It is not easy.
"They're doing what they can, but it doesn't have much to do with the current world," said Bardyl Tirana, former director of the U.S. Defense Civil Preparedness Agency. "There really has been no national decision to implement a meaningful civil defense capability in the context of the 1980s."
The $100. million allocated annually by Congress, Tirana said, is barely adequate to deal with "current peacetime hazards" such as floods or tornadoes.
Thus, in such "low-risk host areas" as Maryland's Allegany County far removed from major metropolitan nuclear targets -- as elsewhere, the road to preparedness is full of potholes.
There is no food supply here for the evacuees and no money to buy any.There is even some uncertainty over the whereabouts of the bomb shelters themselves.
At least some shelters known to >Shelters, From A1> exist in this county may offer few creature comforts to refugees: some will be packed into places like the abandoned Paw Paw Tunnel, located 26 miles east of here, which carries the C&O Canal three-tenths of a mile through a mountain.
Officials plan to cram 1,404 hapless survivors of a future hlocaust into this dark, dank tube with water dripping from its ceiling.
"If they don't catch pneumonia, they might stay alive until the danger is over," said Col. Christian Hanburger, director of Maryland's fallout shelter program and father of the formerRedskins linebacker. But Smith, 67, a retired rubber plant supervisor, snapped, "People aren't coming up here to enjoy the scenery. They're coming up here to survive."
Some will come spontaneously, planners reckon, before the official word goes out, as they did during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis when a dozen women fled here from the metropolitan areas.
They left their husbands in Baltimore," Smith said. "We also had a couple of people from Washington with their pets. We sent them to motels."
During last year's crisis at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, others came. "We had seven people straggle in here who wanted radiological tests on themselves and their pets, a couple of cats and a dog," Smith said. "The government wanted to bring a couple of hundred people in here, too. We agreed, but then the emergency was over."
Survival, of course, is the bottom line for Maryland's civil defense establishment, dominated by retired Army men who speak of "packing ratios" and DESTEPS or "Defense Readiness Steps." But with international tensions rising, one local planner envisioning a massive relocation, predicts, "It would be confusion, mass confusion, utter chaos."
For one thing, estimates of how many refugees could be sheltered in the county's abandoned mines, tunnels and public and private buildings have been slashed in the last two years from 305,000 to a mere 160,000.
The computer printouts listing the shelters and based on surveys by the Army Corps of Engineers are grossly inaccurate, officials here claim.
We often say if we gave these readouts to the Russians, they'd be so confused they wouldn't know what to do," said Allan Deffindaugh, a volunteer in Smith's civil defense office. "It could be another way of winning the war."
One printout last year listed three mines in downtown Cumberland, "where it is known that none exist," the state's civil defense director noted in an angry letter to the U.S. Defense Civil Preparedness Agency. Another listing showed 2,504 spaces in the basement of a public building where "the air was foul with only 40 people" during a 1960s civil defense exercise.
The Allegany staff "found so many errors," Brig. Gen. George M. Brooks wrote the federal agency, "that they are now questioning many other entries. . . Until workable, reliable and believable lists are furnished, I cannot conceive of progress being made."
A federal spokesman acknowledged the errors, but said the problem was not serious.
Allegany officials, meanwhile, proudly displayed the registration form they have designed for refugees to fill out. They worry, however, about the requirement that they register 25 cars a minute as they arrive on U.S. Rt. 48.
"It seems a little ridiculous" said Deffindaugh.
There is also the matter of food. In the early 1960s, the U.S. government bought 165,000 tons of food and other supplies that were stockpiled in 100,000 shelters throughout the country. Four years ago, a directive went out to destroy the moldy biscuits, rancid water and overage medicine.
Here, they did it with gusto, leaving all shelters empty. "The hogs and pigs in the county had a ball eating this material," said civil defense direct Smith.
The federal government, sensing no national enthusiasm for a new stockpiling program, told the local governments to fend for themselves. For the most part, they haven't. Thus, in Maryland, refugees will be told to bring their own three-day supply of food, blankets and medicine. Smith suggested evacuees bring jars of peanut butter.
The underlying assumption is that the target areas of Washington, Baltimore and other cities will be evacuated before the bombs drop. in this "crisis relocation" situation, U.S. satelites and other intelligence would learn that the Russians are evacuating their own urban areas and taking other ominous steps. A three-day mass movement of Americans from the cities into the "low-risk" countryside would follow.
Allegany County's refugees, according to current thinking, would come from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Harford, Howard and Anne Arundel counties. Most Marylanders in the Washington suburbs would be evacuated to areas in Virginia.
Unknown to most citizens, the escape routes have already been plotted and the scripts already written for that day of reckoning:
"First of all," Maryland's civil defense director will say, according to the script prepared by state planners, "I urge you to remain calm. The situation is very serious, but getting excited will not help anyone."
The governor, according to the prewritten text will announce: "Many of you will be directed by your local authorities to relocate to areas in other parts of the state and in adjacentstates that are considered to be safer because they are less likely to be the targets of nuclear weapons strikes.
Should you live in a community that has been designated to receive individuals being relocated," the governor will say, "please support your community leaders in providing for such persons."
Recently, as events in Iran and Afghanistan stirred fears of a world war Gov. Harry Hughes sent health inspectors around the state, searching for contaminated foodstuffs still in fallout shelters.
"hell, a little while ago, you couldn't get the locals interested in these nuclear scenarios," said Alfred Keggins, state civil defense training officer. "They seemed too farfetched."
If nuclear war comes, the state of Maryland will be run from a bombproof, underground facility in a Baltimore suburb, while here in Allegany, officials wil convene under 20 feet of earth and 2 feet of concrete in the middle of Constitution Park.
The county's underground bunker was built four years ago for $264,000, one of several similar installations located around the state and constructed with federal matching funds. There exists here a miniworld in waiting with one room used daily to handle normal emergency calls. Most of the facility looks, however, like a movie set without actors.
The main part of the 50-by-150-foot comples is a large room filled with empty desks and disconnected telephones. Except for annual drills, they go unused.
There are two rooms designated men's and women's dormitories, with about a dozen bunk beds and new mattresses and blankets, which had never been used, except by two men from the Corps of Engineers who ventured here last summer without motel money.
In one corner of the complex are county maps with red, blue and green flags locating 1,361 shelters. It is here that three volunteers -- two retire mailmen and a semiretired undertaker's assistant -- spend their days planning for war.
"They eat it, breathe it, sleep it," said Teresa Fadley, who keeps the files.
Even this deadly business, however, has its light side: hung between the shelter maps is an unofficial poster that advises "patrons on the premises in case of nuclear bomb attack" to follow six sensible steps, and "Then Kiss Your Ass Goodbye."